PayKickStart Review: Is It the Best Shopping Cart Out There?

You know something?

Not too long ago, selling products through a website was a HUGE challenge for the average webmaster.

You didn’t have plug-and-play payment forms for prospects to enter their payment information.

You didn’t have one-tap payment gateway integrations like Stripe or Braintree without going through a lengthy approval process.

PayKickStart Review

Last updated: July 11, 2018
First Published on: July 11, 2018

tl;dr Summary
PayKickStart is a powerful shopping cart service that will boost your average customer value if you take advantage of all its features.
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And you certainly didn’t have advanced conversion tools like one-click upsells and cross-sells without a dedicated developer on staff.

Today, selling online has never been easier. The rise of shopping cart software in recent years means you can have high-converting checkout pages and automations set up in minutes, not weeks or months.

In this PayKickStart review, I’ll be taking a closer look at one of the most respected shopping carts on the market.

What is PayKickStart?

PayKickStart was started by online marketers Mark Thompson and Matt Callen back in 2014. It’s a complete, web-based shopping cart and affiliate software that helps you sell both digital and physical products online.

It supports a variety of pricing models including one-time payments, recurring subscriptions, free/paid trials. Plus it allows you add proven conversion boosters like 1-Click upsells, subscription saver sequences, order bumps, and coupons.

And if you really want to boost your sales, you can use their integrated affiliate management system that gives you everything you need to recruit an army of raving affiliates who will help you sell your products.

Getting Started

I’ll be straight with you, I’m a UI/UX nerd.

There’s nothing more satisfying than opening up a shiny new tool and instantly knowing how to use it.

So how intuitive is PayKickStart?

Here’s what the dashboard looks like on first login:

PayKickStart Dashboard

First impressions are great.

While it does feel a tad overwhelming with the number of navigation items in the sidebar, it’s made less so by the clean, modern design.

I’ll also admit that I wasn’t exactly sure where to start, and right before I attempted to click my way around, this popped up…

PayKickStart welcome video

A quick welcome video from Mark Thompson talking me through some basic steps to get started with the platform.

In a nutshell, I was told to:

  • Connect a payment gateway under the ‘Payments’ menu
  • Add my products under the ‘Campaigns’ menu
  • Create my funnels under the ‘Funnels’ menu

Now, it’s fair to say I didn’t know to do those things in that order, and without this video, I would have likely struggled…

…but thankfully there was an instructional video.

So let’s start with hooking up a payment gateway, shall we?

Taking Payments

If you don’t already know, a payment gateway is a third-party company that handles the actual transaction of your customer purchasing your product.

PayKickStart oversees everything up until the customer submits their payment information, which means a payment gateway is almost always needed unless they’re paying offline, or by wire transfer.

As I mentioned in the introduction, Stripe and Braintree are popular payment gateways, as is the almighty PayPal.

You can hook this up through the ‘Integrations’ menu:

PayKickStart payment integrations

It’s important to note that different shopping carts will offer different payment gateway integrations.

So if you happen to use, say, Authorize.net, you better make sure your shopping cart supports it — or you’ll need to make a compromise somewhere.

The good news?

PayKickStart integrates with all the usual suspects, including:

  • Stripe
  • Braintree
  • Authorize.net
  • Paypal
  • EasyPayDirect

PayKickStart supported payment services

The bad news?

The tech-savvy may be disappointed with the lack of more advanced payment integrations such as Apple and Android pay, as well as paying via cryptocurrency.

Some of these are said to be planned, but there are no guarantees on when that can be expected.

But there’s a lot more to this story than just payment integrations because that’s not where the power of a shopping cart lies.

What you’re really interested in here are the payment models.

Outside of a standard one-time payment, most good shopping carts also allow you to offer different payment models, including:

  • Recurring payments (or subscriptions)
  • Payment plans (or installments)
  • Discounted price (or coupons)
  • Free and paid trials
  • Pay what you want (or pay X) *not supported*

Aside from the last point on that list, PayKickStart gives you these options when adding individual products, so let’s talk about that next.

Adding Products

The most fun part of setting up your shopping cart is adding all your products. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

But seriously, this is standard procedure and you can do it through the ‘Campaign’s menu.

Now, this is where the campaign setup got confusing, and the complexity of the interface became more apparent.

Given that the welcome video said I could set up my products under the Campaigns menu, I was expecting to go straight to a product creation screen.

Instead, a campaign acts as a kind of “bucket” for your products, meaning you have to create that before creating or assigning products.

PayKickStart campaigns

At the campaign level, you can specify things like:

  • The base currency
  • The payment gateway
  • 1-click upsells (enable/disable)
  • Other integrations and webhooks
  • Transaction notifications
  • Product support and refund duration
  • Affiliate configuration
  • Lead tracking

If you think about it, this kinda makes sense since you can set these globally for all products associated with that campaign. It’s much faster than doing all this one-by-one.

So what next?

Clicking back into the ‘Campaigns’ menu will show your newly created campaign, and selecting the drop-down will allow you to add products to it.

The product creation screen feels a lot like the previous one, and if you read my SendLane review, you’ll know how much I appreciate UI consistency. 😉

Anyway, here’s how it looks:

PayKickStart product creation

Since a lot of the configuration was done at the campaign level, there are only a few tweaks you’ll be making here.

These include:

  • Product name & description
  • Commission settings
  • Landing & access page URL’s
  • Payment settings
  • Tax settings
  • Refund period

It’s also worth pointing out that PayKickStart supports both physical and digital, products, and some of the settings here will reflect that.

PayKickStart product settings

The next step is to create the checkout page for your product.

At first, it seemed odd to have to make a dedicated checkout page for each product, but the reason became clear when I used the funnel builder. (More on that shortly)

So here you have the option to choose between one-step and multi-step checkout pages:

PayKickStart checkout templates

You could debate till the end of time which one is better, but the truth is, you won’t know for sure until you test.

Unfortunately, PayKickStart doesn’t support A/B testing, so you’ll have to do it manually in this case.

Anyway, back to the templates… I found them overall well designed, super modern and very easy to customize.

PayKickStart checkout page editor

As well as checkout design, you can also configure things like:

  • Testimonials
  • Powered-by badge
  • Custom scripts
  • Legal checkbox
  • Exit-intent popup
  • Duplicate purchase warning

On the final step, you can choose which integrations to use with your product, which is useful for those using email or webinar platforms. (And yes, Zapier is supported.)

Overall I found both the campaign and product creation steps offered a ton of flexibility in the settings. Very impressive.

One thing we haven’t seen yet is the option to use things like one-click upsells and order bumps to increase the average order spend.

That’s because PayKickStart has a separate page for the more technical implementations, which can be found in the funnel builder.

Building Funnels

At this point, you can see how PayKickStart likes to work in layers.

First, we built a campaign, then we plugged products into it, and now we need to plug those products into a funnel.

I’ll admit it took me some time to piece together, but it makes sense once you’ve been through the motions.

When creating a funnel, you’ll need to:

  • Name your funnel
  • Choose which campaign to apply it to
  • Choose which affiliates to apply it to (if any)

You’ll then be taken to a visual funnel editor, much like what you see in modern email marketing tools.

PayKickStart visual funnel builder

Of course, we’re not talking about a series of emails here.

We’re talking about a series of landing pages designed to funnel prospects into a chain of products, upgrades, and addons.

So what kinda wizardry can you perform here?

Well, the first and most obvious use case is using conditional offers. In other words, showing products and pricing based on how the prospect responds to the initial offer.

You can see this being used in the example below:

PayKickStart funnel conditionals

This can be made as simple or complicated as you want it to be, and PayKickStart throws in a few other bells and whistles to help you maximize profits.

For one, assuming you set your funnel up correctly, one-click upsell technology will be used by default.

And considering the crazy results people get with one-click upsells, you better believe this feature is worth the hype.

But we’re not done yet…

The funnel builder is also where you add things like popups and bump offers to further increase your average order value. (Don’t underestimate order bumps, either.)

You do so by clicking the little link icon next to any product stage:

PayKickStart order bumps

There are a few other neat little tricks you do with this, but I think you can already see how powerful funnels can be, and PayKickStart certainly doesn’t hold you back in terms of flexibility.

Recruiting Affiliates

Recruiting an army of affiliates to go out and sell your product is one of the most powerful marketing strategies there is.

Unlike other forms of advertising, affiliate marketing uses a pay-on-results model, so you have everything to gain and very little to lose.

The guys behind PayKickStart clearly know this, which is why they have an affiliate center baked right into the platform.

Clicking into this menu item, I initially thought this is where I’d be able to add affiliates.

For me, this had to be the most confusing aspect of PayKickStart. I mean, I literally spend the next 10 minutes digging through the knowledge-base trying to figure it out.

Fortunately, the live chat option was just a click away, and I was soon told that adding affiliates manually wasn’t possible. Instead, they have to apply through a request link.

PayKickStart affiliate dashboard

Once again, it makes sense when you know how, but it could have been made a little clearer from the start.

Sharing this link with a potential affiliate will have them sign up under your campaign, which, once approved, will give them their own account area within PayKickStart.
PayKickStart affiliate login area

From here, they’ll be able to grab their unique tracking link for each product as well as a portal for any other marketing materials you provide.

These include things like promotional banners and email swipes in the form of an embed code, but these are also optional.

PayKickStart affiliate links

One unique feature that I haven’t seen in other similar services is the ability to create affiliate contests.  Done, right, these contests can really get your affiliates excited to promote for you.

To do this, you just go to the contest tab and click the + button.  You’ll be asked for fill in your contest name and the date range of your contest.

Once this is done, you’ll be able to get an Affiliate Contest widget which you can embed on any page on your site.  What’s nice is that it’s automatically updated in real time as affiliates start making sales for you.

PayKickStart affiliate leaderboard

Overall,  I was thoroughly impressed with the options available in the PayKickStart affiliate center.

Tracking & Reporting

A must-have feature for any shopping cart is being able to track your sales and display everything in a digestible report.

PayKickStart has various reporting options, so let’s look at a few of them in this review.

Below is the standard sales report:

PayKickStart sales report

Aside from a clean, modern appearance, it gives you some basic but useful reporting data to see how your sales break down over time.

It includes both gross and net revenue over different time-frames, each represented at the top.

The graph is also interactive, so you can hover over any area to get more information for that specific point in time.

Finally, you can use the campaign, products and date filters to get specifics on where the money is coming from, and when.

Next is the ‘Funnels’ report:

PayKickStart funnels report

This looks at any revenue generated through your funnels, which include things like offer bumps and one-click upsells.

If you’re thinking it looks exactly like the previous sales report, you’d be right. (Not a bad thing by any means.)

The only real difference here being one of the filter options has changed from ‘Products’ to ‘Funnels’, so you can narrow down which funnel is generating the most money.

Up next is the ‘Commissions’ report:

PayKickStart commissions report

Again, very similar to the previous reports.

This time, however, you’re looking at commissions generated through your affiliates, so you can see exactly how much money your army of sellers are making you, as well as their overall cut.

As before, the filters in this report allow you to narrow down into specific affiliates instead of products or funnels.

Now, the last one is a ‘Subscription’ report:

PayKickStart subscriptions report

This one allows you to look at how your recurring products (or subscriptions) are performing.

While it does look similar, it’s also more comprehensive than the previous reports we’ve looked at, including a few extra data points.

These include:

  • Monthly recurring revenue
  • Total subscriber count
  • Churn rate

You’ll be pleased to know that all this information is aggregated in your dashboard, so if you’re like me, and you just want everything in one place, you’ll see this…

PayKickStart reports dashboard

Overall I found the reporting options both comprehensive and easy to understand, which is exactly what I need when dealing with all those numbers.

Support

As I’ve already mentioned a few times throughout this review, PayKickStart isn’t always as intuitive as it could be.

That’s somewhat understandable given how feature-rich this platform is, but there will likely come a point where you just need a helping hand.

So what are your options here?

One thing PayKickStart does that few other software companies do is provide a free training course for members of their product.

In this case, it’s called the Power Seller Bootcamp, and it’s a 14-part video walkthrough series:

PayKickStart Powerseller bootcamp

I’m a huge fan of this approach and it’s something I feel will be a huge differentiating factor for software companies going forward.

But let’s be real, courses won’t solve every possible problem you could face, so there has to be other support options available.

You’ll notice you have a couple choices available directly in your dashboard which are the knowledge base and live chat.

Let’s start with the Knowledge Base.

Clicking the question mark button in your toolbar will open up a new page where you can search for the topic related to your issue.

It’s not perfect, but it works most of the time.

PayKickStart knowledge base

For me, live chat is a necessary backup option, and I was quick to test PayKickStart on their chat agents response-time.

As I mentioned earlier, I used this support line to find out how affiliates could be manually added.

The typical response time was reported to be “a few hours”, but I got a response back within just 4 minutes.

PayKickStart live chat

Don’t expect this kind of response time around the clock, but it’s a good demonstration of how much weight they place on quick support.

If for any reason you can’t access the chat, you can also submit a ticket through their online support desk as well.

Finally, PayKickStart also has its own Facebook community group to ask questions and engage with other customers.

This is probably the best for questions that are more open to debate, and it’s great to have that option available.

Overall, it’s fair to say PayKickStart covers all their bases when it comes to support and their agents are both fast and knowledgeable.

PayKickStart Pricing

PayKickStart has 3 pricing tiers. Basic, Professional, and Premium.

The Basic plan starts at $29/month and limits you to 5 products. The main things missing in this plan are Order Bumps and the Affiliate Center.

The Professional plan starts at $99/month and you get access to all the core features. It also allows you to sell unlimited products.

Finally, the Premium plan is $149 a month and unlocks some advanced features like Demographics, Uptime Monitoring, Surveys and the Audience builder.

Each plan has a full 14-day free trial. As far as I can tell, I don’t see any PayKickStart discounts available.

Everything else you need to know about PayKickStart

What PayKickStart integrations are currently supported?

PayKickStart has 4 different types of integrations: payment, email marketing, membership, and fulfillment.

We’ve already talked about the payment integrations, but PayKickStart also integrates with almost all of the most popular email marketing tools. The only noticeable one I saw missing was MailerLite.

Some businesses want to add customers to their membership program on a purchase, and PayKickStart has your back there. It integrates with all the well-known membership services including Teachable, Kajabi, and Member Mouse.

And finally, if you’re shipping physical products then you might want to integrate with a 3rd party fulfillment service. PayKickStart currently integrates with ShipStation and ShipOffers.

Check out the PayKickStart integrations page for a full list of supported integrations.

Do they have an affiliate program?

Yes, PayKickStart has a very nice affiliate program, where you can earn 40% recurring commissions across all plans. Mark Thompson and Matt Callen are very well known marketers, and they do a very nice job taking care of their affiliates.

Does PayKickStart work for e-commerce?

Kind of. So, of course, you can use PayKickStart to sell physical products as we’ve mentioned. But it’s not something that will work together with a service like Shopify or WooCommerce. You will have to pick one or the other to sell your products.

PayKickStart vs ClickFunnels

There’s some overlap between the functionalities offered by ClickFunnels and PayKickStart. However, there is a key difference.

ClickFunnels is a complete funnel builder, while PayKickStart is a shopping cart only. So to sell your product with PayKickStart, you’ll need some sort of page builder to make your sales page + PayKickStart to make it work.

With ClickFunnels that’s all handled for you.

Still, there are several reasons why you might go with PayKickStart over ClickFunnels.

First, PayKickStart’s funnel builder is way more flexible than ClickFunnel’s way of handling upsells.

And PayKickStart also has a better reporting and affiliate system.  And it’s also cheaper too in general.

PayKickStart vs SamCart

PayKickStart is more of a direct competitor to SamCart.

One advantage PayKickStart has over SamCart is on the number of integrations in general. SamCart currently only supports 2 payment processors (Paypal and Stripe), and it has fewer email integrations as well.

For example, SamCart doesn’t integrate directly with ActiveCampaign, InfusionSoft, and Ontraport to name a few.

But to me, where PayKickStart stands out versus SamCart is its funnel builder. You get a lot more flexibility with PayKickStart’s approach to things if you have more complicated workflows you want to handle.

I also feel that PayKickStart has a better pricing model. With PayKickStart you get the subscription saver feature and the affiliate center in the $99/month Pro plan. With SamCart, these features are only included in their $199/month Premium plan.

On the flip side, SamCart does include A/B testing, while PayKickStart does not.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to sell products online, then you definitely need some sort of shopping cart to help you collect payments.

But do you need something as powerful as PayKickStart?

That depends on your business. If you have a single product and have no interest in creating upsells, order bumps or having affiliates promote it, then PayKickStart is definitely overkill.

You could probably just embed a Paypal button on your site instead.

But if you’re interested in adding all these types of proven conversion boosters into your sales checkout workflow, then I definitely think you should give PayKickStart a look.

The interface is a bit intimidating but once you go through all the training, you will be amazed at how powerful the platform can be.

Give it a shot, and it should be able to help you achieve some very nice results.

Start Selling With PayKickStart Today

PayKickStart Pros

  • Supports all the popular payment gateways
  • Can be used for both physical and digital products
  • Well designed and customizable checkout templates
  • Powerful funnel builder with one-click upsells and bumps
  • Easily create coupons and implement both free and paid trials
  • Built-in affiliate center and marketing portal
  • Comprehensive reporting
  • A nice number of integrations
  • Really good support and documentation

PayKickStart Cons

  • Slightly confusing UI/UX at times
  • No Apple/Android pay or cryptocurrency
  • No A/B testing
  • No manual sign up for affiliates
Affiliate Disclaimer: I hope you enjoyed our PayKickStart review. Please note that some of the links inside this article may be affiliate links for PayKickStart. That means that if you click on one of the links and sign up, we may get an affiliate commission for it. If you do happen to click, we really appreciate it! Any money we make keeps this site running smoothly and allows us to keep producing these high-quality reviews.
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