Thursday, October 16, 2008

Etsy Alternative #1 - BigCartel

In this continuing series, we the Bitches will bring you a review of alternative selling venues, website hosting services, shopping carts, and basically anything else that you can use to sell your lovely handcrafted goods. First up, Big Cartel!

Tagline: We bring art to the cart.

Company Information: BigCartel is run by IndieLabs, which is actually just two guys: Matt Wigham and Eric Turner.

Storefront: The site is actually a shop hosting service where you can setup a store and direct buyers in for purchases, as opposed to being one shop in the mall with buyers drifting from store to store. The site was initially set up for independent musicians, artists, and bands to sell their wares.

Use their webhosting, use your own domain (with a subscription), customize a skin or the template (depends on subscription level), it’s all pretty open to make it your own. They aren’t too worried about uniformity. Each shop is its own entity, but you don’t have to know how to code to have a shop.

Cost: There is no final value fee or commission.
There are three types of shops: free (5 product limit, 1 image per product, limited stats to product information), $9.99 per month (25 product limit, 3 images per product, stats and full customization available), and $19.99 per month (100 product limit, 5 images per product, more stats and full customization available).

The Service is billed in advance on a monthly basis and is non-refundable. There will be no refunds or credits for partial months of service, or refunds for months unused with an open account. In order to treat everyone equally, no exceptions will be made. Upon non-payment Indie Labs may re-attempt to collect the amount due up to 3 times before suspending or terminating Your Account.
Features: Place items in multiple categories in your shop, hide an individual item or mark as ‘sold out’ or ‘coming soon’, label in item as ‘on sale’, add tax without using Paypal, and subscription shops can track inventory.

Payment: Integrated with Paypal, correction: choose your currency!

Community: There are forums, linked next to the login at the bottom of the main page.

Customer Service: There is a contact page with a form that can be filled out as well as a direct email address. The business hours and whether someone is immediately available is posted on the form and there are help forums linked on the page. The turnaround on email responses is said to be same or next day.

Items that can be sold: Read their Acceptable Use Policy. Items are not limited to handmade, but there is a separate “crafters and artists” link on the main page.

General Impressions:

“I have a site I can customize as I learn more html. I have inventory
control, coupon codes and stats. Yes, stats. I know exactly where my customers are coming from and where to target my advertising dollars. BC has excellent customer service that I have used a few times.

They just celebrated 3 years of success.I pay 20.00 a month to keep 100 pieces in my shop. That's 1/3 of my etsy bill.”

One thing users pointed out when we asked them for feedback is the item limit per store and picture limit for the free shop. Some have multiple shops to overcome this limitation.

Also, there no stats for the free shops.


Kate said...

I love bigcartel, principally because I feel more in control, customer service is fantastic...... and prompt! The price is excellent value for money and as I learn more about the coding, I'll be able to change the look of it. I cant praise them enough.
I am so fed up with etsy.
SO fed up, that I could end up with a rant.
But I'll go do that somewhere private

sigh said...


So this is like having your own website, but instead of knowing code they have templates to use?

Do you need to know any code at all?

Is this linkable to your own website, or is it a big cartel url?

Has anyone who is using this had any success?

If so was it through your own advertising and driving customers directly to your Big Cartel shop, or did you see sales through their forums?


Vanda said...

You can select your currency - for example has her store in GBP.

I love it - everyone asks me who designed it, and I have both a retail and wholesale shop (already with discount) with them. The only problem is, again, item limit, BUT if you have the same item in different colours or sizes, for example, you can have just one listing with several options.

MinervaO said...

I've just started a bigcartel shop, and while its not ready to roll out yet, I love it so far. I like being able to use PayPal settings for shipping, having inventory control, and being able to customize the appearance of my shop, rather than using a cookiecutter version of it.

The Righteous One said...

Sigh, No code knowledge needed. The listing process is like Etsy's, but only 1 page.

You can have your domain redirect and then mask the domain name so it's your own site OR with a subscription they let you use your own domain and link it in (I'm unfamiliar with this but know that others have done this) OR use

Advertising will be necessary as they don't have a 'mall' setup like Etsy does

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to figure out how to set up shop. I haven't been able to find the link so that I can do that-- although I have signed up.

sherry said...

As I said yesterday, this is the best site for me. I have my domain masked so, it just looks like the host at

I've been advertising on my own for my etsy shop, so it has been easy to transition the ads there. I also point my trunkt portfolio inquiries to my site.

You do not have to know code, but you can totally customize it if you do. Paypal is nicely integrated and customer service is excellent.

I've had steady sales and a lot of views.

Anonymous said...

Anyone willing to mentor me thru this process, I would love your help and you can email me!
Not completely clueless,but cannot seem to find a link to set up listings. :-P

I ♥ Big Cartel said...

morgansilk, you will find your controls at
put in your username and it will take you there.

Carrie said...

With Esty, you still have to advertise (promo forum for example)
And you have to direct off etsy ads to etsy.
Big cartel needs ads but at least you know which ones work as you have stats.

And to any people who have multiple shops to avoid fees.. Your idiots! You probably spend more on Etsy than you would on big cartel.

I've had plenty of sales on big cartel through my own advertising and would reccommend it to anyone wanting to sell online before recommending etsy.

Kris10 said...

I'd love if some folks would post their shop links.

Courtney said...

I set up a free shop with them and it was SUPER EASY! I am debating if I should start paying for their service and have more options. Thanks for the review!

Old Hippie Bitch said...

EB, the effort you are making with this Alternatives project is much appreciated. Thank you so much.

This blog will not only be a welcome respite from Swimmyville, but a valuable resource as well.


ebbandflo said...

there is a squidoo page with sellers' alternate links off etsy - anyone know the link?

Ivydee said...

I love my bigcartel site. I have mine setup at

Because it is so customizable I'm able to make a seamless integration to my main website, so to any outsider it should look like one website (working on this now).

I do get hits from their forum (I don't post there often though) and their shop directory, but most of my traffic comes from Google searches and advertising. See, I know this because I have STATS!

I can list 4-5 items in the time it takes me to list one on Etsy, I can have them in multiple sections (whoohoo) and can add up to 10 pages for other types of content (like About me, Polices, etc).

I think my only complaint would be the limitations on item numbers, but like previously mentioned, there are ways around it. I've also seen mentioned that they're considering upping the number of items allowed, but not sure if that will happen or not.

Morgansilk, please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions.

life-during-wartime said...

I like the idea of not having a 'mall' setting. That way it doesn't matter what any other shop is selling or who their customer base is. You can have a birdie free zone!

Thanks to all for great info about Big Cartel!

Vanda said...

For those interested, my shop at Big Cartel can be seen at :)

Brooke said...

I'm really happy with BigCartel. Yeah, it's not super easy to advertise my own site, but I've gotten enough traffic thus far (two months in) to get about 1 sale per week. I blog often, and only advertise the BigCartel site on my blog.

I am able to see what people search for when they reach my site, which is great to know both because, well, it's great to know key words and phrases people search for and land at my shop, but also what people are looking for. I get a lot of searches '_____ earrings' - which means, hey, perhaps I should make more of _____ earrings. Totally helpful in thinking about what to make and sell.

Once I do start selling there more regularly, it will absolutely pay for itself and be so, so much cheaper than Etsy. Can't wait.

The Serious One said...

Would you like me to do a write up on me starting my big cartel shop?

SalvageNation said...

Blogger The Serious One said...

Would you like me to do a write up on me starting my big cartel shop?

I would love that, it would give me some security in what I think I am either doing right or wrong. I set up my shop and put things in my shop, I just don't know if it is actually launched or not. I can't seem to figure out if my shop is actually there or not !

StitchnStudio said...

Oh my, I needed this article soooo bad. I to sell on Etsy and Im ready to move on. My fees there are not worth it. I have considered Big Cartel and I am thrilled to read this. On my way over to sign up. You helped me make up my mind. Thanks again.