- Generous product description page
- Built-in image-editing tools
- Good subscription options
- Multistore management from one dashboard
- Not so intuitive user interface
- Subscriptions include various caps
Every industry has its pioneers, and when it comes to ecommerce platforms AmeriCommerce is definitely one of them. It innovated with its multistore management bundled into one admin console, its one-page checkout, and its integrated Facebook shop. The merchant-focused features that AmeriCommerce has packed into its service since its launch in 2005 meant that it grew a dedicated following. But after restoring its independence in 2017 from its corporate investors, the team behind AmeriCommerce was able to bolster the platform with tons of new features – particularly with emphasis on the needs of its community of users. Business owners looking to sell online can sign up for the entry-level plan for $24.95 per month after they have tested all the features on offer during the 14-day free trial period.
There are a handful of reasons why business owners would want to create an online store with AmeriCommerce. Multichannel sales, multiple-store management, and split payments are among the key features of the platform advertised by the company, but the success of any cloud-based software is defined by its ease of use and, unfortunately, AmeriCommerce isn’t as intuitive as it first appears.
After signing up, however, you will definitely want to keep that email received from the company, otherwise accessing the backend becomes a challenge. The guide displayed in this part of the solution is really helpful, but novice users will easily be overwhelmed by the abundance of steps and information that they need to add to finally get a store online. A particular irk comes with clicking on links such as “add a product”, which opens up a half-window tab that can be quite annoying after a while, especially if it’s for something that requires the user’s full attention like picking a store theme. AmeriCommerce’s design focuses on multitasking, but in some cases just doesn’t work out well.
Every user receives a free theme after registering so starting to add products is essentially first step, as recommended by the platform’s guide. Still, it’s wise to select your preferred one of the 64 free themes available, just to get an idea of how the products will appear on the storefront. The fun begins afterward with customizing it to match your personal style. The level of customization depends on the user’s technical knowledge. For starters, AmeriCommerce has drag-and-drop features, particularly for adding a favicon, logo, or uploading files that will appear on the home page. For the rest, there is the global CSS editor.
Adding a product is an easy task, although at first you’ll get a bootstrapped version of the product page until the “Save” button is pressed and product status is selected. It’s only here that the platform reveals the full features or combo options, which is odd at first but can be become manageable after adding a few items. Adding categories is also a simple process, although the abundance of fields may come as a shock; they aren’t all necessary however, which the platform’s guide explains, since only the main category name field.
As for digital products, AmeriCommerce has a few neat options to consider such as delivery type and delivery action. Though it isn’t the platform’s function with the largest palette of options, it is peppered with features such as link expiration date and a custom message that appears at the top of emails sent to customers.
AmeriCommerce incorporates a subscription system with a handful of well-thought-out options, so it’s up to the user to develop their plan to monetize the business. The SEO settings will help drive traffic to the site, but the product photo, description, and pricing strategy will be among the key factors affecting conversion rate. The option to add a blog post on a regular basis is there, too, as are other marketing tools such as discounts or gift cards. Setting discounts is super-easy, in fact, but users can also take advantage of other powerful features such as email campaigns, coupons, and on-site banners.
When it comes to the customer’s checkout process, AmeriCommerce allows split-payment methods on the same order, such as combining credit cards, reward points, gift certificates, or alternative methods. By default the platform pushes its own payment gateway, AmeriCommerce Payments, which is based on WePay and takes the usual cut of $2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. The platform supports an additional 50 payment gateways, but you’ll need to manually search for each one and install them from the AmeriCommerce app store. Unfortunately, this isn’t done intuitively and you will continuously need to check the knowledgebase or Google your question in order to find answers.
Things become a little more complicated after discovering that AmeriCommerce has an app store where users can download and install apps and add-ons to enhance their online storefront, and will require further documentation. The total of 95 add-ons available is far less than other industry players, though, and even installing them can become a hassle – unless you’ve got plenty of spare time on your hands – because they usually require the creation of new accounts, enduring the whole identify verification procedure, and even having to figure out how to install them on the platform because you can’t access the app store from the dashboard. This is odd since this should contain a link to this internal marketplace.
AmeriCommerce draws attention to the platform’s omni-channel feature but, yet again, it is hit by the major issues that apply to the whole service: adding channels isn’t as streamlined as it should be so if you are new to ecommerce, then you’ll find adding a sales channel to be a challenge compared to other platforms where multichannel sales is a breeze.
In a rather interesting move, AmeriCommerce has opted for a variety of caps in its subscription plans, a strategy that most industry players have eliminated as customers seek to lower their costs and forget about surcharges. For example, the entry-level Steel plan starts at $24.95 per month, a rather affordable price that has a limit of 100 products, 2GB of traffic, and 250MB of storage.
For those looking to sell more products, the next step is the Bronze plan at $39 per month, which is designed for light traffic with 500 products and 3GB of traffic. The Silver plan at $99 per month seems more generous with 5,000 products, but it’s still limited to 15GB of traffic. For $149 per month users get 10,000 products and 25GB of traffic with the Gold package. That’s far less than the unlimited packages offered by major industry players such as Shopify and BigCommerce, especially when considering that AmeriCommerce’s highest tier – Platinum – does provide unlimited products, but is still limited by 50GB traffic and 5GB storage.
The likelihood of getting stuck with AmeriCommerce while setting up the online storefront is quite high, so it’s good to know which channels it uses to help solve user issues. For a start, the platform’s standard support hours are weekdays between 8am and 6pm, though it is possible to pay for premium support which, though costly, could be handy.
It’s possible to get in touch with AmeriCommerce via phone, live chat, or by submitting a support ticket. But before jumping on any of these options, the useful knowledgebase section is also worth searching as it includes videos, guides, and troubleshooting articles. There is also a forum, but there isn’t too much activity there, so it’s better to use the regular methods to get help.
AmeriCommerce has the potential to become a very good ecommerce platform, but currently it needs to iron out some of the issues that seriously affect its usability. This platform is a great example of how bad design choices can hurt an otherwise good service. The site load speeds are great as are the advertised features, but the problem is with the ease of accessing them. Small things – such as adding a preferred payment gateway – become a challenge on AmeriCommerce.
Fortunately, the platform is evolving rapidly and the company can address many of these issues in future updates. Until then, if its pricing strategy matches your needs and you are willing to accept the caps that are included in the subscription, then AmeriCommerce is a worthwhile ecommerce platform.