If you are reading this article, I’m sure you’ve heard of SamCart before. Does it live up to the hype? Is SamCart legit? Let’s find out in my detailed review of SamCart.
If you have any sort of online business or blog, you need a good shopping cart. Though if you are selling physical products services, Shopify or the add-on to WordPress WooCommerce are a great fit.
But what about if you are selling digital products?
If you are selling an ebook, online course, software download, SaaS, membership, consulting, or coaching your needs are much different. For example, you need flexible billing options. You are typically only selling one item at a time, but that item can be billed with a monthly fee, installment payments for a set period, or a one-time fee.
The ability to increase conversion rates is critical. Plus with digital marketing, the money is made in the backend offers, not just the initial sale.
An increase in LTV (Life Time Value) can mean the difference from a profitable ad campaign to one that loses money for every sale. You want to be able to upsell, down-sell, or cross-sell other products. You want to create and test all sorts of different pricing options quickly. The key is effective marketing with digital assets.
Until SamCart, there was no shopping cart that specialized in selling digital products.
You had to build your own, which was costly to create. If you wanted new functionality it then took time to develop that as well. SamCart is an effective service to sell digital products and optimize your sales funnel so you make the most money.
- Easy To Use — Create a shopping cart in less than an hour with an easy-to-use visual editor.
- 14 Day Trial — Try out SamCart for 14 days before you decide to purchase.
- SamCart Templates — Pre-made proven designs to create funnels that convert.
- Flexible Designs — You can make your checkout process match exactly your brand and design. There are also plenty of pre-made sections you can use on your shopping cart.
- Powerful Integrations — SamCart supports many options built-in. SamCart also supports Zapier and webhooks to extend to your customizations. These integrations can fire based upon many different triggering events.
- High Monthly Fees — SamCart can be expensive though does not charge per transaction or amount of products you sell.
- One Currency Support — Once your default currency is set upon signup, you cannot support other currencies.
- Weak Affiliate System — Perhaps the weakest part of their service is their affiliate system. Though you cannot expect a service to do everything. If you are serious about affiliate marketing, then you should look for a third-party service to use in conjunction with SamCart.
- No Two-Factor Authentication — I find it odd for a shopping cart service to lack the ability to enable two-factor authentication for administrative accounts.
What Is SamCart?
SamCart is a shopping cart service that specializes in selling digital products. If you are looking to create a membership area, sell an ebook, online course, or coaching, then SamCart specializes in digital products. It is a hosted service that doesn’t require any technical knowledge to set up on your part.
SamCart was founded in 2015 by brothers Scott and Brian Moran. ThriveCart is considered the nearest competing service.
- Integrations – 3 Payment Processors, 18 Email Service Providers, 7 Membership Systems, and Zapier and custom webhooks
- One-Click Upsells
- Pay What You Want
- Subscription Saver
- Cart Abandonment
- Advanced Subscriptions
- Coupons And Discounts
- Premade Templates
- Reporting (sales, refunds, subscriptions, upsells, charges, and traffic)
- Triggers — Fire events from when specific events occur
- A/B Split Testing — Create tests to see which layout sells more (but cannot be pricing)
- Marketing Analytics (aka. UTM Codes)
- Affiliate System
- Custom Domains — which can be set up per product
Payment Options and Coupons
You have many different options with SamCart to price and position your products.
- Subscriptions (weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, or custom days)
- Amount of rebills (nonstop to ‘X’ amount)
- Trail period
- Initial price and recurring price
- Digital and physical products
- With physical products, you can add in shipping costs per location to ship
- Coupons — One-time or recurring. percentage or flat rate
- Allow a choice of payment terms
- Order Bumps
- Taxes — Sales Tax and VAT
SamCart does support the ability to sell physical products as well but it’s really designed as part of a sales funnel (like a newsletter or book) and one-off purchases than say something you see with Amazon’s shopping cart.
The templates available from SamCart is one of the more popular features. You have your choice of: empty Layouts a library of premade templates.
The empty layout consists of plain-looking designs that are set up to suit different cart designs. They are 8 empty layouts to choose from:
- Blocky — A simple design with on the top of the page Contact information, in the middle order summary, and at the bottom payment methods.
- Startup — A more modern layout of the Blocky template and with the payment methods in the middle of the page.
- Launchpad — Another variant of the Startup template.
- Accelerator — Two-column layout with order information on the left and product info on the right.
- Multi-Step — Breaks down the sales page into multiple steps (Contact Information, Order Details, and Confirmation)
- Popup Template — Take orders from another website and create a popup order.
- Full Width — Exactly what the name implies, a full-width layout which is great for mobile ordering.
- Two Column — Similar to the Accelerator layout, but the order information is on the right side. The content is on the left column.
Then there are the pre-made templates. These templates are mostly to be used in specific niches. There 19 templates to choose from:
- One Page Blueprint — SamCarts recently promoted the concept of putting all your information on one sales page.
- Publisher — This template is for selling a book or ebook.
- Fitness — Sample design to sell your fitness book or course.
- Video Sales Letter — VSL is an often-used sales method and an effective way to promote a product.
- Masterclass — An example to sell an online course
- Portrait — A photography studio’s sample online shopping cart.
- Trainer — An example of a personal trainer’s online lessons.
- Studio — A dance studio mockup to sell live coaching.
- Avo — An example of a product-based all-on-one sales page.
- Webinar — An example used by SamCart themselves, a webinar is an effective means to sell your high-ticket product.
- Inventor — Sell a high-ticket physical product with this template.
- Nutrition — An example layout for selling healthy dietary ebook and memberships.
- Classroom — A fun template to sell courses to students.
- Traveler — Sell travel guide information online
- Author — Promote your book with this design.
- Agency — Sell prepared consulting work in this easy to change the design.
- Authority — As an expert use this template to sell your course.
- Software — A template for selling software in download form or as a service.
- Trial — Sell some on a trial basis before your customers pay the full price.
The templates while not bad, could use a little bit better flushing out the design elements. The templates do show how flexible SamCart’s editor.
The designs are desktop and mobile-friendly. Mobile is an important aspect of online ordering today and should choose a service that works well with mobile ordering. With their pre-made templates, options to enable or disable items on mobile and wallet support SamCart is a great choice.
Drag & Drop Builder
SamCart’s visual editor has many options to make your order page look the best and increase conversions using various promotional techniques.
You have many ways to display information on the order form:
This tools can be used to help increase sales with your product. Each of these have many different styles to choose from
- Progress Bar — Shows how far is the user in the order process.
- Countdown — Make offer limited. Can be either the time they first entered the sales page or at a fixed date and time.
- Guarantee — Showing a seal with your guarantee is one of the easy ways to reduce risk
- Testimonial — Social proof is another way to ease the buyer to assure they are making the right decision.
- FAQ — Get the common objections out of the way with your frequently asked questions section.
- Tabs — When you have a lot of information presented on a sales page it can be confusing to the buyer. Tabs are a method to makes it easier to present lots of information.
- Custom HTML — Add custom HTML like the service Deadline Funnel to your order page.
SamCart also has a feature called Collections in their editor. The best way to think of this feature are like mini-templates to use on your order page. They are pre-designed layouts that you can use on your page.
All of these you have the option to show or hide on desktop and mobile devices. If you create a winning design you want to reuse over (which I recommend) you can save your design as a template.
When compared to the competing product ThriveCart, SamCart’s affiliate system is a much simpler design. The settings within SamCart is global and cannot be adjusted per affiliate or product. As an affiliate, the reporting is let me say… basic. You don’t have the option to either add your own pixel or create an exclusive bonus for visitors who signup with your affiliate link.
Lastly, SamCart lacks any postback feature for super affiliates like me. If affiliates are wanting to track conversions, your options are pretty limited to only one option. The only possible option for affiliates is via the Marketing Analytics option which is only available with the Scale plan. Then you as the SamCart customer must enable utm_content wich then your affiliates can populate with traffic source information. Not a real workable solution for most.
While SamCart’s affiliate program works, it is the weakest part of their service. I suggest you look elsewhere (either ThriveCart) or add on an affiliate system like TUNE or Cake for your affiliate needs.
They currently have three pricing options:
If you pay annually you get a 20% discount. You have a 14-day free trial with SamCart to kick the tires before making your first payment.
If you are comparing to ThriveCart you’ll notice the SamCart can get expensive very quickly. If you purchase SamCart’s lowest-priced plan (Launch) you pay $470/year, whereas ThriveCart’s most expensive plan is $690 and a one-time fee. You’ll pay significantly more for SamCart’s service and something to seriously consider when using SamCart.
Fortunately, with SamCart’s pricing, you will not pay any more or less based upon the number of customer orders. If you do $1 a year or $10 million in revenue, you’ll pay the same fee. So obviously it’s to your advantage to use SamCart for all of your shopping cart needs.
Same applies to products. You are not restricted by amount of products you can sell through SamCart’s service.
With the 3 tiers, the limits features, and functionality. Obviously ‘Scale’ has the most functionality. If you start with the ‘Launch’ plan you have SamCart branding on your cart, which isn’t ideal.
When you up upgrade to the ‘Grow’ plan you can completely white label your shopping cart. With the ‘Grow’ plan you get these options:
- Custom checkout fields (great when you are a SaaS)
- Allowing for upsells and downsells and multiple payment options.
- More advanced reporting
- Subscription charge reminder
- Advanced subscription cancellations
With the ‘Scale’ plan you are upgraded so you get access to:
- Customers can cancel themselves
- Multiple admin users and roles
- A/B testing
- Affiliate center
- CRM Intergrations
For most users of SamCart, I would recommend starting with their ‘Launch‘ plan. You can always upgrade to the higher-priced plans which usually give more integration options and customizations.
SamCart has Zapier integration, as well as webhooks to extend their service.
When compared to ThriveCart, SamCart has slightly more payment gateway options. SamCart has Braintree whereas ThriveCart works with Authorize.net. This limitation alone may restrict your choice in your shopping cart system.
Fortunately, SamCart supports Stripe, which is easy to apply for and setup. PayPal of course is another common payment method and is recommended you enable as well. From my experience, many customers prefer using PayPal for its security, the option to pay by checking account and masking credit card information.
Lastly, if you are looking to accept a digital wallet (Apple Pay, Microsoft Pay, or Google Pay), SamCart supports both via Stripe.
- Apple Pay (via Stripe)
- Google Pay (via Stripe)
- Microsoft Pay (via Stripe)
Email Service Providers
SamCart offers a large amount of ESP to work with.
- Constant Contact
I personally recommend ActiveCampaign for the advanced email automation, but pretty much all of the options can work well with ThriveCart.
If you are selling a digital product or a monthly subscription to a private area, you need a membership service with which to work. Fortunately, ThriveCart works with a bunch of membership area services and WordPress membership plugins.
ThriveCart works directly with these membership systems:
- Digital Access Pass
It’s also possible to integrate with other membership systems when you use Zapier.
If you’re looking to sell a physical product, you have only one option to choose from.
You can fire events with external services when a specific event occurs. These events can be per product or for every product (global). You can perform these events:
- Order Completed
- Product Added To Order
- Product Purchased
- Product Refunded
- Product Partially Refunded
- Prospect Created
- Subscription Canceled
- Subscription Charge Failed
- Subscription Charged
- Subscription Delinquent
- Subscription Recovered
- Subscription Restarted
- Subscription Started
- Subscription Charge Refunded
- Subscription Charge Partially Refunded
- Upsell Purchased
These triggers can fire with the integrations within SamCart built-in integrations, Zapier, or webhook to your own custom integration.
ThriveCart vs. SamCart
Both SamCart and ThriveCart are very similar services. If you were to choose between the two which would be better? It can be a toss-up between the two. Like most competing services which one is better will depend upon which is right for your specific needs.
At least for me, ThriveCart appears to be slightly more polished with the visual editor and creating shopping carts. I was more pleased with the results with ThriveCart’s. The administration area just seemed to flow better for me.
I also preferred ThriveCart’s affiliate system which had not only more functionality, but allows for affiliate to create their own unique bonuses. A feature that many third-party affiliate systems don’t even offer. SamCart’s affiliate system on the other-hand is very basic and would recommend using a third-party service if you are serious about affiliate marketing.
For many the choice between ThriveCart and SamCart will depend upon existing services you are using. For example, if you are using Braintree for credit card processing that will limit your choice to only SamCart, since ThriveCart does not offer this option.
What are the alternatives to SamCart? Here are the more popular options:
SamCart is a good online shopping cart for bloggers and people who are selling digital products. If you are selling physical products, then it is not best suited for that purpose.
The biggest disadvantage of SamCart is its price. SamCart can get be very costly over the years of using their service. Though it can be said, SamCart is constantly improving the service and has made many improvements since it first launched in 2015.
Though as an alternative I would suggest also looking at ThriveCart as well.
In my own personal case, I wound up using ThriveCart because of the more powerful affiliate system and one-time fee.
Though in the classic VHS vs. Betamax debate the best product doesn’t always win. In the case of VHS, it wound up winning not because it was a better format but was marketed better. It could be said SamCart might be a more popular service only because it is marketed better.