Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how Big Cartel and Amazon FBA stack up.
Daniel Adams and Mark Hammersley
Last updated 2o July 2020
4.0 Stackupp rating
$ 9.99 / month
Best forBig Cartel has carved out a specific niche in the ecommerce space. It’s a platform designed specifically for creatives that want to sell original work.
3.4 Stackupp rating
$ 0.99 / month
Best foronline sellers with limited product ranges. It is also a good option for retailers with established stores that want to take advantage of Amazon’s significant reach.
Can't decide between Big Cartel and Amazon FBA?
Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of Big Cartel and Amazon FBA. See how each platform stacks up across ease of use, design, support and value for money.
Let the comparison begin. Don't worry, we'll guide you.
Big Cartel is a fully-hosted ecommerce solution built specifically for small-scale creatives. If you sell original work, like art, jewellery, woodwork, refurbished furniture, and so on, then Big Cartel is ideal.
While the general look-and-feel and functionality are minimal and straightforward, Big Cartel doesn’t skimp on features or support. Users have access to a comprehensive suite of ecommerce tools, including payment gateways, promotional features, and integration with social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. What’s more, Big Cartel is very well-priced, with plans starting at $10/month and a “forever free” option.
Retailers that need more than three hundred product listings and a more powerful set of features, however, will have to opt for another solution.
Use Cartel is you’re a creative (with an inventory of fewer than 300 products) looking for a hassle-free, cost-effective solution.
Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) is Amazon’s in-house fulfillment service for sellers. Instead of taking care of the storage and delivery of products themselves, sellers who opt for Amazon FBA can use Amazon’s warehouses and logistics networks. This can significantly reduce financial and administrative burdens.
It’s important to recognize that Amazon FBA is an additional service for Amazon sellers. It will only meet your needs if you already intend to sell products on Amazon. It is not a self-contained ecommerce solution that will allow you to list a wide array of different items and keep all the revenue from sales. What’s more, Amazon takes a significant cut of the final purchase price. You will also have to compete with other sellers in the marketplace.
With all that in mind, it’s essential to weigh up the benefits associated with access to the world’s single largest retail market with the cons of hefty fees, limited control, and high levels of competition.
Generally speaking, small retailers that don’t want to deal with the hassle of managing an entire ecommerce store (and all the technical, marketing, and logistical tasks this involves) will find a lot to like in Amazon FBA. Equally, retailers with established stores that want to bring their best products to a broader market should consider Amazon FBA.
Finally, keep in mind that running a successful business on Amazon FBA requires a unique skill-set. It’s a different ballgame to running a “traditional” ecommerce store, and this should be accounted for. You will need to familiarize yourself with topics like competitor research, keyword analysis, product page optimization, results page optimization, and so on.
you are a small independent retailer who doesn’t want to run their own store and handle complex back-end logistical tasks. Amazon will do a lot of the hard work for you while providing access to a large retail marketplace.
Our first comparison criteria, ease of use. Why? Because it’s the most important.
Think about it. You don’t want to invest a lot of your precious time setting up an online store and tweaking the design only to find out that it’s a pain in the butt to manage day to day.
We take a look at how simple the Big Cartel and Amazon FBA platforms are to run.
Big Cartel is one of the easiest-to-use platforms on the market, and gives hyper-intuitive products like Weebly and Wix a run for their money.
Users are initially guided through a step-by-step set-up process and will be prompted to configure their store and add their first product. Themes can be customized via a WordPress-style editor, and all products and orders are managed from a central dashboard.
“We would recommend Big Cartel without reservations.”
“I would definitely recommend using Big Cartel. They have a lot of ready made layouts that are really easy to use (especially for people like me who have zero knowledge in website building).”
“We’ve been using BigCartel since 2010 and have been very content with their shopping cart and ability to easily customize our store and portfolio.”
Amazon FBA is managed through “Seller Central”, an online dashboard that all Amazon merchants use to manage their inventory, product listings, storefronts, and analytics.
The interface is very user-friendly, and you can add and configure products quickly. There is a substantial amount of help documentation online through the “Seller Central” portal and Amazon also offers an “Amazon Seller App” for mobile devices. All in all, it’s a very good option for beginners, along with retailers who have limited technical expertise.
Configuring fulfillment options is also a straightforward, linear process and is completed within the “Seller Central” area once products have been added to a catalog.
Finally, you can manage your own independent store, which will show all your Amazon listings, via the “Stores” tab.
"This website is good for beginners who want to earn."
"This platform is the most solid on the web to sell products online."
"They have never failed to pay me and they have been supportive when deviant customers have tried to steal from me."
Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do Big Cartel and Amazon FBA templates actually look any good? See for yourself. We outline each platforms design options, plus showcase a few real life examples.
Big Cartel is designed for retailers with little or no coding experience. Because of this, the site editor is very easy to use and provides control over key design elements like the logo, colours, layout, font-size, and so on.
The theme library, which includes just under twenty themes, is relatively small compared to other ecommerce platforms. This is more than made up for, however, by the quality of themes, all of which are free. They ‘re beautifully-designed and will appeal to a variety of creatives.
On the downside, retailers that need to make deeper code changes will struggle. Only limited HTML and CSS changes are possible.
Amazon doesn’t offer much in the way of design freedom. Sellers can only customize specific product page elements, such as the title and description, images, and in-depth “body copy”. The layout and overall page design cannot be altered.
Once they have registered their brand, sellers can also open their own Amazon storefront, which affords a greater (albeit still limited) level of design flexibility.
If you’re looking for complete control over your store, you will likely find that a self-managed ecommerce solution like Shopify or WooCommerce better fits your needs.
Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if Big Cartel or Amazon FBA offers better value for money.
Big Cartel offers reasonable value for money. Users have access to a solid package of features, including analytics, discount and promotional codes, shipping tracking, and more. Retailers can also take in-person payments with a Square reader (useful for taking orders at trade fairs, conventions, markets, etc.) There is also a “forever free” plan that allows for five products and a small selection of features.
The big downside is the limited number of product listings. The basic plan only allows for twenty-five products, and the premium $29.99/month plan has a maximum of three hundred products. What’s more product options (such as different colors or sizes) are only available on the higher-level plans.
“Value for money” is a slightly mixed bag when it comes to Amazon FBA. It’s important to stress that all serious Amazon FBA sellers will have to purchase a subscription to an Amazon Seller account. There are two plans available. The “Individual” plan is free, but a charge of $0.99 per item sold is collected. The “Professional” plan is $39.99 per month.
On the surface, these figures don’t seem significant. It’s when you get down to the nitty-gritty of item fees that a more precise picture starts to emerge. FBA sellers have to account for several charges: a referral fee (which can be up to 15% of the item sale price, a storage fee), storage costs, and a fulfillment fee. All of these can quickly add up, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the fine print and do all your calculations to ensure you can make a sustainable profit.
If things go wrong (and they often do) you need to know someone’s there to help get you back on track. So, how does Big Cartel's and Amazon FBA's support measure up?
Support is available via. email from Monday to Friday between 9 AM and 6 PM EST. While support is only available on workdays in working hours, reports about the quality and speed of support in these times are generally very good. Phone and live chat options are not available.
Amazon provides support to sellers through online tickets and has published extensive online documentation and training for new users. There is also an active community forum where it’s possible to get answers to questions.
While the support options are reasonable, we would like to have seen phone and email support in conjunction with the options already on offer.
The final say. Let's wrap up our thoughts on each platform.
Big Cartel is one of the most interesting and unique ecommerce platforms we’ve reviewed on Stackupp. At first sight, enforcing a limit of 300 listings on the premium plan would seem ridiculous. Serious retailers need unlimited products, right?
But this seemingly arbitrary limit on product listings ties in with Big Cartel;’s core value proposition as a “tight-knit company, built to stay small, independent, and do right by our team and artists for years to come.” The whole package is designed to give small-scale artists a professional, easy-to-use platform that stands head-and-shoulders above other entry-level options like Wix and Weebly.
If you’ve got a limited selection of products but want a beautiful online storefront to showcase them, along with the ability to take in-person orders at craft fairs, then Big Cartel is worth checking out. If, on the other hand, you run a more traditional ecommerce store, you’re better off seeking an alternative solution.
The FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon) program has done a lot to open up Amazon’s sizable marketplace to new sellers and streamline the often-complex process of storing items and fulfilling purchases.
If you are starting out in the ecommerce space, and find the prospect of running an independent store daunting, then Amazon is a viable option. Equally, if you already have an established online presence and want to reach new customers, selling your top-performing products through Amazon is also worth considering.
Just keep in mind that running a profitable Amazon FBA business is different from running your own online store. It requires a unique skill-set and the ability to evaluate competition and find gaps in the market.
Overall, we found Big Cartel to be the better ecommerce platform.
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