Big Cartel Review

I have wanted to properly review Big Cartel since I  first came across it with my favorite T-Shirt Company Grand Flavour (They have since upgraded to Bigcommerce). It is quite unique in the e-commerce world because it shows no interest in being the biggest and the best and doesn’t ram monstrous claims down your throat the moment you visit them. The specialize in small (less than 100 products) and they have optimized their platform to suit.

Big Cartel is incredibly clean, very cheap and so simple to use I defy anyone to get lost. They have done an excellent job of creating a shopping cart for small e-retailers and deserve to be commended for it.

Big Cartel Pricing

Here’s a gem for you. Big cartel has a free plan. Not a trial, a plan. If you have less than 5 products and are willing to forgo some of the advanced customizations you don’t have to pay them a thing. Nice right.

Theme Fiend provides a wide variety of premium Big Cartel themes for Big Cartel shop owners. From modern, minimalist designs to unconventional layouts that appeal to niche audiences, and an expanding collection of responsive themes for mobile devices, we offer something for everyone.
Theme Fiend provides a wide variety of premium Big Cartel themes for Big Cartel shop owners. From modern, minimalist designs to unconventional layouts that appeal to niche audiences, and an expanding collection of responsive themes for mobile devices, we offer something for everyone.

Up to 25 products and some standard customizations – $10 a month – sweet! This is an affordable solution for anyone starting out. The most expensive plan, with full customization and extensive stats is only $20, still cheaper than the cheapest offering from Big Commerce or Core Commerce.

Barriers to entry in Online selling

For new businesses looking to start selling online, there are a few hurdles to get over setup fees, monthly fees, having a credit card and getting a design made. Big Cartel makes it easy for anyone to get started with no setup fees, low or no monthly fees, Paypal payments and a good set of design tools. It is far from ideal for larger businesses but I don’t think the care. They want small businesses just starting out. They want record label, clothing companies and artists and they have put together a solid offering that is bound to attract them.

Big Cartel Negatives

It can’t be all good news, can it? No. But it doesn’t make it bad. The biggest issue I found was that you couldn’t add and tracking code (like Google Analytics) to the free plan – and because you can’t edit the HTML your out of luck. It would be great if Big Cartel offered a text box Shopify style to add your Google Analytics account number – they could keep a lock on the HTML but still allow businesses to properly track there visitors – no real harm there GA is not likely to replace the in-store stats that require an upgrade.

Big Cartel Alternatives

Big Cartel has built itself a nice little niche around small, new e-commerce stores and with it’s dedicated focus on smaller it has been able to remove itself form the feature race of the “larger” e-commerce solutions. It is incredibly simple. There are very few options compared to Big Commerce, for instance but that is all some  people want and I respect that. They have resisted the urge to add a million features and pages of marketing blah and have just focused on keeping the customers that want a cheap, simple shopping cart very happy.

Do you use Big Cartel? How have you found it? Are you ready to upgrade to a full featured shopping cart?


  1. Avatar for Andrew BleakleyJordan says

    Andrew, keep walking on water my man! Every article that you write cleans up this e-commerce clusterfuck.

  2. Avatar for Andrew BleakleyAndrea says


    This is a good post, thanks.

    You’re right, Big Cartel certainly minimises the entry costs to selling online — and they do this beautifully.

    I’m trying to determine if Big Cartel is right for me as I look to create an invitations website.

    Do you know if it’s good for SEO?

    I’ve been trying to research this but haven’t gotten anywhere… And all the Big Cartel stores I’ve seen don’t even have meta tags on their site which makes me think this isn’t possible….

    • Avatar for Andrew BleakleyRicky says

      Hey Andrea
      Meta tags are so 2001 – it’s really about the content, heirachy and semantics of your content these days – google got a Loy smarter! Hope this helps!

  3. Avatar for Andrew BleakleyNancy says

    I have been looking for an ecommerce provider to use to sell online. I am really nervous about it but with all the good feedback I am reading…my nerves are much calmer…that and a little wine too!
    Thanks for your helpful info!

  4. Avatar for Andrew BleakleyChristine says

    Nice post! I finally got my Big Commerce site up, after my short stint with Highwire (not recommended). I like the dashboard layout and extra features of Big Commerce, but now I am having trouble tweaking simple visual parts of the site – like the background color on the template. There are articles and tutorials to help, but some HTML knowledge is required. I came across Big Cartel, so I might try it out as an alternative, although I think I will miss some of the extra features of Big Commerce.

  5. Avatar for Andrew Bleakleya says

    Im the odd mfg who is going to launch on big cartel. im excited and will keep u posted. thanks for the great post.

  6. Avatar for Andrew BleakleyPearly says

    This has been great as I am just wondering whether I should dive into the big cartel pool. Oh yeah Im jumping!

  7. Avatar for Andrew BleakleyTodd says

    I’m just now assembling all the wee-bits needed for my site and am strongly considering Big Cartel. I’ve read Threads Not Dead (which is excellent I might add) where they mention that sites like Shopify are better suited for businesses that already have a growing customer base.
    And since I’m still on the first floor(in fact, I’m still standing just outside of the lobby), Big Cartel sounds pretty good.
    I wonder though, can I integrate a blog on a Big Cartel site. Nice review by the way.

  8. Avatar for Andrew BleakleyLinda says

    Very informative. I have also been looking at the FB Shop. Still pondering. I, like Todd, am still in the Lobby 😛

  9. Avatar for Andrew BleakleyTracey says

    I designed a beautiful site on Big Cartel over a weekend, with no prior design knowledge, so it is easy to design. (Didn’t launch it yet.) However, I got on one of the forums for current Big Cartel store owners and there were tons of complaints about the back end of the e-commerce platform, specifically that there was no way to track shipments. So when you got your orders, you had to get them off of pay pals dashboard and then once you filled them, there was no way to mark it as shipped on your dashboard. This is supposedly being beta tested now with existing sites, but thought I would mention it. It got me thinking about Big Commerce, but I don’t like the design restrictions.

    • Avatar for Andrew BleakleyCoco says

      Im considering BC. How’s it going? You mentioned hesitation with BC due to design restrictions, doesn’t BC have limited design and templates? Any resolution on tracking shipments?

      • Avatar for Andrew BleakleyTracey says

        Big Cartel said they will roll out the new shipping feature in about a month. It will allow you to view orders in your dashboard, print shipping labels and mark orders as shipped. Also, found a site called Outright that is a free accounting site that is integrating with Big Cartel to help with taxes and employee payroll issues. Big Commerce has more features than Big Cartel, but I don’t like some of the design issues. Things can be moved around, but it still looks templatey to me. I am a visually particular person and so that turns me off. I am also not a techie, so being able to update my own store without waiting for a designer to get me on their schedule is important to me. Just my opinions though.


  10. Avatar for Andrew BleakleyCoco says

    Tracy, thanks for th feedback. I continue to go back to BG because I like their philosophy. I too am visually particular, I want more control over how things look for a non-techie than most templates are wiling to give me. I’m skeptical that all the “example” on BG website are actual templates they provide without any additional JavaScript or HTML support. Herriot Grace is one “sample” I like but according to their “about page” they hired a designer so I want to see samples of websites that only use their Templates etc… Like you I don’t want to be dependent on a GD watch/time to get things done.

    Also, I know a lot of these companies allow us to sign up to design a website but I’m wondering if we can set up a mock store and actually go thru the entire experience from launching our website to completing our first order/ shipping. Are you officially up and running? If you have any other feedback, would greatly appreciate it! Thanks again…

  11. Avatar for Andrew BleakleyElla says

    Thanks Andrew,
    I am also looking to start up online selling my jewellery, and I like the look of BC. Like Tracy, however I am concerned that the templates on offer are less sophisticated than those shown in the examples.
    Now this may be a daft question (but I am a bit of a technophobe) If I choose to later move to a different site or have one designed specifically, can I take my shop name with me, or do BC own it?
    Thanks, Ella.


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