CloudCart Review: User-Friendly E-Commerce and Site Builder
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Setting up your first blog can be confusing. Researching out how to add e-commerce functionality and finding good web hosting can add to the information overload. Soon your mental circuits are popping, your blogging venture is delayed and your enthusiasm is chilled.
But we’ve got some good news for you. You’re living in an era that offers to first-time bloggers and entrepreneurs an abundance of affordable and easy-to-use tools. There are products designed to give you everything you need to launch an effective and impressive online business, at an affordable price. And you don’t need to know a speck of code — or hire a freelance tech — to use these products.
That’s precisely what CloudCart provides.
With extensive e-commerce features, professional design templates, secure hosting, 24/7 support, and a 14-day free trial, CloudCart certainly looks appealing. But let’s see if these flashy features are as fleshed out as they seem.
What is CloudCart?
Simply put, CloudCart is an e-commerce software platform that includes all the necessary components to get started:
- Easy-to-use DIY website builder
- Pre-built, customizable website templates designed to convert visitors into customers
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Web hosting
- SSL certificate for secure transactions
- Content delivery network (CDN) for speedy site loading times.
While a domain is not included, you can use the free sub-domain that’s provided.
CloudCart also offers:
- A suite of marketing tools so you can promote your products with coupons, abandoned cart emails, discounts, and more
- 750+ apps that you can add to your site, providing email marketing, customer service live chat, Facebook commenting, and other functionality
- Ability to sell your products seamlessly on Facebook and Ebay in addition to on your own site.
Professional services like logo creation, legal forms and documents, product photography, photo editing, content creation, are also available via CloudCart, making it a “one-stop-shop” for the fledgling solopreneur.
CloudCart’s forte is providing a frictionless way for small businesses to get online with a flawless website and the sales and marketing tools needed for success. There’s even a “CloudCart Academy” — an online set of courses that will help you craft effective online strategies and grow revenue.
No technical knowledge is required to use CloudCart’s e-commerce tools. The admin panel and builder are easy to understand. Customer support is available 24/7 via email, live chat, or phone.
A friendly admin panel wizard introduces you to your new store, allowing you to quickly and easily make edits, add products, or download add-ons. MailChimp, Disqus comments, or live chat are all apps you can install from a list of over 750.
Customer management is a useful feature, allowing you to track and group users. CloudCart Reports track sales, product popularity, and even calculate tax obligations. These stats and marketing tools are invaluable, but only available on the larger plans.
Also, realize that you’ll need to choose CloudCart’s top plan to get all of their features. The lack of transaction fees and easy-to-use tools make the lowest-priced plans attractive for newbies.
CloudCart doesn’t elaborate much on its hosting or infrastructure, except that its provider is Google Cloud. With Google being a leader in the tech industry, and cloud hosting hailed as the fastest and most versatile solution yet, you can be sure that your store will run in a stable environment.
Unlimited bandwidth comes with all plans, which is important even for low-traffic stores. No extra fees, and no stress when you begin to approach the cap. CloudCart has three datacenters, and a content delivery network (CDN) that covers most of the globe.
CDNs essentially store your website in various locations around the globe, where caching servers deliver your content to individual visitors from the server location closest to them. This enables speedy site loading.
Delays in site loading can result in lost conversions and sales. Aberdeen Group found that a one second delay can result in a significant decline in conversion rate. “Speed equals revenue,” is the way that Google’s Daniel An puts it.
Speed should be your concern, and you won’t be disappointed with CloudCart’s hosting.
The website builder is designed with maximum efficiency and simplicity in mind.
On the CloudCart website go to “Sell Online.” Then pick what you want to sell: sports equipment, car parts, books, jewelry, etc.
Enter a name for your store. Add your own name, and voila: there’s your dashboard.
A helpful wizard walks you through how your dashboard works.
Adding pages, changing colors, or inserting your own photography is no issue.
One notable feature is the ability to create a blog. The “controls” for your blog posting are basic: you get a standard WYSIWIG editor, ability to insert images and video, category tagging, author, SEO fields, and that’s about it. There doesn’t appear to be a way to add captions to photos, and photo placement on the page is basic “drag and re-arrange.” If you want control over the amount of white space padding surrounding your images, you’ll have to do that via the HTML, which is easy to access. For a cursory feature set, it’s decent. Ironically though, the CloudCart site itself seem to have opted for a WordPress theme for its blog (we checked the source code).
You may be able to find a few design tips on the company’s site, or you can opt to hire a custom designer to set it up for you.
The one problem with the CloudCart website is its lack of information on support. Besides a passing mention of live chat, email, and phone support, and the typical 24/7 promise, there’s little information.
There’s also no apparent way to get into contact with the company without logging in, besides a live chat which isn’t always online. Presumably, there are links on the user dashboard, but it seems impossible to send a ticket from the main site. Using the “contact us” page only leads you to a knowledgebase with no phone number or email.
Besides those quirks, the one good support feature is the knowledgebase and help center. Though navigation can be confusing, both provide a multitude of helpful articles. If it was just a bit easier to get in contact, the support would get a perfect rating.
CloudCart is a viable option for fledgling solopreneurs. It’s easy to use and offers a number of customization options. It includes a blog, but that blog is limited in its features.
Before you commit to an e-commerce solution, we recommend that you:
- Explore the scope of what’s available in the market
- Clarify the objectives of your store
- Clarify your blogging needs
- Clarify your customer support needs
- Explore several e-commerce solutions.
CloudCart doesn’t offer the variety of options you will find with some other e-commerce platforms like Shopify. Platforms with more options also may seem, at least at first, to be more complicated. The more choices you have, the more you’ll have to learn.
Your choice of an e-commerce platform will come down to which e-commerce solution best enables you to meet your objectives. Be clear on your objectives and you’ll soon find a solution.