Highlights:

  • eCommerce for SMB Enterprises - CoreCommerceClass-leading customer service,
  • Solid range of features, which cover most bases,
  • Lacklustre, often confusing interface
  • Small selection of (unimpressive) templates

CoreCommerce is a SaaS ecommerce solution, precisely made for small and medium-sized businesses.
It offers two main options: you can either create an entire online store from scratch or add ecommerce functionality to an existing website.
It was founded all the way back in 2008, making it positively ancient in internet terms! Despite this, it has still never enjoyed the colossal success of some of its competitors.
Having 13,000 active users sounds respectable… but if you make a ‘CoreCommerce vs Shopify’ comparison, they start to look a lot less impressive: the latter has around 375,000 users.

Are there clear reasons why, despite having been around for so long, CoreCommerce has never really exploded?
Find them out, in my CoreCommerce review.

Ease of Use

The CoreCommerce registration system is pleasingly swift: you just enter your basic details, answer a couple of questions regarding your business’s size and type, and then you’re away.

Upon first using your CoreCommerce login, you’ll be greeted by a setup wizard which helps to guide you through all the main initial steps: altering your store’s design, configuring payments, adding products, and so on.

Unfortunately, after that promising beginning, things take a downward turn. Whilst some areas are handled exceptionally well, such as managing payment methods, altering the basic design of your online store is an enormous headache.
The design tool gives the illusion of drag and drop functionality, but the customization you can actually achieve with this is extremely limited.

In general, actually, customization is a problem with CoreCommerce. The extent to which you can alter the theme you begin with is negligible, and altering specific pages to your tastes is extremely fiddly. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to discover the world’s most intuitive, drag and drop-focused interface with CoreCommerce, but I’d hoped to find something better than this.
When you delve deeper into the options available to you – when adding a product, for example – things get even more confusing. Here there are too many choices to make, with some of them either being so confusing that you don’t understand them, and others seeming completely unnecessary.

Overall, when it comes to basic usability, CoreCommerce gets a thumbs-down from me.

Themes

In the past, one of CoreCommerce’s calling cards was its massive selection of themes. Now, however, there are only 18 free themes to choose from, and of those only 16 are responsive (meaning they scale automatically if the user is on a mobile or tablet device).

Aesthetically, the themes are respectable and relatively modern-looking, without being anything spectacular; they’re certainly no match for those on offer at OpenCart. As mentioned, the extent to which you can subsequently change the appearance of those themes through the built-in editor is limited.

Fortunately, if you have knowledge of coding, altering the themes from the inside is easily done via the ‘Edit HTML/CSS’ option.

Bottom line: It is not a great option if you are looking for extensive customization options, wide range of themes.

Features and Integrations

Features

Payment Methods

For all its lack of functionality, CoreCommerce offers a wide range of features.
Vitally, these do include payment methods. There is a pleasingly broad selection available, ranging from the most widely-used (Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, etc.), to less familiar options like Amazon Pay and PagSeguro. You can even choose to let the customer pay upon the physical collection of the goods, which is a nice retro touch!

International Sales

In today’s ecommerce climate, you’ll almost certainly want to make your store as international as possible.

Fortunately, Core Commerce offers some great ways to make this easy for you.

With the help of one of their setup wizards, you can select which shipping company you want to use – UPS, FedEx, Royal Mail, and so on – and the locations to which you will deliver, which can be split into countries or even whole continents.

Furthermore, CoreCommerce has built-in currency conversion capabilities which are constantly updated for the latest rates and offers support for a range of different languages.

Bulk Import and Export

The CoreCommerce team realize that many of their potential users won’t be first-time ecommerce merchants. Rather, they will be people who already have online stores, like PrestaShop, but who now want to try out a different service. To their credit, CoreCommerce makes this easy transition courtesy of their bulk import/export feature. Newcomers can use this to import their entire catalog of products (including categories), quickly and painlessly using a .csv file.

Coupon Codes

Enticing offers and deals are potent methods for both attracting new customers, and retaining old ones.
Using a CoreCommerce coupon code is a great way to do this, mainly because of the extensive customization options available to you: you can offer discounts of any size, on any product or group of products you like.

Integrations

Many of the best website builders out there realize that they can’t offer everything themselves. Instead, to round out their feature set, they use the tools which other developers have created.

CoreCommerce does a great job of executing this approach. They offer a whopping 109 different integrations in total. These range from the payment and shipping methods mentioned earlier to product feeds on Yahoo, Shopzilla and so on, to marketing channels like Mailchimp and social media.
CoreCommerce also gets its SSL security through an integration – with GoDaddy, in this case – although that does require an annual payment.

Performance

Even if your online store looks amazing and is packed out with features, customers aren’t going to stick around for very long if it merely runs terribly.

Yottaa did a survey with leading ecommerce store owners as participants and here what they say about loading speed:

slow loading speed kills conversions

To gauge the performance levels of CoreCommerce stores, I loaded up four examples and ran them through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. The desktop versions of the four sites received an average score of 58/100, with their mobile counterparts averaging 50/100.

Both scores fall squarely into the ‘Poor’ section of Google’s evaluation and suggest that CoreCommerce websites are not well optimized by default.

Performance levels do pick up slightly when it comes to SEO, however. CoreCommerce has a solid range of SEO features, including all the basics of being able to add custom URLs for pages, edit metadata such as page descriptions, and utilize an automatically-generated sitemap.

Pricing

There are six different CoreCommerce price plans in total: Personal ($17/month, if you pay annually), Pioneer ($41), Progressive ($71), Pro ($144), Premier ($203) and Enterprise ($540).

pricing table core commerce

Note: You can check more details of each package here.

Personal is very much a bare-bones offering, which will hardly be suitable for even the smallest stores: you only get three products, two email accounts, 1GB of file storage and 2GB of bandwidth. That being said, none of the other plans have any such limits (aside from Pioneer, with which you’re restricted to 300 products). This is a big change from CoreCommerce’s past pricing system, in which there were extensive limits on storage and bandwidth; something you’ll find criticized in almost all the old CoreCommerce reviews.

In fact, Personal aside, the rest of the price plans are almost the same. The only major difference between them – apart from a discount on an SSL certificate – is the maximum value of sales you’re limited to in a 12-month trailing period. This limit ranges from $60,000 for Pioneer, up to $1.6 million for Premier, and eventually an unlimited amount for Enterprise.

Like most ecommerce solutions, CoreCommerce also has additional charges for transactions. These start at 2.75%+$0.25 per transaction and get lower as you progress up the price plans.
Note: These transaction charges are almost as high as Shopify– the poineer SAAS ecommerce solutions

Finally, CoreCommerce offers a couple of noteworthy discounts to their pricing. If you pre-pay for your plan for 12 months, you receive a tidy 10% discount on the overall price, and you also get 10% off if you open a new store in addition to your first one.

Customer Support

The CoreCommerce customer support offering is excellent; in fact, it’s one of the best things about them.

There is a range of different ways in which you can get in touch with their team, including live chat, email, and phone (7am-midnight Monday to Friday, 8am-5pm Saturday). When you submit a support ticket, you can even mark it as “URGENT” to encourage the team to prioritize it.

On top of all that, everyone who signs up to CoreCommerce (even just for a free trial) gets an “onboarding session.” This is essentially a 30-minute meet-and-greet, in which a customer service representative guides you through all the basics, and answers any questions you might have.

Conclusion

On paper, there’s a lot to like about CoreCommerce. It has a fine range of features, excellent integrations, diverse price plans to suit a variety of budgets, and wonderful customer service.

The problem is, however, that running an online store doesn’t happen “on paper”. It requires spending a whole lot of time adding products, editing content, changing options around, and so on. Arguably the most important factor of all is the intuitiveness of the design, and this is an area in which CoreCommerce is certainly lacking. It’s not the worst interface in the world, but it’s confusing, and may immediately alienate some people who try it.

To conclude my CoreCommerce review, I’d say that it’s a mixed bag, but there’s a lot of potentials there if you can see past its flaws. I would highly recommend signing up for their free 15-day trial and trying it out for yourself, before committing to spending any actual money.