When you enter the online business world for the first time, you may feel overwhelmed by the number of tools, apps, and digital services available for selling your products online. I’ve been there, drowning in a sea of information trying to decide which one was right for me. Entrepreneurship is hard enough… getting started with selling your services, programs and products online shouldn’t be, which is why I’ve cut through the fluff and put together everything you need to know to choose the right online shopping cart for you right here.
I’m saving you tons of time with this in-depth feature comparison of the top shopping cart contenders for entrepreneurs selling digital products, online courses and physical products shopping cart platforms: SamCart, ClickFunnels, Shopify and PayPal. No matter where you are in your business - from newbie to seasoned online entrepreneur - you can find the solutions you need with one of these sales platforms.
SamCart: The powerful yet affordable solution for newbies to mega-sellers
Let’s start off with the relatively new kid on the block, SamCart. Originally created to provide an elegant alternative to the ugly PayPal checkout page, SamCart has continued to evolve and further its mission of helping you cut-down on your abandoned shopping cart rate, close more sales and increase the amount you sell to each customer.
The great thing about SamCart, especially for those who consider themselves “non-techy” (like me) is that they’ve made it really easy to get your account up and running quickly. Their platform is simple to use and has full library of tutorials and helpful instructions to assist you. Because of its simple interface, comprehensive support features and stellar customer service, SamCart is the best platform for beginners in the digital product industry.
With SamCart it’s easy to get your checkout pages created. Simply click “New Product”, enter your product’s name, choose a payment price and frequency, select your checkout page template, insert the appropriate description and set up integration with your Stripe and/or PayPal accounts you’re ready to go. If you have other tools, like an email service provider or membership platform, you can set those up in less than 60 seconds and your buyers' information will be sent over. (Note: you have to also set up the integration on your email service provider's end, too.) Once you hit save, you can start sharing your checkout page URL, which will take your customers directly to your beautiful new shopping cart page.
But even though SamCart is easy enough for complete online selling newbies to use, it still offers a full suite of options that seasoned professionals doing millions of dollars in sales every year may need… all without becoming overly complicated. For example, you probably know by now that if you’re selling online, one of the fastest ways to grow your sales and business is with an affiliate program, but maybe you’ve shied away from complicated and cumbersome stand-alone affiliate tracking tools so far. SamCart makes things easy for you with its fully integrated affiliate platform that allows you to control who joins and even set up special “VIP affiliate” commission structures. You can also allow your affiliates to promote all or only some of your products and customize the commission pay-out for each.
SamCart’s full suite of features, ease of use and reasonable price tag even at the Premium level is a big reason so many online marketers, like Ryan Deiss, Amy Porterfield and Jeff Walker have already switched over to them.
SamCart Features Low-Down
Let’s now take a look at some of the stand-out features and many things you can do with SamCart:
- Deliver digital files your customers purchase with a link that automatically expires after they’ve downloaded the product, eliminating the need for having a website, complicated plug-in or membership site. SamCart hosts the uploaded product directly so you don’t have to do it somewhere else.
- Use their revolutionary 1-Page Funnel checkout page that takes all of the best elements of a complicated sales funnel puts it on one simple page which makes it easier for you to launch products and for customers to say yes
- One-click order bumps that can instantly 2 x or 3 x your total sale
- Easily create multiple payment options, free trials, expiring trials and subscription payments for every product you have.
- Choose from 18 checkout page templates proven not only to make your brand look great but to also help you increase your conversion rates.
- Don’t like the checkout page templates like they are? You can customize them to reflect your own brand using HTML and CSS or use the built-in fields to change font, background and button colors, for example.
- Insert custom content on your checkout pages with images, tables, special symbols and more.
- Add design elements proven to increase sales, like testimonials (with images) and guarantees.
- Sell in major currencies and automatically support sales in different languages.
- Easily split test different designs to see what works best.
- Customize your checkout page URL to make it easier for your customers to find and remember you.
- Test your checkout process in “sandbox mode” to make sure everything is working correctly before going live. This eliminates the need to spend your own money purchasing your products and lose money on the credit card transaction fees (something I’ve done a lot of in the past) in order to make sure everything is ready to go for your customers.
- Quickly add more products and services to your customers’ orders without requiring them to fill out a long checkout page again with the “Add to Order” feature. Your customers will receive an updated receipt and it works with PayPal, too!
The great thing about SamCart is you can continue to use your favorite business tools with dozens of built in integrations, plus virtually unlimited integration possibilities using Zapier. Some of the most popular purchase-related integrations include:
- Send purchaser information to email services like Drip, ConvertKit, Aweber, InfusionSoft, ActiveCampaign and MailChimp.
- Landing page platforms like Leadpages and OptimizePress.
- Create automatic membership access in tools like WishList Member, MemberMouse, Kajabi, Teachable, Zippy Courses and more.
Inside your account you can look at your company performance from a bird’s eye view with SamCart’s Profit Center dashboard. Here you can find live information on:
- Total sales, orders, profit, refunds, page views, conversion rates and more
- Custom reports to find the information you need
SamCart also has the following features:
- Unlimited product set-up and sales
- Digital product sales and delivery
- Physical product sales
- Subscription product sales
- Multiple language support
- Customizable shipping charges for physical product sales
- Sell in any currency
- Built-in affiliate center
- Detailed sales reports supported by snapshot visuals
- One-click upsells and upsell funnels
- A/B Testing
- VAT tax tracking via integration with Taxamo
- No additional sales fees above what Stripe and PayPal charge with the Pro and Premium Plans
- Integrations with programs like ActiveCampaign, AWeber, ConvertKit, Drip, GetResponse, HubSpot, Infusionsoft, Kajabi, MailChimp, MemberMouse, OptimizePress, Paypal, Stripe, Zapier and more.
- Try it with a 14-day free trial and 45-day no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee. Then it’s just $19 per month for Basic, $99 per month for Pro or $199 per month for Premium
Why get started with SamCart?
Many SamCart users have attributed their uptick in sales and profit per customer to the platform’s ease of use and elegant design. Because each customer’s buying experience vastly improves when you have a highly-effective sales process in place that also supports the value of your brand, you can sell more to each customer that lands on your page. Whether you’re selling a $297 online course, a $12 e-book, or a $5,000 coaching program, SamCart is a fantastic platform with which to sell your products and services.
SamCart also developed a profit-boosting checkout page template called the 1-Page Funnel that eliminates the need for developing complicated sales funnels with many different pages. The #1 reason people don’t put sales funnels in place is because it takes a lot of work… but the 1-Page Funnel model cuts out all of that. And, with the bonus trainings that SamCart gives you to create your own 1-Page Funnel in record time and drive sales of your product or service, it’s hard to see why you’d ever need a complicated sales funnel ever again.
But one of the most compelling reasons to sign up for SamCart beyond its amazing features, in-depth training library and stellar customer service is their new Basic Plan. With a free 30-day trial and at only $19 per month, the new Basic plan makes it super-affordable for any entrepreneur to get started selling online, close more sales and make more money at the end of every month. And to solidify the case for SamCart being the undisputed ecommerce choice for online entrepreneurs, they offer a 45 day, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee. That’s a tough combo to beat!
ClickFunnels: The all-in-one tool for marketing funnel fanatics
ClickFunnels is an all-in-one online marketing tool that you can use to create marketing funnels, landing pages, track affiliates and set up simple membership sites.
If you’re not familiar with exactly what a marketing funnel is, here’s a simple explanation: It’s a series of pages your client goes through before landing on your checkout page. The funnel starts with marketing campaigns, then moves down to client engagement, targeted content, email blasts and culminates in a sales transaction (at least, that’s the goal!).
ClickFunnels is all about funnels and has a variety of pre-built ones for you to choose from. If you’re an author, ClickFunnels has a Bestseller Book funnel. If you’re a local business owner, use the Fishbowl Funnel, which is a page where people put their contact information on your page to win a prize.
They also have the pre-built…
- Product Launch Funnel if you have a product you want to get out there.
- Perfect Webinar Funnel for launching and monetizing your webinars.
- And If you’re selling on Amazon, you can subscribe to their “real stuff” funnel to market your physical products.
In ClickFunnels, you can create:
- Optin or lead capture funnels that are used to get the email addresses of your potential customers
- Sales page funnels that leads your visitor to an upsell or downsell page depending on whether or not he or she chooses to purchase your product
- Membership sites to create your very own community of subscribers
ClickFunnels Features Low-Down
- Custom domain names
- A/B testing
- Email integration
- Optin funnels
- Advanced funnels
- Sales funnels
- Membership funnels
- Webinar funnels
- Automated Webinar funnels
- Order Pages
- One-click upsell pages
- Downsell Pages
- Mobile responsive
- Professional themes
- Clone, drag and drop, and advanced website editors
- Major payment integrations like PayPal, Stripe, and Infusionsoft
- 14-day free trial and then $97 per month for the Standard features or $297 per month for the full Etison Suite
Why get started with ClickFunnels?
In the past, you’d need a team, a lot of time and several different tools to put together your own sales funnel. You’d have to think about website hosting, landing page software, an email autoresponder, split testing software, automated webinar software, affiliate software, membership site software and design. But with ClickFunnels, you can find all that on one platform, although it also comes with a higher monthly price tag to get access to the full suite of options.
If you have no idea what a marketing funnel is or haven’t yet got one in place, ClickFunnels is the perfect place to learn all about it. Because its interface is so easy to navigate, you can easily build your landing page and optin forms to grow your email list. You only have to drag and drop widgets in order to create your pages.
They also have proven templates you can choose from or you can customize your own with HTML. You can make your sales page look exactly like you want by dragging and dropping information, logos, images, testimonials, and guarantees.
One advantage ClickFunnels has over other ecommerce platforms is their integrated membership site and course delivery capabilities. Whether you’re selling tea leaves, dog food, weight-loss powders, fitness programs, or parenting advice, ClickFunnels will show you how to create a monthly membership site where you can generate income from your members. Although I personally find the design of ClickFunnels-hosted membership sites and courses to be more basic and less user-friendly than than well-known stand-alone membership and course platforms, like Teachable, Kajabi or Thinkific, it’s enough to get you started if you don’t want to add on separate tools for those.
ClickFunnels vs. SamCart
Both platforms have their strong points.The number one difference between SamCart and ClickFunnels is that they focus on different parts of the sales process. Unlike ClickFunnels, SamCart focuses on the checkout and post-checkout process of your transactions. While ClickFunnels is better at funnel creation, SamCart has more compelling checkout pages.
SamCart is an ecommerce platform that’s specifically designed to help you make more money from each customer that lands on your checkout page. ClickFunnels is a marketing funnel platform and email marketing tool to nurture customer interest when they’re not yet convinced enough to buy your product or service, and once they do buy, ClickFunnels helps you maximize the amount you earn from each sale with upsells and downsells (much like SamCart does).
With ClickFunnels you have to customize your checkout page yourself, but with SamCart, it offers you beautifully designed checkout pages that have already been proven to garner sales from your clients.
When choosing which ecommerce platform is right for you, also consider what other tools you already have in place. For example, if you’ve already set up dozens of landing pages with LeadPages and have email automations already established with a service like Drip, simply adding on SamCart might be the way to go versus ClickFunnels, especially given ClickFunnels’ higher starting price. But if you’re just starting out or looking for a true all-in-one platform, then ClickFunnels may be your better option.
Shopify: Eye-catching virtual storefront for physical products
If you sell physical products - and a large variety of them - then Shopify is your go-to ecommerce platform. With over 100 professionally-designed. Mobile-friendly and fully-customizable storefront themes to choose from, you can make your brand pop and catch your customer’s eye. Although you can sell services and digital products on Shopify, they excel in serving sellers of physical goods, offering extensive inventory and purchase-tracking capabilities using their Liquid short-codes.
Shopify Features Low Down
- Unlimited number of products you can sell in your store
- Fraud analysis
- Discount codes
- Staff accounts
- 24/7 live and email chat support
- Unlimited bandwidth and online storage so you won’t be charged based on how many online visitors you have or how many files or photos you upload on your store
- Shopify POS that allows you to sell in a physical store or pop-up setting. It comes in the form of an app that lets you process orders in person, take payments, swipe credit cards, and control it all from your iPad or smartphone.
- Online sales channels where you can set up an online store that is linked to Amazon, Facebook and Pinterest, with shopping buttons to make purchasing easy. Each sales channel connects to your sales page, so you can keep track of your orders and customers on various platforms.
- Manual order creation that lets you create orders that you took over the phone or in person and then just email your customer the receipt with his or her order details.
- Finances report to see an overview of your sales, payments, and pending sales data. You can also view your full finance report.
- 14-day free trial, then $9 - $299 per month, depending on the features you want
Shopify vs. SamCart, ClickFunnels and PayPal
Shopify is a great platform if you need an online store to showcase many different physical products where people can just click on it to add to their cart. Even though you can sell physical products via SamCart and ClickFunnel, there’s no elegant online storefront like with Shopify, making Shopify the go-to choice when buying decisions hinge on easily browsing through stunning visuals of your inventory.
Certainly setting up Shopify, SamCart or ClickFunnels is a huge step up from using only PayPal to sell your digital products or services. Why? Because when customers see that you only use PayPal as the checkout page for your business, they tend to regard you as only a small-time business, even if you’re an established expert in your field… and especially when it comes to selling online courses, coaching programs and consulting services costing hundreds to thousands of dollars.
In addition to the lack of aesthetics, sellers using only PayPal force would-be buyers to either already have a PayPal account set up or register for a new one in order to make the purchase. This adds an additional step to your sales process, leads to higher abandoned cart rates and in the end hurts your sales and conversion rates. Offering PayPal as a payment option is important, though, as studies have shown that you’ll miss out on a significant number of sales if you don’t, but you don’t want PayPal to be the only payment option. SamCart, ClickFunnels and Shopify all integrate with PayPal.
Using either SamCart, ClickFunnels or Shopify will give you more credibility as an online seller. It gives you a professional image that can increase your sales and allow you to charge more for your products and services, benefiting your bottom line in both the short- and long-term.
Side-by-side features comparison
To make choosing your ecommerce platform easier, I’ve summed up the main features and pricing tiers below:
Which online shopping cart platform is right for you?
If you want to succeed in the online product and services business, SamCart, ClickFunnels and Shopify are just the right time- and effort-saving ecommerce tools you need. Remember that a good investment used right more than pays for itself. It’s all in the way you make the most out of them.
Here’s how I see it:
Both SamCart and ClickFunnels are great ecommerce platform choices for selling online courses, coaching and membership programs, downloadable digital products and individual services and still offer enough features to sell a limited variety of physical products.
SamCart is the #1 ecommerce platform for new entrepreneurs just getting started and also already-successful businesses looking for an easy way to sell more with one-click upsells and simplified funnel options but without the complication of a complex funnel system. Get started with a 30-day free trial with bonuses sales training and then continue for as little as $19 per month for the Basic plan, you can have a high-converting checkout page up and running in minutes. You get to keep your favorite tools, like your landing page and email service providers, without paying again for those features already built into ClickFunnels but which you’re not likely to use. And, it's 100% risk-free to try SamCart with their no-questions-asked 45-day money-back guarantee.
However, if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, don’t have a website, or want to create and automate a lot of different sales funnels, then ClickFunnels is your best bet. With ClickFunnels, you can get started with a 14-day free trial. After that, their monthly fee is either $97 for the Standard subscription or $297 per month for the Etison Suite (full suite) of features, making it a bit more of a stretch for online entrepreneurs getting started.
Shopify is the clear winner for online physical goods retailers, with their beautiful storefronts and robust inventory tracking capabilities. You can also get started with a 14-day free trial and then upgrade to Shopify Basic for $29 per month, Shopify for $79 per month or Advanced Shopify for $299 per month. You can even get started with Shopify for as little as $9 per month with their Shopify Lite plan if you’re selling on Facebook, an existing website or selling your goods in-person.
No matter which ecommerce platform you choose, the key is to get started, take advantage of the training each company provides and start selling more so you can have the kind of freedom and income you started your online business for in the first place. So, what are you waiting for? Get going!
Hi, I'm Christine!
I help ambitious women entrepreneurs build wildly successful businesses they love and lives they love even more.
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