Ease of Use 10/10
Big Cartel is what many would consider a “light” ecommerce platform. The company keeps it simple. According to their site, they “provide just the right mix of real-time stats, search engine optimization, order management, and promotional tools to get a small shop up and running with as little stress as possible.”
- Simple and easy to use
- Very affordable and has a free forever plan
- Great-looking templates
- Ability to use themes and tweak the site’s code
- Might not be ideal for larger stores or stores that need advanced capabilities
- Not very flexible
- Lacks a search function
- Limited payment options
Reasons to use Big Cartel
- Built for creatives
- Basic tools for building and marketing your business
From an e-commerce perspective, this means the platform is painfully easy to use, and you can get your store up and running within a matter of minutes. But with a more limited feature set than some of the larger, all-inclusive applications, it’s worth making sure Big Cartel is the right fit for your store before taking the plunge.
Big Cartel review: in a nutshell
Big Cartel markets itself as an easy-to-use solution for creatives who want to sell their works in the simplest manner possible. The platform itself is an all-in-one kind of thing that lets you build, manage, and run your e-commerce store all in one place.
Big Cartel say they believe in the artist, and this is something that shows in the way the whole platform is designed and in the way it operates.
There aren’t any complex features or complex interface that would be hard to follow for someone who’s not familiar with e-commerce. In Big Cartel, everything is intuitive.
Who’s Big Cartel best suited for?
In short, Big Cartel was built for makers, creative people, and basically anyone who has created a unique product and now wants to sell it online. If you’re a designer, painter, jewelry maker, woodworker, and etc., Big Cartel will be perfect for you.
Big Cartel gives your online store a great visual presence, and doesn’t require any website building skills from you. What this effectively means is that you will be able to build everything all on your own, and you won’t have to feel embarrassed about it later on.
Big Cartel is meant more for small stores (1-20 individual products), rather than big e-commerce operations. In other words, it’s perfect for someone who’s just getting started and needs simplicity.
Features in Big Cartel
Big Cartel doesn’t have an extensive list of features to brag about. The platform is rather small and offers just the basic, must-have things. On one hand, this can be considered a disadvantage compared to the competition, but on the other, it also makes things simple for beginners who just want a basic e-commerce store that’s easy to grasp.
Some of the things you’ll find inside Big Cartel:
- No fees on what the customers pay you.
- Order management.
- Inventory tracking.
- Digital products.
- Sell in person.
- Sell on Facebook.
- Stats (traffic + Google Analytics integration).
- Built with SEO in mind.
- Discount codes.
Big Cartel review: pricing
Big Cartel offers 4 main pricing plans:
The good news is that if you’re just getting started, you can get the Forever Free plan. The bad news is that it limits you to 5 products in total, and some features are turned off too.
The Platinum plan seems to be the best choice for most new stores. It lets you have 25 products and doesn’t limit the functionality in any way.
The online store designs in Big Cartel
A good way to summarize the designs that Big Cartel offers is saying that they’re smart, minimal, and beautiful.
Granted, there’s not too many of them, but you will be able to find something that suits you anyway. Every design is modern, and looks great on all devices, including mobile and tablets.
Managing products in your Big Cartel store
Right after sign-up, Big Cartel guides you through the basic configurations in a step by step manner:
One of those steps is adding your first product and setting all the details about it.
I have to admit, working with Big Cartel is very simple. Apart from managing your products/inventory, you also get to process the orders and basically take care of your store’s daily operations. Everything is available through a clear menu in the header.
There are two main online payment options available in Big Cartel: Stripe and PayPal. Integration with both is pretty easy, and Big Cartel doesn’t add any more fees on top of what Stripe and PayPal already have.
Is Big Cartel the right tool to launch your online store with?
Pros of Big Cartel
- Easy to Use: Because Big Cartel wasn’t build with e-commerce experts in mind, it is as easy to use as you could really hope for. For some more experienced e-commerce developers, this may be to the point of frustration. But for those looking to start a simple e-commerce store quickly, it can be a great platform for delivering to that brief.
- Free for Small, Basic Stores: If you are just looking to sell a few products, there is a free service tier with Big Cartel, which means you can take advantage of the software and payment processing functionality without any monthly cost. This only covers up to 5 products per store, and you must use a Big Cartel domain name, but for small e-commerce projects this free-level can be a significant advantage.
- Time Sensitive Discounts and Other Marketing Tools: One cool element of Big Cartel is that there are a number of in-built marketing tools, perhaps more than you would expect given the feature-light approach of their design. These include time sensitive discounts, pre-orders and other functions that can help you maximize sales from the products you have to offer.
Cons of Big Cartel
- No Search Function: Being light on enterprise e-commerce features is one thing, but it does prove the main source of contention with Big Cartel as well as its main advantage. The lack of a search function is one example, but it’s indicative of a wider problem – if you are looking for any level of particular feature, it is worth checking in advance whether Big Cartel allows your function before committing.
- Limited Payment Options: With a Big Cartel store, you have two options – Stripe or PayPal. For most purposes, this should be fine, providing your customers with enough flexibility to ensure you’re not sacrificing conversions for the sake of convenience. However, particularly with PayPal, there are some notable problems with these payment processors, and it may be the case that your business could benefit from offering additional/alternative payment methods – something Big Cartel does not allow.
- Less Flexibility: Big Cartel is self-contained, and more difficult to hack than other e-commerce platforms. This means you have less flexibility in terms of the customizations you can make, and that you are more tied to the out-the-box structure of your Big Cartel site.