Big Cartel for E-commerce: Is It Worth It? (2023)

Last updated on August 6, 2023 by Cameron Sheppard

So you’re looking to sell online. Or maybe the $33/month price tag for Squarespace wasn’t a jolly sight on the bank statement each month, so you’re looking to migrate to another e-commerce platform.

Whatever the case, there are many options to choose from. Search on Google and you will be bombarded with all the top platforms trying to bid the most money so they can reach #1. Don’t you love ads?

You somehow heard about Big Cartel, and I bet you were immediately suspicious of the name. Then you did a bit more research and found out it’s a legit platform.

(That was my entire experience by the way)

Now you’re here. I’m going to give you all the details and end with my honest review of Big Cartel, which comes from using it to design an e-commerce website for one of my clients. Let’s go.

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What is Big Cartel?

Big Cartel is a full e-commerce platform. That means you can manipulate the design—what users see on the frontend—and also create products, manage shipping and taxes, and even offer users discounts.

At the most basic level, Big Cartel provides you with all the tools you need to sell online.

What does the dashboard look like?

The admin has a header at the top which comes with 5 tabs: Dashboard, Orders, Products, Discounts, and Account. Here’s what it looks like:

Screenshot of Big Cartel Dashboard tab at - From the official Big Cartel help page.

As you can see, the dashboard offers analytics at-a-glance. You can view your website’s stats in the last 7 or 30 days, by month, by year, or all-time.

The Orders tab is self-explanatory. It looks something like this:

Screenshot of Big Cartel Orders tab at - From the official Big Cartel help page.

When someone places an order for one of your products, the details will show on this tab. Plus, it allows you to move each order from a status of unshipped to shipped.

The ‘Products’ tab is also self explanatory. Here it is, for a store with no existing products:

Screenshot of Big Cartel Products tab at - From the official Big Cartel help page.

Here, you can add products or import them from a CSV file. Which, if you’re curious, can be exported from another e-commerce platform if you’re migrating to Big Cartel.

The Discounts tab:

Screenshot of Big Cartel Discounts tab at - From the official Big Cartel help page.

And finally, the Account tab:

Screenshot of Big Cartel Account tab at - From the official Big Cartel help page.

Overall, Big Cartel’s dashboard is clean and user-friendly. Absolutely no complaints about it.

How much does Big Cartel cost?

Big Cartel has three different payment plans:

  • Gold: Free
  • Platinum: $9.99/month
  • Diamond: $19.99/month

Let’s look at each plan in detail and figure out which one works for you:



  • No transaction fees
  • 5 products
  • 1 image per product
  • Website stats
  • Use a custom domain



  • No transaction fees
  • 50 products
  • 5 images per product
  • Website stats
  • Use a custom domain
  • Google Analytics
  • Bulk editing
  • Inventory tracking
  • Theme code editing



  • No transaction fees
  • 500 products
  • 5 images per product
  • Website stats
  • Use a custom domain
  • Google Analytics
  • Bulk editing
  • Inventory tracking
  • Theme code editing

As you can see, the free plan is quite generous. But the Platinum plan might be your best choice if you want advanced customization, up to 50 products, and five images for each product.

The only reason you might opt for the Diamond plan is if you have more than 500 products—that’s its only difference to the Platinum plan.

Overall, Big Cartel is quite cheap compared to other popular e-commerce platforms. To prove my point, here’s a table of comparison:


When paid yearly

  • Core: $27/month
  • Business: $32/month
  • Business Elite: $159/month


When paid yearly

  • Basic: $29/month
  • Shopify: $79/month
  • Advanced: $299/month


When paid yearly

  • Business: $23/month
  • Commerce Basic: $27/month
  • Commerce Advanced: $49/month


When paid yearly

  • Standard: $29/month
  • Plus: $79/month
  • Pro: $299/month

Now when you look at Big Cartel’s pricing, you might be surprised it’s so low. And for the amount of features you get (even on the free plan) it really ends up being an affordable option.

Does Big Cartel charge processing fees?

Good news: No!

Even on the free plan, Big Cartel won’t charge you a dime in processing fees. However, note that the payment gateways (Stripe and PayPal) used by the platform do charge fees, at 2.9% + 30 cents and 3.4% + 49 cents per transaction, respectively.

Does Big Cartel have themes?

At the moment of writing, Big Cartel has 20 themes that you can use to design your website. Users of other e-commerce platforms might find that shockingly low compared to the likes of Shopify, which has 150, or BigCommerce, which has 233.

However, don’t be discouraged! The themes you can pick from are all mobile-responsive and suit a wide range of niches. Not all of them are necessarily ‘pretty’ but they get the job done.

Is there a drag-and-drop page builder?


There are some websites that offer ‘code blocks’ which accomplish the same job as a normal drag-and-drop element, but you still have to directly modify the HTML and CSS code.

While you can set certain things like the hero image for some themes, your customization options are extremely limited. If that’s a deal breaker for you, I recommend another platform that has a drag-and-drop page builder like Shopify or Wix.

The hard truth

In my personal opinion, none of the available themes are anything to admire. When I used Big Cartel to design a website for Oh WoW!® Lip Balm, I ended up ditching the theme altogether and custom coding it to my liking.

But that’s one benefit of using Big Cartel for your online store: you can custom code almost everything! From the metadata and scripts before the <head> tag to the sitewide CSS, you can go crazy. That does require some coding knowledge, though.

My honest review

Big Cartel proved itself to be an affordable option for my e-commerce client and a usable option for me.

While the platform does offer everything you need to sell your products online, it always has me asking: “Is this enough?”

The customization really fell short of my expectations. For someone like me, a designer, using custom HTML and CSS to make a beautiful website was easy.

But let’s be real here: most people who use the platform don’t know any code and, frankly, don’t have the time to learn. So, they’re stuck using one of the 20 themes Big Cartel offers and praying that it performs well under the stern eyes of their customers.

A drag-and-drop page builder would fix that, but Big Cartel doesn’t have one. Maybe it will be added in the future?

For now, you might just have to bare the pesky $33/month Squarespace price tag. If it makes things easier for you, then go for it.

However, if you really want to stick with Big Cartel but also want to make your online storefront look good, you might want to hire a web designer.

I design websites for e-commerce businesses like yours, and I’m well versed in all things Big Cartel (that’s why I’m writing this article).

Instead of pouring hours upon hours into searching for the right platform, trying to figure it out, giving up and then hoping for a spark of motivation tomorrow, work with me and I’ll do everything for you.

(Believe me, those were just a few of the problems some of my e-commerce clients faced before they worked with me)

You can view some of my past work here. If you’re ready to book a free discovery call with me, go here. Cheers.

Final thoughts

Why does setting up an online store have to be so tough? Even the e-commerce platforms that market themselves as “no-code” and “10-minute setup” website builders take hours to figure out and use. I’m clueless.

But there’s one thing I do know: a well-designed online store does more than just look pretty. It lowers bounce rates, increases conversions, and makes your brand appear more trustworthy. That’s valuable.

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