Selling handcrafted goods can be a tough business to start. That is why many different online platforms have allowed for incredible growth in this area. Although both platforms were founded in 2005, many people have not heard of Big Cartel. This guide will compare the two and help you decide which option is a good pick for you.
Big Cartel allows for a quick setup of a shop. They allow for a very wide variety of items but have a focus on small creatives that are creating handmade items. The platform allows for easy payments and some customizability for storefronts.
Big Cartel is a great place for more independent artists like designers, crafters, photographers, and musicians. Big Cartel focuses much more on the individual and there is not as much competition occurring in the platform compared to Etsy.
Although Big Cartel has a limit of 300 listings, this does coincide with their huge focus on staying small and supporting small creators, which is admirable. This is a great choice if you need an extremely easy-to-use platform with many more tools than other platforms have. Overall, this is an entry-level option.
This is also very beneficial to those who sell in person with the ability to take payments through Square and see all data in one place. Big Cartel is meant to be your hub, but it is expected that you can source many customers outside of the platform. Big Cartel is only a website maker and cannot be used to drive traffic.
Similar to Big Cartel, Etsy offers many different items including home décor, clothing, jewelry, and toys. Etsy is another marketplace with a focus on unique items. There is a big focus on handmade items but there are many different vintage items available as well. Vintage items must be at least 20 years old. Etsy focuses on having a giant market where many different sellers compete.
Etsy is a great platform mainly because of its audience and market. Many consumers already trust Etsy to provide them with quality handmade goods, and this can take some of the pressure off of trying to build trust from nothing when starting a business. However, some of the extra charges may be stressful to someone who would like standard costs each month. Etsy is primarily focused on driving traffic.
The Big Difference
Many sellers choose Etsy over Big Cartel because Etsy already has a large customer base already built into the platform. Big Cartel, on the other hand, does not have built-in traffic. You will need to drive customers to your Big Cartel site which is not an easy task to accomplish. Big Cartel, however, does focus on the artistic side more so and is great for small stores.
Customers and Communication
Big Cartel allows for each store to have a contact form in which customers can reach out. You can then message them in the app. Big Cartel is more focused on being a place to create your store, but not locate you customers automatically. It can be a great platform for someone who already has some customers or is using an outside ad service to drive potential customers to your unique site.
Etsy also allows for messaging within the platform.
For gaining new customers, Etsy wins by a huge margin over Big Cartel. Customers can find your store simply by searching for a product in the search bar. You can also connect directly with social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter to promote your shop. You also have the option to pay for a promotion to increase the visits to your store through Etsy.
Ease of Use and Customization
Big Cartel is wonderful if you need an extremely intuitive platform that allows you to see everything centrally. They mainly focus on making the platform as easy to use as possible. This can be a wonderful place to begin your business if you do not have any website building or coding experience as that part can be overwhelming. On Big Cartel, one of the huge perks is that you get a custom domain name. This can make it easy to promote your site and collect customers, both online and offline. Other tools include packing slips, editing orders, inventory tracking, status updates, and site statistics.
In terms of customization, Big Cartel does offer different themes that you can choose
from. This could be beneficial to someone who is just starting out. Building a brand can be incredibly tough and Big Cartel allows for no stress in this area. However, they do allow for some minor changes to be made in the colors, text, and images you choose.
Like Big Cartel, there are not too many complex features that can be an advantage to those who are just starting out. Etsy makes it very easy to create listings and see your analytics. For customization, nearly all stores look very similar. You have the option to add a custom profile picture and banner, but other than that, you cannot change much else. Big Cartel does allow for more customization compared to Etsy.
If you choose their premium subscription, you can promote products on your homepage. Etsy has less focus on customization, and more on gaining customers and business.
Support and Customer Service
Phone or live chat: no
With a more limited customer support than Etsy, you can only contact Big Cartel support between 9 am and 6 pm EST from Monday through Friday. This could be nerve racking to some users who may need assistance on the weekend or outside of the available hours. However, it is said that the response time is great from support if you contact them between their working hours.
Phone or live chat: yes to both
With more options for customer service, Etsy allows for email, phone, and live chat communications with support. However, some users report that their response time can take a few days for a case to be looked at. You can locate any support option from a tab in your seller dashboard, which can be reassuring to be able to get ahold of support easily if something goes wrong.
4 monthly pricing plans:
Gold – $0
Platinum – $9.99
Diamond – $19.99
Titanium – $29.99
None: no listing or transaction fees.
Big Cartel offers a big selection of tools to create and run your personal shop including promotional codes, tracking, analytics, themes, and the ability to use a Square reader for in-person sales.
The completely free plan allows for a listing of just five products and some basic tools. At the most expensive monthly plan, you can list up to 300 products. If you are going to need to list more, this could be a downside.
A big plus of using Big Cartel is that they do not charge listing or transaction fees. As a creator, it can be disheartening for a platform to take a huge cut of your sales. You will not have to worry about this on Big Cartel.
2 monthly pricing plans:
Etsy Standard – $0
Etsy Plus – $10
Listing fee ($0.20), auto-renewal fee ($0.20), transaction fee (5%), and payment gateway fee (3%).
Pattern by Etsy – $15
Although Etsy does not have more expensive monthly payment plans compared to Big Cartel, the other fees can add up.
If you do choose the more expensive monthly plan, Etsy Plus, you are able to have access to more customization, a discount for your custom web address, ad credits, and listing credits, to name a few perks.
Even though it seems like many of these different charges may add up, the access to a huge customer base and increased sales may make up for it two-fold.
Pattern by Etsy allows for you to have your own domain address.
User Experiences – Do Sellers Prefer One Platform Over the Other?
User Abeabi on Reddit phrased the difference between Etsy and Big Cartel perfectly: “Big cartel is like opening a storefront selling pies. Starting a shop on Etsy is like selling your pies inside an existing restaurant.”
Many users say that they eventually outgrew Big Cartel and needed to post more items, so they switched to Etsy. Or they wanted the ability to have more visibility for their stores and have access to the Etsy market. Many users also reported switching to Etsy because of the customer’s ability to easily discover your store simply through searching for the item. New shop owners may find difficulty growing a customer base without this search function on Big Cartel.
Users tout Etsy for having the lowest fees and largest audience. However, these fees just may not be worth it for some. Reddit user Jen_GrayDesign’s shop had been on Etsy for 2 years but they are now looking to make the switch due to their reported 45% order fees.
So, if you are looking to get away from fees adding up, Big Cartel may be a great option. You can drive your existing Etsy customers to your Big Cartel site to keep your business going.
If you are very indecisive about which platform to choose, we recommend trying out both. They both have a free subscription which could get you started and give you a better picture as to which platform will work for you. Also, having your items listed in as many places as possible will inevitably lead to more sales and visibility. If you do find one platform in which you are getting more sales, you can cancel the other and focus solely on the one that works for you.
Generally, if you are looking to find customers easily, Etsy may be the better platform for you. If you have existing customers or are comfortable with finding customers yourself, Big Cartel may be a great option.