PayKickStart Review 2020

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Our verdict

4/5

Paykickstart is a (sometimes too) full-featured modern shopping cart that lets you control every part of the checkout experience, whether you sell physical or digital products online with ease.

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PROS

  • Many payment processors, including Stripe, PayPal and more
  • Supports subscriptions and payment plans
  • Can offer free and paid trials
  • Great selection of customizable checkout templates
  • Can add coupons and discounts (and apply to rebills)
  • The option to use PayKickStart’s advanced funnel builder
  • Bump offers and one-click upsells
  • Affiliate center built-in
  • Marketing portal to host email swipes, banners and constests
  • Tons of native integrations & Zapier support
  • In-app live chat support (business hours)
  • Active Facebook community

CONS

  • No support for Apple Pay or any cryptocurrencies
  • No ability to offer a ‘Pay What You Want’ option at checkout
  • No A/B testing
  • Confusing user-interface (bad for newbies)
PayKickStart Dashboard

PayKickStart was founded in 2014 by Matt Thompson and Matt Cullen, and has since grown into a very capable shopping cart platform and affiliate management platform.

In this review, we’ll do an in-depth, 100% objective analysis on where PayKickStart stands today, and whether or not it truly holds its own against the big boys.

PayKickStart Review: The Good, Bad, And The Ugly

For this review, I fired up PayKickStart to see how it fares in comparison to popular alternatives.

From here on out, I’ll share my experiences using this tool, as well as what I liked and didn’t like along the way.

How Well Does It Accept Payments?

PayKickStart Payment Methods

PayKickStart currently supports a number of payment gateways, including Authorize.net, Braintree, EasyPayDirect, PayPal and Stripe.

A pretty strong list by most people’s standards.

That being said, as far as my research revealed, the platform doesn’t allow you to accept payment via Apple Pay, or any cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Could be a deal-breaker for some.

As for payment models, PayKickStart seems to cover ALL the bases.

Well, at least according to their website…

PayKickStart Payment Options

The problem is, figuring out how to set one these payment models up is like trying to decode the Matrix.

(Alright, not quite that bad.)

To give you an example, I click into subscriptions in order to set up a new subscription plan, but…. how exactly?

PayKickStart Payments & Subscriptions

Well, turns out this isn’t the way to do it.

What you need to do instead, is create a new campaign, after which you can add new products to it.

PayKickStart Payment Model Setting Up

Honestly, there was NO way I would have found this out without digging through the documentation, and let’s be honest, it shouldn’t be that complicated to pull off such a simple action.

Mini-rant over, let’s talk about the other payment models available.

You can also set up payment plans with PayKickStart, which are essentially a subscription with a fixed-number of charges.

PayKickStart New Product Payment Settings

Not to mention the option of setting up both a free or paid trial — something that, in some cases, can seriously kickstart yours conversions…

PayKickStart New Product Payment Free and Paid Trial Settings

So what’s missing?

Well, though it may be a less popular feature, the ability to allow prospects to ‘Pay What They Want’ is lacking.

Verdict

Aside from a confusing setup process and a lack of crypto/Apple pay payment methods, this thing is pretty feature packed in the payment processing department.

How Well Does It Convert Prospects?

This is the part where we talk about turning prospects into customers, and that’s a HUGE responsibility resting on the shoulders of your chosen shopping cart.

The question is, how good is PayKickStart at doing just that?

Let’s start with checkout templates.

Again, finding the suckers took up more of my time than I care to admit since the UI doesn’t give you any real clues.

I mean, even the knowledge base threw up blanks:

PayKickStart Checkout Template No Result Knowledge Base

Turns out, you choose a checkout template in stage 2 of setting up a product within a campaign.While I do like the fact that templates aren’t applied globally, I’m really struggling to get along with the layout of this tool. So far it’s just not as intuitive as, say, ThriveCart or SendOwl.

Anyway, PayKickStart kinda made up for itself here with 12 one-step checkout templates and 5 multi-step templates.

PayKickStart Checkout Templates Library

And yeah, some of these look pretty damn good.

Here’s one of my favorite one-step checkout templates from PayKickStart, just to give you an idea:

PayKickStart Checkout Template Example

I particularly like how customizable these are as well.

Don’t get me wrong, this ain’t no Elementor killer, but for a shopping cart it’s actually pretty flexible in terms of design, and you can even add your own custom fields if needed.

PayKickStart Checkout Template Customization

I should also mention the ability to add an exit-intent popup.

There isn’t any real technical magic to it, but it’s nice touch that has the potential to nudge your conversion rate in the right direction.

PayKickStart Exit Intent Popup

Finally, let’s touch on A/B testing.

Considering you get so much control over pricing and appearance with PayKickStart, a well placed split-test could make all the difference.

Unfortunately, as hard as I looked, I couldn’t find anything. (Yeah, the knowledge base comes up short as well.)

PayKickStart AB Testing No Result Knowledge Base

It’s super frustrating because PayKickStart feels developed enough to have such a feature, but I can’t be sure either way.

Like with most shopping carts, however, you could run a manual test by cloning your existing product and dividing traffic between them, but it’s obviously not as easy to pull off.

Verdict

Little hard to find template options if looking proactively, but there are a ton of professionally designed, customizable checkout templates. No built-in A/B testing.

Does It Help Boost Your Sales?

If the last section was about making the sale, this one’s about increasing the value of that sale.

This is where the magic happens, and what better place to start than with discounts and coupons?

Luckily, I was able to find this one pretty quickly…

PayKickStart Adding Coupons

From here, adding a coupon was a breeze.

PayKickStart allowed me to dictate things like fixed-discount or percentage, number of redemptions, apply to first purchase or rebills, and, of course, the coupon code itself.

PayKickStart Creating New Coupon

A few things I’m not seeing here, however, is the ability to attribute this coupon to one of my affiliates.

Still, definitely not reason enough to start hatin’ on PKS, especially considering the level of control you get here.

So what about bump offers?

You can do bumps through PayKickStart, and despite the fact I wouldn’t know where to begin looking for it, I was able to uncover some documentation that walked me through the process.

Hint: It’s under the funnel builder.

PayKickStart Funnel Builder

Once you fire up the funnel builder, you enter a new world of confusion. (Alright, slight exaggeration.)

Here’s what it look like, and where you have to actually click to set up a bump:

PayKickStart Building Funnel List

And from this popup, you’ll see the option to add a cheeky bump offer.

PayKickStart Bump Offer

I won’t keep going on about the UI, but yeah… the UI.

Finally, let’s look at the affiliate management aspect, which can be found in the sidebar:

PayKickStart Affiliate Dashboard

It’s obvious right off the bat that PayKickStart has a heavily developed affiliate portal baked in, and there’s a few cool things you can do that are worth mentioning.

For one, you get granular control over the commissions affiliates receive, not only on the account-level, but also on the product level.

You can override global settings by opening up the funnel builder view for a specific affiliate, and set specific rules at certain points of the funnel.

PayKickStart Override Funnel Settings

It gets better.

As you may have picked up from the screenshot, you can also define a custom landing page, add 2nd tier affiliate commissions, and even set those commissions at the product level.

PayKickStart also offers an ‘Affiliate Marketing’ portal, allowing you to provide marketing materials to your affiliates.

PayKickStart Affiiliate Marketing Portal

This includes email swipes, banners and yes… even affiliate contests.

Your affiliates simply have to log in, select the product they want to promote, and see if you have any marketing material available for them to use.

There’s so much going on here that I could almost write a dedicated review on the affiliate functions alone, but hopefully that gives you some insight into what PayKickStart can do from an affiliate perspective.

Verdict

Has pretty much everything you’d expect from a fully-fledged shopping cart, including, coupons, bump offers, upsells, a robust affiliate centre and even a visual funnel builder.

How Well Does It Fit Into Your Tech Stack?

When it comes to shopping carts, having them properly integrate with the rest of your technical setup is essential.

Email marketing is often the first thing an online business should consider when introducing any new tech into their business, and PayKickStart serves up some healthy integrations.

Here’s what they’ve got going on:

PayKickStart Email Marketing Integrations

If you’re using a shopping cart, it’s likely that you also want to put your content behind a paywall.

That’s where membership tool integrations come in, and PayKickStart actually covers their bases pretty well here.

Not only can you hook it up natively with almost a dozen membership tools, but the knowledge base has a walkthrough on how to set up each one.

PayKickStart Membership Integrations

Granted, there are still a few missing, like MemberPress and LifterLMS, but it’s still a healthy list nonetheless.

For all your webinar-lovers, you’ll also find integrations from the likes of EverWebinar, GoToWebinar, and a few others.

PayKickStart Webinar Integrations

Of course, PayKickStart is also supported by Zapier.

Basically, in the unlikely event there’s no native integrations available, you’ll probably be able to work around it through Zapiers platform.

PayKickStart & Zapier

Verdict

A very healthy list of integrations including email marketing tools, membership platforms and even a handful of webinar providers. Oh, and don’t forget Zapier integration.

Does It Always Have Your Back?

Your shopping cart is the money collector, and is perhaps the single most important piece of tech in your business.

Any roadblocks that may arise, whether that’s understanding how to use the software, potential technical challenges or even unscheduled downtime, you need to have somewhere to turn for help.

Now, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t like PayKickStart’s UI.

Maybe it’s just me, but finding what I was looking for with this tool became incredibly time consuming compared to other shopping cart solutions, and that’s not what you need as an entrepreneur.

For that reason, proper documentation is essential, and PayKickStart has plenty of articles to dig through.

PayKickStart Knowledge Base
PayKickStart Checkout Template No Result Knowledge Base

Overall, I found myself too reliant on the knowledge-base when it came to figuring out the nuances of the tool, and that’s always going to lead to issues.

So what happens if you want to talk to a human?

Well, one option is to submit a ticket through the support desk, which is essentially just organized email support.

PayKickStart Support Desk

When I emailed support, I got a reply back from one of the founders within 24 hours, which I thought was pretty damn good.

But this isn’t gonna cut it in the event of an emergency.

The real question is, who can you call on in the middle of a big launch when you need immediate assistance?

I was pleasantly surprised to see a live chat widget in my dashboard, though it does still operate under business hours.

PayKickStart Live Chat

As far as a phone number, there’s no direct line of support there.

That being said, these shopping cart platforms rarely even have a live chat option, so I need to give PayKickStart credit where due.

Finally, let’s talk about community.

Facebook seems to be to go-to for forum discussion these days, and PayKickStart has a small(ish) group of 600+ members.

PayKickStart Facebook Group

I like that the founders are also in there responding to comments, and it’s clear to me they take support seriously enough to get their hands dirty with it from time to time.

Verdict

Poor UI forcing you to refer to the knowledge-base far too often, though it does offer fast email response and live chat during business hours. There’s also an official FB group.

Price

PayKickStart is by no means the cheapest shopping cart in this review series, but I think their packages offer a good balance of cost and features.

For example, the $29/month plan doesn’t include the affiliate center, but it is more affordable for someone who’s just getting started.

Here’s what the pricing page looks like:

PayKickStart Pricing Options

Let’s look at how other shopping carts are priced, so you can get a better idea of where PayKickStart currently sits in the market.

Here’s the comparison:

Shopping CartFree PlanTrialRefundLow End Cost
Samcart logo pngNo14 days45 days$99/month
ThriveCartNoNo30 days$595 (one time)
PayKickStartNo14 days30 days$29/month
SendOwlNo30 daysNo?$9/month
GumRoadYes14 daysNo?$240 p/m

Note: the pricing above reflects the lowest tier monthly plan for each of the shopping carts, and should not be seen as a direct comparison since the features and limitations vary a lot from cart-to-cart.

Is PayKickStart Right For You?

Now that I’ve covered all the different features and functions of PayKickStart, weighing up the pros and cons and giving my experience along the way — let’s talk about YOU.

As with any tool, PayKickStart isn’t going to be the right choice for everyone, so I’d like to get to the bottom of who exactly this page builder is suitable for.

Can I Use PayKickStart To Sell Digital/Physical Products and Services?

Yep, indeedy.

In fact, going by the PayKickStart website, you can pretty much “sell anything”.

PayKickStart Sell Anything

When adding a new product, PayKickStart doesn’t ask you what type of product it’s for.

You just pop in a name and configure however you want

PayKickStart Product Details

This is quite different to the way something like SendOwl works, in that the options change depending on what type of product (or service) you’re selling.

Not a huge deal, but I like the idea of removing irrelevant options from the get-go.

Either way, PayKickStart is a very viable options for selling any kind of digital/physical products as well as services.

Conclusion

PayKickStart is clearly a very capable shopping cart platform with a ton of bells and whistles.

For me personally, I couldn’t quite fall in love with this the way I did with ThriveCart, just because of the friction of not knowing how to navigate my way through it.

That being said, if you’re looking for something a little more advanced at a great price point, and you don’t mind a steeper learning curve, PayKickStart may fit the bill perfectly.

If you’d like to see exactly how PayKickStart compared against 5 other popular carts, click here to read the full roundup.

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