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- Date Established
- Tamarac, FL
- Competitive monthly cost
- Numerous features on all plans
- Flexible and robust features
- Customized feature packages available
- No transaction fees
- Numerous payment processing options
- Limited design tools
- Inconsistent customer support
- Moderate learning curve
3dcart is a SaaS (Software as a Service) ecommerce platform that serves merchants large and small. With a wide range of pricing options and loads of features right out-of-the-box, 3dcart is an appealing option for those looking for an affordable, fully-hosted selling solution.
Founded in 1997 by Gonzalo Gil and released to the public in 2001, 3dcart hosts over 25,000 customers. What are the three “Ds” in 3dcart, you may wonder? Well, Mr. Gil wanted to create a store-building platform centered around what he saw as the three primary dimensions of ecommerce: store owners, shoppers, and search engines. The search engine dimension remains a big priority for the company to this day, as 3dcart promotes itself as “the best ecommerce platform for SEO.” Of course, the mileage you’ll get out of this claim will vary depending on your own knowledge and skill in the SEO arena.
With an ever-expanding pool of features and partners, 3dcart has tracked along with the evolving ecommerce software marketplace as newer (and often larger) competitors have arisen on the scene. It doesn’t seem like 3dcart has plans to slow down anytime soon, and we are continually monitoring its progress.
Keep reading for a full, unbiased analysis of 3dcart. We’ll look at potential downsides of the software, as well as aspects that set 3dcart apart from the competition.
Table of Contents
3dcart has a range of pricing options which allow the platform to work for many different businesses types and sizes. All plans come with a monthly fee, but no additional per-transaction fee is charged by 3dcart beyond the normal payment processing fee from whichever card processor you choose.
There are four main subscription levels — Starter, Basic, Plus, and Pro — as well as additional levels for Enterprise merchants. The key differentiators between the four core plans are:
- Available features
- Store annual revenue
- Number of staff accounts
- Number of hosted email accounts
- Customer support channels
Recently, the 100 product limit was removed from the Startup plan. You can now list unlimited products on all plans. While the cheapest two plans — Startup and Basic — share most of the same features, the bumps to Pro and Plus levels provide additional features at each step. And, in a rather rare move for a SaaS platform, 3dcart lets users request à la carte features if needed. Here’s what the pricing FAQ says:
We can customize any of our plans to fit your needs. Contact our sales team at email@example.com to find out how we can add a specific feature to any plan or add extra staff users.
No further information is given regarding how this may affect pricing or other aspects of your package. Still, we don’t typically see this option publicly advertised by SaaS ecommerce software providers at all.
Another aspect of 3dcart’s pricing system we don’t see very often is flexibility on revenue caps. Typically, when a shopping cart outlines revenue caps by plan, this means you’ll automatically get bumped up to the next subscription level when you reach your current plan’s revenue limit:
Apparently, these amounts are only 3dcart’s “suggested” caps. Check out the pricing FAQ again:
Once your trailing 12-month sales volume reaches the suggested cap for your plan, it may be time for your business to upgrade. At that time, 3dcart will contact you to discuss your options and help you evaluate the next step for your business on a case-by-case basis. Upgrading your account to the next plan gives you room to grow and offers immediate access to additional staff users and the features available in the next-higher plan.
Note that because plans are billed on a month-to-month basis by default, 3dcart does not require you to sign any contracts. However, if you decide to stay with 3dcart, you can purchase a year-long plan and receive a 10% discount. There are discounts available for students and non-profits, as well as special promotions for just about every holiday in existence. That said, you should be 100% confident that 3dcart is the software for you before you make a long-term commitment.
Here’s how 3dcart’s regular, non-discounted monthly pricing shakes out:
Startup Plan — $19/Month
- Sell up to $50K/year
- 1 Staff User
- 2 Hosted email accounts
- 24/7 Email & live chat support
- Unlimited products, bandwidth, storage, & orders
- Unlimited product variations
- Real-time shipping
- Shipping labels
- Facebook store
- Built-in blog
- Single page checkout
- Product reviews
- Gift wrapping
- Coupons, discounts, gift certificates
- Digital downloads
- Tax calculations & reporting
- Manual order creation
- Purchase orders
- Returns (RMA) module
- API access
- eBay & Amazon integrations
- Shared SSL certificate
- And more…
Basic — $29/Month
- All above features, plus:
- Sell up to $100K/year
- 2 Staff users
- 5 Hosted email accounts
- 24/7 Phone, live chat, & email support
Plus — $79/Month
- All above features, plus:
- Sell up to $200K/year
- 5 Staff users
- 10 Hosted email accounts
- Built-in CRM
- Customer Groups
- Make-an-offer pricing
- Store credits
- 3dFeedback (customer surveys & reviews)
- Product comparison
- Email marketing newsletters
- Abandoned cart saver
- Daily deals
- Group deals
Pro — $229/Month
- All above features, plus:
- Sell up to $400K/year
- Additional $50/mo. for every $100K/yr. revenue increase
- 15 Staff users
- 30 Hosted email accounts
- Priority support
- Autoresponder campaigns
- Automation rules
- Gift registry
- Product Q&A
- Loyalty & reward program
- Autoship recurring orders
As mentioned, 3dcart also has enterprise-level packages for larger merchants who outgrow the Pro plan. Pricing starts at $499.99/month and requires a $299 one-time setup fee. Additional features include more staff accounts, disk space, email hosting, security features, site speed, etc. Visit the 3dcart website for more information.
Specific Business Size
Because 3dcart is offered at varying price points and comes with lots of features right out-of-the-box, 3dcart fits businesses across the board. The removal of the product listing cap on the $19/month Starter Plan has made 3dcart an even more appealing option for startups, while the emergence of a relatively inexpensive plan for enterprise merchants could help larger businesses make smoother transitions as they grow.
3dcart is a SaaS solution based in the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about managing your servers or updating your software.
Hardware & Software Requirements
None. You just need a computer, an internet connection, and a reliable web browser.
Ease Of Use
3dcart offers a no-risk 15-day free trial, and you can even ask for an extension if needed. When you sign up, you’ll receive a welcome email that lists your user login and password as well as your site’s URL. The email also includes links to several video tutorials.
Upon logging in to your admin, you’ll be presented with a setup page that includes videos and tips at each turn.
If you run into trouble, you can wait for your “trail coach” to give you a call if you’ve provided a phone number (I did not). I also received an email from my coach. However, I think you should be able to figure out most functions on your own. Little gray circles with “?” symbols offer brief, in-dashboard explanations of most input fields to help guide you along.
The 3dcart dashboard is fairly straightforward and is similar to the user-friendly models you find on platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce. One big difference I’ve noticed, however, is that many functions involve a two-step process. Often, you must save a preliminary screen with a few basic input fields before you can move on to more complex configurations of the feature. There are pluses and minuses to this system, but my advice is to just complete and save the first screen as soon as possible so you can move on to the full version of the feature. You can still adjust the basic configurations from the second screen.
Let’s look at a couple of examples of how this works:
Adding a product is a two-step process. First, you’ll be asked to enter basic product information:
Once you save this screen, you’ll have access to a second interface with a new menu bar across the top, which lets you configure more detailed information such as product options/variants, SEO tags, related products, and bulk discounts.
Here’s the product options interface, which I found quite intuitive to use:
Products are easily previewed on your storefront at any time during the process:
Discount creation follows a similar two-step model. You’ll find your discount generator located under the “Marketing > Promotion Manager” tab in your admin.
You’ll first enter basic promotion information:
After saving, you enter a detailed interface that helps you create much more specific and complex discounts. I’ll drop the full screen below, just so you can see how extensive it is:
I am thoroughly impressed with the flexibility of this tool. I could see it becoming a bit overwhelming for some, but if power and control are what you want, you’ve got it here.
During my trial, I also took a look at 3dcart’s order management features. From the orders section of the admin, you can review and process orders and print pre-generated packing slips and invoices.
The green links in the orders dashboard represent modifiable portions of the order, and you can use dropdown “Actions” menu to perform additional functions:
Perhaps not surprisingly, order management was another robust (and therefore somewhat complex) feature.
My tests of 3dcart’s user-friendliness have led me to the conclusion that while it’s a user-friendly piece of software in the grand scheme, the system is best suited to moderately tech-savvy users who are not easily intimidated by a slight learning curve and a bit of trial and error. In the end, these users will benefit from the flexibility and quality of the tools available.
As we’ve already pointed out, 3dcart comes with loads of powerful features right out-of-the-box. Always check to see which features are currently included with each plan, but also remember that 3dcart offers to customize your own feature package if you don’t see what you need at a given level.
Here are just some of the features 3dcart provides:
- Sell Digital: Sell downloadable products along with physical products.
- Checkout Options: 3dcart lets you enable one-page or three-page checkout to speed conversion.
- Bring Products To Life: Include multiple product images, image zoom, and videos on product pages.
- Gift Options: Allow customers to create wish lists and gift registries, or purchase gift certificates to your store.
- Create Promotions: Offer coupons and discounts, including group deals and daily deals with countdown timers.
- Out-Of-Stock & Pre-Orders: Provide waiting lists for popular products with back-in-stock alerts, and let your customers pre-order upcoming items.
- Alternative Pricing: Let customers make an offer for select items and choose to accept or reject the offer, or offer financing options.
- Automatic Calculators: Use robust tax and shipping calculators to provide real-time quotes for your customers.
- Abandoned Cart Saver: Use abandoned cart notifications to remind your customers to complete their orders.
- Encourage Customer Engagement: Allow customers to submit questions and reviews on product pages.
- Built-In Blog: Inform and entertain your customer base (and boost your SEO) with a blog.
- Rewards Program: Offer rewards points to foster customer loyalty.
- Carrier Notifications: Send customers automated “out for delivery” and “delivery confirmation” emails.
- Unlimited Product Variants: Create and customize option sets for products. (Many competitors put limits on this ability or require an extension).
- SmartCategories: Easily showcase your sale items with their own category.
- Inventory Management: Control inventory and monitor low stock. Restock your store using the built-in Purchase Order module.
- SEO: Optimize your products and website with lots of SEO tools.
- Bulk Import / Export: Take advantage of bulk importing and exporting to migrate platforms and make bulk edits.
- Order Management: Process orders quickly, create and edit manual orders for mail/phone customers, and create and send invoices.
- Shipping Tools: Print labels and create tracking numbers from your dashboard, and access shipping discounts via carrier integrations. Split shipments for multiple locations.
- POS: Sell in-person with 3dcart iPad POS or a third-party POS solution.
- Email Marketing: Use 3dcart’s email templates to make your email marketing campaign a little easier.
- Multichannel Selling: Sync with eBay and Amazon to sell across multiple channels and manage it all from 3dcart’s admin.
- B2B Features: Enable customer groups, specialized pricing levels, bulk discounts, minimum order quantities, one-click reordering, and controlled product visibility.
- Email hosting: Depending on your package, one or more email accounts are provided for you and your staff.
Again, these are just highlights of 3dcart’s offerings — check out the full list on the company’s website, and then test them out with a free trial. One missing feature I did notice is filtered (faceted) product search and navigation on the front end. It looks you can add this with an app, but you’ll need to factor in an additional cost.
3dcart offers a selection of both free and premium templates for your store. There are currently just over 30 premium themes available in the theme store, running from $149-$189 each. I also found approximately 30 free templates in the store, whereas inside my trial dashboard, the total was closer to 70. It looks like you have access to some older HTML5, non- “core” theme options once you’re inside your dashboard.
As a whole, the templates provided by 3dcart are…okay. They aren’t ugly, but many are missing some of the “wow factor” other ecommerce sitebuilders offer. I also don’t see a whole lot of difference between the premium and free themes. Here are the most expensive options:
The front pages of each template (shown above) actually have the most variation, while the internal category pages often look very similar from template to template.
What about customizing your design once you’ve chosen a template? Well, you should be aware that 3dcart’s design editing tools for non-coders are extremely limited. You must have HTML and CSS knowledge to make most changes to layout, fonts, and styles. In other words, if you’re looking for a flexible drag-and-drop-tool, you will not find it here. You can change a few colors and font sizes, but that’s about it.
3dcart has experimented with more flexible visual editors in the past, but apparently hasn’t settled on a version that’s completely satisfactory. This is disappointing, and I hope 3dcart develops a solution for non-coders down the line. For the time being, 3dcart recommends that you take advantage of its design services for hire if you’d like to make changes to your template and don’t have coding knowledge yourself.
The bottom line: If you want to use 3dcart but don’t have coding skill and can’t invest in a designer, make sure you really like your template the way it is!
Integrations & Add-Ons
At over 200 integrations and counting, 3dcart’s app store includes most add-ons merchants need. Note that many of these apps are actually small feature modules (discussed in the Pricing and Features sections above) that are pre-integrated with your store, but can be enabled and set up from your “Modules” dashboard. This is one way 3dcart manages to offer so many features, but still keep the basic platform relatively simple. These smaller feature modules (like group deals and gift wrapping) are usually free with the corresponding 3dcart subscription, while other apps have one-time or recurring costs.
While 3dcart’s app store isn’t the largest we’ve seen, you’ll still find a variety of options for order management, shipping, security, social media, dropshipping, channel management, advertising and more. They’re all sorted by category in a dropdown bar, which is nice.
Have a look at all the apps available on 3dcart’s site, but here are a few that you might recognize:
- Quickbooks: Accounting software
- Constant Contact: Automated email marketing
- Shipwire: Order fulfillment service
- Shipstation: Shipping software
- Facebook Connect: Social media integration
- Avalara Tax: Real-time tax calculator
- TaxCloud: Sales tax management
- Doba: Dropshipping
- LiveChat: Customer support
- McAfee SECURE: Fraud prevention
- 71lbs: Shipping refunds
- FusioNBot: Filtered product search
- Zapier: Multi-app connector
3dcart also provides a RESTful API, so your developers can build custom connections if the apps you need aren’t already available.
One last note about the 3dcart app store: a lot of the apps only have only one or a very small handful of user reviews, and some have none at all. Be sure to read the actual text of any user reviews carefully and note the date of the comment.
Here’s the one and only review of the Doba dropshipping integration, for example:
Not super helpful in making a decision! You may have to take your chances on a few of the apps in the end, since the feedback pool is so small.
Although 3dcart does not charge any transaction fees, you can expect to pay processing fees to your processor of choice. Flat-rate providers like Stripe, Square, and PayPal typically charge around 2.9% + 30¢ per ecommerce transaction. If you sell-in person as well, you’ll have a separate (and usually lower) processing rate for those transactions. Manually keyed-in transactions may carry a different rate as well.
Flat-rate is not the only type of pricing available, however. At Merchant Maverick, we’re big proponents of interchange-plus pricing, especially for merchants processing over $10K per month. Having reviewed many payment processors in my day, I really appreciate the fact that 3dcart takes the time to explain this transparent pricing model that keeps your wholesale costs separate. In fact, many payment processing companies would do well do follow 3dcart’s example! The explanation also includes a few recommendations for merchant account providers that can give you this model.
For more information on payment processing, check out our article: The Best Online Credit Card Processing Companies. For now, here are a few 3dcart-compatible processors and/or payment gateways (there are well over 150 in total):
- Amazon Payments, Inc.
- Chase Paymentech
Beyond straight credit cards and debit cards, you can also make other payment methods (e.g. mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin) available to your shoppers.
Finally, you should note that 3dcart partners with a few “preferred” providers that can offer discounted processing rates below the standard flat rate of 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction. Merchants must be based in the US and meet other qualifications, so check with 3dcart for specifics.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Here are the 24/7 personalized support options available according to each 3dcart subscription level:
- Startup: Email/web ticket & live chat
- Basic: Email/web ticket, live chat, & phone
- Plus: Email/web ticket, live chat, & phone
- Pro: Email/web ticket, live chat, & phone, with added priority support
Beyond these main support channels, 3dcart offers the following additional resources:
- Video tutorials
- Support forum
- Blog & newsletter
- 3dcart Answers
My own experiences with 3dcart’s customer support have been a mixed bag. During my trial, I tested the three routes to personalized support: phone, live chat, and web ticket.
Phone support worked okay for me, although my calls were dropped on several occasions during a transfer. I usually waited on hold about ten minutes before speaking with a representative who patiently answered my questions. Ten minutes is on par with the industry average. Similarly, the question I submitted via web ticket was answered in just a few hours.
Live chat has improved since our last review — I got a response within a few minutes most of the time. However, similar to the dropped calls, my live chat rep would suddenly disappear at times, perhaps hoping I’d become bored and give up.
My advice is to find a couple of knowledgeable reps and get their direct extensions and email addresses. 3dcart is still a small enough company that you ought to be able to do this.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
There are many negative reviews online that condemn 3dcart for a variety of reasons — just check the comments section of this article. Founder Gonzalo Gil has been known to personally respond in some cases, and appears to be solicitous and reasonable.
Here’s what complaints tend to focus on:
- Poor Customer Service: 3dcart is often blamed for being slow to respond to customer concerns and for providing uninformed responses. However, I’ve also recently found a few reviews to the contrary. See positive reviews below.
- Bland Templates: While 3dcart’s themes aren’t bad, they aren’t particularly stunning either. In order to make a truly memorable storefront, you’re going to have to invest in some customization. However, I have seen a few positive reviews recently countering this point. Some users like the variety of template options 3dcart provides (the free templates, in particular) and they like the ability to smoothly switch between themes.
- Moderate Learning Curve: Some users say 3dcart is hard to get the hang of at first, but many of these reviewers also mention that part of the difficulty is due to the depth and capability of 3dcart’s features.
- Expensive Add-Ons: Even with 3dcart’s broad range of native features, this can still become an issue depending on your specific needs. The cost of multiple add-ons can quickly add up.
As you research 3dcart, you may notice a few comments about bandwidth overage fees. You should know that these complaints are no longer relevant as they refer to 3dcart’s previous pricing model.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Overall, 3dcart is somewhere in the middle of the ecommerce software pack when it comes to reported user satisfaction — not the best, but not the worst. Many customers are, indeed, very happy with the software, and we’ve seen complaints taper off a bit in recent months. Here are some common accolades:
- Low Price: 3dcart’s plans are priced competitively with Shopify and BigCommerce. Plus, 3dcart doesn’t charge transaction fees (Shopify still does).
- Good Customer Support: Again, opinion is split on this, but the feedback about support is not overwhelmingly negative. Many customers report that support is helpful and responsive.
- Easy To Use: Even with the complexity offered by 3dcart, many customers have said the admin is relatively intuitive overall. And, if you don’t get it right away, there are lots of resources available to give you a hand.
- Out-Of-The-Box Features: 3dcart comes with an uncommon number of features at every price point. I rarely see this many features available at the lowest plan of a SaaS platform.
You can also read several pages of 3dcart testimonials at the company website. With real small business owner names and website addresses included, you could always reach out to these companies to find out if they’re still happy with 3dcart!
3dcart is Level 1 PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant.
Every plan includes a free shared 256-bit SSL that covers all your site’s pages. However, in order to benefit from that free SSL certificate, you must use 3dcart’s specific checkout domain: [your domain].3dcartstores.com. Otherwise, you can purchase a dedicated SSL certificate, starting at $99.00/year.
As we’ve watched 3dcart’s platform evolve over the years, we maintain that it is a very solid option for a lot of online sellers. The plans are reasonably priced, and there are tons of important features already built-in. 3dcart ought to scale pretty well as you grow, particularly because 3dcart offers to customize a subscription plan with the precise features you need at every stage of your business. Meanwhile, the wide array of payment processing options is also impressive, and we appreciate that no additional transaction fees are charged by 3dcart itself, regardless of which processor you choose.
We think 3dcart is best suited to merchants who’d like to take advantage of a set of robust and flexible ecommerce features, but who also have the necessary patience to properly learn to use these powerful tools. The moderate learning curve seems to be worth the investment for the degree of power and control you have in managing your store, and once you get the hang of it, your day-to-day operations should be quite simple. Regarding storefront design, the current lack of a drag-and-drop layout editor and very limited design editing tools reinforces our opinion that 3dcart is geared toward tech-savvy folks who are comfortable with HTML and CSS, or those who’d like to hire someone to create a custom design.
Customer service reports continue to be mixed, and the same goes for our own experience with tech support. While we still come across negative feedback about delayed and unresolved web tickets and poor customer service, we have observed a slight decrease in these complaints over time. We’ll be watching to see if this trend continues.
Whichever ecommerce platform you ultimately end up with, we always recommend that you try out the software yourself before you make any decisions. It takes only a few seconds to sign up, and there are no commitments required. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a demo is worth a million. Give it a go.