- Super clean and easy to understand interface
- Integrates with all major payment gateways
- Offers flexible payment models such as subscriptions, plans and trials
- Granular control over coupons and discounts
- Supports bump offers and one-click upsells
- Feature-rich affiliate management built right in
- Easy-to-digest reporting dashboard with advanced filters
- Growing list of deep integrations with Zapier support
- Detailed documentation and an active FB community group
- Can’t accept cryptocurrency payments
- Limited selection of checkout templates
- Some controversial design elements + limited customization
- No emergency support, such as live chat or phone support
- Not ideal for selling services
ThriveCart is shopping cart software created by Josh Bartlett back in 2016, and despite undergoing 2+ years of development, the software is still only available through it’s pilot program at a heavily discounted one-time fee.
Unlike other shopping carts, ThriveCart is typically thought of as a direct competitor to the more established (and arguably market-leading) SamCart, which happens to be the cart of choice among the biggest names online.
ThriveCart has already amassed a feature list that rivals the best in the industry, not to mention a following of die-hard fans to boot… so there’s certainly a lot riding on the shoulders of this newcomer.
In this review, we’ll do an in-depth, 100% objective analysis on where this emerging cart stands today, and whether or not it truly holds its own against the big boys.
ThriveCart Review: The Good, Bad, And The Ugly
For this review, I fired up ThriveCart 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 Different Payments?
The payment processors that integrate with ThriveCart are Authorize.net, PayPal, Stripe and Apple Pay.
While these are pretty standard, ThriveCart does offer deeper integrations than some other carts, with one example being that you can offer one-click upsells and downsells through PayPal.
Another thing to note here is that Stripe also allows you to accept payment through BitCoin, although ThriveCart doesn’t currently work with Bitcoin (or any other cryptocurrency).
This is a classic example of why you shouldn’t take these integrations at face value, because you may end up disappointed with the depth of integration between the two.
That being said, ThriveCart works with the most popular payment processors on the market, with upcoming integrations (like Braintree) and even a direct bank transfer option in the works.
That’s enough about payment methods, what about payment models?
Well, this is where ThriveCart really begins to shine. The level of flexibility you get over your product payment models is hella good.
You can choose between a number of options, including:
- 17 currencies, including USD, EUR and GBP
- Offering a single price, or multiple pricing options
- One-time, subscription, payment plans (called split-pay) and ‘pay whatever’ payment options
- Billing frequency for subscriptions and payment plans
- Free trial periods, paid trials & auto billing
- Bump offers & one-click upsells
- Product quantity limitation
The best part?
No matter how complicated of a funnel you try to build, the user interface is so well laid out that even a complete novice would breeze through the setup process.
That means less time banging your head on a wall, and more time focusing on generating sales for your business — EXACTLY what you want from a full-featured shopping cart.
How Well Does It Convert Prospects?
It’s easy to forget that while getting someone to your checkout page is several steps in the right direction, until they actually click that buy button, they haven’t yet converted.
(Even the most qualified prospect can bail at the last minute, and nothing says RUN like a terrible checkout experience.)
On it’s homepage, ThriveCart claims to offer “high-converting cart pages” among other things, but let’s be honest, what shopping cart on the planet would say otherwise?
Let’s look at the facts.
When it comes to design templates, ThriveCart gives you 4 options to choose from.
Not only is this a pretty weak selection to start with, but these design templates are also tied to different checkout behaviours.
For example, if you want a one-step checkout hosted by ThriveCart, you’ll have to go with the first template. If you want to have a popup checkout on your own site, you’ll have to go with last template… and so on.
In fairness to ThriveCart, you do get some flexibility when it comes to customization of these templates, but it’s mostly just the contents of the page and not the overall appearance.
Many would argue that these templates are built for conversions, and so fewer customization options are better since too many changes could be detrimental to that goal.
While I agree to some extent, I’m not at all convinced these templates have been so rigorously tested that no further changes could be considered an improvement.
I mean, just take a look at this spammy, 90’s-looking bump offer box…
Regardless of whether or not this converts, I think there’s a certain point where you, as a business owner, have to ask yourself if this strays too far from the branding and messaging of your site.
Apparently, I’m not alone on this one…
Again, to give credit to ThriveCart, they have said they’re working on more templates and customization options, so I’ll no doubt be updating this section in the coming months.
In spite of my arguments here, for the most part, I do actually like the current ThriveCart templates.
Particularly, I’m a fan of the popup cart, which allows prospects to checkout directly on the sales page, without having to redirect to ThriveCart’s hosted cart.
Finally, let’s talk about A/B testing.
ThriveCart does have a robust A/B testing feature that allows you to test different products against each other.
These can be the same product with slight variations (such as format, pricing, pricing options, etc.), or a completely different product to see which performs best.
The A/B test will rotate the variations until a set period of time has passed, at which point it’ll show the winner indefinitely.
While the template and customization options are currently pretty limited, ThriveCart’s checkout pages are proven to convert if the overwhelming community response is anything to go by.
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.
ThriveCart has a bunch of stuff in it’s arsenal to help you with this, and I want to tackle each of them here.
Let’s start with discounts and coupons.
ThriveCart has a whole subsection for creating and managing coupons, and I really cannot fault the level of control you get over the smallest of details.
Whether it’s setting a fixed-amount or a percentage, expiring the coupon after a set time or fixed number of uses, automatically attributing it to an affiliate, or applying to one or all of your products…
…there’s just so much to sink your teeth into here that I could almost write a mini-review of this feature alone.
What about bump offers?
I briefly mentioned bump offers earlier in the context of design, but now I want to drill down more into the setup process and functionality of this feature.
Firstly, let me give you a more zoomed-out view of the options:
Unlike coupons, the bump offers feature has a lot LESS going in terms of flexibility, but that’s actually intentional.
Since bump offers are added to the initial order total, they inherently benefit from things like payment plans, coupons and affiliate attribution.
That aside, the ability to even use bump offers on your checkout is something that not all shopping cart software supports, so that gets a big tick from me.
A close cousin of the bump offer is the one-click upsell, and this feature alone can seriously move on the needle on your average cart order value if the tech is in place.
Fortunately, ThriveCart really gets the importance of one-click upsells.
Despite the upsell showing AFTER the initial purchase, you can still apply granular, independent rules to your offer.
These include different payment models like a one-time fee or subscription, optional product quantity settings, and even the ability to add a trial to specifically to your upsell offer.
In fact, the only thing I can pick at is the design aspect of the upsell, which looks a lot like the bump offer with few options for customization. (Though you can change the border one this one.)
As I said earlier, the ThriveCart team are aware of these issues and are actively working on new templates and customization options, so I won’t keep going on about it.
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about affiliate management.
You’ll be pleased to know that ThriveCart has an entire affiliate suite directly built into the cart, and it’s just as full-featured as most dedicated affiliate software out there.
The first thing you’ll notice about this is the reporting dashboard, which, like the rest of ThriveCart’s reporting is clean, easy to read and offers a myriad of data to sift through.
As you delve into the other 4 tabs — Payouts, Affiliates, Product Options and Rules — you’ll find options that allow you to have even more granular control over your affiliates and their payout settings.
I mean seriously, you can even set custom commissions for individual affiliates, as well as make them a second-tier affiliate to reward them for sales made by people they’ve referred.
How Well Does It Fit Into Your Tech Stack?
When it comes to shopping carts, being able to make them properly integrate with the rest of your tech setup is essential.
And more so than almost any other aspect of your business, it’s often the depth integration (or lack thereof) that can be the deciding factor.
ThriveCart isn’t shy about flaunting their list of integrations, which is actually quite extensive considering the little time they’ve been around, relatively speaking.
Most of their integrations currently lie under email marketing, which covers the more popular email providers including Mailchimp, Drip, ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign.
The membership integrations aren’t too far behind either, with the likes of WishList Member, MemberMouse and Teachable making the list.
While these are perhaps two of the most important area of integration for ThriveCart customers, the rest of the categories do feel a little bare in comparison.
For example, there’s one one service listed under the ‘Webinar Integrations’, and I can’t say it’s one of the better known platforms.
On the bright side, ThriveCart is supported by Zapier which effectively gives you possible integrations with hundreds of other apps in Zapier’s ever-growing library.
Unlike some other shopping carts, ThriveCart places a ton of emphasis on deep integration, meaning you get more flexibility and control over how these apps talk to each other.
Surprisingly, this is even carried through to Zapier…
ThriveCart clearly understand what their customers need when it comes to stack integrations, and I have no doubt their list of supported apps will steadily continue to grow.
Does It Always Have Your Back?
Your shopping cart has one of the most important roles 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 the appropriate support lines in place.
For the issues that won’t give you heart palpitations, ThriveCart’s documentation is packed with detailed support articles and how-to’s.
It’s all pretty elementary stuff, but it’s useful if you’re not familiar with how shopping carts work.
One of my favourite things about ThriveCart, however, is that the user interface is an absolute dream to navigate.
Everything is where you expect it to be.
Everything behaves the way you expect it to behave.
It just…. works.
For that reason, you’ll probably find that these low-level issues hardly arise, but if they do, the documentation is there to pick you up.
So what happens in more urgent situations?
Who can you call on in the middle of a big launch when you need immediate assistance?
Unfortunately, ThriveCart doesn’t currently have a direct lines of communication, such as phone support or live chat.
In fact, if you want a direct line of support with the ThriveCart team, you’ll need to submit a ticket.
Not ideal for emergencies as it can take up to 24 hours… and that doesn’t even include weekends.
The only remaining line of support, and the one saving grace from all this is the ThriveCart Facebook group.
This is an official, engaged group with close to 5k members, and the ThriveCart team actively reply to member queries as well.
Between the ticket system and the Facebook group, you shouldn’t go more than a few hours without someone chiming in to offer a hand — but it’s not quite enough when the unimaginable happens.
Unfortunately, this seems to be a trend in the shopping cart industry, with very few companies offering any immediate line of support.
As I touched on in the beginning of this review, ThriveCart still hasn’t publicly launched. It’s all happening behind the scenes.
At the moment, the only way to get your hands on ThriveCart is to go through an affiliate link, which then gives you access to an early-bird lifetime offer.
Here’s what that looks like:
For many, this lifetime offer is still a pretty significant amount of money despite what a shopping cart can do for your bottom line.
That aside, let’s look at how other shopping carts are priced, so you can get a better idea of where ThriveCart currently sits in the market.
|Shopping Cart||Free Plan||Trial||Refund||Low End Cost|
|No||14 days||45 days||$99/month|
|No||No||30 days||$595 (one time)|
|No||14 days||30 days||$29/month|
|Yes||14 days||No?||$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 ThriveCart Right For You?
Now that I’ve covered all the different features and functions of ThriveCart, weighing up the pros and cons and giving my experience along the way — let’s talk about YOU.
As with any tool, ThriveCart 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 ThriveCart Be Used To Sell Digital Products?
Everything about ThriveCart feels like it was built specifically to sell digital products.
You’ve got access to deep email marketing integrations to automate the delivery of anything from email sequences, ebooks and videos.
You’ve got powerful built-in affiliate management software to get other marketers and bloggers shouting about your product.
And of course, you’ve got bump offers and upsells which work GREAT for digital products in particular.
The only downside?
ThriveCart doesn’t actually host things like PDF’s and video files, whereas something like Gumroad has all that built in.
Aside from that, ThriveCart is your wet dream when it comes to selling digital products.
Can ThriveCart Be Used To Sell Physical Products?
If you’re selling a handful of products, you can certainly set them up in ThriveCart with their own dedicated checkout links.
If you have a large library, however, things get a bit more complicated.
ThriveCart will never be a Shopify or WooCommerce alternative, though it is possible to use something like WooCommerce to display your products, but have them link up to their own ThriveCart checkout.
You’ll also need to account for product options, like sizes and colors, which ThriveCart currently doesn’t support
One workaround is to use custom fields, which will ultimately appear on your sales notification and the order receipt.
It’s a little messy, but it works.
The good news is, ThriveCart are currently working on bringing out a ‘physical product’ update, which will hopefully make all of these much easier to manage.
Overall, while there’s currently a few minor inconveniences to using ThriveCart for physical products it’s also good to know the team are working hard to iron these out.
Can ThriveCart Be Used To Sell Services
Again, it depends.
ThriveCart doesn’t feel very tailored for services, but it is possible to bill clients by setting up service packages under “products”. It really just comes down to how you name them.
Another option is to set up a ‘pay what you want’ checkout page, where clients can input the amount you’ve quoted.
It’s not perfect, but it works.
The invoicing within ThriveCart is also pretty basic, and it isn’t set up in the way that service-based businesses would typically expect to use them:
It’s not all bad news.
The great thing about using ThriveCart to sell services is that you still benefit from many of the built-in features, including bump offers, upsells, and recurring billing.
Overall, while it can technically be used to sell services, I still think there are some improvements to be made before I can consider it one of the better options out there.
ThriveCart has blinked on my radar countless times over the past year, which is why I was especially excited to to see what this bad boy could do.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Despite being one of the newer carts on the market, and despite not even being publically released yet, ThriveCart is already a very worthy contender for for the top spot.
If you’d like to see exactly how ThriveCart compared against 5 other popular carts, click here to read the full roundup.