Cart66 Review: Complete E-commerce Tool for Bloggers
WordPress bloggers in search of the perfect e-commerce tool have some pretty impressive options at their disposal already.
Between the ever-popular, free WooCommerce plugin and the super-simple-to-install Ecwid e-commerce widget, you already have two different approaches to extending your existing WordPress site with an online store addition.
And of course, there are lots of other options to consider, as well, including numerous standalone e-commerce site builders such as Shopify.
So do you really need another option? Maybe!
Cart66 is a premium plugin that turns any WordPress blog into an e-commerce site. What does it bring to the table, and how does Cart66 differentiate itself from its competitors?
Read on for the details about this WordPress-specific e-commerce tool.
How is it different from other WordPress e-commerce tools? For one thing, it lets you add purchasing tools — an “add to cart” button or product forms — anywhere you like on your blog. This gives you an edge in controlling how and where your online selling takes place on your site.
Another difference is that Cart66 includes everything you need to create a secure, stable e-commerce experience for your customers. There’s no need to go hunting additional plugins or widgets to make all the pieces fit together.
“Everything you need” includes not only the selling parts — the product pages, the controls to configure product variants, etc. — but also the commerce parts. That means you get secure PCI-compliant connections to your payment processor’s gateway. You don’t even need to have an SSL certificate installed because Cart66 sets you up on its secure server.
Now, that means your customers will be directed to your page on the cart66.com domain for checkout. But if that’s not a deal-breaker for you, the Cart66 approach will certainly save some effort and angst on your end. If you’re a little intimidated by the security-related technological aspects of e-commerce, Cart66 lets you skip that stuff and get started selling immediately.
You won’t need any specific theme to use Cart66. The plugin should play nicely with just about any well-coded WordPress theme, free or premium. WordPress takes care of the design and the layout, while Cart66 simply infuses the e-commerce functionality into your site however you choose.
Cart66’s Plans and Features
Cart66 isn’t free, unlike WooCommerce. But the company asserts that it’s a complete out-of-the-box option for e-commerce, versus WooCommerce, which may need add-ons and extensions to expand.
Cart66’s one-stop-shop tool offers two basic plans to choose from. Both plans include a PCI-compliant payment page that matches the rest of your site; the ability to sell both physical and digital products; unlimited product variants, including price variants; maximum and minimum purchase requirements; tax rate and shipment configuration options; the ability to set and accept coupon and discount codes; and more.
Of particular interest to bloggers is how Cart66 handles digital downloads. Your files will be stored securely and delivered to purchasers using a content delivery network (CDN) that’s powered by Amazon.
You can also customize email templates and receipts to customers. It’s relatively simple to upload your logo and include links to your brand’s social media profiles as well.
You’ll get access to over 100 payment processing gateways. Those choices include well-known names such as PayPal, Stripe, and more. Each of these gateways is integrated into the Cart66 platform with no further extensions or add-ons necessary.
Bloggers will also find useful the ability to configure products for a “donation” price, where the buyer selects the price they want to pay.
The higher level plan also includes special features you won’t find in the basic plan, such as integration with Google Analytics; recurring billing so you can offer ongoing membership and subscription-based products; recurring donation, so users can sign up for regular (annual, quarterly, or monthly) giving; secure customer portal pages, allowing your users to view past purchase and order history; and even drip publishing to let you release premium content access on a predetermined schedule.
Since ecommerce is often intimidating for new bloggers, Cart66 has also created something it calls a Launch Pack. This is a special service that gets you off the hook almost completely. Cart66 professionals will install the plugin for you and walk you through adding a couple of products, so you’ll know how to use it.
The Launch Pack service also includes:
- Connecting your Cart66 account to your WordPress blog
- Creating a secure Cart66-hosted payment page that looks just like your existing WordPress theme and resolving any CSS conflicts that might occur
- Establishing an SSL secure connection and correct display of the secure lock in the browser’s address bar
- Inserting “View Cart” and “Checkout” links to your site’s main navigation menu
- Two hours of individualized assistance
This package does not include any assistance or setup for plugins or services offered by any third-party developers or vendors, or in any way logging into your payment gateway or bank.
You can check out what a Cart66 site looks like on the company’s online demo.
Cart66 offers an extensive help center, including some quick-start guides and a more detailed knowledge base. The company also offers a free email “getting started with e-commerce” course written by CEO Lee Blue.
In addition, the company has published a number of helpful videos on specific topics related to using the plugin. You can access and watch many of these videos embedded on the plugin’s WordPress Repository page.
If those resources don’t help you figure out the answer to your problem on your own, you can always submit a ticket request for more individualized attention.
Should You Choose Cart66 for Your Blog?
If you’ve got an existing or an in-the-works WordPress blog, and you want to add an e-commerce functionality into that site, as opposed to creating a freestanding online store on a different domain, Cart66 is definitely one of your main options.
It’s best for bloggers who are looking for a simple, complete, and straightforward solution that takes care of all the e-commerce stuff, including both the selling and the payment-related functions, and who don’t mind paying for that convenience.
The primary alternative plugin is, of course, WooCommerce, but bloggers may find themselves searching out multiple other plugins and add-ons to replicate the full experience.
Cart66, on the other hand, will appeal more to busy bloggers who either don’t have the time or the technical expertise to cobble together a more piecemeal approach to a full e-commerce service and who have the budget to pay for the desired added convenience.
It’s not necessarily that Cart66 is better than WooCommerce, or vice versa, at all. Both are excellent solutions for the right WordPress blogger. It’s just a question of which approach suits your business, your brand, and your unique needs.
Keep in mind Cart66 takes care of secure connections to your payment processor, and integrates with over 90 of those processors, but that the secure checkout pages are located on the cart66.com domain. This could be a problem for some brands.
But if it isn’t, and you’ve got the budget and desire for an all-in-one turnkey e-commerce tool that’s WordPress-based, Cart66 is a solid contender.