Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how Volusion and Big Cartel stack up.
Matthew Taylor and Daniel Adams
Last updated 2o July 2020
Best forSmall businesses expecting to scale that are looking for a feature-rich platform.
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.
Can't decide between Volusion and Big Cartel?
Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of Volusion and Big Cartel. 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.
Volusion is a fully-hosted ecommerce platform with a loyal user-base and a wide selection of features. While the platform is suitable for businesses of all sizes, the intuitive user interface, high-quality customer support, and extensive feature-set make it an attractive choice for small and medium-sized retailers that are looking to scale.
Four pricing plans are available, beginning at $29/month and running all the way up to a custom option with VIP support. It is important for retailers to ensure that all the features they need are included with the package they select, as some features aren’t offered in lower-tier plans, like integration with third-party payment gateways and reviews and ratings functionality.
Use Volusion if you’re starting out or if you’re looking to scale and need access to a comprehensive set of ecommerce features. Larger stores that prefer to use a fully-hosted solution and wish to make a switch will also find a lot to like in Volusion.
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.
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 Volusion and Big Cartel platforms are to run.
Volusion is incredibly intuitive and easy to use. Users have access to a store builder, making it possible to design storefronts without any coding knowledge. Adding product listings, managing inventory and shipping, and setting up payment gateways, are all straightforward processes. What’s more, store-owners have 24/7 access to a variety of specialists.
“Always an awesome experience!”
“The online "chat" techs have been absolutely great. Solved my problems and are going to help me with a special "tweak" that I need done on my site. Should be ready to publish shortly.”
“Tech support is top of the list for all V2 owners. They are there for you to help you out for better ecommerce service.”
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.”
Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do Volusion and Big Cartel templates actually look any good? See for yourself. We outline each platforms design options, plus showcase a few real life examples.
Volusion is an excellent choice for users with limited design abilities that want to create a professional site. The site builder utilizes drag-and-drop content blocks (for reviews, images, testimonials, etc.), an editor for tweaking page elements, and also offers a variety of out-of-the-box features like search functionality.
On the downside, Volusion only offers forty-five themes, which is lower than some competitors. Only eleven themes are free. The remaining paid options each cost $180. Users should take advantage of the free trial to see if the templates and website builder are a fit for their store. It’s also worth reiterating that all customers have access to design specialists if they want to make changes or tweaks that require coding knowledge.
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.
Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if Volusion or Big Cartel offers better value for money.
Volusion is fairly competitive on the pricing front. Even on the basic plan, users have access to a broad array of features, including checkout, inventory management, access to templates, and so on.
There are a few things to watch out for, however.
First, some features that might be considered essential, like ratings and reviews, third-party payment gateway integrations, and omnichannel store management, are only available on higher-tier plans.
Second, there are some hidden costs involved. All store-owners must purchase an SSL certificate, for example, and customer support is only available via the web on the entry-level plan.
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.
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 Volusion's and Big Cartel's support measure up?
Volusion excels in customer support. A 24/7 service is available and provides access to technical, design, and marketing specialists. As web chat is only available on the beginner plan, you will need to upgrade to the next package for phone support. More extensive support packages, such as “homepage optimization” or Google Analytics training, are available for an extra cost.
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.
The final say. Let's wrap up our thoughts on each platform.
Volusion has a great package of features, competitive pricing, and outstanding customer support. Retailers that require access to a team of technical, design, and marketing specialists should consider Volusion. Anybody without coding skills looking for a way to build and manage a store will feel at home with Volusion’s easy-to-use and intuitive dashboard.
The platform isn’t perfect, however. There are some hidden costs, like the requirement to buy or transfer an SSL certificate. Many features that might be considered essential, like omnichannel store management, coupon creation, and reviews and ratings functionality on product pages, are not included in the basic plan. Furthermore, third-party payment gateways are only available on the “Business” or “Prime” package.
Retailers should carefully check the features on offer to make sure they’ll have what they need with the plan they can afford.
In short, Volusion is an excellent platform for the right retailers. If you’re a small or medium-sized business looking for a platform that can scale as you grow, take advantage of the 14-day free trial to see if it’s a fit.
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.
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