What is SamCart?
SamCart is at its core a powerful checkout and funnel platform allowing people to process payments and deliver physical or digital products.
That being said, in mid-2021, SamCart has expanded and jumped on board the online course train to also offer their users to host their programs there.
So it’s now possible to also deliver online programs through SamCart (more on that later).
And that’s why we’ve decided to write this full review on the platform and see how it compares with other popular online course tools!
With over 17,000 active users, SamCart already has a dedicated user base and no doubt that this new expansion will raise questions for course creators, so let’s break it down together!
Feature: What Can You Do With SamCart?
SamCart could belong to its own category of platform now and be hybrid between a checkout system and a course-only platform (like Teachable or Thinkific are).
Its main competitor has often been ThriveCart, but with a new range of features this comparison may not be as relevant, since SamCart aims to fulfill slightly different needs.
Here is the feature overview:
A little bit of everything then which, regardless of what you might read in some places, should not be confused with SamCart being an all-in-one platform.
Mainly because of its lack of video hosting, email marketing system and proper site/page building.
Let’s see exactly what each of these look like:
Samcart Checkout & Funnel Building
SamCart has been talking a lot about its “1-page funnel” framework and the only few tools you’d need to sell your online courses.
It’s important to understand that the only way you can build a new page with SamCart will be by creating a new Product and designing its checkout page.
For that, you will have the choice to start from a variety of beautifully pre-made templates:
These can be as simple as having an order form or as advanced as a full-on sales page.
The page builder is a very intuitive and simple drag & drop tool with front-end editing and easy customization.
Block types are not many but will be enough to make this page yours and conversion-optimized, just don’t expect everything to be too far from the template.
Beyond the overall templates, you’ll also find pre-made sections you can insert throughout the page and simply plug in your content.
It does the job for a simple sales page and of course a beautiful checkout.
If we look at the setup of a Product, we can easily understand why SamCart is such a popular cart system.
You will have all of the bells and whistles of an advanced checkout tool, including any pricing type you’d like: free, recurring, fully customizable split pay, pay what you want, gifting,etc.
This goes for both physical products where you’ll be able to collect shipping details before fulfillment, but also digital products (in or outside SamCart) and digital downloads.
The many native integrations SamCart offers cater to pretty much any way you want to fulfill on that product, including other online course platforms like Kajabi, Thinkific or MemberPress on WordPress.
The available payment processors are Stripe, Paypal, Braintree and EasyPayDirect. And of course you can activate digital wallets to allow Apple Pay and Google Pay payments.
Setting up a Product is a thorough process and you’ll be able to control every part you may like.
And if you want to actually turn this into a funnel, many features are available.
First the ability to add an Order Bump on your cart, and then of course Upsells and Downsells (up to 5 of each).
Upsell pages are also built with the page editor to the extent you’d like:
These can be split tested as well as any main product pages (on the highest plan only), to optimize conversion rate.
Other very useful tools for this purpose are also available such as cart abandonment emails and dunning messages when a subscription charge fails.
Finally you will also be able to handle VAT and taxes as well as create coupons for your Products.
Overall as you can see, there isn’t much better out there when it comes to a powerful checkout and funnel system.
The “page” builder is still not as advanced as something like ClickFunnels or other all-in-one platforms, but it could do the job if you don’t need anything fancy.
SamCart Affiliate Marketing System
Just like in most cases, a powerful checkout system also means an affiliate program you can build into the platform.
SamCart offers an Affiliate Center for you to track affiliate sales and commissions.
You can set any commission you want: flat, percentage base and one-time or recurring.
You can also set the commission payout delay and the cookie duration to whatever you want.
One setting missing that you can find in something like ThriveCart, is the ability to change the attribution model (first touch or last touch).
You will also have the ability to set up email swipes for your affiliate to use, but here again SamCart falls a little short of its direct competitors by not allowing for other promotional material to be made available: images, video, articles,etc.
The last thing to note is that SamCart does not support automatic affiliate payout.
This means that the affiliate dashboard only serves as a tracking system, you’ll have to export this as a CSV and import it into something like Paypal to initiate a Mass Payout.
SamCart Course Hosting
Now, let’s review this new feature that has expanded SamCart’s ambition from being a well-established checkout and funnel system, to a fully-blown online course delivery platform.
Creating a course in SamCart resembles many other popular platforms: create a simple hierarchy of content ( Units > Lessons), and upload your course.
Lesson types of content are pretty straightforward: Video, image, text, audio and downloads.
Here again we’ll warn that SamCart does not provide video hosting.
Meaning that you will have to also pay for a video hosting service like Vimeo or Wistia, before being able to embed them into your SamCart courses.
That being said, the course builder compares fairly well with other platforms with easy drag and drop blocks and simple features.
You can also create multi choice quizzes to test your students as well as building Worksheets to be filled within the platform.
You can then see in the back-end and on your student’s profile, their progress in the course but also how they did on these tests.
These few learning tools make the SamCart course system a little more than just putting some content being a paywall...
In other settings, courses can be dripped based on a start date or a specific day of the week.
This back-end setup is basic but simple then, you won’t be able to design or customize the front-end of the course or the layout of your modules like you would in Kajabi for example:
Since this new course feature just came out on SamCart, we can surely expect to get better and maybe be on the same level of feature as dedicated online course platforms, but this is a start and could be enough for you!
User Experience: Is SamCart Easy To Use?
Checkout and funnel system are by nature rather complex tools, but SamCart has done a great job at making the problem very intuitive.
This is something often reproached to ThriveCart, who’s interface is a bit clunky and hard to wrap your head around.
SamCart has a marked advantage in that area:
The back-end and all of its features are easy to navigate, well positioned and explained throughout the setup process.
This is also reflected in the front end for the end user, which definitely plays a role in user experience and conversion optimization.
And since the page builder is a true front-end one, what you build is what you get!
The only flaw might be when looking at the online course side of things, and since you cannot customize the course layout or dashboard, the ability to change user flow is limited.
Pricing: How Much Is SamCart?
Although always important, I think pricing and specifically the value of what you get for your money, is particularly important here.
Mostly because, now advertising itself as an online course platform, SamCart’s pricing could now be compared in all fairness with other course-only platforms…
Here are the current pricing plans:
One thing to notice is that online courses are available on all plans and with no limits. This includes everything we’ve described earlier.
The main difference between the different tiers is the features for the checkout system starting with the ability to create a funnel, which only starts at the 2nd plan ($79/mo).
With that pricing, we are getting close to what you would pay for an all-in-one platform, which includes a lot more tools for course creators specifically.
If you want to have access to the affiliate system and more advanced tools, you’d have to make a relatively steep jump to the higher plans at $159/mo.
Add to that, if you only planned on using SamCart for your online course business (which we don’t recommend), you’d also have to pay for an email marketing tool and a video host.
Overall I do think SamCart has a great value for its money but couldn’t be used as the one and only platform for course creators, as it sometimes advertises…
How is the Support & Community for SamCart?
When it comes to support, SamCart compares fairly well to other platforms.
The article base is rich and helpful and there shouldn’t be many things you can’t find a quick solution for in their knowledge base.
Support is somewhat reactive but is missing a live chat that can come in handy sometimes…
SamCart being a very popular tool, it has built a large community online and its Facebook group has over 31,000 people in it.
Which makes for a lot of opportunities to find help and inspiration from other users.
This community might also change with time and welcome more course creators with the new feature the company is now pushing out.
A great note here overall then from a long standing and mature platform.
Our Overall Rate: 8.5/10
Community & Support Rating:
Overall SamCart is definitely showing some great strengths in many areas.
For its checkout feature of course, with pretty much everything you could ever want from a cart to sell physical and digital products.
The new course feature is interesting but still rather limited and expecting a full online course experience is a bit of a stretch right now, if compared to popular online course platforms.
That being said, it could be a good way to get started selling online courses with a minimum of tools and taking advantage of the great user experience and community of SamCart.
A tool to consider for most online businesses for sure that you can start today with a 14 days trial!