Big Cartel vs. Etsy: Which Platform Should You Use?

By Scott Voelker •  Updated: 07/29/23 •  13 min read

When it comes to starting an online business and selling unique products, two popular platforms stand out: Big Cartel and Etsy.

Both platforms cater to creative artists looking to establish an online presence and connect with a wide audience. However, each platform offers unique features, benefits, and pricing.

In this article, we'll jump into the comparison between Big Cartel and Etsy, analyzing their customization options, listing fees, payment processing, inventory tracking, and more.

Whether you're a seasoned seller or just starting your creative business journey, understanding the differences between these platforms will help you make an informed decision that meets your business goals.

Let's explore the key aspects of each platform to find the perfect fit for your online store.

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Big Cartel: A Spotlight

Big Cartel is an e-commerce platform that specifically cares for independent artists. It offers a simple interface. Such an interface makes it easy for users to set up their online stores without the need for extensive knowledge.

The platform provides a range of customization options, allowing sellers to personalize their store's design and show their brand identity effectively.

One of the special features of Big Cartel is its focus on handmade products and limited edition items. This makes it an ideal platform for artists who create unique products.

Sellers on Big Cartel can list an unlimited number of products, which is a significant advantage for those with many products.

In terms of pricing, Big Cartel offers a free plan that allows users to list up to five products, making it an excellent starting point for small businesses.

For more complex online stores, the platform offers affordable paid plans that unlock additional features and customization options.

Overall, Big Cartel's user-friendly interface, focus on handmade goods, and budget-friendly pricing make it an attractive choice for creative artists looking to make a name for themselves out there.

Etsy: A Glimpse

Etsy is one of the most popular online marketplaces for handmade and vintage items, as well as craft supplies. It boasts a massive customer base, providing sellers with a large audience to showcase their products to potential customers worldwide.

One of the key strengths of Etsy is its design flexibility. This allows you to create visually appealing online shops that reflect your brand.

With a range of customizable templates and editing options, you can tailor your storefronts to stand out and leave a lasting impression on buyers.

In addition to its focus on handmade products, Etsy also allows sellers to list digital products, opening up new opportunities for artists and creatives to offer downloadable content to their customers. This versatility sets Etsy apart as a platform catering to a wide range of products and sellers.

When it comes to fees, Etsy charges a listing fee for each product, making it essential for sellers to manage their inventory strategically.

To access more advanced features and tools, you can opt for the Etsy Plus subscription plan, which offers added benefits to improve your online business.

Overall, Etsy's massive customer base, design flexibility, and wide range of products make it a compelling platform for entrepreneurs looking to reach a global audience with their unique offerings.

Big Cartel vs. Etsy: Similarities

  1. Focus on Handmade Products: Both Big Cartel and Etsy are known for their emphasis on handmade items. They provide a platform for independent artists to showcase their unique creations to a wide audience.
  2. Customization Options: Both platforms offer a range of customization options, allowing sellers to personalize their online stores to reflect their brand identity and create an engaging shopping experience.
  3. eCommerce Platform: Big Cartel and Etsy are both e-commerce platforms, providing sellers with the tools and features needed to manage their online businesses effectively.
  4. Inventory Tracking: Both platforms offer inventory tracking capabilities, allowing sellers to monitor their product stock levels and manage their listings seamlessly. This makes sure that you never oversell an item by accident.

Big Cartel vs. Etsy: Differences

While Big Cartel and Etsy share some similarities, they also have some features that set them apart. Let's explore these differences in detail:

1. Platform Analysis

Big Cartel

As an e-commerce platform that focuses on creativity, Big Cartel offers a user-friendly interface with customizable themes.

It is known for its simplicity, making it ideal for small businesses and individuals looking to display their craft. However, its limited features may be a setback for larger businesses that are looking for more options.


With a big customer base and a wide range of products, Etsy stands out as a bustling online marketplace.

It can provide you with the tools you need to reach potential customers and offers various tools for product listing and inventory tracking. However, Etsy's fees may take a decent chunk out of your profits. So, you have to plan your budget accordingly. 

2. Audience Analysis

Big Cartel

This platform caters to independent artists, creative individuals, and small businesses seeking a simple and effective way to sell their handmade products and artworks.

Its user-friendly interface and design flexibility are attractive to artists who are looking to personalize their online shops and target specific audiences.


Because of its larger diversity of products, you’ll notice that Etsy has a much larger audience that has different types of interests. 

It won’t be easy to say that there are specific products or buyers on Etsy. Think of it like Amazon, where you could pretty much sell anything and you’ll still find buyers.

3. Design

Big Cartel

Big Cartel offers a simple and clean design that allows users to focus on their products. It provides various customizable themes, enabling artists to showcase their unique style and brand.

The platform emphasizes visual appeal, making it ideal for creative businesses to display their artworks and handmade items.


Etsy offers a visually engaging design with a user-friendly layout. It provides a consistent look for all shops within the marketplace.

As a seller, you can customize your shop banners, profile pictures, and shop policies to create a brand identity of your own. The design fosters a sense of community, making it an inviting platform for buyers and sellers alike.

4. Customization Options

Big Cartel

Big Cartel provides decent customization options, allowing you to personalize your online store to a certain extent. You can choose from a selection of themes and customize colors, fonts, and images.

However, while the platform offers some design flexibility, it may not be as extensive as other e-commerce platforms.


Etsy offers more robust customization options, providing sellers with greater control over the appearance of their shops.

Sellers can customize their shop banner, logo, and featured listings, allowing for a more unique and branded storefront.

Additionally, Etsy allows sellers to add shop policies, creating a more personalized shopping experience for customers.

5. Ease of Use

Big Cartel

Big Cartel is known for its user-friendly interface, making it easy for artists and small businesses to set up their online stores quickly. The platform offers a simple dashboard where users can manage their products with ease. 

Adding products and customizing the store's appearance is straightforward. 


Etsy is also designed to be user-friendly, which makes it easy to use for a wide range of sellers. Setting up an Etsy shop is a straightforward process, and the platform provides multiple tutorials and guides for new sellers.

The seller dashboard is easy to navigate, allowing you to manage your listings, track orders, and communicate with customers seamlessly.

Etsy's extensive support and community forums further enhance its ease of use, providing you with valuable resources and tips for success.

6. Listing Fees and Payment Processing

Big Cartel

Big Cartel offers a straightforward pricing structure with a focus on affordability. The platform offers a free plan that allows you to list up to 5 products.

For those who require more extensive features and a larger product inventory, Big Cartel offers paid plans starting at $9.99 per month for up to 50 products and ranging up to $29.99 per month for unlimited products.

The platform does not charge any transaction fees, which means you can keep more of your earnings!

In terms of payment processing, Big Cartel integrates with PayPal and Stripe, giving sellers flexibility in accepting payments.

Both payment methods are trusted and secure, providing customers with a seamless and reliable checkout experience.

However, it's important to note that while Big Cartel does not charge transaction fees, payment processors like PayPal and Stripe have their standard processing fees.

In other words, Big Cartel won’t charge you, but PayPal and Stripe will. 


Etsy follows a different pricing structure. While it offers a free plan, sellers are charged a $0.20 listing fee for each item they list on the platform. Listings last for four months or until the item is sold.

When an item sells, Etsy charges a 5% transaction fee on the item's sale price, excluding shipping and taxes.

Additionally, if you use Etsy's payment processing system, you’ll have to pay an additional 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee.

It's worth noting that Etsy also offers an optional subscription plan called Etsy Plus, priced at $10 per month.

This plan provides you with additional tools and customization options, along with bonus listing and advertising credits. You may choose to use Etsy Payments, which has various payment methods, including credit cards and mobile payment options.

If you are interested in learning more about all of the different fees and costs associated with selling on Etsy, we did a full breakdown (including a calculator) here.

7. Inventory Tracking and Product Selection

Big Cartel

Big Cartel provides basic inventory tracking features that allow sellers to manage their product stock levels.

You can easily mark products as “Sold Out” when the inventory runs out, preventing customers from making purchases of unavailable items.

However, Big Cartel's inventory management capabilities are relatively simple compared to more robust e-commerce platforms.

In terms of product selection, Big Cartel is ideal for independent artists and small businesses with a relatively limited range of products.

The free products in the free plan make it suitable for artists selling a few items. However, for businesses with a wide range of products, Big Cartel's simplicity might not be enough to handle larger inventories.


Etsy offers more inventory tracking tools, allowing you to manage and monitor your stock levels effectively.

You can easily set up stock quantities for each product, and the platform automatically updates inventory numbers when you sell those items. This feature is especially useful for sellers with a larger product catalog.

Regarding product selection, Etsy excels as an online marketplace with a vast array of products available for purchase. It caters to various niches, including handmade items, vintage products, and digital downloads.

The platform's extensive product selection attracts a diverse customer base, making it an attractive option for sellers seeking exposure to a broader audience.

8. Additional Features and Social Media Integration

Big Cartel

While Big Cartel is known for its simplicity, it lacks some of the advanced features offered by larger e-commerce platforms like Etsy.

It provides essential tools for managing an online store, such as discount codes, order management, and basic SEO features. However, it may not be the best choice for sellers seeking extensive customization options.

Regarding social media integration, Big Cartel provides built-in tools to connect with popular platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

You, as a seller, can tag products on your social media posts, directing potential customers to your online store. This integration helps increase visibility and drive traffic to their Big Cartel shop.


Etsy, as a larger online marketplace, offers a wide range of additional features to enhance the selling experience. These include tools for bulk editing product listings, analytics to track shop performance, and the ability to offer gift cards to customers.

Etsy's robust seller dashboard provides valuable insights into shop performance and customer behavior, aiding sellers in making informed decisions.

As for social media integration, Etsy also enables sellers to link their shops to various social media platforms.

Sellers can use this integration to share their products on social media channels and interact with potential customers, expanding their reach beyond the Etsy platform.

9. Help and Support

Big Cartel

Big Cartel provides several resources to assist sellers in setting up and managing their online stores.

They offer a comprehensive knowledge base with articles and tutorials covering various aspects of using the platform.

Additionally, users can reach out to customer support via email for any specific queries or issues they may encounter.

While Big Cartel's customer support is responsive, it lacks phone support or live chat options, which may be preferred by some users for more immediate assistance.


Etsy offers extensive help and support options to its sellers. Their Seller Handbook is a valuable resource that provides tips, advice, and best practices for running a successful shop.

Additionally, Etsy provides customer support through email, live chat, and phone, ensuring sellers have multiple channels to seek assistance promptly.

The availability of live chat and phone support makes Etsy's customer support more accessible and responsive compared to Big Cartel.


Can I sell vintage items on both Big Cartel and Etsy?

While Etsy is well-known for its wide range of products, including vintage items, Big Cartel primarily focuses on handmade and artistic goods.

If you plan to sell vintage items, Etsy would be the more suitable choice due to its established marketplace and dedicated category for vintage products.

Which platform offers better customization options for my online shop?

Both Big Cartel and Etsy offer customization options, but Big Cartel's offerings are more limited compared to Etsy's extensive range of themes and design flexibility.

Etsy allows sellers to create a unique and personalized storefront through theme code editing, providing more creative control over the appearance of their online shop.

Can I use third-party apps to enhance my store's functionality?

Yes, both Big Cartel and Etsy allow integration with third-party apps to enhance store functionality.

However, Etsy provides a wider selection of apps and integrations due to its larger marketplace and well-established ecosystem.

This allows Etsy sellers to access various tools and services to optimize their online business and improve customer experience.

The Verdict

In the battle of Big Cartel vs. Etsy, both platforms have their unique strengths and cater to different types of sellers.

Big Cartel is an excellent additional choice for independent artists and creatives looking for a simple and cost-effective platform to showcase and sell their products.

Its focus on handmade and artistic items creates a niche marketplace that appeals to a specific audience.

On the other hand, Etsy's vast customer base and established reputation as a leading online marketplace make it an attractive option for sellers looking to reach a wider audience.

Its robust features, extensive customization options, and comprehensive customer support provide a more well-rounded experience for sellers.

Ultimately, the choice between Big Cartel and Etsy depends on individual needs, business goals, and the nature of the products being sold.

Both platforms offer unique opportunities for sellers to thrive in the world of e-commerce, and a careful evaluation of their features and offerings can help sellers make an informed decision that aligns with their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Scott Voelker