This is my comprehensive and up-to-date Pinnacle Cart review that you can read for free to help you decide if the platform is good for your ecommerce store. I will try to include as many pros and cons as I can find. Lastly, I will keep it updated as best I can to reflect latest platform changes and updates.
In theory, you need a perfect ecommerce platform (and sellable products) to build a successful online store. You need a platform that is easy to use and offers simplified inventory management tools to help you track and manage inventory levels. Finally, you need an online store builder that is capable of providing you with the tools needed to offer your customers a user-friendly shopping experience.
With all of that in mind, whether you need to build a store from scratch or transfer an existing store to a different platform, Pinnacle Cart is an excellent candidate for ecommerce and a superior alternative to your current ecommerce platform.
What is Pinnacle Cart?
Pinnacle Cart is a premium hosted and enterprise level ecommerce platform and online store builder that was released in 2003. Their platform hosts some big name stores such as Corona Extra, Discovery Channel, and CBS Sports. Because it is a hosted platform, Pinnacle Cart takes care of the web hosting, upgrades, and security.
Who is Pinnacle Cart for?
This question is tough to answer and understand because it has a generic answer. Pinnacle Cart is for anyone that needs to build an online store using a hosted online store builder with an available budget of at least $30 a month. Whether you sell clothing items or digital downloads, Pinnacle Cart is a strong and versatile platform that can help you sell just about anything online. In addition, it compares well with other leading ecommerce platforms such as BigCommerce and Shopify.
Ease of use
Whether you are an experience ecommerce developer or just building your first online store, having a platform that is easy to work with makes the entire process stress free.
After you sign up for the free trial, you are greeted by a Quick Start Guide that walks you through the process of setting up your online store. For instance, in step one, you can add general store information such as company name and address, contact information, and even attach a custom store logo. In step two, you can add all of your social media accounts and enable social sharing buttons on product pages. In step three, you can adjust your SEO settings and insert a site title and Meta description for search engines. Finally, in step four, you have the option to configure shipping carriers, payment methods, and taxation. Alternatively, you can skip each section and complete it at a later time.
As for the Quick Start Guide, I feel that this is an added incentive as it allows you to complete a lot of the important administrative tasks in a short amount of time. In addition, it is an excellent guide for first-time users that are building an online store for the first time.
From the admin dashboard / backend, you will be able to complete the remaining administrative tasks such as adding products to your store, managing inventory, configuring categories and manufactures, adding content, and fulfilling orders.
The process of adding products is done from a single page, but everything is labeled properly. All of the basic settings such as product information, images, categories, and inventory tracking are towards the top. The more advanced settings such as search engine optimization, attributes, variants, search keywords, and product promotions are on the bottom under different sections. Personally, I feel that the process of adding products to your store is pretty simple, but I also feel that they should do a better job of breaking the process into different tabs / pages to make it more convenient and easier for first-time users.
Here is a sample product that I created with basic settings (this took me about two minutes at most):
You can also configure the checkout page. The default checkout page is set to accept guest checkout and the option to create a customer account. It is a single page checkout with three steps: billing information, shipping information, and payment method.
Lastly, after using the admin backend, I feel that it is much better and cleaner than then on other ecommerce platforms. I also like that a sales summary and new orders are showcased directly on the admin backend as soon as you log in for quick access. Finally, all of the tabs (e.g. orders, customers, products, marketing, design, apps, etc.) are placed on the left sidebar in the admin backend for quick access to each tab.
Any way that you want to look at it, Pinnacle Cart brings simplicity to the level that is fun for the first-time user and flexible for the more advanced user.
Pinnacle Cart templates and design
Online business is difficult and getting potential customers to visit your online store is not something that happens overnight. Do not let an unprofessional and sloppy store design deter those potential customers and send them to your competition. In other words, you need a platform that offers store templates and flexible design options.
Pinnacle Cart offers you 30 free ecommerce themes that you can use for your store and customize to your liking. In addition, Pinnacle Cart offers three premium ecommerce themes ranging from $395 to $1295. You can also have their in-house design team build a custom theme for your store. Even if you have to pay for a custom built theme, the one-time investment is worth it for your business.
The “Cart Designer” is a live design toolbar that allows you to edit site colors, site fonts, and styles for all pages on your site (e.g. checkout and content pages). In addition, you can edit widgets and use the WYSIWYG editor to sections with content. You can view / edit the HTML source code of every section on your site (this is a cool feature as you do not have to search the theme files to find a specific section to edit). Lastly, you can edit CSS of every section as well through the visual properties editor.
The only thing that is missing is the option to download your theme and work on it offline. In other words, if you plan on hiring a developer, you will need to give the developer access to your site.
Search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing
When building an online store, the most important administrative task is to optimize your store for search engines. If done properly, this will provide your store with free organic traffic from search engines. Luckily for you, Pinnacle Cart offers integrated SEO features that can help you accomplish that.
The Pinnacle Cart platform is fully optimized for search engines – everything from the homepage to individual product pages. For instance, you can create your own URL structure, Meta titles and descriptions for each product, category, and other content pages. One feature that I feel is excellent is the ability to generate Meta tags from the product descriptions.
Furthermore, you have the option to upload or create a robots.txt file and generate an automatic site map for search engines. Lastly, you can create 301 redirects, enable search engine friendly URL’s, and use breadcrumbs for enhanced navigation.
In addition, Pinnacle Cart offers strong marketing functions that you will find useful for running promotions and enticing your customers to shop again. For instance, you can create “Drift Marketing Campaigns” (a cool name for Abandoned Cart Recovery emails) and send to your customers each time that they do not complete the entire checkout process. You can choose to have the email sent immediately or within a specific timeframe.
Furthermore, you can enable Google Analytics and Google AdWords. You can configure the settings to showcase your best selling products, recommend products, and customers also bought section. Lastly, you can create custom promotions, product reviews, offer gift certificates, and enable QR (Quick Response) codes.
In terms of search engine optimization and marketing, I feel that Pinnacle Cart offers strong features to get your store ranking higher on search engines and enticing your customers to return to your store for future purchases.
Whether you sell a handful or thousands of different products, you need a streamlined process to manage your inventory or things will get messy. Customers hate cancelled orders; which leads to lost revenue for you.
Pinnacle Cart offers three different ways of tracking inventory. The first option is not to track inventory at all, which is the best method to use if you constantly have a specific product in stock. The second option is to inventory at the product level only. This option allows you to set an available inventory level to each product (e.g. 100 units in stock). In addition, you can choose to display an out of stock message when the product is no longer available and you can also receive a notification when your inventory levels go below a certain number. This option is good for products without variants (e.g. size, color, etc.).
The third option is to tracking inventory through variants. For instance, if you sell a product with multiple sizes or colors, you can set available inventory levels for each size or color. This option is best for products with multiple options / variants.
Pinnacle Cart supports over 25 payment gateways that you can use to accept payments on your store such as Stripe, PayPal, Amazon Payments, and Authorize.net. Their preferred payment gateway is Braintree, which does not have monthly fees, no setup fees, and a merchant account is not required. In addition, the process to connect your store to Braintree can be completed in five minutes.
You also have the option to add a custom payment method to your store. This is where you can add things like payment by check, money order, etc.
Shipping and tax
Pinnacle Cart offers multiple shipping options and settings. You can offer free shipping, flat-rate shipping, or real-time shipping rates. For domestic and international shipping you can get real-time shipping rates from UPS, FedEx (not available in Canada), USPS, and Canada Post. Certain shipping methods (First Class, Priority Mail, etc.) may not be available in all locations. You can find the shipping settings under the “Settings” tab that is located on the left sidebar in the admin backend.
You can also add custom tax settings for anywhere in the world. For instance, if you are based out of New York, you can add a tax rate rule to collect sales tax from only New York state customers. In addition, you can select the option to display prices with tax included.
Currencies and languages
Pinnacle Cart offers 36 different currencies. The USD is set as the default currency for your store. You have the option to use multiple currencies and change the default currency to whatever you like. When adding a different currency, you will also be able to set a custom exchange rate (e.g. $1 USD equals to €0.95 right now). When you add multiple currencies, a “International” link is activate in the header area and once your customer clicks on the link, the customer will be able to change to one of the available currencies.
You can add multiple store languages as well. But, this requires you to upload a file containing the proper language files. These language files can usually be found on Google. A customer will then be able to choose from one of the available languages.
Pinnacle Cart plugins and apps
The App Center is where you can enable / disable additional applications that you can use with Pinnacle Cart. While the selection is very limited (27 total apps), there are a few select apps that you may find useful. Pinnacle Cart already offers hundreds of built-in ecommerce features, so it is going to be difficult to find something that is missing from the platform.
Noteworthy apps include Stamps.com, Facebook login, recurring billing, and iDev affiliates. As with any other ecommerce platform, some apps are free, while others have a monthly fee or a one-time payment. When you find an app that you are interested in using, simply click on it, then click enable, and then complete the settings page (e.g. enabling Stamps.com will require your Stamps.com username and password).
Overall, I am not impressed by their app store, but it would not be fair to say anything negative here because the platform has many features that other carts do not.
Pinnacle Cart mobile commerce
Pinnacle Cart and their ecommerce themes are optimized for mobile commerce on Apple, Blackberry, and Android devices. When you activate mobile commerce, your mobile store will be created using elements of your current theme. You can also make changes to the mobile store.
Hosting, security, and backup options
As mentioned earlier, Pinnacle Cart is a hosted online store builder, so they take care of the web hosting, security, and backup options. Their web hosting is optimized for ecommerce stores, offers a 99% uptime guarantee, 24/7 monitoring, and gives you access to files through FTP access.
The platform is 100% Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant and Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA DSS) certified. You can install a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate to secure / encrypt credit card data that is transmitted through your store. Your visitors and administrators will be locked out after too many failed login attempts. Lastly, Pinnacle Cart offers fraud detection that you can enable by using one of their two available apps: Fraud Labs or No Fraud.
Finally, you have the option to create and restore your backup files. A backup file can be created for core application files, databases, cache files, theme files, product images, and digital product files.
Support and resources
Pinnacle Cart offers you technical support through the phone, live chat, and email ticketing. The hours of their support department are limited.
- You can reach their phone support Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST (Mountain Standard Time).
- You can reach their live chat support team Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 12 a.m. MST and on Sundays from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. MST.
In addition to the live support, Pinnacle Cart offers a knowledge base section that consists of helpful guides and tutorials for topics such as design, products, payments, account management, and problems and solutions. Furthermore, you have free access to video tutorials that can help you with adding products, backing up your store files, and customizing fields on checkout pages.
Pinnacle Cart also offers a community forum where you can reach out to current Pinnacle Cart customers and developers. But, it does not seem to be very active at this time. Lastly, Pinnacle Cart offers a free migration service where they will transfer your existing store to their platform form many of the popular ecommerce platforms.
The only downside of their support department is the limited hours. Almost every online store builder out there offers 24/7 support, which is crucial in this type of industry.
Plans and pricing
Pinnacle Cart offers four different regular monthly plans (the cheapest plan costing $29.95 a month and the most expensive plan costing $149.95 a month). In addition to the plans above, they offer two enterprise plans for much larger online stores, $249 a month and $349 a month respectively.
Their cheapest “Start Up” plan comes with a rather restricted offer of 1 GB of storage space and 2 GB of bandwidth (or website traffic). The “Start Up” plan is not compatible with the QuickBooks Auto syncing feature. For a store with a decent amount of traffic, you would have to sign up for at least the “Entrepreneur” plan which offers 10 GB of storage space and 20 GB of bandwidth.
All plans offer a 14-day free trial, unlimited products, free store migration, and daily backups of your entire store. In addition, Pinnacle Cart does not charge any transaction fees, regardless of which plan and payment gateway that you use. Furthermore, there is an 8% discount for annual prepayments.
Since all of their plans offer limited bandwidth, you can expect to pay traffic overage fees for going over you monthly limit. The current traffic overage cost is $3.50 per GB. For instance, if you go over your allotted limited by 4 GB in a single month, you would pay an additional $14 for that month (on top of the monthly plan cost).
One thing that I like about Pinnacle Cart is the free migration of an existing store. For instance, if you have a Shopify store and no longer want to use their platform, Pinnacle Cart will transfer your Shopify store to their platform at no extra cost to you. In most cases, other ecommerce platforms charge a hefty fee to transfer your store to their platform.
What is the best Pinnacle Cart plan?
It all depends on your budget, amount of storage space you need, and the amount of website traffic you anticipate to get. In theory, I would start with the “Start Up” plan and upgrade to a larger plan, if needed.
Pinnacle Cart pros
- Powerful multi-lingual and multi-currency capabilities.
- Unlimited number of products on all plans.
- Supports multiple administrator logins on the same account.
- Free transfer of an existing store from over 40 ecommerce platforms.
- Supports drop shipping and wholesale ordering.
- Integrated with built-in recurring billing.
- Trusted by large companies (Corona, CBS Sports, and Discovery Channel).
- Received an A rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Pinnacle Cart cons
- No built-in Point of Sale (POS) system.
- No product comparison feature (customers do not have the option to compare multiple products side by side).
- No sufficient explanation for more complex features.
- No free shared SSL certificate (you have to buy your own).
Pinnacle Cart Review – Conclusion and recommendation
In conclusion, I feel that Pinnacle Cart is a powerful ecommerce platform and a strong candidate for helping you build an online store. Specifically, I am impressed with three unique things:
- No transaction fees – Pinnacle Cart does not charge any transaction fees on any plan. This will enable you to keep more profits.
- Store transfer – if you have an existing store with a different platform, but want to switch elsewhere, Pinnacle Cart offers a free migration service.
- Powerful security – Pinnacle Cart offers high-end security features such as PCI and PA DSS.
Pinnacle Cart offers a 14-day free trial that you can sign up for to see if it suits your business needs. If you find that is does not, simply walk away without any financial loss to you.
You should use or switch over to Pinnacle Cart if:
- You already have an online store, but it is not profitable.
- You have enough funds (budget) to cover the monthly costs associated with Pinnacle Cart.
- You plan on staying with Pinnacle Cart in the foreseeable future.
- You are paranoid about hackers / security.
- You want an online store builder that does not charge transaction fees.
You should wait before using or switching to Pinnacle Cart if:
- You need unlimited storage and bandwidth.
- You already have an online store that is making money (no need to fix something that is not broke).
- You take a long amount of time to adjust to change.
That concludes my Pinnacle Cart review.
I hope that I was able to motivate you enough to give Pinnacle Cart a try – considering that you meet the criteria above. If you are already using Pinnacle Cart for ecommerce, please share your experience by posting a comment below.