Squarespace vs Big Cartel (2020): Which Is Better For Your Creative Business?

If you’re an artist looking for the right platform for your small business, choosing between Squarespace and Big Cartel isn’t as easy as it seems. Both are designed for people with no coding experience, and come with some pretty impressive website templates as well. With Squarespace, you’re dealing with one of the leading website builders in the market. Big Cartel, on the other hand, is run by a small team with big ideas to support creative businesses. So where should you sell your work? Below, we compare the two platforms to help you decide.

Squarespace vs Big Cartel Comparison Chart

NameSquarespaceBig Cartel
 
PriceCheck Price at SquarespaceCheck Price at Big Cartel
Known ForCustomizable templates and e-commerce toolsArtsy themes and a usable free plan
Templates60+16
Custom DomainYesYes
Mobile Responsive TemplatesYesYes
Switchable ThemesYesYes
Stock Images AvailableYesNo
Payment MethodsStripe, PayPal, Apple PayStripe, PayPal, Square
Transaction Fee3% ( for Business Plan)None
Social LinksYesYes
Website AnalyticsBuilt-in, third-partyGoogle Analytics
E-Commerce ToolsBuilt-in, integrationsMostly app integrations
Customer SupportEmail, phone, live chat, help center, community answersEmail, knowledge base

Website Editor

Squarespace’s website editor is robust but takes a while to learn. Big Cartel, on the other hand, guides you with prompts as you build your website.

Squarespace allows you to build a website by sections.

Building your own website sounds like a daunting task. But Squarespace partly addresses this by offering an out-of-the-box solution. The platform handles the dirty, technical stuff: hosting, storage, and security among others. As a result, users who sign up can simply focus on actually building their site. You don’t even need coding experience to build a web page.

Squarespace is, after all, a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor. Whatever changes you apply using the website editor will appear just as it is when published. This makes it easier for non-developer to appreciate the customizations they make.

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But is the interface easy to use? Compared to other drag-and-drop builders like Wix or Shopify, Squarespace isn’t as straightforward. The platform largely follows a section-based approach. This means you can only drag content blocks within a section you’re working on. However, this does make the interface look a lot more organized; it just takes some time getting used to.

Starting a website on Big Cartel is seamless.

Just like Squarespace, Big Cartel aims to make the process of starting a website simple. Onboarding is easy and you’re guided by prompts as you work towards building your store. All you need to do is choose a theme, write down your store’s name, and start uploading products. Big Cartel will take care of the hosting, and like Squarespace, will also allow you to use a custom domain. Plus, the management dashboard is highly intuitive, making it easy to configure your website’s settings.

Design and Customization

There’s little room to customize your Big Cartel website unless you have coding experience.

Customizations in Big Cartel are limited.

While starting a website on Big Cartel is easy, customizing it is another story. There’s little room to modify a theme unless you’re familiar with coding. And for many users who want to launch an online store, this probably means getting someone with design or programming skills.

If you don’t have technical expertise, you can still make some basic changes. This includes customizing your header, font sets, page colors, and social media URLs. You can also tweak your product layout a bit. Keep in mind, however, that modifications will largely be dependent on the theme you chose.

With Squarespace, you can do more even if you have no coding experience. The platform carries a host of features that allow users to edit almost every detail and corner of their website.

For instance, you can easily customize page spacing and alignment without CSS. Since the platform also supports a number of content types, these blocks can easily be rearranged. Even modifying your layout can be done with a simple drag and drop. Basic page configurations also offer high-levels of customization. From how your products are displayed to the font sets that go along with them, the choices seem endless.

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But if there’s a highlight feature both platforms share, it’s that templates are switchable. You don’t even have to worry about losing your content if you decide to apply a new theme. Every thing is automatically formatted to fit your site’s new design, saving you loads of time.

E-Commerce Features

Squarespace offers more advanced sales and marketing features compared with Big Cartel.

Squarespace offers traditional e-commerce features.

For a platform that focuses on small-scale selling, you get what you need from Big Cartel. The sales and marketing tools are basic but they get the job done, even if you’re on the free plan (more on that later). Big Cartel currently supports three payment processors — PayPal, Stripe, and Square. Along with it, you get decent inventory and shipment tracking. You can also sync products to Facebook and tag them on Instagram.

However, if you really want to manage your store better, you’ll have to turn to third-party apps. Big Cartel is big on plugins for its e-commerce functions. For instance, you can integrate LiveChat to add customer support to your online store. Programs like Pulley and Lucky Orange are also available for more advanced analytics.

Squarespace, on the other hand, offers tools that allow you to grow your business. Advanced checkout options, mailing lists, and social integrations are part and parcel of what the platform offers. You also get comprehensive website analytics and store management features, both built-in and through extensions. If you want to touch base with existing and potential customers, Squarespace even offers its own email marketing tool.

Pricing

While Big Cartel has a free-forever plan, Squarespace offers discounts for annual subscriptions.

Here’s a look at the available plans for Squarespace and Big Cartel.

Squarespace currently offers four plans, all of which are paid-for. You can sign up for a free trial if you want but it’s good only for 14 days. Once it expires, you’ll have to subscribe to any of its paid plans to continue using the platform.

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The platform’s most popular option is Business, which costs $26/mo. You also have the entry-level Personal plan for $16/mo, Basic Commerce for $30/mo, and Advanced Commerce for $46/mo. Only the Business plan charges an additional 3% transaction fee for sales. All plans give discounts if you opt to pay annually.

Big Cartel similarly gives users four plans to choose from, one of which is free forever. It’s a basic plan where you can sell up to 5 products and enjoy some basic store management features. But if you want to upload more items and further customize your site, you’ll have to subscribe to either the Platinum, Diamond, or Titanium plan. These subscriptions will set you back $9.99/mo, $19.99/mo, and $29.99/mo respectively.

Verdict

If your goal is to grow your creative business, opt for Squarespace. But if you plan to sell only a limited selection of products, Big Cartel is good enough.

Squarespace

Best for small to midsize businesses looking to scale

Big Cartel

Best for independent businesses with small catalogues

So where should you sell your work? The answer depends on which platform offers features that align most with your budget, resources, and goals.

If you’re looking to scale and sell a lot of products, then go for Squarespace. The platform offers a plethora of e-commerce tools to help you grow your business. Moreover, you don’t need design or programming skills to build your website. The interface is fairly easy to use and you can choose from a nice selection of professionally-designed templates. All these features, however, translates to more expensive plans across the board.

Big Cartel, on the other hand, is made more for smaller businesses. If you have a limited catalogue of products, then the platform should appeal to you. It comes with a handful of themes as well although deeper customizations can only be carried out through coding. Basic sales and marketing tools are also available, and you can opt for a free forever plan if you’re contented selling a limited selection of products.

FAQs

📌 How many products can I sell with Big Cartel’s free plan?

The free forever plan from Big Cartel allows businesses to sell up to five (5) products.

📌 Does Squarespace offer templates for artists?

Squarespace currently doesn’t have dedicated templates for artists or artworks. You can, however, look into and adapt the design for photographers, musicians, bands, and online stores.

📌 Is Big Cartel any good?

If you’re a small business, Big Cartel is a good place to launch a website. Compared to other platforms like Shopify and Wix, it’s fairly easy to use and fees are minimal.

📌 Does Squarespace have a free plan?

Squarespace doesn’t offer a free plan. To enjoy its features, you’ll have to register for a paid subscription. You can, however, opt for its 14-day free trial which doesn’t require a credit card.