Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how Big Cartel and eBay 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.
3.5 Stackupp rating
Best forretailers that intend to sell mainly through eBay or want to expand their existing market.
Can't decide between Big Cartel and eBay?
Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of Big Cartel and eBay. 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.
As an ecommerce retailer, you’ve likely already heard of eBay. Most people know it as the web’s leading auction site. But eBay also offers a suite of tools for businesses. Retailers can use the eBay ecommerce platform either as their sole store or in conjunction with their self-hosted website.
Tools for businesses include the “Selling Manager”, of which there is both a free and a paid version; “File Manager”, for high-volume sellers; “eBay shops”, which enable you to build your own dedicated storefront; and a large library of integrations and third-party tools.
Consider using eBay if you want to leverage the marketplace’s existing audience, or if you’re looking for a straightforward solution that doesn’t come with the hassle of building a store from scratch.
you want to take advantage of eBay’s large marketplace, want to grow your sales by establishing a presence on eBay in conjunction with your existing ecommerce store.
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 eBay 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.”
eBay is very easy to use. Sellers without any technical knowledge or limited experience navigating an ecommerce dashboard will find it particularly appealing.
The business tools, like Selling Manager Pro and File Exchange, are intuitive and straightforward and come with extensive documentation. If you’re comfortable with the normal eBay dashboard, then you won’t have a problem adapting to the more advanced features.
"It was through eBay that we were able to realise the potential we had."
"It was so incredible getting my first sale within 24 hours. We were literally jumping with joy."
“Selling Manager Pro suits me fine with only around 130 items per month going out.”
Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do Big Cartel and eBay 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.
eBay doesn’t offer much in the way of design flexibility. Shops and listings follow a standard template. In terms of the storefront, users can modify the logo, banner image, and description. It’s also possible to alter the navigation section on the left side of the store by creating various categories and subcategories.
In regards to the listings, sellers have control over the title, variation options (colour, size, model, etc.), and initial description.
The central overview area can also be used to add further product information and extra pictures.
If you’re looking for a high level of design freedom, then it’s probably fair to say that eBay isn’t the solution for you. If, on the other hand, you’re happy to work within the constraints of eBay’s storefront, then there won’t be any issues.
Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if Big Cartel or eBay 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.
Depending on the specifics of your situation, including your volume of sales, the size of your existing market, and your return-on-investment from advertising, eBay may fall at either end of the spectrum when it comes to value from money, from absolutely excellent to jaw-droppingly terrible.
The business tools themselves aren’t particularly expensive - Selling Manager Pro will set you back by $15.99/month and a “Premium Store”, which allows for 1000 free fixed-price listings per month, will cost you $59.95/month. Compared to most ecommerce platforms, those fees are very good.
The main costs, however, lie in the “final value fee”. Whenever you make a sale, eBay will take around 10% of the sale amount (which includes the payment processing fee).
For smaller businesses, the total fee amount per month will likely be lower than what you would pay if you opted for your own store with a platform like Shopify or BigCommerce. For high-volume retailers catering to a market outside of eBay, however, final value fees will likely represent significant and unnecessary losses.
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 eBay'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.
eBay’s help and support package varies depending on which type of plan you purchase. Higher-level subscription options come with “eBay Concierge”, in which users have access to additional support options compared to the basic package. Basic customer support is mainly provided through email and live chat.
“Concierge” includes lower wait times, access to highly-trained members of the support team, and sales and marketing training. You’ll also receive extra assistance with negative reviews and listings that don’t meet eBay criteria.
Generally speaking, we’ve found eBay response times and the quality of customer support to be very good. Sellers also have access to extensive documentation and training materials.
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.
Consider using eBay as your primary ecommerce platform if you want access to the marketplace’s large customer base or if you’re looking for a streamlined, easy-to-use solution that doesn’t come with many of the hassles of running your own independent store. It has a wide selection of seller tools, solid customer support, and won’t break the bank.
Many well-known brands, like Adidas and Dell, also run eBay shops alongside their main websites to reach new customers.
If, however, you want full control of your store and plan to market directly to customers, then you will likely need a more advanced solution like Shopify, WooCommerce or BigCommerce.
Overall, we found Big Cartel to be the better ecommerce platform.
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