Right off the bat let me say I am impressed with AmeriCommerce. It looks like programmers created it (it’s pretty ugly), but it runs like programmers created it, fast and feature rich. I didn’t know what to expect from AmeriCommerce when I first started developing around them; so I have made this review more detailed than usual because I had to discover most things the hard way.
I should also apologize for the delay getting this review out but I don’t like to start these reviews until I have worked with a cart for several months, otherwise this is just another truckload of affiliate bollocks.
The bullet points:
- Support: Phone support always answers within acceptable time frames, however only from 9-5 Monday to Friday. This is limiting especially, to internationals, but slightly fair enough as not many people answer their phones on the weekend.
- Look and Feel: Very well organized and clean. The Admin area was updated in August 2013 and is very easy on the eye and a wonderful user experience. I used to give Americommerce a hard time about the look and feel of the backend but they have stepped up and really delivered a great cart admin experience - sign up for a trial just to have a look.
- Reliability: In the 12 months I have been developing on it I have never seen it down, which puts it up there with BigCommerce & CoreCommerce for reliability.
- Reporting: Lots. Very detailed, easily customizable and you can export to Excel. That’s about all you can ask for right?
- Templates and Customisability: Very few free themes. Like 16 (well 14 plus a mobile and a Facebook theme. I double checked with several paid accounts – if I missed something someone tell me). But with the tools available you should be able to start with one of these and make it your own. Otherwise it is no more expensive than BigCommerce to get a custom template created.
- SEO: The usual tools to help with URL redirecting, the usual fields for custom META data and editable tags. Multi-store may create a duplicate content problem if mi-used and ONLY if you use it. The page content is mostly of your own doing so if you want to optimize the pages you can. The free templates could do with some love, but as with most shopping carts the template is the least of your optimization worries (I am looking at your product descriptions).
My Immediate Thoughts on AmeriCommerce
AmeriCommerce is a good, well thought out piece of software that has grown in a sensible and maintainable way over the last few years. It has enough of a user base to give a sense of stability and longevity. It works exactly as it says it will and when you call support during office hours they answer and help. It is really difficult to pick a fault with them, except to say they need to get a designer on staff to tart things up a bit. CoreCommerce had the same problem a year or so ago, and spent some money making things look nicer and the complaints around here started slowing down. I know it sounds nice, but pretty interfaces make for happy customers even if they have more bugs than the ugly ones. People are just more tolerant if something looks good.
I would say AmeriCommerce’s biggest plus is that they understated the customers needs, they give the best web hosting reviews and they have just gone about the business of providing a solid shopping cart. There is no noise, no desperate attention seeking and no sacking support staff to bump up the marketing budget. I guess that is why they are so easy to like and work with. They built a great cart and they continue to improve and support it, letting the results speak for themselves. Well done guys, you have a new fan – can I have a t-shirt?
Super simple and modern Admin interface
Until August 2013 I was very critical of Americommerce admin area – it had everything, it flowed nicely and was relatively fast but it was ugly – like hard to use ugly. Well, consider my hat eaten because the team there have polished the software to a fine point and it is now one of the best looking carts out there and very simple to use. It is a nice change of pace to see SaaS company reinvesting as heavily as Americommerce are in the software instead of just blindly adding features tit for tat. Try it, I’m sure you will agree it is bloody good to look at.
AmeriCommerce (as the name would suggest) is very US centric. You can customize it to make it work for markets outside the United States with just a little work, but I would like to see AmeriCommerce spread it’s wings a little in the coming years. They have a great product that people from all corners should be able to use without jumping through hoops.
Not many themes. I have covered this already, they don’t supply a great number of themes for free like a lot of other carts. The ones they supply are nice enough and generic enough that you should be able to find one to start you off though. Hopefully they start building on this library soon.
Nice built in help – I really hate the green icons everywhere though and hope they find something else soon. They do a great job and I use them a lot to make sure I am doing the right thing, but they are like a punch in the eyeballs.
AmeriCommerce‘s Good Features
It just works.
The best feature of all. It does exactly what it says it will and it does it at a reasonable speed. The hardest part of reviewing shopping carts is separating the marketing nonsense for the day to day reality’s of using the software. With very little hype surrounding AmeriCommerce, it was a pretty easy job to just knuckle down and size it up.
Multi-store front is fantastic. Do you sell the same products to several markets or countries and wish you could manage it all from one common back-end, but deliver different front ends to the users? Do you sell from a single inventory store but segment into different stores to specifically target different niches? Have you ever asked your developer if you can just add a store to your BigCommerce account, so you don’t have to log in all over the place to manage orders and inventory?
You probably need to look at AmeriCommerce for it’s multi-store goodness.
The only downside to multi-store front seems to be from an SEO perspective and duplicated content. You could use different templates and soon to be released URL Format feature, but unless you substantially rearrange the content on your page (and use alternative content per store) you will have trouble escaping the duplicate content issues. Don’t get me wrong you can escape them you just need to plan.
Language string editor and creator
Do you need a store in multiple languages? Done. Do you want to change some of the text the cart outputs? Done. This is a great feature and one that most Volusion users take for granted. Check out the forums for the other carts and you will see a chorus of complainers begging for a tool like this.
Drop shippers, multi warehouses
Tools, tools and more tools
Clearly AmeriCommerce have got some very responsive programmers on there team because there seems to be a tool or shortcut for everything. It is almost too much and the menus carry on a bit but everything is nicely structured and very well named.
Built in affiliate program
It’s pretty good. It’s no iDevAffilate but it is better than a smack in the lips. The built in affiliate program has enough features to get you running your own private program, and offers nice transparent reports to ensure all your partners are happy.
Microstores allow you to partition your store based on a user preference, while maintaining a common set of core cart functionality. Do you sell school uniforms? Create a microstore for each school and users will be able swtich to there school microstore and only see the shirts, dresses and jumpers for that school. Check the demo application at http://www.myjacketpatches.com/
We used to do this with tags and categories but this microstore partitioning is much slicker and looks more professional.
AddToCart Link Generator
Ever wanted to embed a Buy Now (or add to cart) button in your blog or a friends website just like Paypal does. Boom! Let me present the Add To Cart Link Generator from AmeriCommerce, it lets you do exactly that. Not since CoreCommerce let us deep link product forms has a shopping cart saved developers so much time and work. This feature does exactly what it says it does. It allows you to easily generate code to embed a product in a website or blog with Buy Now or Add To Cart functionality perfect for store owners that blog about there products or run closed affiliate programs. Try it once and you’ll be addicted.
This is an infinitely better option than people having to pay me to write and re-write WordPress plugins, to allow people to add BigCommerce, CoreCommerce and Shopify products to WordPress blog posts.
User Permissions Editor
The User permission editor is incredible – you can pick a group and detail precisely what they can read, create, delete or edit. The paranoid, tin foil crew will drool at the prospects. Very fine grained control of everything that you and your administrators can and can’t do.
Lots of Reports
OK I am going to cheat here and just list them because I mentioned them in the introduction.
- Marketing Dashboard
- Organic Summary
- Affiliate Dashboard
- Affiliate Analysis
- Affiliate Visits
- AdCode Summary
- PPC vs Organic
- PPC Summary
- PPC Click Fraud
- Sales Dashboard
- Sales Analysis
- Sales (by category)
- Taxes and Shipping
- Abandoned Carts
- Visitor Dashboard
- Visitor Analysis
- Visitor Log
- Top Referrers
- Top Referring URLs
- Top Search Engines
- Top Sources
- Top Spiders/Crawlers
- Top User Agents
- Top Host Names
- Account Usage
- Top Searches (on site)
- Top Searches (organic)
- Top Searches (by engine)
- Most Popular Pages
- Top Entry Pages
- Top Exit Pages
- Entrance Bounce Rates
AmeriCommerce has one of the smaller payment provider lists, but it has all the major gateways and methods so you should have no trouble connecting and getting paid. Besides the list below AmeriCommerce also has a handy little feature that allows you to create custom payment types like IOU, COD and Purchase Order.
- 3 Delta Systems
- ACH Payments
- Bank of America
- Chase Merchant Services
- Cyber Source
- eWay (Australia)
- Fast Transact
- FirstData / CardService International
- goEmerchant XML
- IBill Processing Plus
- Innovative Gateway
- Intellipay ExpertLink
- iTransact RediCharge HTML
- Merchant Anywhere (Transaction Central)
- Merchant e-Solutions
- Merchant Partners
- Moneris eSelect Plus
- Ogone DirectLink
- Payment Resources International PRIGate
- PaymenTech Orbital – Salem
- PaymenTech Orbital – Tampa
- Payments Gateway
- PayPal Express Checkout
- PayPal PayFlow Pro
- PayPal Website Payments Pro
- Planet Payment iPay
- Plug ‘n Pay
- PSIGate XML Interface
- Quickbooks Merchant Services
- Sage Payment Solutions
- TransFirst eLink
- USA ePay
- uSight Gateway
- Verisign PayFlowLink
- WorldPay Select Junior Invisible
3rd Party Integrations
- Quickbooks Synchronization (This will cost you an additional $300 + $60 a year)
- PeachTree Sync
- T-HUB (This will cost you an additional $300-$700)
- Stone Edge (This will cost you an additional $239 + $60 year for one store)
3rd party email integration – for those MailChimp experts out there this is a must
Wishlists – these are crucial in some industries.
Comparing AmeriCommerce to other shopping carts
I would recommend AmeriCommerce here. Volusion 2011 is much nicer than it’s predecessors, but it still has a lot of work to do before your average mom and pop can use it without technical help. AmeriCommerce has a comparable set of features and tools. Volusion has a lot more templates to offer you, but the way they have structured it now they clearly want to sell you one for about $900.
Both use a very similar template system so designers can just flip a coin. If you have more than one store look at AmeriCommerce to save you a great deal of time and money, the back-end needs modernizing and a friendlier color palate, but there really isn’t anything wrong with it.
AmeriCommerce vs Shopify
There would only be two reasons to go with Shopify over AmeriCommerce.
- You have a very simple shop, simple needs and just want the easiest eCommerce experience available.
- You have an intricate design and refuse to compromise – and why should you! I love Shopify and do a happy dance every time I get to create a theme for it, but there is no denying it is seriously lacking so out of the box features, (yes you can pay extra for some of them but come on, that can’t be Shopify‘s answer to everything!)
Should you use AmeriCommerce?
I guess that is why you are here isn’t it? Yes you should. I have had very few issues since working with AmeriCommerce and every time I got answers in the forums or on the phone. If you are disillusioned with the lack of support at BigCommerce or the recent security problems at CoreCommerce then AmeriCommerce is worth your time. If you are just starting out they are a solid company with a strong history and bright future so you should get on board.