SamCart is best known as an online shopping cart platform and checkout solution.
But recently, they’ve released SamCart Courses—a native course-building app fully integrated within the SamCart platform.
This add-on has changed the game and transformed SamCart from a simple checkout tool into an all-in-one ecommerce platform capable of powering your entire eLearning business.
But can it hold its own against dedicated course platforms?
In this SamCart Courses review, we’ll take a closer look at this game-changing new feature and explore everything it offers.
Plus, we’ll share what we think are its biggest pros and cons and give you the low-down on how pricing works so that you know which plan is right for you.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- What is SamCart Courses?
- How to Get Started With SamCart Courses
- SamCart Courses Review — Key Features
- SamCart Courses Pricing
- SamCart Courses Review — Pros & Cons
- SamCart Courses Review — The Final Verdict
- SamCart Courses Alternatives
What is SamCart Courses?
SamCart Courses is an app for creating and managing online courses.
It’s free when you sign up for any SamCart plan and comes with all the features you need to manage your online course business, including a drag-and-drop course builder, flexible scheduling options, assessments, student management tools, etc.
It’s fully integrated into the wider SamCart ecosystem. So once you’ve built your course in the app, you can sell them with SamCart’s conversion-optimized checkout, sales pages, and selling tools (check out our first SamCart review pre-Courses app).
And because SamCart is a fully-hosted platform, all the technical stuff is taken care of for you, like web hosting, updates, and site maintenance.
You also get access to a bunch of marketing and sales tools that you can use to drive more purchases and increase your average order values.
How to Get Started With SamCart Courses
When you first sign up for SamCart Courses, you’ll be prompted to enter some basic store details, like a URL (subdomain), store name, currency, logo, etc.
Next, you’ll be asked to connect your store to a payment processor. The default option is to use Sampay (SamCart’s own in-house payment gateway), but you can also use Stripe, Braintree (PayPal), or Easy Pay Direct.
Once you’ve finished setting everything up, you’ll be brought to the central SamCart dashboard, which looks like this:
From here, you can access all of SamCart’s many tools. But in this review, we’re just going to be focusing on the features relevant to SamCart Courses.
So next, we’ll click Apps > Courses App to open the Courses UI.
Then, click Create a New Course, and enter a quick title, synopsis, and description to get started.
Next, we’ll take a closer look at everything you can do from here as we explore the key features.
SamCart Courses Review — Key Features
The core of SamCart Courses is the course builder. You can use it to build your entire curriculum from the ground up.
To use it, click Units & Lessons in the course creation interface. From here, you can create the structure of your course by adding as many units and lessons as you want.
Units are there to add organizational structure to your course, kind of like chapters in a book. Each unit consists of multiple lessons on a particular sub-topic.
Another neat thing you can do here is assign lessons to tiers. This allows you to limit access to different customer segments based on the plan they sign up for.
For example, you might include the bulk of your lessons for all customers on a Basic plan but have additional premium content assigned to a Silver tier or Gold tier.
Once you’ve added your lessons and units, the next step is to fill them with your course content. To do so, click the Edit button next to any lesson.
In the next window, you can add your content in the Content Builder and choose your featured media type.
SamCart supports pretty much all types of multimedia content, so your courses don’t have to be boring walls of text. You can add images, videos, audio files, downloads, and more. And you can add all those different media types in the same lesson if you want to.
The ability to add downloadable files comes in especially useful as it allows you to provide supporting learning materials for your students.
For example, if you’re creating a course about Photoshop, you might want to provide your students with the photo you use in the lesson so they can edit along with you.
Or you might want to add downloadable homework files, like PDF worksheets for students to complete in between lessons. You get the idea.
All good courses include some kind of assessment to test your students’ knowledge. You can add assessments in SamCart from the Quiz or Worksheets tab.
The Quiz feature lets you add multiple-choice questions.
On the right-hand side, you can check the Quiz Required box to make the assessment mandatory so that students have to complete it before they can progress to the next lesson. You can also enter the minimum percentage score they need to pass the quiz.
The Worksheet feature lets you create worksheet-style assessments for students to complete.
Again, you can add all types of multimedia to your content. And if you check the Email me when a student completes this worksheet box, you’ll be notified when your students finish them.
While both the above assessment features are useful, they’re pretty basic. SamCart Courses doesn’t offer other as many types of assessment as dedicated course platforms like Teachable or Thinkific, and it’s lacking some key options like essay questions, etc.
There’s also no way to build rewards into your courses. SamCart Courses doesn’t come with any native certification tools that let reward students when they reach certain milestones—another important feature—and there are few opportunities to provide feedback on assessments. This is another area SamCart Courses falls short compared to its competitors.
You can click View Course at any time to see a preview of how your courses will look to your students in the course player.
We like the look of the native course player—it’s simple and clean. There’s plenty of white space, which is good. And it’s easy to navigate through the course using the left-hand menu.
At the top of the course player, students will see your featured media. This can be a video or featured image. And underneath that, they can read any text content you add.
There’s also a neat progress bar at the top that shows students how far they are through the course to help them keep track of their progress.
Again, there are a few missing features, though. There’s no search box and no comment area. The course player isn’t customizable either—there’s only one default theme.
We also would have loved to see some level of interactivity in the course player, but sadly, there isn’t any. Unlike Learnworlds, the SamCart Courses player isn’t interactive, so you can’t add things like video hotspots.
One of the best things about SamCart Courses is that it now comes with native video hosting. So if you plan on creating a video course, you won’t have to pay a secondary service to host your videos or rely on external platforms like YouTube and Vimeo.
There are no upload limits, so you can add as many videos as you like, and streaming speeds are lightning-fast. Students can watch ad-free with no lag and no third-party branding on-screen.
Under the Scheduling tab on the course editor, you can choose how you want your course content to be delivered to your customers.
There are two options to choose from: Instant Access or Drip Scheduling.
With Instant Access, customers instantly get access to all the course content as soon as they pay.
But with Drip Scheduling, you release content to students unit by unit, or lesson by lesson, at regular time intervals.
The great thing about Drip courses as they give your customers a reason to stick around and continue to renew their subscriptions. And dripping content forces them to take their time moving through your course at a steady pace rather than blowing through it all at once, which helps ensure positive learning outcomes.
When scheduling your drip content, you can choose the day of the week or specify how many days after the previous lesson/unit is complete that you want it to be released. But unfortunately, you can’t choose a specific date.
You can also exempt certain units/lessons from content dripping so that students can access them straight away and choose whether individual lessons/units are required or optional.
The latter feature allows you to create prerequisite units and force students to progress through the course in a linear fashion, which is pretty useful.
One of SamCart’s most unique features is its exclusive Auto-Enroll Technology, which drops students straight into their course immediately after they make a purchase.
With auto-enrollment, students don’t have to wait until they’ve set up their account and gone through the login process to get started—they can just dive straight in as soon as their payment’s gone through.
By eliminating all those unnecessary steps, you can dramatically increase enrollments and capture the 30% of students who would otherwise drop out before making it to the members’ area.
From the main course dashboard page, click the Students tab to manage the learners on your course.
Any students currently enrolled in your course will appear here, but you can also enroll new students manually by clicking Add Student and entering the details.
Alternatively, you can click Import Students to bulk upload a list of new students to your site. This comes in useful if you’re switching course platforms and need to migrate everything over quickly.
You can also edit and delete student profiles from here or click on any student’s name to open up their profile.
From their profile, you can do things like send them a password reset email or edit their details. Plus, you can also view their completion progress on all the courses they have access to, as well as their quiz answers and scores and any worksheets they’ve submitted.
Customers can manage their own accounts, cancel subscriptions, and update their card details from the Customer Hub.
SamCart is, first and foremost, a checkout platform. As such, it offers some of the most sophisticated commerce features you’ll find anywhere.
You have a lot of options when it comes to pricing your courses. You can choose to sell access to your courses for one-off payments, set up recurring subscription payments, or even offer Pay What You Want pricing.
The default 1-step checkout is optimized to maximize your conversions, and there are plenty of great customizable sales page templates to choose from. Sales and VAT tax supports help you to collect the right amount of taxes from your customers and stay compliant.
Other commerce features include:
- Cross Sells (advertise other courses to students within already-purchased courses to increase sales opportunities)
- Featured courses (these appear at the top of your courses library, allowing you to highlight your highest-performing courses to potential students)
- Instant payments
- Multiple payment options
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Coupons and discounts
- A/B testing
- Post-purchase & one-click upsells
- Order bumps
SamCart includes analytics and reporting features, which you can access via the Reports tab in the top navigation bar.
Sophisticated analytics features like A/B testing, Smart Pixel Tracking, etc., are available. However, most of the advanced features are only included in higher-tiered plans.
On the entry-level plan, you only get access to basic Sales by Product data, where you can see views, orders, conversion rates, total sales, recurring revenue, etc., for each product over time.
But you can’t generate traffic reports, subscription reports, refund reports, etc., without upgrading your plan.
You also don’t get many course insights that tell you how students are actually engaging with your courses, like average course completion rate and total video hours watched, etc.
This is a big drawback. Most other course platforms give you access to that kind of data so you can make data-driven decisions.
SamCart Courses Pricing
SamCart offers three plans: Launch (from $39/month), Grow (from $79/month), and Scale (from $159/month).
All plans include the Courses App and unlimited products, unlimited courses, unlimited students, and unlimited video uploads.
And no matter which one you choose, there are no additional processing fees to worry about — SamCart won’t take a cut of your sales.
You can see a full breakdown of exactly what’s included with each plan on SamCart’s pricing page, but here’s a brief overview:
- SamCart Launch — All the core features & 1 admin user
- SamCart Grow — All Launch features & 3 admin users, plus order bumps, post-purchase upsells, UTM tracking, marketing reports, SEO engine, multiple customer payment options, custom checkout fields, enhanced integrations, and more.
- SamCart Scale—All Grow features & 10 admin users, plus cart abandonment conversions, Subscription Saver feature, affiliate marketing tool, A/B testing, automated reports, custom CRM & API integrations.
You can try out any plan with a 7-day free trial, but you’ll need to enter your card details to do so.
SamCart Courses Review — Pros & Cons
Before we wrap up, here’s a recap of what we think SamCart Courses’ biggest strengths and weaknesses are.
Easy to use
We found the SamCart Courses app interface incredibly easy to use. Building a course couldn’t be simpler, and managing your students is a breeze.
Usually, ease of use comes at the expense of flexibility, but SamCart courses is also refreshingly flexible. You have lots of formatting options when creating your course content, and the platform supports most types of media.
Flexible payment and deliverability options
As you’d expect, given that SamCart is a dedicated checkout solution, it excels when it comes to taking payments and managing order fulfillment.
SamCart supports a ton of payment options that its competitors don’t, like Pay What You Want pricing, recurring subscriptions, tiered product bundles, etc. It also supports advanced delivery features like locked content and drip content.
Native video hosting is one of SamCart’s biggest pros because it’s something few other platforms offer. There’s no need for a Vimeo or Wistia account—you can upload your videos straight to SamCart.
Excellent subscription management
SamCart Courses is a great choice for subscription businesses as it has many advanced features that help sell memberships, such as custom recurring payment periods, limited period subscriptions, initial setup fees, free and paid trials, etc.
There’s a unique Subscription Saver tool that helps you to retain more of your customers by automatically emailing customers and asking them to update their card details if a payment fails.
You can also track all the metrics that matter most to subscription businesses, like monthly recurring revenue, churn rate, at-risk subscribers, etc.
Best-in-class checkout tools
SamCart’s conversion-optimized checkout is fantastic, and the auto-enrollment minimizes the onboarding steps your customers have to take to get started. There are lots of great templates for checkout pages to choose from and support for upsells, downsells, etc., to boost order values.
SamCart offers a lot out of the box, but it’s not an end-to-end ecommerce solution. Fortunately, it’s easy to integrate with other third-party apps for everything else you need to do. You can connect it to your CRM, email marketing platform, etc., in a couple of clicks.
You can even set up automations that ‘talk to’ your third-party app integrations. So, for example, you can create a workflow that automatically recognizes when a student enrolls in your course in SamCart and then adds a tag to that subscriber in ConvertKit.
Sell other types of products
Unlike dedicated course tools, SamCart doesn’t limit you to only selling courses. You can also sell digital products and even physical products alongside your courses if you want to branch out.
SamCart Courses is one of the most reliable course platforms. 99.9% uptime means you’ll rarely, if ever, have to deal with costly outages, and the built-in SSL and security with PCI and GDPR compliance help keep your customer data secure.
No community-building features
One core feature SamCart Courses is lacking is support for communities. You can’t create a community space for your students to interact like you can with some competitor platforms (Podia is one that springs to mind).
No live classes
SamCart Courses doesn’t support live events out of the box, so you can’t host or deliver live-streamed classes to your students without using a third-party integration.
Limited assessments and rewards
As we mentioned earlier, SamCart Courses only offers very basic assessment features, and there’s no option to dish out rewards to incentivize students, like certificates.
SamCart Courses isn’t very interactive. There’s no note-taking feature, clickable video hotspots, or other interactive elements to aid with student engagement.
Not an all-in-one solution
SamCart has a pretty broad feature set, but it isn’t an all-in-one platform. It’s missing a website builder, so you can’t create an entire course website complete with a blog from scratch.
SamCart Courses Review — The Final Verdict
That concludes our review of SamCart Courses.
All in all, SamCart Courses is a welcome addition to the SamCart checkout platform.
It’s a great solution for entrepreneurs that want to create and sell basic courses alongside other digital products or physical inventory, but it lacks some of the more sophisticated features you get in dedicated course platforms. Namely, advanced assessments and certification tools.
The best thing about SamCart Courses is how well it works alongside SamCart’s selling tools. Commerce-focused features like one-click upsells, cross-sells, and flexible subscription options are what make SamCart Courses stand out from its competitors.
If you’re still not sure if it’s the right choice for you, why not try it out for yourself? You can take it for a test drive with a 7-day free trial.
SamCart Courses Alternatives
Not sure if SamCart Courses is the right platform for your needs? Here are some Samcart Courses alternatives you might want to check out instead:
- Kajabi — A premium online course platform with some advanced features, including powerful automation triggers. See our full Kajabi review.
- Podia — An all-in-one subscription platform with a native course builder. Use it to sell courses, memberships, and digital downloads. See our full Podia review.
- Systeme.io — An affordable all-in-one platform with a broad feature set. Includes an online course builder, sales funnels, email marketing, automation, website builder, and more. See our full Systeme.io review.