Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how Big Cartel and Magento stack up.
Last updated 2o July 2020
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.
Best forMagento “Open Source” requires development knowledge and is suitable for large enterprises. “Magento Commerce”, a fully-hosted version of Magento Open Source, available on a range of plans, catering retailers from mom-and-pop stores to global enterprises.
Can't decide between Big Cartel and Magento?
Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of Big Cartel and Magento. 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.
Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform owned by Adobe which is offered in a range of formats. The best-known option is a completely free, open-source version called “Magento Open Source”. Retailers that want to use the platform while taking advantage of cloud hosting, customer support, and additional functionality, can opt for one of the paid options under the “Magento Commerce” banner.
Because of its extensive feature-set, scalability, high customizability, and popularity among developers, Magento is particularly suitable for retailers running larger stores. Medium-sized retailers that need a comprehensive and feature-rich solution will also be drawn to Magento.
For smaller retailers without any development experience, however, a more user-friendly and streamlined solution will probably be preferable.
If you’re a large retailer that needs a customizable, powerful solution through which you can manage multiple sites in different countries. Remember to take care of hosting, security, and troubleshooting yourself if you opt for the open source version.
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 Magento 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.”
While advanced development knowledge is required to run the open-source and paid enterprise version of Magento, the management dashboard itself is pretty intuitive. That said, Magento does have a very large feature-set, so there’s a learning curve for new users.
The small business version has a page-builder for ease-of-use and assistance is available for getting set up. Smaller retailers interested in Magento should try the free trial to see if it fits with their needs.
"Powerful e-commerce platform - if you are willing to get your hands dirty.”
“It's a great and versatile eCommerce platform, which gives plenty of flexibility and has support for a vast amount of features and products.”
“I like the security features that Magento offers. It is one of the more secure options out there. The support community is very large so if you need help or have questions, you can usually find an answer quick.”
Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do Big Cartel and Magento 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.
Magento is arguably the most customizable ecommerce platform on the market. But there’s a big caveat. To make design changes to the open-source and enterprise solutions, development skills are a must.
Magento only comes with one built-in storefront theme but a range of third-party templates are available. The downside is that these can be very expensive.
Small and medium retailers that want access to a user-friendly site-builder and library of free templates will likely prefer solutions like Shopify, Squarespace, Weebly and Wix.
If, as a small retailer, you’re drawn to Magento because of its wide array of features, “implementation plans” are available.
Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if Big Cartel or Magento 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.
It’s always difficult to fault a free solution. What’s more, Magento comes with an extensive feature-set that would cost a significant amount of money on a similar plan from another provider. Open-source features include support for multiple languages, promotional tools, content management, order and shipping processing, customer service, and more.
But there are a few important points to keep in mind. For larger enterprises, the cost of maintaining secure servers and the need for an in-house development team will be high. And extensions often cost hundreds of dollars. Pricing for fully-hosted Magento plans is not published. The enterprise-level options, however, are reported to cost tens of thousands of dollars every month. Small business plans are advertised as “affordable”.
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 Magento'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.
Technical support is limited on all plans on Magento. Users that have subscribed to a paid plan can submit support tickets. Additional support options - such as the “implementation package” for small businesses and “Magento Services” for enterprises - can be purchased for an additional cost.
If you decide to run Magento Open Source, you will need in-house IT support or an outsourced solution with an agency.
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.
Magento has an exhaustive of features. Enterprise-level stores should definitely consider it as a solution. Medium-sized retailers will also find Magento to be an excellent choice that scales as their store grows. The virtually unlimited scope for customization is another big plus.
Retail companies that don’t want to take care of hosting in-house can also opt for one of Magento’s paid plans. Just keep in mind that development knowledge is a must and that the cost of extensions and additional support packages can quickly add up.
For smaller retailers, there is a plan that provides full access to Magento’s features at a lower price. A free trial is available and well worth checking out. Just remember that simpler entry-level solutions - which are easier to use for people without any coding skills or access to developers - may be more viable.
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