Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how Big Cartel and WooCommerce 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 forIf you want to run your store on WordPress, then WooCommerce is hands-down the best choice. It’s ideal for small and medium-sized retailers, but larger enterprises might struggle.
Can't decide between Big Cartel and WooCommerce?
Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of Big Cartel and WooCommerce. 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.
WooCommerce is an open-source ecommerce platform for WordPress users. It’s one of the world’s most popular ecommerce platforms, and retailers can add unlimited products.
WooCommerce has a lot of great features, including an intuitive management dashboard, an extensive integration and theme library, and an active community. What’s more, WooCommerce is completely customizable and completely free.
While WordPress users won’t find a better solution than WooCommerce, there are downsides.
Because WooCommerce isn’t a hosted solution like Shopify or BigCommerce, you are responsible for taking care of backend tasks like hosting, security and maintenance. Some features that larger retailers require are also missing.
Use Woocommerce if you like WordPress and want an easy-to-use ecommerce solution. It’s ideal for smaller retailers that are familiar with WordPress and are looking for a cost-effective platform.
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 WooCommerce 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.”
WooCommerce is very easy to use. A set-up wizard walks you through the initial process of setting up your store.
Carrying out typical ecommerce tasks, like adding product inventory, processing orders, and launching promotions and discounts, is straightforward. WooCommerce offers a simple and intuitive dashboard that WordPress users will find familiar.
Choosing a theme and integrating with third-party services (like shipping providers, payment gateways, and email marketing apps) is also relatively straightforward. WooCommerce utilizes “extensions” to offer an array of features, although some of these extensions are quite pricey.
If you have any problems, you can pay for dedicated support or consult the large community of WooCommerce users.
“The best eCommerce platform available!”
“Such a good product running perfect for 6 months now. Thanks and keep up the good work.”
“This is incredible shopping cart. So professional solution with huge amount of add-ons. Thank you for your work!”
Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do Big Cartel and WooCommerce 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.
WooCommerce is one of the most customizable ecommerce platforms on the market. The WordPress editor makes it easy for users with no coding experience to tweak their storefront.
Deeper backend changes are also possible because WooCommerce is built on open-source software. Plugins allow for a host of minor changes, while more experienced developers can alter virtually any aspect of the core files.
If you don’t have any coding experience but want to make more complex changes, you can always enlist the help of a WooCommerce developer.
Along with a handful of free themes, WooCommerce offers a number of paid themes, most of which cost $39.
Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if Big Cartel or WooCommerce 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.
WooCommerce operates a unique revenue model. The basic plugin is free. Assuming that you have a WordPress site already, you can get up and running without having to pay anything.
WooCommerce makes money by selling plugins, themes, and support. So it’s important to account for these costs. Certain features that many retailers would consider essential, such as customer reviews, geo-targeting, customer services, and discount codes, can only be added through extensions that often cost several hundred dollars.
What’s more, customer support is only offered for WooCommerce products and via support tickets. For customization support, you’ll need to hire a WooCommerce developer, which can be costly.
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 WooCommerce'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.
WooCommerce support is a mixed bag. Because it’s a free WordPress plugin, customer service is not included as part of the core package.
If you need dedicated technical support, you’ll have to hire a “WooExpert”. WooCommerce provides basic general support and dedicated support for paid products like themes and extensions through help tickets.
That said, WooCommerce has an active community of users that are happy to help solve minor problems, along with extensive documentation.
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.
WooCommerce has many positives and only a handful of negatives.
If you’re thinking about WooCommerce, first make sure you wouldn’t prefer a fully-hosted solution like Shopify or Big Commerce. Out-of-the-box solutions come with dedicated customer service, an array of features, and all backend tasks are taken care of.
If, however, you’re looking for a cost-effective solution that integrates seamlessly with WordPress, and don’t mind looking after hosting yourself, then WooCommerce is ideal. A large library of extensions means that you won’t miss any features, and an active community of users is on hand to help you troubleshoot any issues.
What’s more, as an open-source platform, WooCommerce allows for almost unlimited customization.
Evaluate the cost of extensions and hosting before you decide to go all-in. And don’t be afraid to give WooCommerce a test-drive. It’s free, after all.
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