One of the most common questions my readers have asked me recently is: "What's the best sales funnel software between Thrivecart and Cartflows?"
I've published several articles, videos, and tutorials on each one of these tools, but it's time that I put them side by side and give you a true, balanced look at each option to help you find the perfect selling tool for your online business.
Easier, Faster, And More Full Featured
Thrivecart has done what few companies have been able to: they have struck the perfect balance between simplicity and advanced features. Their platform is both friendly to beginners, as well as serve the needs of multi-million dollar businesses.
With their limited time Lifetime Deal, now is the perfect time to lock in your price for life. I've also included a TON of exclusive bonuses for anyone who uses my affiliate link below to enroll in Thrivecart:
Great potential, but not for the feint of heart.
Cartflows is a really good idea! With ~30% of the internet using WordPress, and WooCommerce being a free E-Commerce option... it makes total sense to build a funnel-builder on top of that solid foundation. Unfortunately, after extensive testing (and many evenings with my head in my hands), I realized that I was spending more time working on my tech than I was on the important parts of my business.
Cartflows takes an already complicated process (selling through WooCommerce) and makes it more complicated. If words like "caching," "plugins," and "integrations" make you shudder, you might consider avoiding Cartflows until they have ironed out some more development. But if you are already firmly rooted in the WooCommerce landscape, Cartflows is the best game in town.
How I tested these tools against each other
Most reviewers do little more than look at the company sales page (and affiliate terms!) before writing their ultimate review.
I've lived these tools. Breathed these tools.
Cursed at these tools sometimes.
I've built client websites with WooCommerce and Cartflows successfully.
I've run full funnels using Thrivecart's sales and affiliate platform.
I actually do this for a living.
And while the links in this post are affiliate links, I'm going to give you my true experience with each tool. The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.
Full Disclaimer: I am using Thrivecart as my checkout solution of choice, so I guess you could say I'm biased there. But I spent the better part of a year with Cartflows, and several nights with support before making my decision to switch. You'll learn more about all this in this post. I am also personal friends with the developers of both solutions. I consider them friends. This post is NOT meant to attack, slander, or do any evil to any product. But I owe it to you, my readers, to know my truth, so ultimately you can succeed online.
And by the end of the post - no matter which solution you choose, I want to leave you with a little perspective here which is worth more than the entire review:
The tool that keeps things as simple as possible is the winner 99% of the time. Focus your time on serving your audience, creating, marketing, and selling products - and less time on the fiddly knobs, and you'll be successful.
Alright so with that out of the way, let's start talking about these tools side by side.
So what exactly are we comparing?
Thrivecart and Cartflows are sales funnel builders.
Their entire purpose is to help you sell more of your products, more easily.
They do this by allowing you to craft entire buying experiences for your customers to maximize their satisfaction and your revenue.
If they come to your site looking for a book, they might also be interested in an audio version, some additional worksheets, a deeper video training, or access to an exclusive membership as well.
Sales funnels allow you to make these offers to your customers and measure their results to become more profitable over time.
That is a gross oversimplification, but it will serve as our orientation.
Feature Set: SaaS Vs Plugin? Things Get Hairy Here...
Thrivecart and Cartflows are two fundamentally different platforms, and so it's a little difficult to compare their feature sets side by side.
Thrivecart is a Software as a Service, which means you log into a separate platform to create your products, manage your sales, and do customer management.
Cartflows is a WordPress plugin, which means it is installed directly in your website and you have the ability customize it and maintain it over time.
Because Thrivecart is its own service, it controls the experience for you and has the final say over what features exist in the platform.
Cartflows, on the other hand, simply extends the functionality of WooCommerce, which makes it an extremely customizable tool (in theory...)
If you want a particular functionality that doesn't exist natively in Cartflows, you might be able to find a tool that does it.
And if that functionality simply doesn't exist? Well, you can even hire a developer to build it for you! Sounds great doesn't it?
Well, that's the beauty of WordPress, but it comes at a cost.
When something goes wrong (which it will), you are now in a bit of a bind.
Who's support channel do you go to?
What happens if your site goes down? Your entire business is now hinged on several components all talking together in harmony.
Oh yea, and by the way each one of those plugins gets updated all the time (and not at the same time) so what might have been working yesterday could all of a sudden crash on you today.
Better hope it's not the day of a big promotion!
Here's a side by side comparison of the main features of each system. The Green checks means that the feature exists. The Yellow caution means that you need additional plugins or complexity to make it happen, and the red means that it's not supported:
Can Accept Credit Card and PayPal
Subscription Dunning (card recovery)
Pop up carts
Create unlimited funnels
Email Marketing Integrations
Built in sales tax calculation & GDPR
A/B Split Testing
Global Cart Feature
Phew, long list, but the main takeaway is that Cartflows is very limited in its plain vanilla form.
Don't expect to simply install WooCommerce, Cartflows, and be off to the races.
Cartflows and WooCommerce leave several key areas missing, require additional tools (and additional costs) to stack on to match up to the competition.
Thrivecart was designed specifically for sales funnel-style selling, so they tick most of the boxes that are important to marketers.
Cartflows is trying to take a classic E-commerce platform (WooCommerce) and turn it into a funnel building platform.
And it gets a lot of the basics right, but it really forces you to get resourceful along the way.
Want to change what that button says? There might be a CSS code you can use. (this was a true scenario for me - it was recently fixed with an update).
Need to sell subscriptions? Browse 5 different subscription platforms and hope that it integrates.
Trying to integrate with your email marketing platform? You'll probably require an additional tool like WP Fusion(around $300 per year) just to make that work...
In general, you can get the job done with both platforms, but the Thrivecart functionality is built from the ground up for the job, instead of trying to connect the dots to a very complex problem.
Winner: Thrivecart's built in functionality is simple to use, has advanced features that marketers love, and doesn't require you to do tons of research, integration, or custom CSS to get your system up and running.
Ease of Use: WordPress familiarity or Thrivecart's intuitive wizard?
Thrivecart has intentionally made their entire interface very beginner friendly.
Want to create a new product? Click the "Create new product button," and you'll be able to follow through the wizard step by step until it's done and you have the page ready to share and sell.
The entire process feels logical, starting with the overal product details, setting up fulfillment (delivering the product or granting access to your membership or course), designing your checkout, and setting up automatic behaviors (like tagging your customers).
By the time you finish the set up, you feel confident that things are working as they should, and with a single test of the process, you are ready to turn it live and drive traffic to your funnel.
With Cartflows and WooCommerce, the process is a bit less streamlined.
You'll set up your WooCommerce products in one area, then bounce over to Cartflows to design your pages, then bounce over to a different system to set up your integrations with you membership area, then ...
You get the idea. Again, they both work, but I definitely recommend you get a checklist when setting up you Cartflows funnels because some steps are easy to forget.
Winner: The straightforward nature of product creation with Thrivecart is a breath of fresh air and gives you confidence that the product is created properly.
Thrivecart has an excellent support team, but I have found that I rarely need to access them, as they provide step-by-step video instructions directly in the platform, where and when you need them:
Need to set up a new integration? Just head to the settings and you can just hit play and follow along click by click. No need to scour knowledge base articles.
When I have reached out to their team regarding a custom integration I was building, they offered to log into my site and were able to help me figure out my issue within 48 hours.
The Cartflows support team has a bit of a challenge ahead. Because there are over 50,000 plugins (just in the repository!) the team must be hit from every angle...
I've received mixed results when reaching out to Cartflows - sometimes they would go above and beyond, offering me custom CSS code to solve my problem (shudder).
And other times ... weren't as successful.
The benefits of SaaS
Quick point to make here - this is where SaaS platforms shine.
Because their functionality is closed off and developed internally, Thrivecart is more equipped to support their system and keep things stable.
Before they release new functionality, they are able to test it deeply.
But because Cartflows sits on top of a huge platform, in several cases you will realize that two tools that should have worked perfectly, simply don't and there isn't a great reason why.
Example: My email marketing platform connected directly to WooCommerce - so whenever a product is purchased, the user should be tagged. For whatever reason, it would only work for some products, and not upsell and downsell products... custom coding required. Same
Winner: Thrivecart. While Cartflows is a newer platform and are currently going through growing pains, there are simply less headaches to deal with when setting up and maintaining Thrivecart.
Cost: Lifetime vs multiple annual licenses
This one is really going to depend on your specific use case.
Thrivecart's license allows for 1 custom domain, and the pro plan allows you to have 5 clients underneath your account.
So you can have 5 different log ins for people to see how their individual portfolio is performing.
Sure, you can integrate more payment processors and shove all your clients under 1 dashboard, but I don't recommend that!
Cartflows' annual license allows you to install the plugin on up to 30 websites!
This is great for agencies.... and that's about it.
But the cost gets a little more complicated if you try to compare apples to apples feature sets.
Because Thrivecart builds in their affiliate platform, subscription platform, many more integrations, and more into a single platform, I'll put a similar setup with Cartflows to compare all in costs:
Total: $690, one time
Total: $1,439 per year
I would love to see Cartflows release a single site plan for $50-$100, which would really score some points because many users are just trying to build their business and have no need for 29 other licenses.
Winner: Thrivecart has a bigger up front cost, but the lifetime deal ends up saving a ton of money over time compared to the current contender in WordPress. I have also seen developers create extensions to live ON TOP OF CARTFLOWS... which already lives on top of WooCommerce... it gets to be too much after a while!
I tried not to be too harsh in this comparison, but at the end of the day, I've learned to value simplicity and speed to market more than anything else.
And Thrivecart gives you exactly that.
Cartflows will surely be a staple in the WordPress community for a long time, and I have great relationships with the founders of the plugin. But at the current moment, more development and simplification is required before Cartflows is a real contender for Thrivecart's platform.