Big Cartel vs. OpenCart

Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how Big Cartel and OpenCart stack up.

Daniel Adams

Daniel Adams

Last updated 2o July 2020


Big Cartel

4.0  Stackupp rating


Pricing from

$ 9.99 / month

Free Plan?

Yes


Best for

Big 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.

OpenCart

4.0  Stackupp rating


Pricing from

N/A

Free Plan?

Yes


Best for

Opencart is ideal for small and medium-sized retailers that have web development experience.

Big Cartel or OpenCart: Which is best?

Can't decide between Big Cartel and OpenCart?

Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of Big Cartel and OpenCart. 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.

Is Big Cartel right for 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.

Advantages

  • Beautiful and artistic collection of themes.
  • Highly intuitive and easy-to-use.
  • Possible to set up your store in minutes.

Drawbacks

  • Robust but limited set of features.
  • Difficult to customize.
  • Maximum of three hundred listings on the premium plan.

Use Cartel is you’re a creative (with an inventory of fewer than 300 products) looking for a hassle-free, cost-effective solution.

Is OpenCart right for you?

OpenCart occupies a unique space in the eCommerce platform market. It’s a free and open-source solution that’s ideal for small and medium retailers that want to exercise full development control on their own servers.

Immediately, this excludes two groups. First, small retailers that want a fully-hosted solution and don’t have coding skills will struggle with OpenCart. Secondly, larger stores, or stores expecting to scale, may find the feature-set somewhat limited. OpenCart doesn’t have the same functionality and scalability as other open-source platforms like Magento.

If you’re not in either group, however, OpenCart is well worth giving a go. As an open-source solution, it’s fully customizable. The feature set is pretty solid, and the interface is very intuitive for a self-hosted solution. You’ll also have access to a large user community and extensions library. Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning the key selling point again: it’s free.

Advantages

  • The platform itself is free.
  • Open-source and fully editable for those with web development skills.
  • Intuitive and easy to use for a self-hosted platform.

Drawbacks

  • Costs for dedicated support and extensions can quickly add up.
  • Requires development and IT knowledge to be used effectively.
  • Few native marketing and SEO features.

Use OpenCart if you’re a small or medium-sized retailer looking for a self-hosted solution that isn’t going to break the bank. OpenCart is a streamlined platform with an intuitive dashboard, a solid feature-set, and a friendly, active community of users.

Ease of Use

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 OpenCart platforms are to run.

How easy is Big Cartel to use?

Rated 5/5 for Ease of Use

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.

What Big Cartel customers are saying...

“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.”

How easy is OpenCart to use?

Rated 4/5 for Ease of Use

There are two sides to the ease of use question when it comes to OpenCart.

On the one hand, users have access to an intuitive dashboard (which is slightly unusual for an open-source, self-hosted solution) and a large library of extensions.

On the other hand, installing, maintaining, and running a store built on OpenCart requires a certain degree of development experience.

If you’re not comfortable handling backend tasks, then it’s probably not the option for you.

What OpenCart customers are saying...

Very good. Takes a while to get it setup to your own taste/needs, but worth the effort. Loads of online help for the most common stumbling blocks.
Having tried numerous e-commerce platforms opencart is by far my favourite.
I love that you can easily buy modifications from the marketplace for niche use case scenarios, and if not there are developers that are very knowledgeable of the product so custom functionality isn't a problem.

Big Cartel is our winner for ease of use

Design

Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do Big Cartel and OpenCart templates actually look any good? See for yourself. We outline each platforms design options, plus showcase a few real life examples.

How good are Big Cartel's themes?

Rated 3.5/5 for Design

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.

Big Cartel Examples

  • Roda
    Roda
Item 1 of 3

How good are OpenCart's themes?

Rated 4/5 for Design

OpenCart comes with a straightforward, minimal theme that’s already installed. Users that want to change the design have two options: buy a theme from the marketplace or edit the source code directly.

The themes in the marketplace are relatively well-priced - most cost around $20 - and this is a definite plus. There are lots of options on offer, tailored for a variety of online sectors, so you’re certain to find one that fits your needs.

OpenCart doesn’t provide a site-builder for users. If you’re not comfortable editing code directly, then you’ll struggle to make small design changes. Again, development experience is a must.

OpenCart Examples

  • Schtinky Dog
    Schtinky Dog
Item 1 of 3

OpenCart is our winner for design

How much do they cost?

Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if Big Cartel or OpenCart offers better value for money.

How much does Big Cartel cost?

Rated 4/5 for Pricing

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.

How much does OpenCart cost?

Rated 4/5 for Pricing

It’s difficult to fault a free platform. So why only eight out of ten?

First, let’s take a look at the positive side of things. The OpenCart feature-set is superb for a free, open-source platform. Users can take advantage of unlimited products and categories, multilingual and multi-currency support, product reviews, a shipping calculator, analytics reports, and more.

Where OpenCart starts to flounder a little is in regards to extensions and support. Dedicated support is $99/month. And extensions which provide extra functionality, such as integrations with third-party platforms, regularly run into the hundreds of dollars. Finally, retailers will have to take care of all hosting and maintenance costs themselves.

It's a draw!

Help and Support

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 OpenCart's support measure up?

How good is Big Cartel support?

Rated 3.5/5 for Help and Support

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.

How good is OpenCart support?

Rated 4/5 for Help and Support

OpenCart support comes in three forms. Reviews of the quality of support are generally positive.

First, users have access to a free community forum. The forum is active and has over 110,000 members.

Second, a one-off paid option is available. For $99 you get a one-time technical fix with a 30-day bug-free guarantee.

Finally, a subscription option for $99/month provides you with a monthly maximum of five extension installations and three bug fixes.

OpenCart is our winner for support

The Bottom Line

The final say. Let's wrap up our thoughts on each platform.

Big Cartel: Our Verdict

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.

OpenCart: Our Verdict

We liked OpenCart. It’s a great free solution for retailers that want to manage backend tasks themselves. If you have a small or medium store, and don’t want to deal with the complexities of a platform like Magento or PrestaShop, then it’s well worth giving a go.

Where OpenCart stumbles a little is in regards to paid extensions and support. Add-ons often run into hundreds of dollars. And for the amount you pay for monthly support, you might as well opt for a fully-hosted plan like Shopify or BigCommerce that comes with support included.

Just remember, if you don’t have development and IT skills, you’ll likely struggle with OpenCart. If, on the other hand, you’re more of the DIY orientation, you’ll certainly value the intuitive dashboard and extensive, easy-to-use features.

Overall, we couldn't pick a clear winner as Big Cartel and OpenCartscored similarly.

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