Choosing the right shopping cart platform for your business is a big deal, whether you’re already established and thinking of switching platforms or a newbie learning the ropes of selling digital products.
There are a lot of factors to consider, including your specific needs, budget, and level of expertise. As we head into 2024, there are more opportunities than ever for making money online—so how do you choose the right shopping cart solution for you?
Although there are more shopping cart solutions than ever nowadays, not all of them are created equal. In this review, we’ll compare four of the most popular shopping cart platforms for digital products:
Read on as we discuss their features, pricing, pros and cons, and help you decide which one to go with. Selling digital products such as infoproducts and courses is one of the most scalable and sustainable business models out there: so let’s help find you a platform that can get it done!
|TL:DR – we may be biased, but we think ThriveCart is the overall champion when it comes to selling digital products online. Read more to find out why!
Why Do I Need A Shopping Cart For My Online Business?
Shopping cart solutions are the backbone of any solid ecommerce business, big or small. They allow customers to make transactions and buy digital (or physical) products, and provide a secure environment for payments.
When it comes to selling digital products such as ebooks, software and online courses, you need a shopping cart solution that will do the heavy lifting and leave you with enough time and energy to run your business on an organizational and creative level. Features like taxes, integrations, customization and secure payment processing take the headache out of selling online and allow you to provide a better customer experience.
Things To Look For In A Shopping Cart:
- Payment Processing: Seamless and secure payment processing is non-negotiable. It should support various payment gateways and provide a hassle-free checkout experience for customers.
- Customization: The ability to customize the checkout process and design is essential for branding and creating a user-friendly experience.
- Integration: Integration with other tools and platforms, such as email marketing services and fulfillment systems, is crucial for effective marketing and customer management.
- Affiliate Management: With a robust affiliate management platform, you can control commissions and payment options and let other people promote your products for you.
- Security: Given the sensitivity of digital products, security measures must be in place to protect both the seller and the buyer.
Top Shopping Cart Solutions of 2024
Samcart, known for its simplicity and clean design, caters to a diverse range of sellers. With straightforward digital product delivery functions, sellers can easily upload files and deliver them to customers post-purchase.
Supporting most major payment gateways, Samcart also offers one-time payments and subscriptions, but has limited tax and shipping options if you plan to branch out into physical products later down the line.
It also boasts a user-friendly interface for customizing checkout pages, but doesn’t quite match the flexibility offered by other shopping cart solutions. You may have to make some compromises if you have particular design and branding needs.
Overall, Samcart is a great option for beginners, but lacks advanced functionality that will support your business as it grows. It’s also more expensive than many solutions in this article: at hundreds of dollars a month, it may be difficult to make back the cost with online sales.
Shopify is a household name and a powerhouse in the e-commerce industry. While Shopify caters primarily for physical products, you can also use it to sell digital products online with a robust delivery system that lets you upload and manage products before customers receive download links upon purchase.
This platform supports all the payment gateways you might need, and offers a high level of customization that may put off beginners or any seller who wants to get their store off the ground quickly. While it may not be as intuitive for customizing individual product checkout pages as some other platforms, your overall store design can be tailored minutely to the smallest detail.
This app’s main selling point is that it can provide a storefront experience: this is great for smaller, more impulse purchases, but not for larger high-ticket items. In those cases, a well thought-out sales funnel including upsells and downsells has been proven to be more effective when it comes to conversion rates.
Unfortunately, Shopify doesn’t really offer sales funnel functionality in the app itself. In order to make it work how you want, you’d need to deep-dive into its comprehensive integration library. Shopify integrates with hundreds of apps, each with their own learning curves, and this means setting up even a simple funnel may take up more of your valuable time than it would on other platforms.
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that provides a powerful e-commerce solution. By leveraging the flexibility of its parent platform, users can customize their online store exactly how they want and create unique product pages and checkout experiences to reflect their brand identity.
As a self-hosted platform, this means that you’ll need to purchase and maintain your own web hosting and custom domain (i.e. it doesn’t give you a free subdomain). This also means it’s more complex to set up and use than ThriveCart or other online solutions. You’ll be responsible for updates, security, and maintenance, which can be time-consuming.
Furthermore, WooCommerce doesn’t offer affiliate functionality without extra plugins, which may be a dealbreaker for some sellers who want to recruit affiliates with the promise of commission payouts.
While it may not offer the same out-of-the-box security features as specialized platforms, WooCommerce provides a solid foundation for advanced users who need a very specific tailored solution and don’t mind setting it up themselves.
ThriveCart’s thousands of happy customers love its user-friendly interface and feature-rich platform, which lets you set up and deliver digital products in a few easy clicks.
It supports a wide range of payment gateways, including major players like PayPal and Stripe. It also allows for one-time payments, subscription models, and even split payments, offering flexibility for different business models.
One of its biggest strengths is the in-house course platform, Learn. With Learn, you can create your own online educational courses with modules and lessons, add rich text and video content, and drip-feed access using a student tagging system. Online courses are a fantastic way of increasing revenue for anyone who sells digital products—with them, you can increase your initial offer, or teach others how to get more value from your original products.
ThriveCart offers upsells, downsells and bump sales so you can create your own sales funnels inside the platform, and has a library of highly customizable templates. It does not offer a storefront, so if you have multiple smaller products, a platform like WooCommerce or Shopify would be a better choice. However, if your digital product is high value and you want to make the most out of every sale, ThriveCart is the obvious choice.
The Winner: ThriveCart
Choosing between these four products ultimately depends on your specific needs and goals. It all boils down to the type of products you want to sell, and the way you want to sell them—however, if you want a solution that offers the best chance of success in every area, go with ThriveCart.
Have lots of smaller, low-cost digital products? WooCommerce is the way to go, although it comes with extra costs such as hosting, a custom domain, and any third-party plugins you’ll need. Shopify is also a good solution, as long as you don’t mind installing, updating and managing the many plugins you might need.
Have one digital product you’re really proud of? Samcart offers a very basic (and expensive) introduction to selling digital products online, but you may outgrow it sooner than you think. ThriveCart will help you make the most of your product with a lifetime pricing model, so you won’t need to worry about monthly payments.
Here are some further key takeaways to help you make an informed decision:
- Choose ThriveCart if:
- You prioritize ease of use and a user-friendly interface.
- You rely heavily on subscription-based revenue.
- You want built-in affiliate management features.
- You’re looking for a streamlined solution with a focus on optimizing checkout pages.
In the end, all these platforms have their strengths and weaknesses, making them suitable for different types of businesses. They’re both excellent platforms: you just need to choose the right one for you.
But, when you take into account that you need need a robust, secure payments system, great-looking pages and opportunities for maximizing your sales, ThriveCart emerges as the obvious winner across all factors.
No matter which you go with, we wish you luck selling digital products in 2024!