Last Updated: September 11, 2023
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I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz about the launch of SureCart, the new e-commerce plugin for WordPress that’s slated to compete with WooCommerce (among other tools) and become a huge market disrupter…
…But you may be wondering, “between the two WordPress plugins, which e-Commerce solution is the best suited for my specific business needs?”
In this post, I’ll share the biggest similarities and differences between the two plugins and explain what types of businesses would benefit most from using SureCart vs WooCommerce.
My Experience With SureCart
I’m a WordPress Website Designer, and over the years, I’ve built many websites with WooCommerce. If I’m honest, I have a love-hate relationship with the plugin. So as soon as Adam Preiser from WPcrafter released his SureCart launch announcement (see the video below in you missed it)…I signed up to become an early adopter.
Once I got access, I installed and tested the beta version for myself and y’all… I’m amazed at the functionality and ease of use compared to WooCommerce. This is a game-changer for so many online business owners!
Since SureCart is new, I’ve been getting a lot of questions asking, “is SureCart right for me?” and “Should I make the switch from WooCommerce to SureCart?” so let me break it all down for you and help you decide.
Biggest SureCart vs WooCommerce Differences
Firstly, SureCart is NOT a replacement for WooCommerce. SureCart is a completely NEW way of selling on WordPress.
It would actually be easier to compare SureCart to third-party eCommerce tools like ThriveCart, SendOwl, Gumroad, and SamCart than to WooCommerce because SureCart and WooCommerce simply function differently.
So what exactly are the differences? Let’s talk about it.
1. SureCart Is “Headless” So It Won’t Slow Or Bloat Your Website!
SureCart is what we call a “Headless” platform which means that the backend management system is completely separated from the frontend WordPress plugin. The eCommerce engine that powers SureCart is hosted on their servers (not on your website hosting) and merely connects to the frontend WordPress plugin.
Headless platforms are not new. In fact, this is the same technology that Shopify uses along with Twitter, Stripe, and Basecamp (which is the project management tool I use for all of my Website Design clients), among other massive companies.
Why is a headless platform better than a self-hosted eCommerce plugin?
Improved Performance & User Experience
Without heavy plugins weighing your site down or bloating your database, you can enjoy higher performance and a better user experience. That means…
- You can confidently add your shopping experience to your main website domain – no need to host your shop on a subdomain for the sake of site speed.
- You don’t have to obsess over capturing backups every few minutes in fear of losing customer transactions. All of those transactions are stored and backed up with SureCart.
- You’re less likely to have plugin conflicts or caching issues
A headless solution also gives developers to have more control over the design layout, content presentation, and user interaction.
That means no more stiff checkout forms that offer clunky user experiences or require custom coding to customize. With SureCart, you’ll get the flexibility that WooCommerce just simply can’t offer out of the box.
Finally, a headless solution offers greater security benefits making it difficult for hackers to access your sensitive backend data since it is separate from your front-end, the user-facing website.
SureCart will also store your digital files on their servers, keeping your copyrighted content nice and secure.
Isn’t it better for my data to be hosted on my own website vs on another company’s plugin?
Adam Preiser addressed this question in the SureCart Facebook group during the beta launch for the early adopters. Here’s what he said about it…
“Ecommerce has never been in a silo, it’s always been an interconnection of platforms and services. It’s impossible to do anything ecommerce related without your data going to multiple secure places, but this doesn’t mean they own your data.
When you host a website, unless it’s a server you physically own, your data is on a platform you don’t own. When you need to know the tax rate you must charge, your data is sent to a platform you don’t own. When you need to know what to charge for shipping, your data is sent to a platform you don’t own. When you take a payment, unless it’s cash in person, your data is on a platform you don’t own.
SureCart is a platform just like these. Your data is always your data.
You can export it whenever you want, and unlike other platforms, SureCart lets you have your data where you want it, in real-time, with our automation engine. Our platform uses the same technology that powers Shopify, Stripe, Twitter, GitHub, and the same infrastructure used by always-on platforms such as Salesforce, Kajabi, Product Hunt. Your data will always be your data!”Adam Preiser, WPcrafter.com
2. Your traditional shop archive, product pages, and cart page don’t exist with SureCart
In a traditional eCommerce setup on WooCommerce, you would:
- First, add a product to a product page. On this page, you’d add the product name, description, pricing details, and a gallery of photos. You can also set the inventory, shipping, and other details.
- This product would be displayed dynamically on a shop archive page (which showcases a catalog of your products).
- As users explore your site, they can add different products to their shopping carts.
- Once they’ve made all their selections, they would then go to the checkout page to complete their order.
If you wanted to sell subscriptions for recurring payments, you’d have to purchase a premium add-on plugin that can cost nearly $200/per year per website.
Not so with SureCart!
How SureCart works without product pages, a shop archive, or add to cart feature:
Essentially, you would create a sales page that shares the details of your single product offer or add a buy now button in a blog post or other part of your website. When the user clicks the buy now button, they’ll be instantly redirected to a custom checkout page that’s tailored to your product.
Let’s get a little more specific:
Products In SureCart
You would create a product in the SureCart plugin where you add the product name, product image, pricing details, and the digital files your client will download after purchase… BUT it won’t live on its own product page (as it does with WooCommerce).
All product details that you’d typically include on a WooCommerce page, including the features, benefits, what’s included, etc. would need to be added to a page you manually create to promote that product.
Shop Page (Archive) In SureCart
The products that you add in SureCart will not get displayed on a product catalog or archive. So if you want to display all of your products on one single shop page, you’d have to design and update that page as your products manually and offers change. That also means there’s no good way to let your customers filter or sort out your products.
Add To Cart Page In SureCart
There’s not currently an add-to-cart page or functionality where people can add multiple products before checking out.
Currently, if a user wanted to purchase multiple items in your online store, they’d either have to:
- Complete a checkout form for every product they want to purchase, or…
- You could bundle your products together and sell the bundle on one checkout form.
- Alternatively, you can create a custom checkout form that presents several steps with multiple product options that the user must choose from.
- For instance, in your check-out form, you can add a price selector and rename it to “Step 1”. Then you can give your customer a list of products to choose from. Then you can add a second price selector in the form builder, rename it to “Step 2”, and give your customer a second list of products to choose from. You can repeat this until you have all the steps you need.
There are rumors that SureCart is working to develop an off-canvas add-to-cart feature, but that’s not currently available at this time.
Are any of these features a deal-breaker for you? If you want to add a product page and have it dynamically pull into a product catalog, and allow users to add multiple items to their cart and checkout on a single static page, WooCommerce is definitely a better option.
3. The Checkout Page
With WooCommerce, you’re limited to a single checkout page that can’t be added to other pages on your website. You also don’t have much control over the fields you can add or remove on the form.
With SureCart you can:
- Create and customize a new checkout form for every single product offer if you want to, or if you like to keep it simple, you can choose to customize and use one single default checkout form.
- You can also embed a checkout form on any part of your website via a shortcode or by adding it directly to a page in Gutenberg blocks.
The most exciting thing about customized checkout forms is that you get more control of the buyer’s user experience which should reduce friction and improve conversions – which is what we all want, right?
4. Product Reviews
Because there aren’t product pages, there’s currently no way to leave a product review. Just because that feature doesn’t exist though, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on gathering feedback from your customers.
If you decide to use SureCart and want to collect reviews for social proof, you could gather testimonials in a few different ways:
Option 1 (Katy’s Pick): You could add a custom tab in the customer’s dashboard with a feedback form to fill out! When a customer fills out the form, you’ll get their feedback privately via the submission form, which is sent to your email inbox. Then when someone shares a positive review that you want others to see, you can manually add a testimonial to the sales page design.
Option 2: You could also skip the website review altogether and ask customers to leave reviews on social platforms like Google Reviews and Facebook Page Reviews.
Option 3: You could ask for product reviews via email in an automated sequence – meaning there’s no form to fill out or webpage to leave a comment on. Simply ask them to hit reply and share their feedback. If you go this route, you’d need a system to organize those comments and manually add testimonials to the sales page as needed.
Option 4: When you build your product sales page, you could have comments turned on at the bottom of the page so your customer can share their review. If you go this route though, you’ll have to manually approve the comments, filter through possible spam comments, and run the risk of getting reviews from people who have never purchased your product. To fight spammers, I recommend an antispam plugin like AntiSpam Bee.
There may be other options to collect reviews in the future as SureCart’s functionality grows and other plugins fill in the gaps, but for now, this is a factor to consider when deciding between SureCart vs WooCommerce.
5. Product Variations
It’s not currently possible to add variations to a single product in SureCart at this time. There is a workaround though and I actually think for smaller shops it makes for a better user experience that WooCommerce could give you. Let me give you an example…
Let’s say you sell an undated digital planner and want to give the the customer the option to choose from three different cover designs.
- You would start by creating three different products with each cover variation (Undated Planner – Pink, Undated Planner – Blue, Undated Planner – Black) .
- Then you’d create a new form called the “Undated Planner Checkout Form”.
- In the form editor, you’d add a price selector and customize the label to say something like, “Select The Color Of Your Choice”. You’d make sure the type field is set to “Choose One” and then you can adjust the columns to a 3 column layout so the form is shorter.
- Next, you’d create an entire sales page about your undated planner, then when they click “buy now”, they’ll be redirected to the custom designed checkout page that gives the customer options to choose their color and finalize payment.
See! In this example it works beautifully.
On the flip side, if you sell a lot of digital products and each product has multiple variations, it’s just not realistic to have to manually create dozens or hundreds of products in SureCart with slight variations. If that’s your situation, WooCommerce is definitely a better option.
Types of Businesses That Are Ideal For SureCart
Currently, SureCart is best suited for bloggers and businesses who sell digital/non-physical products on their online store.
Bloggers & Digital Product Creators
If you are a blogger or a business owner who creates and sells digital products like e-books, worksheets, templates, and other digital files, SureCart provides a great way for customers to checkout and access their securely stored digital files.
If you’ve been selling your digital products on SendOwl or Gumroad, you’d be a great candidate to switch over to SureCart!
Membership Program & Course Creators
If you have a course or membership program with a recurring subscription and you’d like to offer multiple ways to pay, such as monthly, annual, or lifetime plans, SureCart would work for you. The developers who created SureCart also have a membership plugin called SureMembers that can restrict content on your website as well! These are two of the tools that I used to build my membership: DIY Dream Site!
Your members/ subscribers can upgrade, downgrade and cancel their own subscriptions from their customer dashboard! Plus, when an upgrade or downgrade happens mid-billing cycle, SureCart will automatically prorate their payment plan.
If you want to offer a free trial period before the first payment starts, you can also set that up with ease.
SureCart also has a built-in automation engine so you’ll be able to sell access to the course or the membership on your main site and, on a completely separate site, add a user account and enroll that user into a course built with a learning management system (LMS) like LearnDash… 🤯 Again, this is the set up I’m using for my membership, and it’s so easy to setup.
Upfront Fee + Recurring Subscription
If you’re a service provider and you want to charge your client an upfront fee followed by a recurring monthly subscription/ payment plan, you can easily set that up with one checkout form in SureCart.
For example, say you’re a Pinterest Manager. You can charge a $250 Pinterest board clean-up fee followed by a $49 per month for recurring Pinterest account management that occurs 30 days after their first payment.
If you sell services and want your clients to be able to pay your invoices online, SureCart could also work for you! On the checkout page, your client will have the ability to enter their invoice number and a customized dollar amount.
On your invoices can also add the option to allow customers to add gratuity or a tip. The caveat here is that the amount entered would have to be entered as a dollar amount; it doesn’t work by percentage. For instance, if the invoice was $2,500 and the client wanted to tip you 20%, they’d have to calculate the math independently and then enter $500 as the amount.
Note: SureCart only provides the payment system to receive invoices; it’s not a tool that creates invoices. If you’re looking for a more all-in-one solution that allows you to build and send custom proposals, send and sign contracts digitally, and pay invoices online (among other cool features), you may want to look into a business automation tool like Dubsado. That’s what I personally use for all of my Website Design Clients & Projects.
Non-Profit Organizations & Charitable Causes
If you’re a non-profit organization or you’re a business that wants to raise money for a charitable cause, SureCart gives you an easy way to accept donations on your website.
On the donation check-out form, users can choose from a predefined dollar amount or they can choose another to give a custom dollar amount. This feature could also work for a “buy me a coffee” option where your audience can donate any dollar amount they want to your blog or business!
Frequently Asked Questions
I already have WooCommerce and a bunch of products listed on my site. Will installing Surecart mess things up?
No. SureCart and WooCommerce can run side by side. The SureCare development team tested it, and it works! You can use this hybrid solution too if you sell products and want the traditional eCommerce shopping experience along with custom order forms that sell your membership or other recurring subscriptions.