For small businesses looking to start selling online, Wix and Big Cartel are two very appealing options but which one is the best platform for building your online store?
Well, that is what we are going to be looking at in our in-depth comparison of Wix vs Big Cartel, so let’s get started…
Wix vs Big Cartel: Quick Summary
Wix offers a more complete platform for building an online store due to more features to help your business grow and a more complete website builder, which is why it is our pick out of these two platforms.
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As you can see, Wix is the more expensive option out of the two platforms but none of their plans have:
- Annual Turnover Limits
- Product Limits
- Additional Transaction Fees
The main difference between the Wix plans are the storage limits you get and the number of features that you get access to.
Wix does offer a free plan and while you can install the Wix Stores app you can’t sell products, which is why it hasn’t been included.
Big Cartel is obviously the more cost-effective choice and they do also have a free plan, which allows you to sell up to 5 products.
The Platinum and Diamond plans also have product limits of 50 and 500 respectively but there is no options for stores wanting to have more than 500 product listings.
When it comes to selling online, features are very important as you want to not only have a good range of ecommerce related ones but also marketing ones, so that you can promote your products to try and generate traffic and sales but what do these two website builders offer?
As Wix was originally a website builder and the ability to sell on the platform comes in the form of the Wix Stores app, this adds a checkout and product pages to your Wix website. Combined, Wix and the Wix Stores app offer the following features:
- Sell Physical & Digital Products
- Discount Coupons
- Create Promo Video
- Live Chat
Marketing & SEO
- SEO Friendly URLs
- Custom Meta Data
- Send via Email Campaign
- Share Product to Social Media
- Sell via Facebook and Instagram
- Conversion Rate
- Purchase Funnel
- Top Email Campaign
- Wix Payments
With all Wix packages, you also get access to the Wix App Market, which has a variety of apps that are made not only by the Wix team but also by third-party developers. While not as big of a selection as you get with Shopify, there is still a good range to choose from.
While the majority of these apps will have some form of free plan, to get all of the features of the third-party developed apps, you will have to upgrade to a paid plan on top of your existing Wix package.
If you want to see a more detailed breakdown of Wix’s ecommerce features, then check out our full Wix Review.
Features is definitely an area that Big Cartel do not shout about as unlike pretty much every other ecommerce platform, Big Cartel doesn’t list all of the features that they offer but we did manage to find the following:
- Google Analytics
- Real-Time Stats
- Inventory Tracking*
- Discount Codes
- Shipment Tracking
- Bulk Editing*
*Not available on the free package
While this may be ok for users who are just getting started and are unsure of what they require but if you know exactly the types of features you need, you will probably be left with more questions than answers from Big Cartel.
One thing that is quite limited on Big Cartel is the number of payment gateway options, as they only offer the following:
- Venmo (requires PayPal Business Account)
- ApplePay (requires Stripe)
And while these will cover most payment methods, it still may prove to be restrictive for some businesses.
Also, somewhat surprisingly, Big Cartel doesn’t offer the option of digital products or downloads as standard (which would be very useful for many creative types) and if you want to add this functionality, you will need to install an app that starts from $6/m.
Big Cartel Apps
To add their existing features, Big Cartel does have a small number of apps that can be used to integrate the platform with third-party software or bring that functionality into a Big Cartel site. While this is really good, only a few of the apps are free to use, with most requiring a paid plan to get full access, which can make Big Cartel quite a bit more pricey.
Theme Selection & Customization
Wix has a very large library of themes that are available, with over 100 available for online stores but you need to choose the theme you want to use when you are setting up your store with Wix as they don’t offer the ability to switch themes.
Instead, if you want to change the theme, you need to create a new site and then transfer your plan to that site, which is far from optimal!
One of the things that Wix says in their adverts is how easy it is to build a beautiful custom website and when it comes to editing your theme, the Wix Editor certainly gives you a lot of control over the look at feel of your site as you can:
- Add, remove and rearrange sections
- Make changes to the layout by dragging and dropping elements
- Customize different page types
- Change the colors and font
There are also additional options for customizing your mobile site as well, which is a nice touch but there is almost too much you can do as it allows you to make such minor changes, such as dragging an element slightly to the right or left that will have no impact on user experience.
Sometimes, you can have too much control!
While Big Cartel does have a relatively small selection of 18 themes, they are varied and well-designed themes that very much fit the indie feel that the platform has. The best thing is that all of these are free to use on any platform, so even a free Big Cartel website can look very attractive.
There are a few different options when it comes to theme customization but it is not the most intuitive setup as most changes to the layout are down from checkboxes and dropdown menus. It is easy to change the colors and font options that go on the front end of your site.
It is very limited when it comes to what you can do with your pages as there are no options to add or remove sections, this makes it quite difficult to make a site look and feel different to any others that are using the same template that you have chosen. This is very evident when taking a look at the example sites after checking out the theme selection.
The live preview is a nice tool but it is not that responsive and changes aren’t instantly updated.
Wix offers 24/7 support to all English-speaking users (times vary for other languages) and this is primarily done through live chat or via a callback and this can be accessed directly from the admin dashboard, you just need to navigate past the bot in order to speak to a human.
Big Cartel’s support options are quite limited with the Big Cartel platform as the only options are to contact them via email and that goes for all of the packages. There are no extra support options on the larger packages, which is a little surprising.
Hosting & Performance
Performance is a very important aspect of running an online store as it is not only a ranking factor but also impacts on user experience but neither Wix or Big Cartel are very forthcoming about the hosting environments on which their sites are run.
For Wix we managed to find the following info after a bit of digging:
- Free SSL Certificate
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Global CDN
- PCI-compliant servers
With Big Cartel, the only information we could find was that they include a free SSL certificate and for an online store, you really want to know more about your site’s hosting!
But that didn’t stop us from putting both platforms to the test and to do this, we took 5 customer example sites and ran them through Uptrends Speed Tool using their New York server to test the load time and Google PageSpeed scores on both mobile and desktop devices.
We did this once a day for three days to get a good spread of data and the results were:
As you can see, it is a clear win for Big Cartel when it comes to performance as it beat Wix in every single test and this is one of the areas where Wix really does struggle.
To see how both Wix and Big Cartel fare against their competition in terms of performance, then check out our annual ecommerce performance testing report.
Ease of Use
One of the most important aspects (in our opinion) is how easy the platform is to use as this can make a big difference in the day-to-day running of your online store and to test this out, we look at three main areas:
- Getting started
- Inventory management
- Order management
Getting started with Wix is a very straightforward process as you only need an email address and to create a password in order to sign up to the free plan.
There are two parts to getting started with Wix, the first is setting up your account by answering the following questions during the signup process:
- What type of website are you starting
- The name of your site
- You will then be asked if you want to buy a domain
- What the goal of your site is (ecommerce, portfolio etc)
- Which apps you would like to add
Once all of these have been answered, you will gain access to your admin dashboard and will be greeted by a short setup guide to help you learn the basics about the Wix platform and the number of options here does depend on how you answered the earlier questions.
The second part of the process is to set up the frontend of your site using the ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) tool, which is once again a simple process as you just need to input the following information:
- Entering your business info (name, address etc)
- Choose a logo template
- Pick a theme (colors, fonts etc)
- Choose a template
- Which pages you would like to add
Once you have done all of this, the basic foundations of your Wix store are all set up and you are left to start building and managing it as you want.
The Wix admin dashboard is pretty easy to use, although the layout does seem to change every few months but it is still easy to navigate around due to the sidebar navigation menu.
With the navigation menu, it does depend on how many Wix apps you have installed as to the number of options that are displayed and if you have a lot of apps, it can get quite full, which makes navigation a little more challenging.
Getting started with the Big Cartel platform is really simple to do, all you need to do is go to the Big Cartel website and click the sign-up icon in the top right-hand corner, this takes you to the pricing page so that you can choose the plan that you want.
Once selected, you are taken through to the sign-up page and all you need is an email address, create a password, create a shop name and a shop URL and you are good to go. If you have selected a paid plan, then you will need to set up your billing information as well.
Once you have signed up, you are taken through to the Big Cartel dashboard and are greeted by a setup guide and unlike other platforms, you have to work through the steps in this guide in order to access the dashboard section of the admin area.
Fortunately, the setup guide is pretty good and takes you through most of what you need to do to get your website up and running.
The Big Cartel admin dashboard is very simplistic as there are only 5 sections, so it doesn’t take long to know where things are and even within the sections, there aren’t many options. While this is good in one way, it does show how light on features the Big Cartel platform is.
Adding and Managing Stock
Being able to manage your stock efficiently and effectively is a hugely important part of running an online store and for me there are three main areas to this and they are:
- Adding products
- Organising your Products
- Managing your inventory
Adding a new product to Wix is super easy, firstly you will be asked if you want to add a digital or physical product. Once you have chosen which, you go to a nice a simple product creation page that lists all of the important sections you need to add.
The sidebar on the right will give you lots of options for promoting your product once you have created it.
Organizing your inventory is equally as simple. They have opted for collections rather than categories but they operate in the same way. The only real downside is that you can’t have sub-collections, which is a bit limiting.
To help you manage your inventory, Wix offers a bulk editor but this is only for you inventory levels, if you want to make any additional changes, you need to do this on a product-by-product basis, which isn’t ideal if you have a large number of products.
Big Cartel has one of the simplest product creation pages out there, which makes it very easy to add a new product but you are limited to purely physical products. This is surprising as it is aimed at creative types who may have digital versions of their creations.
Something that is missing from the product creation page is any kind of SEO settings and you can only change the URL of a product by creating it and then going back in and editing it. While having a light and easy-to-use product creation page is good, it does feel like there are some things missing.
Organizing your products is a little strange as categories are created either within the product creation page or by clicking the three dots on the inventory overview page and they are created by just giving them a title. There are no description or SEO tools associated with them.
It also doesn’t allow you to create sub-categories or choose how you display the categories on the front end of your site. Categories are simply added to the main navigation menu product drop-down list when a product is added to the category.
Bulk inventory management is only available on the paid plans but having it as an option is still good. On the free plan, all editing has to be done on a product-by-product basis.
Wix has a very good order management system, which includes bulk tools for updating fulfillment statuses, printing order information and exporting orders, orders can also be filtered by fulfillment status, which makes managing orders much easier.
Big Cartel, unfortunately, we were not able to test out the order management system.
• Theme selection
• Full website builder
• Dashboard set up guides
• Wix App Market
• Good selection of features
• Hidden support contact details
• Lack of sub-categories
Big Cartel Pros
• Hosting performance
• Cheap plans
• Easy to learn
• Attractive themes
Big Cartel Cons
• Limited features
• No real SEO tools
• Only email support
• Not really scalable
• General lack of information
Wix comes out on top in this comparison as it offers a much better all around platform for building an online store because:
- It offers more features
- Has a much better website builder
- It has more support options
Now Wix does have its shortcomings, mainly around the hosting and performance but overall it would be our choice for building an online store.
Big Cartel definitely has some plus points such as the pricing and performance but it is lacking in quite a few areas and is a platform that you would probably quickly outgrow as your business grows.