This will be a quick write up, so first let me summarize the testing process…
I’m working on a comparison of cart systems and noticed something very interesting about the most expensive option…
Samcart at first appeared to be converting the same as my clickfunnels checkout until I realized Samcart’s default reporting/tracking is broken.
The visits-to-conversion ratio is way off because it was counting all of my visits to the page while I was styling and designing and previewing it (using their default “preview” option which one would think wouldn’t get counted).
Digging deeper, unlike clickfunnels I can’t find any way to reset the stats and start clean.
So, in my initial testing my Samcart checkout using the same logos, product image, and text/copy is converting (roughly since my reporting is hammed up) about 40% better than Clickfunnels.
Samcart’s price is heavy though, I’m on the $199 per month plan… so once I implement true tracking links I’ll be able to determine if the higher conversion rate holds true, and if that can justify the price tag.
Samcart is just a checkout after all, so I needed to spend a bunch of time building a sales page on Elementor for it.
So the time and extra money needs to be factored into the cost comparison when this is done.
The next phase of this test will include kartra because the all-in-one system is very appealing even with my dislike of the system as a whole.
I also noticed that when you use the Kartra default domain you gain an extra 2-3 seconds of load speed. So it seems the way they implement your own custom domain is jacked up.
And this might help alleviate one of my biggest complaints about this system… pathetic page load speed.
The other “big name cart” is pay kick start and I had a nightmare of a time with their owners and support on one of their other products last year so I will not be testing them.
The ONLY thing I’m comparing here is the cart checkout conversion rate since this is arguably one of the most important things.
The costs will be factored in later.
Even if kartra’s cart loads slower than all the others, if it converts better then it’s worth using so we’ll see.
- Samcart is pulling ahead by a large margin. This audience seems to really dig Samcart’s “Classic” checkout template.
- Clickfunnels is stumbling, I think it is a stigma thing… people see CF checkout pages these days and might be a little put-off. Too many scammers and bullshit artists use it (and I won’t even get into their ‘affiliates’).
- Thrivecart is at the bottom of the pack converting at 5%. Not surprised, this cart is fugly despite my best efforts. (The owners of this platform like to claim their pages are “the best converting” they’ve ever seen. Ha.)
- And I’m adding Kartra to the mix since it’s all-in-one functionality and pricing is very appealing all though their pages suffer from terrible performance.
This is all cold traffic from both paid and organic posts.
A quick side note: the conversion rates always get weird when you add in organic traffic.
Organic is very unpredictable so this test will have to run for a while to get us a solid average.
Here are the hard numbers:
As you can see ThriveCart’s “Tall” Classic style checkout is converting the lowest at 5.4%
Kartra Checkout Stats
Kartra is coming in right around 17% which is really good considering this is cold traffic. For this test I built a standard two column checkout form in Kartra. Here is a screenshot of the template I’ve created and am using here.
Please note* this is just the template I created and re-use for all of my products on kartra. What you’re seeing here is not the product I’m selling right now or the copy, just filler content that I replace for each product.
SamCart Checkout Stats
Unfortunately SamCart’s reporting is either broken or I’m missing something. The report is showing a ton of extra visitors that were just me using the preview function as I styled and created the page. And digging deeper into the analytics the conversion rates are showing as 0.
I’ve opened a support ticket and will report back on it.
While not exact math on this, from what I can see this checkout is converting right around 19%.
Just like with the other 2 carts the screenshot you see here is my template that I clone and use for each product, so the product listed on there is not what I’m actually selling in this test.
Clickfunnels is converting at a respectable 13% from cold traffic.
And, you guessed it! This is only the template I’m using and not the actual product.
Also, the product I’m selling for this test is not limited time. So the actual live version of this checkout does not include the red countdown bar that you see here.
You can see from my templates that I like to stick to classic 2-column designs. All though each of these platforms has many different template layouts (except ThriveCart, their selection is seriously bad) I keep it simple.
The classic 2-column just works.
I’ve also noticed a ton of inconsistency in the page load speed from Kartra where sometimes it takes nearly 10 seconds for the order form on the page to load.
This is due to Kartra’s weird way of handling checkout pages. Instead of having the form built right into the checkout page they actually use an embed code which has TERRIBLE performance.
It’s a mystery to me why Kartra is converting so well.
The Page Speed Tests
This test was done on these pages using GTMetrix, Google Page Insights, and Pingdom.
And the final test was my own real world testing using my desktop and cell phone (iPhone Xs Max with Incognito Chrome Browser).
It was also done with the raw checkout URL because when you add the rotator software in there, you can expect to add an extra second or so to the load speed.
In my first test using GTMetrix:
The results are a mixed bag. The first thing to note is that GTMetrix is the hardcore tester of the bunch, in other words it counts every last millisecond before the page is 100% loaded including any background scripts and other stuff.
Whereas the others count how long it takes to just get your page visible to your visitor.
In this test Samcart took 2.9 seconds to fully load
Kartra took 3.9 with 3.2 being the best run
And Thrivecart loaded at 2.6 seconds.
Next up, Google Page Speed Insights
This one is almost as uptight about the entire page loading as GTMetrix.
Samcart: rating 45/100 – First meaningful print 2.3s
Kartra: rating 71/100 – First print: 3.4s
ThriveCart: rating 85/100 – First print: 1.9s
And finally, Pingdom
Samcart: rating 78/100 – Load time 1.17s
Kartra: rating 80/100 – Load time 2.43s
ThriveCart: rating 98/100 – Load time 246ms (wow)
I trust pingdom the most here because unlike GTMetrix and Google, Pingdom simply counts how long until your content is in front of your visitor (which to me is the most important thing).
Thrivecart did the best, while still converting the poorest. It is a plain, boring, ugly cart though so the quick load and poor conversion isn’t surprising.
Samcart was kind of “meh” in my testing here. The results in the first 2 tests weren’t very good while the 3rd test with Pingdom was very good.
And Kartra… I need to note that I used the default kartra domain here, because the way they setup your custom domain is seriously messed up and will add 2-3 seconds onto your load time. It did okay, not the best considering it’s a white page with my logo, a product box shot, and some text.
My “real world” testing:
Samcart flies and I don’t have any form of load or wait when I access it.
Kartra is decent but not the best, the page loads up fairly quickly but it takes a second for the actual sales form to appear because of the weird way they embed their checkout forms on pages.
Unlike most other services where the checkouts are just part of the page. I’m not a fan of waiting to load the checkout form like that.
And thrivecart, this guy again flies and feels about the same as samcart.
Which Cart Should You Use?
When it comes to setting up the product, adding text and images to the checkout page, and launching it… ThriveCart took the lead for sure. It was an easy, very streamlined process.
Setting up Kartra was a daunting task. You need to create everything backwards in Kartra, quite literally. You have to first create your thank you page, then create your product in the product area, then go back into the page area and create your checkout.
This process is further slowed by everything in this system needing time to load and move you through a clunky setup wizard.
Their page builder is also unbelievably clunky and slow, but fairly easy to use.
I would say the setup process in Kartra was the longest and most difficult of the bunch.
SamCart’s setup process was very similar to ThriveCart’s except not quite as streamlined.
I needed to take a trip to the help section a few times to figure out how to place my tracking pixels and get them to fire on purchase. The process isn’t difficult, but I believe it took me a few minutes longer to setup than ThriveCart.
If you don’t care about ease of use the next big question is, what integrations do you need?
Out of the box ThriveCart connects to:
- Digital Access Pass
- Member Mouse
- and Wishlist Member.
They also have a number of connections for physical product fulfillment and Zapier to connect to even more 3rd party services:
Kartra Connects To:
As you can see your options are fairy limited with Kartra. This is because Kartra is an all-in-one service that wants to keep everything on their platform. Their pricing is also based on your contact/subscriber count so they want you to use their autoresponder.
To be fair it does include Zapier so you can make it do additional things. For example, I successfully connected Clickfunnels to Kartra using Zapier, this allowed me to collect leads on Clickfunnels and enter them into my email autoresponder on Kartra.
I did need the paid Zapier plan to make that happen and doing that defeated the purpose of using Kartra as an all-in-one.
The SamCart selection is decent, and also includes Zapier.
But if you’re selling physical products there is no direct integration so you’ll be forced to use Zapier.
ClickFunnels integrations have been the same for a long time, so I won’t bother mentioning them here.
I want to note that Clickfunnels has been around for a long time now, they’re no longer the only kid on the block.
But, for some reason they don’t seem to be improving their platform at all. They do minor maintenance here and there, fix small glitches and bugs, but I haven’t seen any improvements or upgrades… unless you want to upgrade to their ridiculously priced “Actionetics MD” plan, which I think has been closed to the public at this time anyway.
The same complaints about how we add products and the difficulty tracking upsells, downsells, and order bumps with your Facebook pixel have gone unaddressed for years.
And this is a nightmare when you’re running a ton of Facebook traffic and trying to measure your ROI.
What Do I Recommend:
With all of the data I have in front of me I should be recommending Kartra… but this platform is a headache to use.
If you’re just getting started, need a page builder, checkout, and basic members area… go with Clickfunnels.
If you want something that works very well, and don’t mind paying the premium I recommend going with SamCart and a 3rd party Membership platform like Thinkific.
ThriveCart may be appealing to you if you just want to pay a single fee. They are offering a 1 time lifetime payment deal so you’ll own it and never have to pay monthly, when compared to all the other choices that’s pretty huge.
I recommend ThriveCart if you want a super easy to use cart, with a 1 time fee, and have your own membership area (or use a 3rd party members area like Thinkific). ThriveCart is also the hands down winner if you sell physical products or plan to add physical products to your offerings.
Thanks for reading.