Welcome to my ThriveCart vs. SamCart review.
I took all my experience from using ThriveCart (it’s a lot) to write this review. And I took SamCart’s free trial to get a fresh view on it since it's been years since I was an active user. Then, I compared the two and see which one was better for selling products.
In this review, I’m going to explain each one’s advantages and weaknesses, key features, and pros and cons. I’ll also give a few key reasons why I think one is clearly better than the other.
But before we get to that, I have to warn you about something very important….
WARNING: Most SamCart vs. ThriveCart Reviews Are Outdated
I’m writing this towards the end of 2023.
I’m guessing nobody else has updated their articles in the last 1-2 years (at least). That must be the case because so many features and “key differences” are way off.
If you’re trying to make a decision for building your entire business, you need to use correct and up-to-date information. Otherwise, you could torpedo the whole thing before you even get it off the ground.
Check this out…
One competitor claimed that SamCart doesn’t offer partial refunds.
Welp, that’s a lie.
Another said that ThriveCart offers marketing features for courses but isn’t a membership site tool.
You sure, bro? Because I see it right here.
Actually, they both have membership platforms now. They aren’t the best out there, but you can make membership sites.
Yet another said you couldn’t capture emails of users who abandon your cart.
Long story short, these people are either misinformed or just not checking regularly for updates.
SaaS moves FAST.
Both companies are putting out major updates almost monthly at this point.
After all these updates, SamCart and ThriveCart do pretty much the same things for:
- eCommerce businesses
- Digital and physical products
- Online courses (including membership sites)
- General services online
There are nuances and advantages here and there, but both platforms have started to fill in all the gaps they used to have.
These used to be differences, but now both ThriveCart and SamCart do the following:
- Digital sales tax collection
- Create sales funnels with the same conversion-boosting features
- A simple drag-and-drop editor
- Integrate with fulfillment services (SamCart offers ShipStation natively, however)
- Online learning
- Flexible payment options (slight differences)
- On-page conversion boosters like countdown timers
- Abandoned cart emails
- Customer tagging
- No transaction fees
- Partial refunds
- Advanced affiliate management (some small differences)
Since they are so similar in the big picture, SamCart vs. ThriveCart comes down to just one simple thing….
ThriveCart vs. SamCart: Which Is Better for Online Businesses?
Here’s the question…
How much do you want to pay?
They aren’t exactly the same, though.
Here’s the main difference in less than 50 words:
- SamCart is simpler: SamCart has more templates, simpler options, and more helpful demos.
- ThriveCart is more flexible: ThriveCart lets you do pretty much anything you want, but you need to learn a bit more as you go along.
So, how much is simplicity worth to you? Do you want to save money, get more features, and put in more work or do you want to pay out the A** forever for a simpler life?
I definitely think ThriveCart is the better shopping cart overall, but they do pretty much the same things.
I’ll get to all that in a second, but let’s cover the basics first.
ThriveCart vs. SamCart: Pros and Cons
SamCart is mostly aimed at beginners who want an easy but simple cart with helpful training.
- Beginner-friendly: The smooth UX and intuitive interface handle like a dream. It’s super easy to get the hang of even for beginners.
- The best templates of any shopping cart: SamCart’s built-in templates are modern and sleek, and they contain all the elements you need baked into the page. You just edit. It even goes down to the niche level (e.g. fitness product checkout pages).
- Free trial: Most entrepreneurs I know want to actually test a product before paying for it—so that’s another plus here for ole’ Sammy Boy.
- Industry-leading training: CreatorU takes your game to the next level with beginner-focused training on increasing conversions, running a business, creating funnels, and all that fun stuff. It’s not free, though.
- Holy S*** expensive: Even very basic features cost hundreds of dollars per month. It’s mind-boggling. Even if it’s a good tool, I don’t know how anyone can afford it. My first reaction after seeing the pricing was, “How dare you….”
- Very limiting: Plain and simple—you just can’t do as much as you can with ThriveCart. Most pro marketers find it very restrictive.
- Lacking high-end features: While it has a CRM and some basic tagging, it’s lacking features that all online businesses need like two-step checkouts and advanced behavioral automation.
- Only Stripe and PayPal: You’ll shut out millions of potential customers, especially outside of the USA.
- Not the best for eCommerce or services: Limited payment options, wonky shipping, tax calculation issues, and limited flexibility make it tough to sell physical products or services. ThriveCart isn’t much better, but it has a few advantages for eCom.
ThriveCart is mostly aimed at pros who know their stuff or beginners wanting a massive discount who are willing to put in a little legwork to learn the ropes.
- Holy S*** cheap: One low, one-time payment and you’ve got every shopping cart feature you need for life. For two months of SamCart, you get a LIFETIME of ThriveCart.
- Next-level features: No other cart gives you this many currencies, payment processors, payment options, and advanced options like behavior automation, cart embed, and integrations. ThriveCart is a pro marketer’s cart.
- Sell to anyone anywhere: Apple Pay, Google Pay, Crypto, you name it—ThriveCart opens you up to the whole world so you never miss a sale.
- Better for products and services: It’s not perfect, but ThriveCart lets you charge deposits, cleanly display shipping options, calculate tax automatically, and piece together coaching services (albeit a bit tediously).
- Connect different products to different processors: You can choose to have different physical or digital products tied to separate processors or accounts like PayPal. So, if someone buys one product, it might go to your PayPal, while another might go to your bank.
- No free trial: It’s a bit tough to fork over $690 without using the tool once. It’s not as bad as paying $300 a month for basic features, though, if you ask me.
- No university: It’s got a huge knowledge base and helpful community, but there’s no streamlined learning service taught by experts.
- Steeper learning curve: ThriveCart takes a bit longer to get the hang of. Not because it’s hard to use but because it gives you more options.
- Limited templates and page builder: ThriveCart encourages you to use a custom site, so it lacks templates, and the landing page design tool is simpler.
ThriveCart vs. SamCart: My Brutally Honest Opinion
While each shopping cart platform is roughly the same big-picture-wise, ThriveCart is clearly the better shopping cart software for the vast majority of people.
There are two key reasons why so many are jumping ship, canceling their monthly fees, and moving to ThriveCart—even though it’s a newer shopping cart software:
- ThriveCart has more comprehensive features: ThriveCart offers more features for sales funnels, digital products, and sales reports, and it has more features for increasing average order value like multiple pricing options.
- SamCart is a ripoff: Samcart costs too much. End of story. Even annual payments are insane. SamCart offers 3 pricing tiers but the first two are useless. ~$100/month isn’t that bad for an online shopping cart that boosts revenue and average lifetime customer value. But when I actually saw the truth, I was shocked. SamCart hides very basic features in its Scale plan, which costs $299/month or $159/month annually.
Unlike ThriveCart, If you want the following very basic features, you need to pay a $299 fee every month:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Tag customers for better tracking and more targeted offers.
- Admin User Roles: Customize user access to your system.
- A/B Testing (LOL!): You can’t run tests on your business unless you pay $299 per month.
- Key revenue boosters: Cart abandonment and subscription-saver features are NOT INCLUDED in cheaper plans.
- Affiliate program: This is game over for me. Affiliate management (or at the very least a basic affiliate program where you can generate a link) is 100% necessary for growing a business. When I saw this I didn’t even believe it at first. How are you going to build a business without affiliates?
I’m sorry if this sounds super biased, but it’s a fact. Feel free to check the pricing page for the monthly fees you have to pay to get very, very basic shopping cart features. I’ve never seen this in shopping cart software before.
If I’m paying $299 per month, the shopping cart software better run my damn business for me.
ThriveCart literally does all of this for $690—one time forever until the end of time.
This ThriveCart vs. SamCart review was initially very close until I discovered this.
The messed up thing here is that SamCart is actually really good. It has great templates. The user interface is the best I’ve ever seen. It’s super easy to get the hang of…but they just totally price everyone out.
And frankly, it almost feels shady to me that they claim to have all these amazing features to help you build a business but hide everything behind a massive paywall.
It’s like they hired Bran the Builder to design their pricing scheme (Game of Thrones, anyone?).
So, while both SamCart and ThriveCart have great features, ThriveCart gives you a ton more freedom, has more options and better revenue-boosting features, and is the best deal moneywise on the market.
I don’t expect you to just drop ~$700 like it’s nothing. If I were you, I’d read this review thoroughly so you can see exactly why ThriveCart is better for online business owners.
ThriveCart vs. SamCart: The One Key Philosophical Difference
The biggest difference between these shopping cart platforms is their approach to operating your business.
SamCart is simpler, more streamlined, and more constrictive. You (and your customers) get fewer options, but that makes life simpler.
ThriveCart basically says: “We don’t give a S*** what you do. Do whatever you want. It’s your business. Have multiple payment options, have as many payment gateways as you want, and choose any currency you want for any product. You do you.”
You get way more control, more options, and more opportunities to earn extra money.
The potential downside is that it can make things a bit more complicated. If I had to choose the #1 advantage of SamCart over ThriveCart, it would be that it’s way simpler to get set up.
SamCart does more for you, but ThriveCart empowers you to do more.
Let me break it down a bit more simply.
- More options: payments, funnels, currencies, pop-ups, customer payment plans—the internet is your oyster with ThriveCart
- More flexibility: you can build 2-step funnels, add in video pop-ups, have greater control over autoresponders, and access advanced bonus schemes like free walk-through videos for people who buy through your affiliate links
- More work: ThriveCart is for hungry entrepreneurs willing to put in the work to build a legit machine of a business with more upsells, payment options, affiliate schemes, and revenue-boosting tricks
- Simpler options: SamCart does more of the heavy lifting for you and eliminates certain options to make your life easier. For example, you can only create single-step funnels (which aren’t even really funnels) rather than multi-step ones. It’s limiting, but it’s easier
- More templates: SamCart’s templates are way better than ThriveCart’s, but there are fewer of them and you have less power to edit. Again, it’s trying to simplify your life
- Less work: Pretty straightforward here. You don’t have that many options, so there are fewer decisions to make, fewer things to set up, and fewer chances to screw things up (and also squeeze more money out of customers)
5 Reasons to Choose ThriveCart Over SamCart
ThriveCart Opens Your Business up to More Customers
ThriveCart lets you sell to anyone anywhere by accepting pretty much every major form of payment. Including:
- Google Pay
- Apple Pay
SamCart only supports Stripe and PayPal. This blew my mind. It’s 2023. How can you not accept Apple Pay or Google Pay?
I understand the whole crypto thing since it can be a bit shady, but not supporting at least Apple Pay is sinful. It’s got 500 MILLION registered users worldwide.
Long story short, it’s harder for people to buy your products if you sell with SamCart. That’s the opposite point of using a shopping cart platform.
To be fair, you need to integrate a payment processor with ThriveCart, so it’s a bit of a pain, but just having these options is a massive advantage. They've also been working on their own payment solution which should be announced any day now.
ThriveCart Offers Two-Step Checkout
Dude, SamCart. Get your s*** together, bro.
One-step checkout is fine in most cases, but you absolutely need the option to add a second step. Here’s why:
Not everyone is ready to buy from you right away. They might need a separate checkout page with branded info, more proof, rules of purchase, refund info, and all that other stuff.
Fitting it on one page with billing and payment info might be impossible.
Here’s an example of a bland one-step checkout page. It’s fine for cheaper or simpler products, but you need more information and explanation for other types of products.
Don’t get me wrong, one-step is fine to get the customer through the process quickly. But two-step provides a few advantages:
- Additional room for shipping options, payment options, and info about the product
- It’s less intimidating for customers
- Information collection as some customers might abandon your cart, but if they complete step 1, you’ll have obtained that info (e.g. an email address in step 1 if they abandon in step 2)
NOTE: I’ve tested this before and two-step outperformed one-step checkouts in my A/B tests.
ThriveCart Is a One-Time Fee and Lasts a LIFETIME
ThriveCart is $690 FOR LIFE.
SamCart is $119 PER MONTH for barely enough to run a legit business, and as I said in my bottom line, it’s $299 for BASIC FEATURES THAT SHOULD BE IN EVERY ENTRY-LEVEL PLAN.
All the features you need to run a legit business cost $299/month.
Look at this:
I’m sorry, but this is unacceptable. SamCart bills itself as one of the best revenue-boosting tools but then hides BASIC features in its top-tier plan that’s out of the range of most entrepreneurs.
There are a lot of good things about SamCart, but if you don’t pay $299 per month, you get all of the bad with none of the good.
For two months of one tool, you get a LIFETIME of another tool that does more. And all you have to do is invest a bit of time into learning the ropes.
After that, you’re 10x better off. More features, more money in your pocket to invest in your business, and more money coming in.
I really can’t express how de-stressing it is to know I never have to pay for another shopping cart again. I hate subscription fees with a passion.
ThriveCart’s Automations Kick A**
This is another advantage that I haven’t seen anyone talk about yet. I don’t understand why.
Automations are such a huge part of a successful online business, and you can’t level up without them.
Your goal should always be to automate as much as possible. You’ll work less, increase sales, and add rocket fuel to your online business when you science the S*** out of it.
ThriveCart gives you simple but super-effective automations.
I can’t go into too much detail here, but let me give you a quick run-through.
Here are just a few things you can do with ThriveCart’s behavior rules:
- Tag customers based on products they’ve purchased
- Add them to a different autoresponder list based on products or actions
- Follow up with customers who are refunded
- Send abandoned cart sequences
- Send special offer sequences to people who refused upsells/downsells
- Send sequences to affiliates who sell a certain number of products within a period of time (more on this below)
- Auto contact affiliates with high refund rates with suggestions to improve
- Chase people whose payment has declined
This is barely scraping the surface. I’m just running you through the basic stuff I do.
One note on the affiliates thing…
People often ignore their affiliates. Ask me how I know. This is stupid.
Affiliates should be constantly motivated to sell MORE. You do that by keeping in contact, treating them well, rewarding them for success, and offering suggestions to improve. ThriveCart makes this dead easy.
Say, one of your affiliates sells dozens of products or more for you on Black Friday or something, send them a bonus. Or, if someone has a high refund rate, contact them and see what the issue is.
ThriveCart Gives Your Customers More Flexible Payment Plan Options
I think you know the skinny by now: ThriveCart offers way more freedom than SamCart.
ThriveCart lets you accept just about any type of plan you could possibly want, which opens you up to a wider customer base.
You can accept:
- One-time payments
- Subscriptions (with added flexibility like every month or every two weeks)
- Payment plans of any kind
- Pay-what-you-want plans
- Upfront payments followed by payment plans (discussed below)
This level of freedom gives you many opportunities to get paid and to offer different services. SamCart offers some of these, but not all. You can do a payment plan with SamCart now, but it’s still very limited.
TL;DR: It’s easier to sell products and services of all kinds with ThriveCart.
ThriveCart vs. SamCart: Head-to-Head Comparison
OK, let’s put these two head-to-head and see which one is the better online shopping cart for online businesses.
To be fair, I’ve got way more experience with ThriveCart, so just letting you know.
I have used SamCart a lot over my free trial, and I also spend my days talking with entrepreneurs online (I’ve been making some cool TikTok and IG videos if you wanna check them out BTW).
Let’s start with the most important stuff first:
Marketing Features: Order Bumps, Upsells, Downsells, Affiliates, and Other Marketing Features
This is basically why online shopping carts exist, so let’s start here.
It’s 2023. Every shopping cart solution offers basically the same features for boosting average order volume and customer lifetime value. Like, nobody is missing upsells or cross-sells anymore. They’d be out of business in a day.
- Subscription saver (also called dunning, where you hound people to pay up or change expired credit card bills)
- Abandoned cart retargeting
- Coupons (TIP: create coupon codes to increase the chances of someone buying)
It’s easy with both tools. Just click the buttons that say upsell, downsell, etc. No need to make a big deal out of it.
One advantage here for ThriveCart is that you can use the same upsell across multiple funnels by cloning it. You can also do this for products in case you want to sell multiple product types with minor variations:
Huge time saver, baby.
Affiliate marketing is basically the same, too. Let me show you the affiliate center in each tool.
It’s all simple and standard here. Create your code, give it to affiliates, and then track the basics across all of your products.
SamCart’s display is a bit different, but it shows pretty much the same info. It definitely looks smoother, though. You can even check out sales and other data in graph form.
The affiliate center or overall affiliate management system shouldn’t really make or break your decision. They do the same thing in slightly different ways. It’s the pricing that really matters here.
Verdict: Both ThriveCart and SamCart offer the same conversion-boosting features, but ThriveCart does it at a fraction of the price.
Simple features like upsells and order bumps cost $119 a month at minimum, and cart abandonment only comes with the $299 plan. ThriveCart wins here.
Sales Funnels: Which Is the Better Sales Funnel Builder?
Both SamCart and ThriveCart make creating a simple sales funnel very easy. Even if you’ve never built a sales funnel before, you can create a funnel that earns you money while you sit in traffic.
Here’s what they both do equally well:
- Adding upsells and all that jazz I just told you about
- Simple mechanics of building funnels like creating products, adding bumps, etc.
- Tracking and sales analytics
That’s the core stuff for any sales funnel, so it’s basically a wash as far as I could see.
Now, let’s quickly cover where each tool excels.
SamCart’s Funnel Building Advantages
SamCart’s templates for checkout pages and other funnel pages are the best in the game. They’ve got high-converting elements baked right in like hero copy, such as benefits bullets, testimonials, images, and CTAs.
Just add in your own copy and you’re good to go.
ThriveCart’s templates are fine too, but they aren’t quite as good.
The one-page funnel template is also a sick addition that’ll let you get a complete funnel up in minutes.
SamCart’s landing page builder software is easier to use than ThriveCart’s. It helps you design a killer sales page or multiple checkout pages even if you have no clue what you’re doing.
I was able to get a test page up that looked not completely terrible in about 30 minutes.
All the elements are on the right side of the page:
Make sure to add a countdown timer even if you don’t have a real countdown. I don’t know why—I just like them:
It’s easy to drag and drop everything, and no elements go shooting off to random corners of the page for no reason.
So, all-in-all, the page builder is super smooth and easy, and it has just about everything you could ever need (even things like stock images built-in).
ThriveCart’s Funnel Building Advantages
Remember what I said before: ThriveCart’s automations kick a**.
This is a sneaky yet important part of funnel building that often gets overlooked, leaving a ton of money on the table.
There are so many ways to automate current sales processes and future customer interactions, and this is a major part of funnel building.
ThriveCart’s funnels might not look as nice, but they are more powerful and pay off bigger in the long run.
Again, I covered this all at length before, so I’m not going to go crazy here. You don’t want to read 10,000 words, and I sure as hell don’t want to write them.
Two-step checkout makes it easier to sell more complicated products, especially physical products because you need to talk about sales tax and shipping options.
Embed Cart to Your Website
ThriveCart doesn’t make you use one of their templates. You can embed a ThriveCart shopping cart directly onto your own page using a custom code:
It shortens the sale process and makes everything way cleaner/easier for the user.
Mobile Payment Options
What’s the point of a funnel if people don’t pay? Mobile payments are a huge part of funnel building for me. If my funnels are open to customers on mobile devices as well as desktops, I’m at a huge advantage, right?
Funnel-Building Verdict – TIE
SamCart has nicer funnels that are easier to build.
ThriveCart gives you more flexibility and the freedom to automate way more.
If SamCart were cheaper, then it would win here, but since you can’t even add upsells or abandoned cart sequences to your funnels without paying a king’s ransom, it’s got to be a tie.
Integrations are always a pain, but in this case, the bigger the better.
Both tools integrate with standard apps like:
But ThriveCart offers more (notice the pattern yet?). For example, Apple Pay and Google Pay. It also has more fulfillment integrations. However, you can integrate nearly anything you want with both tools by using Zapier.
Verdict – ThriveCart
This is almost a wash, but ThriveCart integrates with more services. However, it’s missing native integration with major services like ShipStation.
We’ve been over this a million times, so let’s just reiterate it once.
SamCart’s pricing is insane. Even very basic features are hidden behind this $299-foot paywall.
These features cost ~$300/month:
- Cart abandonment
- Built-in A/B testing
- The affiliate center
- Subscription saver
You 100% need these to grow your business. So, SamCart is basically saying “LOL, screw you. If you want to run your business, pay us $300.”
Keep in mind that you’ll also need integrations, so that’s just another monthly fee for each one on top of this fortune.
ThriveCart is just $690 for lifetime access to EVERY FEATURE.
Verdict – ThriveCart in a landslide
SamCart support seems to be really on their game—IF you pay. 1-day guaranteed email support is awesome, but for $299 a month, I want a dedicated specialist on standby during working hours.
They also have a chatbot with automated suggestions that could help point you in the right direction.
ThriveCart has solid email support as well, but no chatbot. And their knowledge base and videos aren’t quite as comprehensive as SamCart’s.
Keep in mind that SamCart has been around a lot longer, so it makes sense they have more content and videos. I expect this will change within a year or two.
Verdict – SamCart
Neither has an amazing support team, but SamCart has a better knowledge base and a somewhat functioning chatbot, so they win. Keep in mind that you have to pay a lot to get the same support though.
Verdict: SamCart vs. ThriveCart – Which One Is Better?
Between the two shopping carts, there are little nuances here and there in the affiliate system, automatic sales tax collection, funnel pages, and all that.
It really all comes down to paying a one-time fee or paying a ridiculous $299/month fee for the same stuff.
Long story short: None of the features will make or break your business but the costs almost certainly will. So that’s how you should make your decision.
I only regret NOT using ThriveCart sooner. Their lifetime deal could end at any time. If I were you, I’d get it NOW. Hell, even if you don’t use it a year from now, you just got a year of one of the best shopping carts for like $50 a month. That’s insane.
ThriveCart vs. SamCart F.A.Q.
Q: Is ThriveCart better than SamCart?
A: Yes, ThriveCart is better than SamCart because it offers almost the same features for a fraction of the price. In fact, ThriveCart actually has several advantages over SamCart like more payment options, flexible payment plans, better automation, and more freedom with funnels to sell digital products.
Q: What is better SamCart or Kajabi?
A: It’s hard to say if SamCart or Kajabi is better since they are different types of products. They both let you sell digital products, but one is an all-in-one platform including marketing, email, analytics, community building, and payment processing while the other is a shopping cart. If you have a product, an existing website, and simple checkout needs, SamCart is fine. If you want to build a course, upsells, and a community and then manage everything on one platform, Kajabi is better.
Q: Is ThriveCart legit?
A: Yes, ThriveCart is legit. It is one of the most popular shopping carts on the market with thousands of happy users. It has every feature you could possibly need to sell products and improve conversions like upsells, downsells, analytics, automatic sales tax calculation, shopping carts for your pages, and flexible payment options. And, it’s available for a fixed fee discount.