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Big Cartel Review

Simple with a lack of customization options.

By Steve BenjaminsLast Updated Feb 13 2017

3 0

Review Updates

  • Dec 14 2015 New review published.
  • Jun 20 2016 Review updated and re-checked for accuracy (is everything up to date?).
  • Feb 13 2017 Review checked for accuracy.

User Experience Info

Big Cartel’s strength is how simple it is. While other ecommerce software is loaded with features, it remains purposefully simple. Because of this Big Cartel fills a niche in ecommerce software: 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Features Info

  • 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

  • Gift Cards

    Not supported.  

  • 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

  • 3rd Party Shipping Integration

    Not supported.  

  • App Store

    Not supported.  

  • 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

  • Multi-Lingual

    Not supported.  

  • 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

  • Recurring Products

    Not supported.  

Themes Info

Big Cartel itself only offers 10 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 8 themes.

Here's another theme example.

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

Billing Practices: Good

We were able to pay and cancel our Big Cartel account easily.

Examples Real, live Big Cartel sites.

By Steve Benjamins

I founded Site Builder Report in 2012 to help people find the best website builder. In my spare time I make music (check it out!). You can also follow me on Twitter here.

Big Cartel Alternatives

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