It’s no secret that the ecommerce industry is booming, in fact, by 2040 it’s expected that 95% of purchases will be facilitated by ecommerce. So it’s no surprise the art market is rapidly moving online in order to tap into this growing customer base. A simple Google search will spit out thousands of stores in various shapes and sizes, and you can shop everything from handmade wall hangings to one-of-a-kind fine art pieces.
And running your own online store or gallery is much easier than you may think. There’s an abundance of ecommerce platforms to choose from, where artists and makers can easily sell art online, and make a buck for their art in a few easy steps, at reasonable prices.
So, we’ve tested 5 of the best ecommerce platforms for artists of all shapes and sizes based on the following features:
- Customer support
- Order customization
- Choice of template designs & customization
- Inventory tracking
- Payment options
- Offline commerce integration
- Value for money – commission fees, additional costs & payment plans
And put together a comprehensive review for each platform, listing what we love and what could be improved for each, making it easier for you to choose the one that fits your business.
One of the largest e-commerce platforms also happens to be one of the easiest to use. If you’re just getting started, and don’t want to deal with the mumble jumble of coding, web developing, and hosting – Shopify is the optimal choice for you. All themes are designed to the highest quality and you can get up and running from the get go, or if you choose to add your own artistic flair, they’re all customizable too. So, with plenty of payment plans to choose from, and an abundance of already designed templates to pick from, it’s an ideal option whether you’re selling funky fabric designs or fine art prints.
What we love
You can set up in minutes with beautifully designed customizable themes, accept payments instantly with Shopify Payments, track and manage inventory, and get 24/7 customer support via phone, email or chat regardless of the plan you’re on. Best of all, whether you choose to sell in person or online, there’s a solution for you to choose from.
However, running your store on Shopify can get expensive for a beginner. Although you get unlimited products with all plans, all the other quirks and additions come at a cost. For example, if you’d like to offer shipping, you will have to opt for a more expensive plan.
Shopify offers a free 14-day trial, after which we recommend to opt for the Basic Shopify plan which includes 24/7 customer support, abandoned cart recovery, unlimited products and more for 29$ per month. If you want access to all features including shipping, you’ll have to opt for a more expensive plan – 79$ per month.
Designed with artists in mind, the platform is perhaps the ultimate choice for artists and makers. Although Big Cartel has fewer features than Shopify, they offer the most competitive prices. For beginners looking to sell prints, paintings or unique ceramics — this is an excellent place to start. The platform is specifically designed for small businesses, looking for an easy solution to sell their artwork, so you’ll be in great company here.
What we love
The platform is straightforward to use and free to set up. You won’t be overwhelmed with an abundance of features, and the dashboard offers a clear view of everything you need to know about your business. It’s one of the most affordable options and supports orders big and small. If you are looking to integrate your offline store, gallery or workshop, there’s an option for that too (for a little extra every month).
The selection of themes is limited, and if you opt-in for the free plan be prepared to have no inventory management. Other let downs are the lack of marketing tools, limited payment gateways, and mediocre customer support. It’s also not ideal for medium to large businesses, so once your business passes the mark, you will need to migrate your store somewhere else.
Get started with Big Cartel for free, or opt for the second cheapest option 9.99$ a month, which includes custom domain, inventory tracking, discounts and more.
Originally designed as a content management system (CMS), Squarespace has been rapidly expanding to the commerce world since 2012. And although it has fewer features to offer than other ecommerce platforms, it’s the most popular choice among artists, photographers, restauranteurs, and fashion designers. It’s excellent value for money too, all plans come with beautifully designed templates, mobile optimization, and SSL certification.
What we love
The platform has many beautiful theme designs to choose from and is extremely easy to customize. You can customize your store, add promotions, manage inventory and marketing with a single click from your dashboard. The easy (and relatively cheap) transition from website to online store may be the optimal choice for bloggers, photographers, painters, and other niche artists. They also offer 24/7 customer support with all plans.
Like many ecommerce platforms, Squarespace lacks in the payment gateway department. Stripe is integrated as the default payment option, but you can opt to go with PayPal or Apple Pay if you wish. It also has a limited selection of ecommerce integration options and lacks app store features like other ecommerce platforms.
Get your free 14-day trial (which you can extend by 7 days), and then start with the Basic plan for 26$ per month.
Designed for homegrown shops, the original ecommerce platform has many great options to offer for artists. The well established and popular marketplace attracts shoppers looking for unique and edgy products. This is a great place to sell your handmade wall hangings, unique posters or fashion accessories.
What we love
Perhaps the greatest attribute is its easy-to-use and setup design. Even the least techie creative will have no problem getting their products online. The small transaction fees, built-in marketplace and various integrations make Etsy the ideal place for artists to sell online. Customer support is only a click away, and you can easily integrate special promotions and offers on your store.
The most significant disadvantage is that the platform doesn’t offer any marketing options, and stores lack customization and shop personalization options. You are also facing a listing fee with additional transaction fees, which in the long run will make a dent in your wallet.
Set up of your Etsy shop is completely free, but each product you list will cost you 0.20$, and an additional 3.5% transaction fee will be attached to every sale you make.
This is another great universal alternative option for up and coming artists with some knowledge of web design. With almost identical features and interface as Shopify, the platform offers roughly similar payment plans for beginners too. The platform also provides leading marketing and conversion tools to help small businesses grow faster, so it’s ideal for small artists looking to sell jewelry, body art or unique fashion pieces.
What we love
Get up and running in no time with many customizable themes and sell more from a single location with seamless integration with other channels. Enjoy no transaction fees for online or offline payments, custom orders, inventory management tools, and offline commerce integrations. However, their unbeatable customer support is their single best selling point.
You will need to think about scaling your business before you get started, as there are higher fees for larger sellers. It’s also one of the more complex platforms when it comes to design so it may be a little bit overwhelming for beginners.
Get your free 15-day trial then pick the Standard plan, which includes customizable store, 24/7 customer support, shipping label discounts, single page checkouts and more for 29.95$ per month.
There are many things to consider before you set up shop and start selling. All platforms offer great features at reasonable prices, but you must decide which features are a must-have for your business. If you’re only a hobby artist looking to make an extra buck, then Big Cartel or Squarespace are easy to use platforms with all the essential features for small businesses.
But, if you’re looking to make a living from your art, or expand your gallery, tattoo convention or commission arts business you will be better off with a more powerful platform like Shopify or BigCommerce. So, identify your needs and goals first, and then you will know which platform is best for your business.