You are an artist or a craftsperson. Maybe you run a small business and you want your craftwork to reach a wider audience. Or, you’re a talented indie maker who wants to have an additional source of income or make a living from your writing, artwork, your band’s merch, or your patiently crafted handmade gifts. You have so much to offer to all those people out there!
The good news is, contrary to what some naysayers think, there’s a really simple way to sell online and become independent. You just need to “migrate” your business online and make people aware of your online presence.
That’s exactly what an eCommerce website/store builder like Big Cartel is for. Envisioned as a platform “for artists by artists”, this platform’s raison d’être is helping artists and artisans showcase their products and bring home the bacon.
Starting your business online with Big Cartel is, pretty much, easy as pie. You just choose one of the pricing plans, set up an account, select a theme, and you’re ready to go. This last bit, selecting a theme, is the one we will be focusing on here. So, if you were wondering what options are out there and which Big Cartel theme is the right one for you, we’re here to help you.
Big Cartel Themes: A General Overview
Big Cartel’s Very Own Themes
The thing about Big Cartel is that, when it comes to choosing a theme, it does not provide its customers with that many options. Some may see this as a colossal drawback. As your business scales, the limited choice of themes may eventually become a major obstacle.
However, this is the case because Big Cartel is, for the most part, geared toward small businesses and creative individuals. And in a world where we are virtually terrorized by a plethora of choices, a limited set of options can even be a good thing.
The overall number of themes available on Big Cartel is 18, not counting Sexy and Blocks - those two are older and not responsive, which makes them obsolete. And all these themes are free. That’s right: free as in you don’t need to spend another penny other than your monthly Big Cartel subscription.
They are simple, but well designed and aesthetically appealing. That makes them a good fit for the market they were designed for. On the downside, under the surface, they are fairly similar, which may cause more than a few Big Cartel sites to look quite alike.
How Customizable Are They?
If you opt for the free plan, you won’t be able to make any significant changes to the theme you’ve picked. But, you can replace images, create a slideshow (depending on the template), change colors and fonts here and there, play around with text, add some extra fields and buttons, and a couple more things.
You are free to experiment with the available options, but the only way to make changes that make your store stand out is to do some coding. You can play around with the CSS code even with the free plan. But custom HTML is a possibility that comes only with the paid plans. Even then, certain sections of your theme can’t be changed, e.g. the checkout page.
However, my general impression is that customization is not where Big Cartel themes shine. It’s not even that there isn’t that much room for customization. The problem is that it’s not exactly the easiest thing in the world to do. At times, it looks like finding your way around it is... well, a laborious task. This especially holds if resorting to coding is the only way to modify your theme to look the way you want it to. Experimenting with HTML and CSS code may be fun for the tech-savvy among us, but not everyone has the time or will to learn or do it. Actually, that’s what site builders are really for, aren’t they? :)
On the flip side, streamlining is at the center of Big Cartel’s philosophy. The whole point of Big Cartel’s themes seems to be enabling us to build our store quickly and without too much hassle. In that sense, we could say that there’s a fair trade-off between customizability and simplicity. Speaking of, you can easily switch themes whenever you feel like it (but don’t get into the habit). Portions of your website will be automatically adjusted to the new look, but you’ll probably have to re-upload some images by hand, which timewise is not the most desirable thing.
Alternatives and Third-Party Themes
Of course, there’s always an alternative. If you want a theme specially tailored for your store, you could always hire a web designer or developer. Big Cartel itself has a few tips for theme tweaking and hiring custom designers.
Another thing you could do is just pick out one of the commercial third-party ready-made themes. But keep in mind that there aren’t that many out there. Information is very scarce or, at least, it’s not exactly a breeze to find much about these themes.
However, you should always take into consideration that a custom theme may not be compatible with Big Cartel. It might not work if you update or switch themes, so you should always check with your vendor beforehand.
Heads-up! We are leaving the alternatives and third-party themes aside, and we are embarking on an exploration of the best themes that Big Cartel has to offer. Buckle up and let’s dive into it!
The Best Big Cartel Themes
Are you ready? Here are 5 of our favorite Big Cartel themes:
Luna has a modern and elegant, yet simple look. It seems like every little thing is exactly where it’s meant to be. Everything feels neat and easy to navigate through. It’s probably most fitting for selling elegant and stylish items.
Luna has a responsive design, but that goes for every single one of the 18 themes. It seems to be one of Big Cartel’s creators' favorites, which is why they revamped the theme in 2019.
When it comes to useful features, the slider on the Home page is worth mentioning. Also, by enabling the “Related Products” option, you can easily upsell another one of your products to your visitors. The layout is fairly customizable. Among other things, the slideshow can be used to advertise discounts.
On the not so cool side, it seems to be the default theme now. This is probably not the most desirable property. Chances are there are many more stores with the same look, which may potentially be a hindrance to your business.
- recently revamped
- easy to navigate
- related products option
- default theme
2. Lunch Break
Most of the good things said about Luna apply here. Lunch Break is clean, easy-to-navigate, and beautiful. Underneath its simplicity, there are many possibilities for tweaking, which gives you solid creative control.
There’s a slider on the Home page to help you showcase your best products better. You can sort products according to the sales count, number of views, or based on how new they are.
When it comes to caveats, there’s not much to be said apart from the fact that it doesn’t quite have the modern feel of Luna. Still, it’s far from being a tribute to the nineties. Also, the navigation bar could look a tiny bit better, but at least, it’s simple to spot and use.
- easy to navigate
- sales count
- number of views
- most recent products
- not as modern as Luna
- not exactly the best navigation bar
The next in line is Foundry. This one was created with clothing brands in mind - at least, that’s what Big Cartel says. It has a very cool look and it’s so not overcrowded, which is why it’s suitable for a store with numerous items and many categories.
This theme gives you a full-screen welcome picture on the Home page. You can add a welcome message of your choice on top of the picture. If you find it useful, there’s an option to show the sold-out products, too.
A quirk of this theme is that it displays the products only after someone clicks the basket and then the “Start shopping” CTA in the upper right corner. There’s a similar problem with the Home page - a visitor won’t see any of your products unless they scroll down, which some may find inconvenient.
For this reason, this theme probably won’t be ideal for artists or artisans who are yet to build their brand, as it makes it difficult for them to put their products in the spotlight. You build a good reputation by showcasing your products. You let your products tell your story before your brand name starts to speak for itself. So, if you don’t have an already established brand, maybe it’s better to look somewhere else.
- not overcrowded
- full-screen welcome picture
- welcome message
- multiple products and categories
- sold out option
- mostly for already established brands
- visitors need to scroll down or click a few times before they see the products
Ranger has the vibe of a standard eCommerce theme. If you want to go for something that has that classical eCommerce look, this theme is a good option. Big Cartel presents it as a “great theme for the great outdoors”, but in my opinion, the aesthetic of this theme can work great for plenty of other niches.
Similar to Foundry, this Big Cartel theme allows you to add a customizable welcome message on top of the welcome picture, and a sold-out products option. Ranger is the theme if you want the visuals to have a big footprint - you can go big with your website header design and it’ll look stunning against the otherwise white backdrop of Ranger.
If the classical eCommerce theme look is not your cup of tea, Ranger might be a bit dull for your purposes. But then maybe you should try out the next theme.
- classical look
- customizable welcome message
- welcome picture
- sold out option
- offers plenty of real estate for adding striking visual elements to your website
- potentially dull if you don’t want the standard eCommerce look
5. Good Vibes
Good Vibes is anything but dull. It has a stylish, you might even say, playful design. At the same time, Big Cartel stays faithful to its devotion to simplicity.
It features large photos, a Home page slider, and effortless social media integration. The possibility to view or edit the shopping cart in the Home page comes in very handy: visitors can just click the item they are interested in and they are already where they should be.
On the other hand, large photos might not be your thing. And, for some of us, it may be really “overflowing with style”, as Big Cartel remarks, and way too fancy.
- interesting design
- large photos
- easy social media integration
- easy-to-use shopping cart
- might look a bit “too-out-there” for some
If you found this article helpful and sufficiently informative, check out the themes described here (or look into some others, why not?) and see which one works best for you.
And, if you not only want to share your amazing creations on Big Cartel but also want to tell the world about them using a blog, DropInBlog can definitely lend a hand. We offer an easy-to-integrate blogging tool that makes adding a blog to your Big Cartel website a breeze. Check out our article on the best way to add a blog to your Big Cartel store.
With the right choice of a theme and amazing products on offer, the blog can become a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.
There you have it: the best Big Cartel themes according to my absolutely objective, impeccable, and infallible opinion. No, seriously, maybe I didn’t unveil the ultimate mysteries of existence, but if this article managed to tickle your fancy, we’re both in a good spot.