Pinnacle Cart Review
Created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, Pinnacle Cart’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.
Pinnacle Cart 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 Pinnacle Cart merchant benefits from the platform’s wide features set, which is above average for SaaS technology in terms of functionality.
Keep reading for a full unbiased review of Pinnacle Cart’s online store builder.
Pinnacle Cart 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 Pinnacle Cart. 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. Pinnacle Cart 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 Pinnacle Cart 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, Pinnacle Cart 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.
Pinnacle Cart does not charge transaction fees or cancellation fees. Take a look at the pricing structure below.
- Start Up
- 1GB Website Storage
- 2GB Website Traffic
- Small Biz
- 3GB Website Storage
- 8GB Website Traffic
- Quickbooks Auto Sync
- 10GB Website Storage
- 20GB Website Traffic
- Quickbooks Auto Sync
- 50GB Website Storage
- 100GB Website Traffic
- Quickbooks Auto Sync
For high volume, high traffic merchants, Pinnacle Cart has separate enterprise level solutions (beyond just their “Enterprise Plan”). Pinnacle Cart calls them Virtual Private Server Solutions (VPS), and they ring in at $249/month and $349/month. You can view those plans here.
Web-Hosted or Licensed
Web-hosted. Because Pinnacle Cart 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
Pinnacle Cart 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 Pinnacle Cart, 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 Pinnacle Cart, 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.”
Fortunately, Pinnacle Cart comes through on its promise to be the hassle-free eCommerce solution that merchants are looking for. Adding products is a breeze.
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, Pinnacle Cart 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 Pinnacle Cart 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.
As far as ease of use goes, Pinnacle Cart 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.
Pinnacle Cart 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. If you’d prefer to see the full list, you can just click this link here.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Every Pinnacle Cart account gives you 30 free customizable templates to choose from. Fortunately, they are all fully mobile responsive (click here to read about the importance of mobile responsive design).
I found Pinnacle Cart’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.
However, quite of few of Pinnacle Cart’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.
From the setup video, I assumed that editing my theme would be easy (and I imagine it eventually would be). However, at first glance, Pinnacle Cart’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.
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 Pinnacle Cart 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 Pinnacle Cart’s services a la carte style.
Integrations and Add-Ons
Because Pinnacle Cart 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 Pinnacle Cart doesn’t have all that many apps available).
You can find Pinnacle Cart’s full list of 42 integrations here.
- 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, Pinnacle Cart has an API available, so your developers can create a connection for you.
Pinnacle Cart 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 Pinnacle Cart’s features list.
You might recognize these popular payment solutions.
Pinnacle Cart 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
Pinnacle Cart provides support through a variety of channels. Sadly, while Pinnacle Cart 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 Pinnacle Cart’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.
- Weekdays 6am — 5pm PST
- Live Chat
- Weekdays 6am — 12am PST
- Sunday 3pm — 12am PST
- Web Ticket
- Knowledge Base
- Video Tutorials
- User Forum
Negative Reviews and Complaints
By and large, reviews discussing Pinnacle Cart are quite positive. Customers are consistently pleased with what Pinnacle Cart 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 Pinnacle Cart 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 Pinnacle Cart’s coding can be difficult, especially if you’re trying to make serious modifications to features.
- Not international friendly: Pinnacle cart 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 Pinnacle Cart has a huge feature set, there are some important aspects missing. Most notably, Pinnacle Cart is missing a customer loyalty program, a built-in blog, and a POS application. Pinnacle Cart 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 Pinnacle Cart.
- Ease of use: After that initial setup phase, everyday operations should become very simple. That is, after all, the goal of Pinnacle Cart.
- Good support: Although Pinnacle Cart’s support is unfortunately not available by phone 100% of the time, customers are generally pleased with the responses they receive from the Pinnacle Cart 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, Pinnacle Cart’s SEO friendly features score highly in public opinion.
- Easy integrations: Pinnacle Cart 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.
All Pinnacle Cart stores are 100% PCI (Payment Card Industry) level one compliant. Pinnacle Cart is also PA-DSS certified.
Pinnacle Cart uses an OPEN SSL encryption to store credit card information (you must enable this for your store). SSL certificates do not come free with Pinnacle Cart stores. You’ll have to purchase your own; pricing begins at $14.95 for Pinnacle Cart’s shared SSL. Take a look at some other options for SSL certificates here.
Pinnacle Cart 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 Pinnacle Cart fits the needs of so many sellers.
My largest concern and reservation has to do with Pinnacle Cart’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 Pinnacle Cart.
Regardless, Pinnacle Cart is worth looking into. If you’ve got the time (it doesn’t take much), sign up for their free trial to see of Pinnacle Cart is the right choice for your online store.