There is no shortage of hosted e-commerce software platforms, and trying to decide which is best for business can be a project in itself. With individual companies laying claim to being the market’s provider of choice, this article will put the spotlight on Pinnacle Cart, a solution that boasts itself to be the only software capable of enabling full scalability for any online business regardless of size.
The company was founded in 2003, giving it an established lead over many of the other online shopping cart providers. With only less than 50 employees on record, it is efficient enough to have become the preferred software cart for several well-known entities that include Discovery Channel, NBA, UFC and HBO.
Pinnacle Cart is home not only to the standard online e-commerce features provided by other platforms, but offers the tools needed to run a brand-new digital business (or migrate an old digital business) with just a few clicks of a button. With this software, expect access to complete store enabling and design, unlimited product and category storing, QR codes, fast "QuickStart" setup, Intuit QuickBooks accounting integration, and one-click syndication of products to the big players including eBay, Amazon, Google and Shopzilla to name but a few.
In August 2013, Pinnacle Cart announced the roll-out of its "summer product release" that included additions and enhancements for e-commerce merchants wanting to grow their business. Specifically, new partnerships were formed with PayPal’s Bill Me Later payments option, Stamp.com online shipping and postage facilities, Bongo Extend international calculations for shipping, and cloud-based VAT tax solutions integration. These new features go some way to building on Pinnacle’s guarantee that merchants will receive an increase in sales by making use of their all-inclusive solution.
Pinnacle Cart offers a number of different ecommerce plans to suit the customer. For those just looking to set up a bit of a hobby store to "test the waters" of the digital marketplace, there are two different plans created for that specific purpose. Allowing customers to sell anywhere between 150 and 500 products, these two "entry-level plans" are perfect for people trying to figure out the digital economy.
However, for those who are serious about diving headfirst into the world of e-commerce and want a full-blown web store with all the "trimmings", it is best to look at Pinnacle’s larger plans or even enterprise grade solutions. All plans include free cart migration, daily backups, unlimited phone/email support, PCI/PA-DSS compliance and a free Adwords credit. Specific Hosted solutions options are as follows (more details further below);
Startup: 150 product selling limit, 1GB space, 2GB bandwidth, 2 email accounts.
Small Biz: 500 product selling limit, 3GB space, 8GB bandwidth, 10 email accounts, files access and QuickBooks auto synchronizing.
Entrepreneur: unlimited product limit, 10GB space, 20GB bandwidth, 50 email accounts, files access, QuickBooks auto synchronizing, SSL security.
Enterprise: as above, but includes 50GB space, 100GB bandwidth and 100 email accounts. Specific Enterprise solutions options include;
VPS1: 10GB space, 100GB bandwidth, unlimited email accounts, unlimited databases, server monitoring (premium), additional script capability, SSH access (domain) and Plesk FTP database access.
VPS2: as above, but includes 20GB space and 250GB bandwidth. The plans do not contain transaction fees, and can be canceled without penalty.
There are no transactions fees for any of the plans, and all come with a 14 day free trial.
Startup: $30 monthly + $49 setup fee
Small Biz: $60 monthly + $49 setup fee
Entrepreneur: $95 monthly only
Enterprise: $150 monthly only
VPS1: $249 monthly + $79 setup fee; 2 stores with each additional $29.95 monthly payment
VPS2: $349 monthly + $79 setup fee; 5 stores with each additional $29.95 monthly payment
They say you can't tell a book by its cover, but most people are quick to judge a website by its look. That's why an attractive template is so important.
In the world of online selling, the visual appeal of a website or store-front is extremely important. Pinnacle Cart allows for this by providing the tools necessary for a trouble-free website creation and design experience. For those with programming know-how, you have access to either the CSS/XHTML table-less design or the W3C/XHTML compliant templates.
For everyone else, there are 30+ pre-designed templates that can be customized with ease, and on which such features as images and logos can be applied. This system also allows for integration with other designs.
Pinnacle Cart scores points for making management of SKU and inventory easy. Products can be uploaded individually or in bulk, and the dashboard allows selling of both physical and digital goods. Each product can have its own photo gallery, and you can receive email alerts when inventory starts running low.
Pinnacle users can create navigation menus that allow their customers to search for products by filters, including product, price and feature. One downfall at this point however, is the inability to compare products alongside each other.
You could have the best e-commerce store on the planet (with the best prices on the best products), but if people are unaware of your store or don’t know how to find it you may as well fold up shop forever. With Pinnacle, you are able to customize URL’s, and can add meta titles along with descriptions to every page.
Alternatively, these can be auto-generated for you. There is also an offer to allow you to establish naming schemes for both product and category links, and products can receive SE friendly links with the generation of alt tags from the names of images, all in the name of increasing the visibility of your website. Pinnacle also offers a paid program called "SEO Discovery", which is a "phase" for evaluating and analyzing your site’s keywords and auditing your site’s pages for SEO. Those interested in this service need to contact Pinnacle direct.
From within the Pinnacle control panel, website owners can create gift certificates, coupon codes, discounts and newsletters as a way of enticing traffic to their sites. A popular feature is the ability now to create product QR codes which can be tracked from within the cart. This feature is attractive for gaining mobile visitors. Website owners can now also add both Facebook and Twitter counters to their store-fronts, as well as continue to engage with existing clients through Pinnacle’s integration with MailChimp.
While Pinnacle Cart embraces the move into social media marketing, one of their most popular initiatives is their Drift Marketing facility which allows you to "build campaigns" targeting visitors who created an order on your site, but then exited without purchasing. Drift marketing enables targeted emailing campaigns to those potential customers at specified intervals, enticing them back with special offers using promotional codes and other incentives. From this perspective, Pinnacle is covering its bases for enticing visitors with both attraction and follow-up marketing initiatives.
Mobile e-commerce (purchasing products and services directly from our mobile devices) is about to take off, and Pinnacle Cart has built-in all of the technologies you need to take advantage of this trend. Your e-commerce store will be 100% mobile ready right out of the box. Pinnacle storefronts are mobile commerce equipped for use on iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry devices.
Unlike other e-commerce platforms that force you to find your own payment gateway, Pinnacle Cart provides you with a number of different options that you can take advantage of right away. You can use PayPal or your favorite merchant account, but you can also use the Pinnacle Cart Preferred Payment Gateway and enjoy some pretty friendly rates and very low fees on each and every transaction.
Pinnacle has recently teamed up with First Data for online payment acceptance and is offering 4 months free access on the Small Biz plan. In addition, you can now make use of PayPal’s Bill Me Later feature where customers can buy a product now, but pay for it later on a no interest-no financing deal for 6 months, provided the purchase is $99 or more.
Pinnacle Cart is PA-DSS/PCI compliant, and is only one of a handful of e-commerce providers that meets the PCI Security Council standards. The cart also has functionality that locks out customers who regularly fail validation, and it also locks out administrators who have had too many failed access attempts. User actions are tracked and logged within the control panel.
Pinnacle Cart has warranty-backed SSL & 2045-bit encryption features. The issuing of these certificates is from immediate to 10 days, depending on the validation chosen – domain, organization or extended. Details concerning security certificates can be found at the Pinnacle website. Incorporated into each particular plan option are daily backups as a part of the cart’s features, but check this with the provider to confirm who is liable for loss of data and how the restoration process works.
Ultimately, you are in charge of backing up all of your website content. Pinnacle Cart looks to do their part by making templates that are fully customizable and easy to save. However, if you lose information, Pinnacle Cart is clear in their Terms of Service that they will not be held responsible.
Pinnacle Cart offers the usual support options including phone, email, user forum and knowledge base questions and answers. One let-down is that the phone support is not 24 hourly, however the company has a Facebook page that is active with updates and commentary. Training support is comprehensive with a starter user manual, extensive YouTube video library, and other video training tutorials.
Pinnacle Cart on Twitter
Pinnacle Cart Sentiment Analysis
Number of mentions by sentiment
Top users by mention
Presidio of Monterey: DLIFLC & USAG
There are clearly a number of positives that PinnacleCart brings to the table. If you want to start an ecommerce site, the company is certainly an easy solution that will get the job done. Customers are particularly happy with Pinnacle’s marketing capabilities and integration particularly with the likes of Doba, Shipwire, Webgility and QuickBooks.
That said, there have been grumbling online from users about a lack of international friendliness, volatile multi-lingual functionality, and that it takes users longer to set up than advertised due to coding customization difficulties.
If you are in the market for an ecommerce website, you certainly have a number of options. Pinnacle Cart is a great place to start as they are a popular company with the services that you will need to succeed. As with all things, do your homework and weigh up what is important for your e-commerce needs.
If you are still uncertain if Pinnacle Cart is the solution for you, give their 14 day free trial a try which is a perfect option before you buy - no credit card is required.