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Big Cartel Review 3-5

A simple store builder— lack of serious customization will frustrate users expecting more.

User Experience Info

Big Cartel’s strength is how simple it is. While other store builders are loaded with features, it remains purposefully simple. Because of this Big Cartel fills a niche in store builders: a simple store builder that lets you get up and running quickly. A portion of users may desire of this, but many users will find Big Cartel too limited.

Editor

Since Big Cartel is simple, the interface is usually uncluttered. For example, here’s the product editor— pretty simple, right?

Product-editor

It’s only when you try to customize your store that challenges arise. For example, taxes are just too simple— you can only set taxes for one country. That country cannot have regional taxes (unless it’s the United States). This means that if you have a Canadian store you can’t set provincial taxes— which is unhelpful as Canadian provinces have different tax rates.

Taxes

Some Big Cartel themes set your homepage as a product page while other themes show a splash page. Unfortunately there is no way to choose a splash page or a product page for your homepage— you’re just stuck with what the theme defaults to. This is too simple and could annoy some users.

Splashpage

Big Cartel’s simple design might be nice for users who don’t want to customize too much with their store. Unfortunately it will frustrate users that want to customize their store or have any kind of sophisticated needs.

Customize

Features Info

  • Discounts & Coupon Codes

    Easy to use but powerful discounts editor. Discounts can have spending thresholds, can be percentage or a flat rate, can be for free shipping, have expiry dates and more. Show Screenshot

    Discounts
  • 3rd Party Shipping Integration

    Not supported.

    Missing
  • Gift Cards

    Not supported.

    Missing
  • App Store

    Not supported.

    Missing
  • Email Customization

    There is only one email that you can customize— and that's the new order notification that customers receive. Unfortunately it's too complex for most users to be able to edit (requires coding knowledge). Show Screenshot

    Notifications
  • Digital Products

    You can create digital products with Pulley (an app made by the creators of Big Cartel) that should be able to integrate with your Big Cartel store. However, it's not immediately clear how to do this and it definitely doesn't feel simple. Show Screenshot

    Digital-products
  • Multi-Lingual

    Not supported.

    Missing
  • iOS & Android Apps

    There's an iOS app (no Android app) that lets users fill orders and manage products. It also lets you sell in person using cash or credit card (there is no magstrip swipe— instead customers enter their credit card details). Show Screenshot

    App
  • Recurring Products

    Not supported.

    Missing

Themes Info

Big Cartel itself only offers 9 themes. Of those, 2 are pretty out of date and not responsive or mobile friendly. I don’t really count those two as themes— which means you really only get 7 themes.

Theme1

Here's another theme example.

Theme2

Fortunately there are a number of 3rd party theme websites that sell Big Cartel themes— for example Aarcade.net and Theme Fiend.

Theme-fiend

Customizing your theme has its frustrations. For example, you can’t decide whether your homepage is a product list or splash page— you’re just stuck with the theme default. Beyond those limitations, customizing your themes colors and fonts is nice and simple:

Customize

Support & Billing


Good Billing Practices — We were able to pay and cancel our Big Cartel account easily.

Customer Support — Big Cartel provides email support (no phone support).


Big Cartel Alternatives

  1. Shopify
    5-0
  2. Jumpseller
    4-0
  3. Bigcommerce
    4-0

Me-low-res Review by Steve Benjamins — I'm a designer, developer and the founder of Site Builder Report. I started Site Builder Report after I built my own website builder in 2012. I quickly realized that people didn't need another website builder— instead they just needed to know which website builders were best. I also make music. You can follow me on Twitter @stevebenjamins.