AmeriCommerce may not be as well known as some of its competitors, but this eCommerce software is slowly building a name for itself as a solid, well-functioning shopping cart that keeps getting better. It’s especially popular with developers and business owners ready to navigate its robust set of features.
AmeriCommerce processes half a billion dollars in transactions each year and hosts more than 5,000 sites. The PCI-compliant company secured a place on Inc. 5000′s list in 2012 and won a CODiE Award in 2010. Founded almost a decade ago by eCommerce and development vets Ed Sturrock and Stefan Barlow, AmeriCommerce employs almost 30 staff members based in offices in Texas and Connecticut. The company’s client roster includes the Made Collection, The CandyLand Store, and the World Concern Global Gift Guide.
AmeriCommerce offers the capability to operate multiple shops using a single backend, which is a real advantage for businesses who want to operate more than one site. It is also a web-based shopping cart (hosting by Rackspace) so no downloading or data backup is required. A freshly rolled out admin is a huge improvement over its predecessor, offering users a more intuitive, customizable interface and a new WSYWIG editor. (WSYWIG stands for “what you see is what you get,” and refers to an editor that builds web pages visually, allowing users to create basic web pages without the need to know any programming languages.)
We put AmeriCommerce through its paces, and uncovered some of its greatest selling points, as well as the areas where it comes up short. To see if this is the right shopping cart for your online store, read the full review.
AmeriCommerce offers a free 14-day trial. Your name and contact info are required to begin the trial period, but no credit card is needed. Accounts include free shared SSL and access to a broad variety of features. Also, there are no set-up fees or transaction fees. Additional stores cost $39 per month and can be added at any time–the fine print reveals that a $49 one-time setup fee is charged for the service. Plans don’t require a contract and can be canceled at any time. Basic features of each plan are as follows:
- Steel – $24.95/month, 100 products, 2 GB bandwidth, 250 MB storage space.
- Bronze – $39/month, 500 products, 3 GB bandwidth, 1 GB storage space.
- Silver – $99/month, 5,000 products, 15 GB bandwidth, 1 GB storage space.
- Gold – $149/month, 10,000 products, 25 GB bandwidth, 2 GB storage space.
- Platinum – $299/month, Unlimited products (AKA 50,000 free products using the advanced attribute feature), 50 GB bandwidth, 5 GB storage space.
- Enterprise plans are also available.
To avoid additional bandwidth and storage fees, be certain you select a plan with plenty of room to grow. The AmeriCommerce site doesn’t list overage fees. I wasn’t given a direct answer after emailing a representative inquiring about charges if bandwidth or storage are exceeded. I was told that the more I buy, the less expensive each will cost. The representative went on to explain that the company is flexible and that storage is less costly if purchased in advance. Be forewarned: Work with an AmeriCommerce representative to set a concrete rate for overages before committing to a plan. Also, note that it will cost a one-time $299 setup fee and $39 monthly fee to unlock API if you’d like to do so.
Web-Hosted or Licensed:
Web-Hosted. AmeriCommerce outsources their hosting to Rackspace.
Ease of Use:
Once you sign up for a free trial you’ll receive two links: one leads to your AmeriCommerce.com account dashboard. The other allows you to access your storefront.
The initial store set-up process is reasonably straightforward, and if you choose to use one of AmeriCommerce’s themes it won’t be hard to establish your shop via the set-up wizard. It’s clear that AmeriCommerce is seeking to attract seasoned shop owners as well as users that are just entering the eCommerce landscape; thanks to recent improvements, new online retailers should be able to jump in and select applicable features with relative ease. It’s likely that you’ll utilize far fewer bells and whistles than are available.
After adding info about your business, you’ll be able to select a template, set shipping and tax details and dig into the admin control panel. Video tutorials cover how to select a theme for your store and other basics. If you’d like more control, the Theme Editor gives you instant access to HTML and CSS editors.
The process of sorting and filtering customers and catalog items is intuitive and leaves space to add product attributes and status details. Again, you’ll likely have more functionality than you’ll require here, which leaves room to add features such as product reviews or manufacturer logos once your store is up-and-running.
The recently improved admin is easy on the eyes and easy to navigate, using a standardized UI pattern with cleaner menus and sub-menus that integrate with tablets and mobile devices so you can operate your store on the go. I also like the drag and drop file/photo uploader and WYSIWYG editor. Honestly, just about anyone who can manage a blog or Facebook business page should be able to master the basics of adding products and tracking stats via the AmeriCommerce backend.
Hardware and Software Requirements:
AmeriCommerce is completely web-hosted. Nothing more than a secure internet connection and browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) are required to access the cloud-based eCommerce software. While all operating systems and browsers are supported, installing the latest technologies on your machine will result in the smoothest user experience.
AmeriCommerce is securing a position for itself in the crowded shopping cart software marketplace through offering multi-storefront capability. Essentially, the software enables you to manage several different online stores from a single backend. Orders can be processed on smart phones or Facebook, and Google Sitemap auto indexing support is available. Other little features are mindful of the seller experience. For example, stores can support multiple languages and shipping can be supported by more than one warehouse.
More feature information is available on the AmeriCommerce website, but I’ve broken out a few important features below.
Products and Merchandising:
- Built-in Rewards program.
- Unlimited groups, kits, product variants and options.
- Option to maintain subscriptions.
- Product reviews.
- Back-in-stock notifications.
- 25 free themes.
- Drag-and-drop design elements.
- Dozens of widgets.
- CSS editor.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
- Custom URLs for category, items and pages.
- Div layouts.
- Page redirects and Meta Tags.
- Ad Codes.
- Google Analytics.
- All accounts include Facebook theme and app.
- Tweet products.
- Embedded eCommerce tools for blogs and CMS platforms.
- Live chat capability.
- Discount rules engine.
- Coupon campaigns.
- View and process orders online.
- Ability to create affiliate program.
- Order fulfillment and processing integration.
- Assign auto emails based on order status, shipping and fulfillment.
- Product editor offers functionality to execute batch changes.
- Calculate taxes automatically via TaxCloud or Avalara.
- Real-time UPS, USPS and FedEx rate calculations.
- Registered and Guest checkout.
- Let’s start with the good news. AmeriCommerce’s templates are all customizable, with a drag-and-drop interface that’s relatively simple to use once you spend some time clicking around using the set-up wizard as a guide. Many new themes are available, provided an excellent starting point in your storefront design. HTML5 and CSS3 editors are available for beefier “under the good” programming, for those businesses that prefer to employ a web designer for a truly unique and custom-fit website.
- SEO functionality is better than average: You’ll have the ability to maintain as many blogs as you’d like and send drip series emails, which can mean a huge boost in your marketing campaign with minimal effort. Keep in mind that if you opt to run multiple storefronts from the backend admin, it’s important to reorder page content and use different store templates to optimize for Google web crawlers.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
To view a list of AmeriCommerce add-ons, click here. A variety of fee-based and a few free options are available. Some highlights are listed below:
- Quickbooks Synchronization – Integrates with Quickbooks for a $300 fee.
- Wufoo – Allows you to integrate your shop with Wufoo form-creating software, free of charge.
- Avalara – Lets you utilize software for online sales tax compliance for a $499 fee.
- Lexity Live – Integrates your AmeriCommerce store with website traffic analysis program.
- Mail Chimp and Constant Contact can be integrated as well, to cover your email marketing.
AmeriCommerce integrates with more than 50 payment processors and accepts major domestic gateways, including Bank of America and Chase Paymentech. PayPal and Google Checkout are also supported. Additionally, the software includes a tool that lets users generate custom purchase orders, IOUs and the like. Note that AmeriCommerce has teamed up with Authorize.net to offer customers payment gateways at an additional monthly fee. The cart also maintains its own merchant account.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
AmeriCommerce offers limited after-hours customer care. Frequent complaints listed by customers include frustration that the 9 a.m.–5 p.m. CT live customer support is challenging, especially for overseas users or users working in different time zones.
Emergency tickets can be submitted at any time, and customers report that phone support is responsive and accessible during normal business hours. However, when I sent a couple of simple questions to the support team in the work week, it took more than 24 hours to receive a response.
The AmeriCommerce forum and Knowledge Center have a lot of useful information, and they are growing. Video tutorials and articles also help to fill in some of the gaps.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
After conducting a thorough online search I’ve identified several common complaints with AmeriCommerce.
- Lack of International Payment Options – While AmeriCommerce works with a limited number of international sellers, sites can be customized to function overseas, however it’s clear that the company is focused on domestic clients.
- Limited Customer Service Access – Slow ticket response time and lack of 24-hour customer service are real weak points. Your questions will be answered, but you may have to be patient to get the info you need.
- Extra Fees – On-demand and bandwidth overage fees can increase monthly bill.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
In addition to an assortment of positive customer testimonials listed on the AmeriCommerce site, users attest to its reliability. As a general rule, feedback was mostly positive. A few notable positive attributes include:
- Dependability – There have been few reports of significant downtime, and software updates are rolled out on a regular basis.
- Customization – Storefronts are easy to alter to suit your business, from simple interfaces for the novice, to powerful editors for the web developer.
- Powerful Reporting Tools – The comprehensive reports dashboard includes total sales, top products, and traffic details.
- Multiple Store Management – It’s simple to manage several storefronts from a single backend.
Users also commented on the following positive software attributes:
- Competitive pricing.
- Quick basic store set-up.
- Robust features and product management capabilities.
AmeriCommerce makes security a priority, with web-based servers holding enterprise-quality Cisco firewalls. Customer info is guarded by 128bit SSL encryption. Sites are hosted on dual-processor Dell PowerEdge servers.
Your shopping cart provider forms the most important point of contact of your business. This is not an area for compromise. Even in this intense scrutiny, AmeriCommerce rises to the top as a strong contender, and it keeps evolving and becoming more intuitive and attractive. If you operate an eCommerce site, you’re maintaining an investment that takes time and money, and the depth of services offered by AmeriCommerce may save you both down the road.
The ability to manage several stores is a real plus for sellers who don’t want to waste time logging into multiple accounts. In the business world, any software that can minimize headaches and maximize efficiency is a coveted resource. I haven’t come across many smarter, more eye-pleasing or user-friendly admins, and if you’re willing to customize your theme I say give AmeriCommerce a go.
Start your free trial here.