Big Cartel and Squarespace are both web-based platforms that have the same general purpose: enabling people to do business online. They are both available on Google Play and the App Store so you can manage your business on the go. They both have a huge customer base and are pretty successful in what they’re doing.
So, which one should you choose? The one that’s better for YOU, of course. :)
I know, this isn’t very helpful. So, let’s dive into the two platforms and by the end of the article, you’ll know which one will be the right choice for you.
Who Is Big Cartel For?
Big Cartel is great for small businesses, entrepreneurs with relatively small catalogs, and freelancers, mainly in the fields of arts and crafts. It’s inexpensive, easy to use (if you don’t want to go too deep into customization), and it’s meant to make everything eCommerce-related simple. There’s nothing in excess at Big Cartel.
So, if you’re an artist or artisan, or you own a small-scale business with handicrafts, or maybe you’re just a fan of simplicity, Big Cartel might be a good choice for you.
Who Is Squarespace For?
Squarespace is more suitable for growing businesses (small to medium). As you’ll see, it’s not as cheap as Big Cartel, but it leaves more room for customization. This makes it slightly more complex than Big Cartel, but it’s still fairly easy to use. It’s more of a general-purpose eCommerce/site builder platform, so it doesn’t matter if you’re an artist or an athlete, you can sell various types of products. One more thing worth mentioning is that Squarespace provides excellent marketing tools.
So, if you like what you just read, then Squarespace might be a great option for you.
But let’s postpone the final decision until we have explored the following key aspects these 2 platforms share more thoroughly in our Big Cartel vs Squarespace review:
Big Cartel offers 18 themes, not counting Sexy and Blocks. These 2 are older and not responsive, so even Big Cartel doesn’t recommend them. All 18 themes are free.
They are simple, well designed, and aesthetically pleasing. That makes them a good fit for the target customers they were designed for - artists and artisans.
The main drawback is that, under the hood, they are quite similar, which makes many Big Cartel websites resemble each other.
But one of the coolest things about Big Cartel themes is that they are easily switchable. A theme can be changed with zero effort and everything will automatically adjust to the newly chosen look.
You can personalize your theme by adding a logo, header, background image, and a slideshow, or by changing the number of featured products. You can also add buttons, pages (say, an About page), embed a newsletter subscription form, and do some other cool stuff. Colors and fonts are customizable, too. For a more thorough change, you have to turn to HTML and CSS coding.
Big Cartel doesn’t give you a blog option and it doesn’t have a theme specifically built with blogging in mind (although, Nova Theme may do the trick), so using a third-party blogging app, like DropInBlog, would be your best bet if you want to add a blog to your Big Cartel website. If that’s the case, take a look at What’s the best way to add a blog to your Big Cartel store? and see what a breeze it is to do this.
Squarespace has more than 100 themes, divided into 22 categories, like art and design, food, photography, fashion, and so on. They’re responsive and they’re all included in the existing pricing plans, so you don’t have to pay extra money for a theme.
Squarespace allows for a lot of customization. Even without coding, you’ll be able to change many things on your website. With coding, you can change virtually everything. You can change page spacing, alignment, layout, fonts, and the way products are displayed. You can rearrange or resize blocks, change the size of your headers, tweak the navigation dropdown menu, create custom buttons, borders, and graphics, and so on and so forth.
As is the case with Big Cartel, the themes are easily switchable.
And, again, just like with Big Cartel, some reviewers complain that Squarespace themes are quite similar. As one of them put it, once you’ve seen several Squarespace websites, you’ll always be able to say if a new site is a Squarespace site. Can’t say if I agree but I’m absolutely positive that if you want to make your site really special and unique, you can always make use of the coding possibilities Squarespace provides.
While Squarespace has a built in blogging option, it’s a bit underwhelming. If you want to do some real content marketing, which is probably the most efficient way to get new customers, I’d suggest checking out DropInBlog. It integrates very easily and is really good for SEO. As a bonus if you decide to switch to Big Cartel (or pretty much any other platform) you can bring your blog with you vs starting all over again. Huge win.
Big Cartel offers 4 pricing plans.
Gold is the name of the first plan and the beauty of it is that it’s completely free. Custom domain, free themes, in-person sales, real-time stats, the possibility to offer discounts and run promos, shipment tracking, and a sales tax tool are all included in Gold. Of course, since it’s free, there are some limitations. You can only have 5 products and 1 photo per product, but it’s a free package, so it’s kinda expected.
Platinum costs $9.99/mo. Some of the extra features include 50 products, 5 photos per product, theme code editing, Google Analytics, inventory tracking, and bulk editing.
Diamond is the third tier. The monthly fee is $19.99. The only difference between Platinum and Diamond is that, with the latter, you can have up to 250 products.
Titanium is the last one. It costs $29.99/mo and, again, the only feature that distinguishes it from the other paid plans is the number of products you can have, which is 500.
Obviously, the major difference between the paid plans is solely the number of products you’re allowed to sell.
Big Cartel charges by the month - there is no option for an annual subscription and no discounts that usually go with it.
But, one of the perks of all Big Cartel paid plans is that you don’t pay listing and transaction fees. Of course, the payment gateway of your choice will deduct a cut from your sale, but the fact that Big Cartel doesn’t do it is what makes this platform so cool and appealing to so many artists, craftspeople, and small business owners.
Squarespace has 4 pricing plans, and it allows you to pay monthly or annually. If you sign up for an annual subscription, you get a 13%-30% discount. There’s no free plan. But, if you want to get the feel of the software before you commit, it does offer a 14-day free trial.
Let’s delve into the Squarespace pricing packages.
Personal is the most basic plan. If you opt for a monthly fee, it costs $16. The annual subscription is 25% cheaper, which amounts to $12/mo. With this plan, clients get access to some really cool features, like free custom domain, SSL security, unlimited bandwidth and storage, SEO features, themes, 2 contributors, around-the-clock support, website metrics, and access to Squarespace extensions. This plan is best for a very small business website.
Basic Commerce is next in line. The price of the monthly subscription is $30 and the annual fee is 13% cheaper, which equals $26/mo. Basic has everything that Business has, plus some extra stuff like customer accounts, advanced powerful analytics, and advanced merchandising tools. One of the differences is that you don’t pay transaction fees with this plan. By comparison, Business Squarespace deducts 3% from each of your sales.
This package is most suitable for both small and medium-sized eCommerce stores.
Advanced Commerce is the name of the last pricing plan. The monthly subscription is $46, while the annual is 13% less - $40/mo. Again, it includes every feature from the previous plan, plus abandoned cart recovery (an extremely useful eCommerce tool), advanced shipping, advanced discounts, commerce API, and selling subscriptions (allowing your customers to subscribe to your products or services on a weekly or monthly basis).
Advanced Commerce is ideal for larger businesses.
Big Cartel’s Help page is well-organized and extremely helpful - you can find all the FAQs and how-tos you’ll ever need.
It’s divided into 11 sections, each of them covering a different area: basics, customization, products, orders, dashboard, discounts, settings, billing, security, apps and integrations, and live classes.
In addition to a help page, there’s also a contact center. It consists of a team of 13 people who are available 7 days a week from 8 am to 6 pm EST. Clients can contact them via email. There’s no live chat or phone support, though.
Squarespace has a great Help page, where you can find everything you need to be able to run your store smoothly.
The company offers support 24/7 through a variety of channels: guides, videos, webinars, forums, email, a chatbot (called Support Assistant), and Twitter. There’s also a live chat, but it’s only available during workdays (Mon - Fri) from 4 am to 8 pm EDT.
Squarespace doesn't provide phone support.
Over and Out!
There you have it. I did my best to present you with all the information you might need regarding these two platforms, but deciding which one works better for you is entirely up to you. Thank you for reading our Big Cartel vs Squarespace review and happy selling!