Have your friends been telling you that you should start selling your beautifully crafted goods and turn your home crafting hobby into a business?
If you are dwelling on starting up an online store for your artistic goods, and similar items, then Big Cartel is probably one of the first ecommerce solutions which come to mind.
It is a fully hosted, web-based online store platform for crafters, designers, jewelry makers, musicians, and other artists.
The platform is focused on small artistic stores and is a superb alternative to the Etsy marketplace.
They offer a free plan and several inexpensive plans, charges no transaction or listing fees, and have a website builder that is easy to use even by beginners with no coding experience. It also has useful features that will help artists and makers show their creations and find fans and clients.
Best of all, it offers a completely free plan which you can use to test the platform and to offer up to 6 products for sale without spending any money.
If you are wondering whether this is the best solution among all other website builders for your online business, you can take a look at our in-depth review. Our review includes the pros and cons, the features, the price plans, marketing tools, the people it is suited for.
Content of the Big Cartel Review
1 How Does it Work?
2.1 WordPress plugin
2.2 Custom domains
2.3 Free Themes
2.4 Payment processing
3 Does Big Cartel take a percentage?
4 Do they print for you?
5 Big Cartel vs Shopify
6 Big Cartel vs Storenvy
7 What can you sell?
7.3 Enamel pins
7.5 Hair boutiques
7.6 Hair accessories
9 Is it legit?
10 Want to Learn More?
How Does Big Cartel Work?
The easy-to-use and affordable website building ecommerce platform for artists is designed by artists and focuses on allowing creative users to display their items in the most aesthetically pleasing way, as well as to sell their goods to a wider audience.
You can choose from the variety of ready-made themes offered by Big Cartel to use for your online store, or if you have the skill and experience, you can use coding to customize the appearance of your online store as well.
The good news for those of you who have no prior experience with building websites and with online store management is that Big Cartel is very easy to use, as most Big Cartel reviews point out.
All you need to do is pick the suitable subscription package for your needs, choose a theme, and start uploading the product images and descriptions to your e-commerce store to use Big Cartel. Then you will have your store up and running, so you can start selling right away.
It is a user-friendly and useful solution for artists looking for an easy-to-use way to get started and to display their creations and who want to sell them and make some money.
Plus, it makes it easy for you to manage your store even if you have no previous experience with online or offline commerce.
Big Cartel Review: Features
In comparison to the large-scale ecommerce platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce, Big Cartel has a much more limited list of ecommerce tools and features. This makes it unsuitable for a high-volume ecommerce company or larger businesses.
The features included in the Big Cartel plans are sufficient for people and starting businesses to get online and get started in selling their products.
Thanks to the lack of too many complex options and features and its ease of use, you won’t be overwhelmed when you are building your website or when you are selling your items. This also helps for increasing its ease of use, according to the majority of reviews.
The straightforward ecommerce artistic platform requires minimal skills and expenses.
Here are the features which you will receive when you sign up for Big Cartel:
Big Cartel offers its users an in-house-built Pulley app account subscription option, which is designed specifically for selling digital products like software, e-books, music, graphics, photos, craft patterns, fonts, and more.
You can offer and sell your digital products from your Big Cartel website or from any other site, social media profile, blog, and even by email, thanks to the Buy Now links by Pulley. You can also sell with PayPal with Pulley.
You can try out Big Cartel’s Pulley app and all of its functionalities for free for 14 days here. The price of using Pulley starts from $6 per month.
It is an easy-to-use tool, which will allow even non-tech-savvy users to easily upload digital products, and sell them.
Sell on Facebook and Instagram
Multi-channel sales are key to reaching a wider audience on different platforms and marketplaces. It is a feature which some of the biggest ecommerce platforms offer. Big Cartel also offers easy integration of your online store and products to your private or business Facebook page and tagging them on Instagram.
You can sell anything which is approved by Facebook on the leading social media platform thanks to this Big Cartel feature.
You will need some basic coding skills in order to integrate social network sales and your online store.
Big Cartel offers easy order management, including checking the order details, getting notifications about orders in real-time, sending shipment notifications and tracking info to customers, print packing slips, adding notes to orders, and searching through them, downloading your order data, charging taxes and more.
These features are essential for any new business or person to get started with minimal effort.
Thanks to the Inventory Tracking tool on Big Cartel, you can prevent overselling and have a Sold Out note displayed next to the products which have been sold.
You can also turn off overselling if you want to continue offering a product even when the last item has been sold out, but you have more quantities available.
Easily Editable Product Information
The editable products Big Cartel feature allows users to edit the product information quickly and easily. You can edit the name, description, availability status, price, product URL, and more.
With Big Cartel’s useful control panel, you can bulk edit groups of products and product categories simultaneously to save time
Marketing and SEO
The solution offers great Search Engine Optimization features, like sitemap generation, to drive relevant traffic to your store. Users can also apply discounts and run special promotions with ease.
Intuitive Product Management
Big Cartel has a user-friendly product management system that allows for hassle-free adding or importing products, creating different product options and groups, copying and deleting products, managing the product categories, and reordering them, as well as selling appointment times, inventory management and tracking, editing, and more.
You can easily view the visitor stats and the order stats, as well as the statistics for the different products and categories, track the conversion rates, view and analyze the trends. You can also use advanced analytics via Google Analytics to keep track of how your online store and ecommerce business is doing, and what you can do to improve its performance, conversion and rating further.
Apps and integrations
Big Cartel offers its users access and integration with a number of apps – both in-house and developed by third parties.
Here are some of the best apps offered at Big Cartel’s app store, which you can use for marketing and promotion, for store management, for payments processing, for manufacturing, shipping, and fulfillment, and for domain providing:
- Pulley – this is a Big Cartel in-house app for selling digital products – starts from $6/month
- Zapier – developed by Big Cartel and Zapier, this app will allow you to connect your online store with more than 500 apps (Zapps) with hundreds of online business and ecommerce tools – starts from $20/month
- Big Cartel for iOS or for Android – these are free mobile apps that will allow you to build, edit and manage your online store on the go – the apps are free
- Live Chat – a third-party app for easy instant customer support and online sales – starts at $16/month
- Mailchimp – an app for integration with the largest marketing automation solution, automatic email confirmation for orders, remarketing ads, discount codes, post-purchase follow-up, and many more – it is free for up to 2,000 subscribers
- Lucky Orange – one of the best apps for detailed analytics of why visitors don’t convert – starts at $10/month
- ShipStation – third-party app for streamlining shipping from your store, social network page, and multiple sites – starts from $9 per month
Big Cartel WordPress plugin
Thanks to the useful Big Cartel WordPress plugin, you can link your Big Cartel to your WordPress blog or website so you can upsell your products from there too.
With the plugin, you can sell products directly in your blog posts, widgets, and web pages.
Big Cartel custom domains
A custom domain is easier to remember and recognize by customers and visitors to your online store. Plus, it is more professional to have a custom domain instead of being assigned a subdomain, like Yourstorename.bigcartel.com especially if you have serious business growth intentions
Big Cartel offers an easy way to add a custom domain – you can add an existing domain name that you already have and is hosted by another provider. You can also register for a custom domain name that represents your brand, company name, or another name for your store and add it easily via the Big Cartel editor.
Big Cartel Free Themes
Unlike some of the bigger ecommerce platforms, Big Cartel features much fewer themes for its users. In fact, the available Big Cartel themes are 18.
Still, they are designed by artists and are mobile-responsive, which means that they will look great and function well on screens of all sizes, including mobile phones.
The templates can be customized, so you can add your own personal touch of style to your Big Cartel online store.
If you have some experience with coding, you can further customize the themes or build your own theme from scratch via the CSS files.
Big Cartel payment processing
Big Cartel supports several payment processors, which you can integrate into your e-commerce store or in-person sales via the available payment processing apps. These include Stripe, PayPal, PayPal Credit, Venmo, Apple Pay, Square, and Stripe terminals for iOS and Android.
The platform doesn’t charge any transaction fees and is proud of this fact. The different payment gateways will charge their regular processing fees for each payment, though.
Big Cartel shipping
The shipping costs are not automatically calculated with the built-in tools and features in Big Cartel. The platform does not offer built-in shipping features like price calculation, shipping discounts, labeling, and others. But thankfully, various apps can be integrated into your Big Cartel online store, which will help make shipping much easier for you. Some of these apps include ShipRush, ShipRobot, ShipStation, and Pirate Ship.
Does Big Cartel take a percentage?
Big Cartel is proud of its policy to not charge any hidden fees and will not take a cut of the sales of the creators and artists who use the platform to sell their products. So no, Big Cartel will not charge you for listing, nor for sales. The only thing you will need to pay for is the subscription, and for any paid app, you need to integrate it to your Big Cartel store.
Big Cartel Pricing
Big Cartel has a 100% free Gold plan, which you can use to test the platform and its features or to use it if you have only up to five products to sell and can do without some of the more advanced premium features.
With the free plan, you can use one image per product, access the themes and to the website building editor used to customize them, sell online or in-person, use a custom domain, get real-time statistics, use shipment tracking, product option groups and run promos or offer discounts, plus use the sale tax autopilot.
The paid plans are the Platinum plan, which costs $9.99 per month and includes selling up to 50 products and adding up to 5 photos for the products, as well as access to theme code editing, Google Analytics, bulk editing, inventory tracking, and everything included in the Gold plan.
The Diamond plan costs $19.99 per month and allows for listing and selling up to 250 products. It includes all features of the Platinum plan as well.
The most expensive plan is the Titanium plan, which costs $29.99 per month and allows for listing up to 500 products, and includes all of the features and tools of the Diamond and Platinum paid plans.
BigCartel doesn’t charge a listing fee for your products or a transaction fee for your sales.
The Platinum plan is the perfect affordable option for most Big Cartel users who have up to 50 products to sell.
The Gold plan is the best option for a free e-commerce store, which you can use for as long as you want until your store starts gaining momentum.
Does Big Cartel print for you?
Apart from selling downloadable digital products via the Pulley app, any artist and creative can also seamlessly print and sell their photos, drawings, and other creations in printed form with the help of the Printful app.
The third-party app allows for printing a wide range of over 100 products, including posters, T-shirts, mugs, and many more. Other techniques like screen printing, embroidery, sublimation, and garment printing are offered by Printful as well.
Related content: Best eCommerce Website Builders Compared – 2021
Big Cartel vs Shopify
Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms, which is suitable for businesses of all types and sizes, including artists too.
It has millions of users all over the world and offers one of the most comprehensive ecommerce packages, allowing users to set up, customize, and run an online business of any caliber and type.
There are pricing plans suitable for all ecommerce merchants.
With Shopify, artists and crafters can sell a variety of products and services, including:
- Their physical products such as artwork, jewelry, clothing, and more
- Digital products like e-books, e-courses, and others
- Services such as online courses and others
- Memberships for subscribers
- Online and offline lessons and courses
Shopify offers three main plans, including the Basic Shopify plan for $29 per month, a Shopify plan for $79 per month, and an Advanced Shopify plan for $299 per month. There are discounts of 10% when the subscription is paid annually and 20% when paid for two years.
There is also a Shopify Lite plan, which costs just $9 per month and allows users to sell products directly from their existing website and Facebook page. The e-commerce platform also offers a Premium Plus plan for the largest clients and businesses.
There is no free plan on Shopify, but users can try it out for two weeks thanks to the 14-day free trial offered.
With the minimal Basic Shopify plan, you will get an online store, unlimited products, 2 staff accounts, multi-channel sales, support of up to 4 locations, both physical and web-based, discount codes, SSL certificate, abandoned cart recovery, POS Lite, and more.
Shopify has one of the biggest app stores among all e-commerce platforms so that users will gain access to hundreds of useful apps for their stores as well.
But keep in mind that Shopify charges transaction fees for every sale if it is not done via the in-house Shopify Payment gateway. It supports 100+ third-party payment gateways.
Although Shopify provides hosting, users will still have to purchase a domain name separately.
Big Cartel vs Storenvy
Storenvy is a direct competitor of Big Cartel, as it is another independent platform that supports indie brands from around the world.
It is an excellent choice for artists who are looking to sell their products, including crafted items, jewelry, home décor items, clothing, and more.
Considered as a direct competitor to Big Cartel, Storenvy is a marketplace that features small indie brands. It’s ideal for merchants that are looking to sell unique jewelry pieces, vintage fashion, and home decor.
The features which Storenvy offers to its customers are quite similar to those offered by Big Cartel. They include a quick and easy setup of an e-commerce store, access to email marketing tools, listing up to 1,000 products for free, multi-channel sales and social media integration, and more. Plus, users can add multiple useful apps to their online stores to improve their functionality and boost their sales and ranking.
Storenvy supports PayPal and Stripe as payment gateways.
The pricing plans at Storenvy start from the completely free Hobbyist plan, and paid subscription plans starting from $14,99, allowing for listing and selling up to 2,000 products.
Also included in the Plus plan is access to custom domain names, social media integration, e-commerce tools for managing orders, shipping, inventory, and your store, abandoned cart recovery, discounts, and more. Plus, there is a marketplace built-in to the platform.
But unlike Big Cartel, Storenvy will charge its users with different fees, including a 15% commission for sales from the marketplace, fees for participating in additional sales and promotions, and a 25% commission for users who choose to sign up for the Managed Marketing tool.
What can you sell on Big Cartel?
Big Cartel supports creatives and artists, so you can sell anything that you can make on the platform.
This can include arts, candles, music, poems, home décor crafted items, and many more.
Overall, it is one of the best e-commerce platforms for people looking for the easiest and least expensive way to start selling their creations online or offline, according to the multiple positive BigCartel reviews online.
Big Cartel streetwear
Streetwear and apparel are the easiest way for artists to sell their artwork. It can be printed, embroidered, or otherwise embedded on T-shirts, hats, hoodies, and other clothing.
Big Cartel clothing
Big Cartel is also an ideal platform for aspiring fashion designers to show off their collections and to sell their unique fashion lines online.
Thanks to the stylish but minimalistic Big Cartel templates, the clothes will shine when displayed on a Big Cartel online store.
Big Cartel enamel pins
You can find some unique enamel pins on Big Cartel, so if making enamel pins is your hobby, why not display your work and start making money from your creations as well.
They are fashionable, quirky, and beloved accessories by young and old customers.
Big Cartel jewelry
Jewelry is something that will always be in demand. If you make beautiful jewelry, why not list it on a beautiful and easy-to-make Big Cartel online store? Big Cartel can help you find clients who will love buying your jewelry, no matter if it is an engagement ring or lucky charm.
Big Cartel hair boutiques
Extensions, wigs, hair care tools and products, accessories – these items have always been popular. So, you can set up your own hair boutique on Big Cartel and start selling your hair products to a much wider audience.
Big Cartel hair accessories
Whether you enjoy making scrunchies, bows, headbands, hairpins, or any other accessories for hair, you will be glad to know that Big Cartel is an excellent option for displaying your creations and successfully selling them to customers all over the world.
Big Cartel vintage
Vintage clothing and vintage items have been growing in popularity, and Big Cartel is one of the best ways to sell your unique vintage items to any customer interested. You can sell your own recreated vintage items or resell some vintage garments or items from other brands on the Big Cartel platform.
Big Cartel photography
If you are a photographer, you can set up an online store to send prints of your pictures, digital downloads, and many more products.
You can also sell your photography services for events like weddings, engagements, baby showers, and more.
Is Big Cartel legit?
Some people are being doubtful about using Big Cartel due to its very attractive prices and lack of commissions and hidden fees.
If you are one of them, then you can rest assured because it is a completely legitimate platform that will allow you to set up an online store, list your products and sell them with no additional fees attached, except for the subscription fee, and any apps you decide to use to run your online store. If you are using the free plan, you can do all this without spending a cent.
True, it doesn’t have as many e-commerce tools and features as some of the big e-commerce platforms like Shopify, but for a small starting business by an artist, Big Cartel is an excellent option.