Big Cartel is a simple shopping cart solution created for small business owners looking to sell products online. Whether you’re selling clothing, artwork, accessories, crafts, or digital downloads, Big Cartel can do the job.
Big Cartel is a very affordable shopping cart solution with plans ranging from $9.99/mo to $29.99/mo. Big Cartel also does not charge you a percentage of each sale, unlike many other shopping cart platforms. The only additional fees are the Paypal transaction fees, as expected with when using any payment gateway for an online shop.
Big Cartel also offers a “forever free” plan, which allows for a 5 product limit, 1 image per product, basic stats, and limited customization access. For full control over your shop’s appearance, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. For Big Cartel’s $9.99/mo Platinum plan, you can have up to 25 products, 3 images per product and have the ability to track inventory and use discount codes. Currently, Big Cartel’s highest level plan, Titanium, allows for a maximum of 300 products.
Big Cartel comes standard with four basic themes with a minimal shop appearance. Each default Big Cartel theme has it’s own simple customization panel, which allows you to change colors and fonts, as well as uploading your shops header and background image, without any coding knowledge.
Check out the video below of Big Cartel’s backend customization panel in action:
The default Big Cartel themes do come with a few limitations. Big Cartel does give you full control over your shop’s HTML and CSS (for paid plans), which is great if you have web design experience. However, if you don’t have any coding knowledge, you may find it very difficult to implement certain features found on modern shops, such as home page sliders and showing related products. Many other shopping cart platforms have themes that come standard with such features.
Luckily, there are several, third-party, premium Big Cartel themes out there that include a host of advanced features. Theme Fiend, for example, offers an extensive collection of themes for Big Cartel that will allow you to give your shop a professional appearance, while still taking advantage of Big Cartel’s simplicity.
Backend and Shop Management
When operating a Big Cartel shop, one of the major benefits is the ease of managing the shop on your own. Big Cartel has a very simple backend that’s super easy to figure out. Almost any body opening a shop will be able to do things such as create new products, pages, and categories and add content to them very easily.
In your Big Cartel shop backend, you can also review order details, check payment statuses, and track shipped orders. With these features, customer service can be handled more efficiency.
If you have a custom domain that you’d like to use for your shop, you can easily configure it with your Big Cartel shop, so instead of visitors seeing ‘yourshop.bigcartel.com’ in the address bar, visitors will just see ‘yourshop.com’. Even as a startup shop owner, it’s still important that your shop is presented professionally, and customizing the domain name helps.
The main drawback to managing your Big Cartel shop is that there isn’t any way to make bulk changes to your shop such as deleting several products at a time, or putting several products on sale at once. Also, while you can export your shop’s theme design, it’s not possible to import a theme; you need to manually install the theme. Another thing that would be great for Big Cartel to offer is the ability to bulk import/export products and their respective fields. Understandably, Big Cartel doesn’t offer this feature since the platform is intended for those selling a relatively small number of products.
Search Engine Optimization
By default, all Big Cartel shops are already search engine optimized. Big Cartel automatically outputs meta titles and descriptions for your shop, based on your product titles and descriptions. Big Cartel’s url structure for shops is also optimized for search engines.
Although Big Cartel is already set up to be search engine friendly, it does have some disadvantages when it comes to tailoring your site for SEO. Unfortunately, you can not create a custom meta title and description for your products, categories, or pages. This would come in handy, for example, if you wanted your actual product name to be one thing, while having the meta title (what’s seen in the search engine results for a term) to say something else that’s more targeted to the particular search term.
These SEO drawbacks aren’t major issues and shouldn’t be seen as deal breakers for using Big Cartel. You will still gain visibility in the search engines and you can still edit your product description in a subtle way to include keywords that you want to target.
Big Cartel comes with some simple features that can assist you in your shop marketing efforts. You can create time sensitive discount codes, configured to give customers a dollar amount or percentage amount discount. With the discount code feature, you can even offer exclusive free shipping deals to customers. Another cool marketing feature is the ability to integrate your Big Cartel shop with your Facebook page. Big Cartel’s Facebook app makes it easy to sell products directly through Facebook.
Since Big Cartel is positioned as a simple shopping cart, there aren’t really any advanced marketing features that come with the platform. Unlike more some other platforms, you can’t do things like create autoresponders to automatically follow up with customers, set up an affiliate program, or send notifications to customers who abandoned their carts, just to name a few of the marketing limitations. Now if those marketing features sound complex or excessive, then you most likely wouldn’t need them now anyway, but they can come in handy as your company grows.
Big Cartel is best suited for startup businesses looking for a shopping cart platform that’s easy to manage, contains simple, yet essential, features, and allows for total design customization.
If you’re company is more advanced, and looking for a more robust shopping cart solution, that’s just about as easy to manage as Big Cartel, Shopify would be the next best thing. Shopify’s backend and management features are similar to Big Cartel’s at the core, but some of the features may be overwhelming and unnecessary to a brand owner just looking to get their “feet wet’ and start selling products.
Big Cartel is a great starting point for new brands and comes with all the features you’ll need when starting out. And with Big Cartel releasing new features in the future, you may find Big Cartel to be suitable fit for your company even as you grow. If you’re ready to get your shop up, and think Big Cartel is the best option for you, then try Big Cartel today!