Turning to a full-fledged ecommerce platform is not always an option for some organizations, because this can turn out to be too expensive (with monthly payments and all,) and you may already have a website built and you'd rather expand that platform as opposed to transferring everything to a more cookie cutter system like Shopify or Bigcommerce.
We would argue that it's more similar to a tool like WooCommerce, in that you can take your already existing website and turn it into a money making machine. It's also more of a tool for developers, since you at least need to know how to take a piece of code and copy it into your files. Therefore, although it's not all that complicated, some newbies might find it too intimidating.
Regardless, let's take a more in-depth look at the Snipcart shopping cart to understand exactly how you can use it to sell items online.
As stated above, the Snipcart module is primarily a standalone product, as opposed to a full-fledged, commercial website solution. However, for such a compact tool, it certainly has some solid features that can turn your site into something special:
- It can integrate with any type of website.
- The customization options include settings for your logo, adaptable checkout, flexible shipping, different colors, custom fields, images and unlimited discounts.
- Developers can integrate the tool with just about any technology, since it provides an open API and webhooks.
- The merchant dashboard is completely hosted, and it offers insights into your sales and other reports.
- The shopping cart is responsive.
- Create recurring payments and subscription plans.
- Sell both physical and digital goods.
- Offer discounts and send out invoices.
- Each customer gets their own dashboard for managing their accounts.
- Deliver goods internationally with trusted shippers.
Snipcart Ease of Use
This means that it also requires you to setup your own website, hosting and domain from a third-party source. Once again, anyone who has worked with websites in the past may not find this troublesome, but the beginners out there are recommended to skip Snipcart, since it's mainly designed for developers who want more flexibility with their ecommerce sites.
The Snipcart dashboard is completely separate from the backend of your site, so you'll have two dashboards open when managing the site. Once you land in the Snipcart dashboard it's relatively easy to manage, with a dashboard for quick reports, along with tabs for orders, customers and discounts. You're also allowed to manage a test site for as long as you want for free.
It's also worth mentioning that the dashboard doesn't include a product creation page, since the point is to turn elements on your already existing website into product pages.
The Snipcart company offers one default payment plan, yet it also has a few unique plans depending on your type of organization and if you consider your company “special.” Overall, no monthly payments are required, but you must pay transaction fees. Check out the options below to gain a better undertsading:
- Standard Plan – This is the plan that most sellers go with. It requires a 2% transaction fee in addition to the payment gateway fees. You receive free development in test mode, responsive email tech support, a merchant dashboard, unlimited discount configurations, unlimited physical/digital products and subscriptions, and unlimited linked subdomains and domains. If your monthly sales are under $500, the 2% is replaced by a $10 fee.
- I am Special Plan – This is primarily for companies that may have seasonal sales, experimental projects or specific ecommerce needs. You must contact the company in order to settle on a plan, but it includes all standard plan features.
- Non-profit and School Plan – These organizations get the same features as the standard plan, but the transaction fee drops to 1.5%.
- Crowdfunding Plan – If your company is crowdfunding a project, you get all the same features as the basic plan, but the transaction fee is dropped to 1.5%.
Snipcart Templates and Design
No templates are included with your Snipcart plan, since it's more of an extension of your current website. This means that all design aspects depend on the theme you buy from a third-party.
You're required to do your own shopping for this. For example, if you're running a WordPress site, you may have to go out and pay $50 for a theme and make sure that it provides a clean and friendly interface for online shopping.
However, the actual shopping cart portion is fast, clean and professional.
Orders are tracked through a specific page in the Snipcart dashboard, but it's a little unclear as to whether or not you'll be able to track how many products are available in your inventory, since the product creation pages depend on your current website.
This is a downfall for the Snipcart tool, although if you're an experienced developer this may give you more flexibility when it comes to implementing your own inventory management system. However, beginners will find this tedious.
Snipcart SEO and Marketing
Marketing is a little strange with Snipcart, since you do receive a few features for items like discounts and customer profiles. However, once again, your marketing efforts pretty much depend on what you have activated through your regular website.
For example, you may need a WordPress theme that includes social media tools, or a plugin that allows you to collect email addresses.
As for SEO, your website is also going to power this area. For instance, a WordPress plugin like Yoast SEO would provide you that functionality. As for built-in SEO features, Snipcart has none.
The cool part about the Snipcart payments is that you don't have to worry about a middleman, so all of your payments are deposited directly into your account.
A handful of payment gateways are supported through the shopping cart system, such as PayPal, Stripe, Pin Payments, PayMill, NetBanx and Authorize.net. Although you can choose from many more options with other ecommerce solutions, these are at least the primary gateways that most sellers go with.
In terms of security, all information is protected from the moment a customer logs onto your site to the moment they checkout. All communications are sent through the Snipcart servers, meaning that it is sent through the SSL/HTTPS certificate, preventing hackers from gaining access to the information.
The company also crawls your website to ensure that nobody has hacked your site and modified information such as pricing. No credit card numbers go through the server, so it all depends on which payment processor you're using. Snipcart is hosted with PCI complicance specifications, which is a vague term, but if your own website hosting is secure, then you can assume that your site is protected.
Snipcart support is fairly comprehensive, with a documentation page for figuring out problems yourself, along with a blog and various social media accounts.
No phone support is provided, but you can always send in an email or open up a ticket that will be replied to in a reasonable time frame. However, if you'd like to speak directly to a person on the phone, you're out of luck.
Overall, the Snipcart shopping cart tool is a beautiful option for more experienced developers who want to quickly implement a payment processing and shopping cart solution on an already existing website. As for beginners, this isn't an all-in-one ecommerce solution, so you'll be left with lots of work to do such as making your website, finding hosting and grabbing a theme.
If you have any experience working with Snipcart, let us know in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share any questions you may have.