PinnacleCart Review

Date Established
2004
Location
Phoenix, AZ

Overview

Created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, PinnacleCart’s goal is simple: to provide an all-in-one eCommerce platform that allows merchants with little or no technical skill to start promoting and selling their products.

PinnacleCart gives merchants the power to quickly add and edit products, manage orders, create promotions, and customize their website. It is a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform, so you don’t have to worry about maintaining web hosting and site security. That’s all done for you for a monthly fee.

Every PinnacleCart merchant benefits from the platform’s wide features set, which is above average for SaaS technology in terms of functionality.

PinnacleCart is widely recognized and trusted by The Onion, Discovery Channel, UFC, Mike and Ike, and A&E.

Keep reading for a full unbiased review of PinnacleCart’s online store builder.

Pricing

PinnacleCart offers a Free 14-Day Trial (no credit card required) so you can try out the platform without having to make any commitment. Please take advantage of this trial before you sign on with PinnacleCart. I often read complaints from customers who’ve paid for an eCommerce platform and are now demanding their money back, simply because they didn’t find out if it fit their needs before purchasing. PinnacleCart does not offer refunds on their plans, so try out the product before you buy it.

A huge benefit of this software is that it’s scalable: your platform can grow with your company. One way PinnacleCart makes this possible is with their scaled pricing plans. Pricing is based on traffic and storage, so as your site gets more traffic, you gradually move up the pay scale.

Currently, PinnacleCart offers four pricing plans in their “Hosted Solutions” category (which fits all merchants excluding high volume sellers). All plans come with unlimited products, daily backups, unlimited phone and email support, and PCI/PA-DSS compliance.

PinnacleCart does not charge transaction fees or cancellation fees. Take a look at the pricing structure below.

  • Start Up
    •  $29.95/month
    • 1GB Website Storage
    • 2GB Website Traffic
  • Small Biz
    • $59.95/month
    • 3GB Website Storage
    • 8GB Website Traffic
    • Quickbooks Auto Sync
  • Entrepreneur
    • $94.95/month
    • 10GB Website Storage
    • 20GB Website Traffic
    • Quickbooks Auto Sync
  • Enterprise
    • $149.95/month
    • 50GB Website Storage
    • 100GB Website Traffic
    • Quickbooks Auto Sync

For high volume, high traffic merchants, PinnacleCart has separate enterprise level solutions (beyond just their “Enterprise Plan”). PinnacleCart calls them Virtual Private Server Solutions (VPS), and they ring in at $249/month and $349/month.

Web-Hosted or Licensed

Web-hosted. Because PinnacleCart is SaaS technology, you can expect all of the benefits of a cloud-based software. Your information will always be available across all your devices, and you can easily sync with other cloud-based systems. Additionally, you never have to worry about updating your software; that all occurs automatically.

Specific Size of Business

PinnacleCart can scale to fit businesses of any size, from startups to enterprise level stores.

Hardware and Software Requirements

All you need is a computer, internet access, and an up-to-date web browser.

Ease of Use

Setting up a Free 14-Day Trial is easy and risk-free. I got mine set up in only a couple of minutes. Once I created my account, I was directed to my new admin panel. I also received an email from PinnacleCart, which included my account details as well as a couple links to help me get started.

One of those links directed me to a 20-minute setup tutorial, which was actually very helpful. I highly recommend setting aside time to watch it. It’s a bit slow-moving, so you may be tempted to duck out before it’s over. Don’t. If you get terrifically bored, just play an album in the background. There’s good information here, and you’ll want to have seen the whole tutorial before you start building your store.

When I logged into PinnacleCart, I was greeted with a quick Getting Started Guide, which asked for some basic store information and offered to help set up my shipping and payment processing settings.

If you decide to skip the Getting Starting Guide, you can find all this information and more under “Settings.”

setup

Fortunately, PinnacleCart comes through on its promise to be the hassle-free eCommerce solution that merchants are looking for. Adding products is a breeze.

add-product

It’s even possible to add unlimited attributes and create new categories from the products page, which is nice (normally, I have to set up categories separately). As far as product features go, PinnacleCart has everything you need. You can add multiple product images and customize your URLs and meta descriptions to boost your SEO. It’s all very good.

Because PinnacleCart comes with so many features already built in (just take a look at the Features category below), most merchants will need very few add-ons. The applications you do need can be added on easily from your admin. It’s a very smooth process; installation takes just a few clicks.

apps

As far as ease of use goes, PinnacleCart scores very well. Once you figure out how to use all of the features available to you, you should be able to operate your store independently, for the most part.

Features

PinnacleCart come with an impressive range of features already built-in. While I would normally expect this level of functionality from self-hosted software, it’s very rare to find so many features in a SaaS solution. Below, I’ve compiled a few of the features that I deem the most noteworthy. Or, you can take a look at the full list.

Admin

  • Unlimited administrator accounts: Let your entire team access your admin.
  • Restricted access and permissions: Allow different team members to access different parts of the admin.

Product Merchandising

  • Sell physical and digital products: Control your digital inventory by placing limits on downloads.
  • Unlimited attributes: Let customers choose the size, style, and color they want.
  • Enable product reviews: Encourage shoppers’ trust with customer reviews.
  • Provide custom fields: Allow customers the option to personalize your products with product customization.
  • Unlimited product images: Enable image features like magnify, zoom, lightbox, and enlarge.

Marketing and Promotions

  • Integrate with MailChimp: Set up your email marketing game with one of the most popular email management apps.
  • List your products across multiple channels and product comparison engines: Upload your products to Google Shopping, BizRate.com, ShopZilla.com, and more.
  • Facebook store: Sell everywhere you find your customers.
  • Discounts and gift certificates: Create discount and gift certificate codes from your admin.
  • Enable wish lists: Let customers save the products they want.
  • “Drift marketing” tool: Target abandoned carts to increase sales.

Checkout

  • Autoresponder emails: Send automatic confirmation emails when customers place an order and when their orders ship.
  • Shipping tracking: Provide shipping tracking numbers so your customers can find where their orders are.
  • One page checkout: Make checkout as easy as possible to increase conversion.
  • Guest checkout: Allow customers to choose between creating an account and checking out as a guest.

Product and Category Management

  • Unlimited products, categories, and subcategories: Use those categories to make site navigation easier for your customers.
  • Bulk import/export: Migrate your products using CSV files.
  • Inventory tracking: Set up your account to send you low stock notifications for your products and product attributes.

Payment and Shipping

  • Accept multiple payment types: Accept credit cards on your site, and list your prices in multiple currencies.
  • Receive offline orders: Accept orders by phone, fax, and mail.
  • Real-time shipping quotes: Integrate with USPS, UPS, FedEx, and Canada Post.
  • Enable recurring billing: Use this feature to let customers pay over time or purchase subscriptions.
  • Automatic tax calculation: Integrate with Avalara Ava Tax or Exact-o-Tax for accurate tax estimates.

Analytics and SEO

  • Extensive SEO tools: Write custom URLs, meta titles, and meta descriptions for your products,  categories, and pages. Upload and create robot.txt files, and take advantage of your automatically generated site map.
  • Reporting tools: View reports of your top products and top categories. View orders by product, sales by customer, and traffic from referral sites.
  • Integrate with Google: Connect your platform to Google Analytics and Google Adwords.

Web Design

Every PinnacleCart account gives you 30 free customizable templates to choose from. Fortunately, they are all fully mobile responsive (read more about the importance of mobile responsive design).

I found PinnacleCart’s web design to be somewhat of a mixed bag. A few of their templates (like the ones below) are up-to-par with the industry’s design standards.

good-themes

However, quite of few of PinnacleCart’s 30 free options need a facelift. They’re a bit dated.

Once you choose a template, you can edit your web design from the admin. There are HTML/CSS editors available for those with coding experience. Fortunately, for those of us who don’t speak web, there’s a visual editor design tool. Using the theme editor, you can edit add buttons, boxes, text, colors, and images.

Here’s what that theme editor looks like.

design-editor

From the setup video, I assumed that editing my theme would be easy (and I imagine it eventually would be). However, at first glance, PinnacleCart’s theme editor is not the most intuitive. I was able to figure out most of the design elements eventually, but that’s likely due to my experience with eCommerce software. Merchants new to eCommerce software may find it more difficult.

If this is intimidating to you, you may experience a slight learning curve.

colors

However, I am confident that after the initial learning process, you’ll be able to make most small changes on your own.

If you need to make larger changes, you can always hire a developer. Alternatively, you can pay PinnacleCart to build a custom site for you. They offer premium design services priced between $2100 and $5200. Or, if you just need help with a couple aspects of your storefront, you can hire PinnacleCart’s services a la carte style.

Integrations and Add-Ons

Because PinnacleCart has such an extensive features set already built-in, you’ll need significantly fewer apps than you would with most other shopping carts (which is good because PinnacleCart doesn’t have all that many apps available).

Take a look at PinnacleCart’s full list of 42 integrations or view my abbreviated list below:

  • Endicia: Shipping solution that tracks packages and generates shipping labels.
  • Avalara: Automated tax calculator.
  • Exactor: Automated tax calculator.
  • MailChimp: Automated email marketing software.
  • Quickbooks: Accounting software.
  • Doba: Drop shipping app that provides access to wholesale products.
  • Shipwire: Warehousing and order fulfillment service.
  • Shopzilla: Online shopping search engine.

You can also export your products to marketplaces across the web. These marketplaces include Amazon, Yahoo!, and eBay, among others.

If you can’t find the application you’re looking for, PinnacleCart has an API available, so your developers can create a connection for you.

Payment Processing

PinnacleCart integrates seamlessly with over 30 payment gateways. While 30 options is a bit low for a shopping cart this popular, it’s a perfectly acceptable number. For the full list of payment gateways, look at PinnacleCart’s feature list.

You might recognize these popular payment solutions.

PinnacleCart also integrates with First Data, which it names as its “Preferred Payment Gateway.”

If payment gateways, payment processors, and merchant accounts are all new to you, you should visit our Merchant Account Comparison page or contact us for a consultation, and we can help guide you through.

Customer Service and Technical Support

PinnacleCart provides support through a variety of channels. Sadly, while PinnacleCart does offer phone support, that phone support is only available during limited hours. If you do find yourself experiencing technical difficulties during those times, you can always send in an email. And if your site goes down, you can mark that request as “Urgent” and hope that PinnacleCart’s emergency support is up to snuff. On the other hand, if your case isn’t so pressing, you could try a few of the other options below.

Negative Reviews and Complaints

By and large, reviews discussing PinnacleCart are quite positive. Customers are consistently pleased with what PinnacleCart can do for their store. As always, there are a few downfalls to the platform. Here’s what customers mention most often.

  • Learning curve: New users (especially those not accustomed to eCommerce software) may find PinnacleCart to be a bit difficult at first. With time, however, I’m certain nearly every user could learn to perform most operations.
  • Tricky code: Programmers report that PinnacleCart’s coding can be difficult, especially if you’re trying to make serious modifications to features.
  • Not international friendly: PinnacleCart has limited language capabilities, and while you can list your products in multiple currencies, merchants report some difficulty accepting payments outside of US and Canada.
  • Missing features: I was surprised to realize that though PinnacleCart has a huge feature set, there are some important aspects missing. Most notably, PinnacleCart is missing a customer loyalty program, a built-in blog, and a POS application. PinnacleCart also does not use a CDN (Content Delivery Network), which may result in slower sites.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials

Here are a few good aspects of PinnacleCart.

  • Ease of use: After that initial setup phase, everyday operations should become very simple. That is, after all, the goal of PinnacleCart.
  • Good support: Although PinnacleCart’s support is unfortunately not available by phone 100% of the time, customers are generally pleased with the responses they receive from the PinnacleCart team.
  • Marketing features: Customers love the marketing features available with the platform. You can integrate with social media to further your products and use embeddable widgets to place your products on any website. Also, PinnacleCart’s SEO friendly features score highly in public opinion.
  • Easy integrations: PinnacleCart platforms integrate easily with a variety of other software. In particular, customers appreciate the Quickbooks integration for their accounting and the Doba integration, which facilitates drop shipping.

Security

All PinnacleCart stores are 100% PCI (Payment Card Industry) level one compliant. PinnacleCart is also PA-DSS certified.

PinnacleCart uses an OPEN SSL encryption to store credit card information (you must enable this for your store). SSL certificates do not come free with PinnacleCart stores. You’ll have to purchase your own; pricing begins at $14.95 for PinnacleCart’s shared SSL. Or, take a look at some other options for SSL certificates.

Final Verdict

PinnacleCart is an excellent option for both beginner merchants and large sellers with years of experience. With such a vast feature set, it’s easy to see why PinnacleCart fits the needs of so many sellers.

My largest concern and reservation has to do with PinnacleCart’s limited support hours by phone. The internet does not operate within normal business hours. If you have a crisis, it’s nice to have someone’s hand to hold. I’m disappointed that this support feature is missing with PinnacleCart.

Regardless, PinnacleCart is worth looking into. If you’ve got the time (it doesn’t take much), sign up for their free trial to see of PinnacleCart is the right choice for your online store.

Get Started with PinnacleCart

Liz Hull

Liz Hull

Liz is a recent college graduate living in Washington state. As of late, she can often be found haunting eCommerce forums and waiting on hold with customer service representatives. When she's free, Liz loves to rock climb, watch Spanish dramas, and read poorly-written young adult novels.
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9 Comments

    Randy K. Curtin

    I tried their website and was not happy with the Admin end. I had a month-to-month payment schedule. Twice I asked them to cancel the account. They continued to debit my checking account. I had to threaten them with the Arizona Attorney General before they stopped billing me and refunded my money. I live in Arizona, so I could easily make good on my threat. These people have no shame!

    1

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Caroline

    Beware … support is not great … wait times on the phone are normally in excess of 20 minutes. You can leave a number and they will call you back (in the order in which your call is received), but this wait time has exceeded 5 hours. Email support is normally 10+ hours. Not a good deal if your cart is down. Billing is not accurate. When i renewed my hosting for my cart they cancelled my email support. Even though their home page says it’s included. This, of course, happened on a Saturday when nobody was there to take the call and resolve the problem. Lastly, their documentation is dismal. On a scale of 1-10, i’d rate them a 3 tops.

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Hosted User

    Pinnacle cart is an “ok” SAAS product if you don’t know HTML and need to build a fast shopping cart with some additional features.
    They will provide support for you and if you are a re-seller to your costumer as well. Be aware because this service is part of their strategy to go after your customer by offering a better price to bill your costumer directly. As a company they are not loyal to their re-seller base that brings business to them. Be aware of this practice.

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Greg Holland

    Custom development:
    I paid $38,000 for custom web development. Contract was signed in March 2013. Work was to be finished June 7th. By June 7th they weren’t finished. A couple weeks later Mike Rose announced they were all finished. (In spite of the fact that there was zero communication with me regarding the development). Lo and behold, they’d only done a small fraction of all the work. Mike said that “he didn’t know” the rest was supposed to be done. Whatever. They proceeded to do a sloppy job at the rest of the project. Mike Blum said they were pulling in extra resources to get the project finished asap. Well. It’s now the end of August and the whole project is still not finished. Just a few half-baked pieces here are there. My company is suffering very much since we have no website / no sales.

    Communication:
    There seems to be no communication in the Pinnacle Cart company – not among staff, nor with clients. Everything about the project was laid out with Kyle in March in much detail. But when it came to do the work, Mike Rose seemed to be completely out of the loop. Furthermore, the supervisor Mike Blum outright admitted to me in a three-hour phone conversation that “he had no idea the amount of work that was involved; he thought that it was a simple matter of ‘design and data import’.” Well, good grief, for $38,000?!

    Design:
    Now let’s talk about design. It also took way longer than initial promises. The design staff couldn’t seem to get the elements necessary together. So many conversations with Valerie Jackson about how we would like things done. Emails with pictures to explain it. Online examples. It took them so many redos to finally get it more or less right. The Facebook and Twitter designs looked whipped together like something my 8-year-old nephew could have done – didn’t match the main site at all. The design was supposed to take 4 weeks. It’s now been 5 months and it’s still not done. I haven’t seen anything about the mobile site design yet.

    Accounting department.
    There is no way I can log in and see my history of charges. I contacted the accounting department and they email me to “log in and view history”. But there is nothing there when I log in. I had to finally send them a screenshot of their own log in page to convince them and they finally realized that indeed there is no “view history”. After that I just gave up and dug around in my Visa statements to figure it out myself.

    Pinnacle has been a 6-month headache so far.
    They’ve charged $38,000 and haven’t delivered
    You have to hound them constantly: “Are you getting things done? Are you getting things done?”
    They constantly promise: We should have something for you by this evening. We should have something for you by tomorrow.
    I’ve had to make a new contract with a company called “volusion.com” – I’m having a MUCH better experience with my new provider.
    Meanwhile, PinnacleCart still hasn’t delivered, and we have begun legal proceedings with the bank to recover our losses.

    Greg Holland – Ministry Ideaz

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Lin H.

    Sad to say but if you've got a fair number of products and if you sell the type of stuff that needs many photos you'll be working hard on your image names. But the real deal killer is if you are already in business and are trying to migrate to Pinnacle.For Pinnacle, each image name MUST be the same name as your product. This is how they link the image with the product for display. Yes you can have multiple images but there is no way to upload these in bulk. And don't let their support people fool you into thinking you can have a separate server with a link to the URL. Only one image per product.In my case I've got over 800 products, each with about four images. When I took the photos I did not rename them from my camera's name. So image names are DSCF00145.jpg, DSCF00167.jpg, etc. Can you imagine renaming each one of these? It would be close to 4000 in my case.Still looking for a decent cart solution. Definitely not Pinnacle.

    1

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Wesley Soza

    I completely understand your point of view, that’s the same thing that I encountered. It’s a bit complicated and for us not to get help as we need it really sucks. In my case they made me feel as if I wasn’t important. I moved on to IA Modules better, been with them for almost a year and a half now and really can’t complain because their support team was really helpful, they took their time to train me and teach me everything that I needed to know.

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Jeffrey H

    I’ve been a user of Pinnacle for less than a year. I agree that the startup is very easy. Templates are extensive and simple to work with. However, I have one major complaint that will have me move from Pinnacle. Bulk upload for products does not support attributes and modifiers. Tried to use Webgility for that and it too didn’t work. My POS is Qucikbooks. Pinnacle was happy to do customization for me, but the cost was too much for my small one shop business. Plus, didn’t think I should pay for a feature that they can then market.

    I’m solving my problem by moving to a cloud based POS (which is why I’m at your site) that will integrate seamlessly with a shopping cart. By everything I see, Shopify is the choice for cloud based POSes.

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Ann

    Hello,
    am I wrong or Pinnacle had discontinued their licensed version? I can’t find it at their website and there is also no mentioning about this in their blog. I read some forums and people there say that license will be available only for re-sellers. Is it true?

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Amad E.

    You’re correct Ann. Pinnacle did discontinue their licensed version. Here’s the email I received from them…

    Thank you for your interest in Pinnacle Cart. As a potential customer we wanted to make you aware of a change happening tomorrow. Effective end of business on Friday, March 15th, 2013, Pinnacle Cart, Inc., will no longer offer our licensed product http://www.pinnaclecart.com/host-on-your-own-server to host the software on an external server.

    The software industry has rapidly moved to SaaS (software as a service) model, and we are one of the last hold-outs offering a licensed product. Fortunately for you, this change will allow us to focus our messaging and efforts to supply you with industry’s best service and the rock star product you deserve.

    In an effort to assist customers who prefer to use our licensed product, we have a great offer for you. If you purchase a license between now and 6pm MST on March 15th, you will have 120 days from the time of purchase to designate the domain name it will be installed on.

    Although we have stopped selling the licensed version of our software directly we will continue to support those who currently own the license and maintain a support plan. Our hosted plans and pricing remain unchanged and can be seen here: hosted plans.

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

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