3Dcart was established in 1997 (3Dcart 1.0 was released in 2000) and is one of the most robust and well-rounded hosted eCommerce website builders on the market. Magento may have more features, but 3Dcart is easier to use and easier to setup. You'll also have the security of knowing that you'll be paying a fixed fee every month whereas with Magento you will continually be paying developer fees for patches and fixes which can often make things worse and costs can spiral out of control.
I'm comparing 3Dcart with Magento because they both use standard HTML template editors. As opposed to Shopify or BigCommerce which use proprietary editors (Liquid, Style Editor). Cloud-based eCommerce is a technology that still has a long way to go before it realises its full potential and for that reason, I would always advise anyone building a new eCommerce store to choose a cloud-based solution – unless they have a very particular reason not to.
Considering that 3Dcart has been established for so long, it's a puzzle why they are not more successful. They boast over 23,000 operational stores, but that pales into insignificance when set against Shopify's 250,000+. Either they don't have the marketing muscle or expertise to become a big player in this market or something is wrong with the product.
As far as I can see the product is superior to any other eCommerce hosted platform on the market today. And it should be considering the jump start it has on its rivals, it has far more well developed features although their comparison page is way out of date because Shopify has caught up with or surpassed them in most areas and the few remaining market advantages will be eroded over the next year or so as the major players solidify their offering.
I wasn't aware that 3Dcart had a UK telephone support number (or UK website) until I came to do this review. When I started looking at how much effort they put into online documentation I found plenty of help for the new store owner but everything is jumbled up and incoherent.
This page is served by the UK domain (3Dcart.co.uk), and it shows the UK telephone support number. But clicking on other pages, for example, this one shows only the US support number and its the same in the footer.
Sentences like “Brand thru the entire sales process” are clearly written for the USA user, and there are other problems with old content and content that is no longer relevant.
Personally, I would change the name of the software because 3dcart doesn't project the right image. That's just my opinion.
Themes And Templates
Frankly, this area of the product lets the side down and needs to be massively improved if 3dcart are going to compete with Shopify and BigCommerce. Yes, it's a big advantage that you don't have to learn a whole new templating language (for example Shopify liquid) to be able to make modifications but just because templates are written in plain HTML and are easily modified is no reason to offer such a sparse collection. BigCommerce upped their game recently in this area, and 3dcart needs to follow suit and quickly. That said there are some beautiful themes available and if building a functional site that works well is your priority and looks can wait then this won't bother you.
Gift Certificates And Coupons
This is a strong suit of 3dcart and something that they have put a lot of effort into. If part of your business plan is to offer coupons and gift codes then, for this reason, 3dcart may be the eCommerce solution you are looking for. They recently updated their "Gift Registry" feature which allows customers to create a list of products for special events such as birthdays, weddings, or the arrival of a new baby, which can then be easily shared with friends and family. It is a powerful eCommerce tool for driving traffic, referral sales, and increasing customer satisfaction, all without you having to lift a finger.
Highlights of the 3dcart Gift Registry are:
- Automated updates to registry
- Customizable gift registry invitation email
- Shareable registry URL
- Password protected registries (optional)
- User-friendly registry search by title, event date, or first and last name
- View registry details for existing, disabled, and expired registries
- Login to customer registries to view, edit, and add items
- Export your store’s gift registries
- Automated email notification to Registrant each time a registry item is purchased (optional)
Shopify recently changed its pricing structure quite dramatically, and BigCommerce pushes you onto higher plans the more successful your store becomes so having a monthly fee that doesn't fluctuate regularly would be a good reason to choose this eCommerce solution.
However be aware that 3dcart does have bandwidth limits and so if you are expecting heavy traffic you might like to look into this subject a bit more deeply. Once again restricting bandwidth and or storage space is a relic of early online shopping carts and this is part of what makes Volusion such an unattractive proposition. With so many features available 3dcart should be focusing on offering more for the money than its competitors. Because it can.
The support forum is what you would term “on the quiet side”, but there is an extensive knowledge database which will help you with all of the common questions. The Twitter feed is regularly updated and is done well and so is the Facebook page, so they have their social media well covered.
There are many reports over the web of poor customer service, but I'm told this has been solved long ago so if you have any experience, please leave a comment below.
UK users have a dedicated support line UK: (+44)203-734-2759 although it is not always made clear that it's available.
Your store includes hosting as part of the monthly payment fee but checks the bandwidth limits before you sign up. The advantages of having your store hosted for you have been outlined in my Shopify v Magento article so suffice to say that you get PCI compliance into the bargain and don't have to worry about security.
Also, you won't have to keep patching and fixing your software like you do with Magento and fixed hosting costs are a massive bonus.
Payment Processing Fees
There are no transaction charges for using the software. Shopify, for example, will levy a charge on every transaction unless you use their “Shopify Payments” gateway.
Apps And Tools
This is where 3dcart scores heavily and why you should seriously consider it as an alternative to the commonly touted BigCommerce or Shopify.
Because of the number of years of development put into this product you have some great features that come with every plan that others save for more expensive plans. So for a start, if you are small to medium sized business and want some cool marketing features to go along with your payment system then this is your solution. There are plenty of “must have” features present here that are missing from more popular alternatives. For example:
Abandoned cart saver emails and reminders which are only available in advanced Shopify plans.
Groupon import for Gift certificates and a voucher system. Promotion manager to generate one-time coupon codes for the same campaign, batch creation of coupon codes. Product up-sell and bundling, product waiting lists. Point Of Sale system. REST API for integration with third-party software. Blogging feature (no need to install Wordpress), Facebook store and 100+ payment solutions.
3dZoom will display a zoomed image of your product and includes an image gallery with smooth transitions.
Smart categories will automatically classify products in real time based on their settings or content and many more product features.
3dcart is a golden nugget of an eCommerce solution that has been overlooked with the huge marketing budgets of new cloud-based start-ups. It has more features than any other competitor and is only let down by its decision to limit bandwidth on its pricing plans and its comparative lack of templates or themes.
Beefing up the themes and dropping bandwidth restrictions would make this product the clear market leader because of the depth of features offered across the board.
They also offer enterprise plans for larger businesses starting at $199 per month.
I'll admit I didn't start out particularly hopeful for this review, but the more I researched, the better the product got. If you are confident that you can make one of their templates fit your business with some HTML tweaking and you understand the bandwidth limitations, then this is for you.