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As a business owner, there’s no doubt you’ve thought about selling your product or service online. With the continued growth of online sales, more and more businesses are figuring out how to start an ecommerce business. Part of the development process is finding the right ecommerce software that will allow you to run the entirety of your online business operations.
As the ecommerce industry has expanded, so has the availability of these different ecommerce software platforms, many of them created with specific businesses’ goals and needs in mind. FastSpring is an ecommerce software designed particularly for businesses selling digital products and services. Is this the right software for your ecommerce business? This FastSpring review will help you decide. We’ll take you through the various FastSpring features as well as their pricing, pros, and cons. We’ll also explore some FastSpring alternatives, which include some of the biggest players in the industry.
FastSpring is a cloud-based, all-in-one ecommerce platform. The FastSpring software caters specifically to digital businesses that are selling things like software, content, or applications. Using FastSpring, you can create a website to sell your products, enable purchases and subscriptions from around the world, customize the shopping experience, and more.
At their core, FastSpring offers two different kinds of shopping experiences: a Web Storefront and a Popup Storefront. With the Web Storefront, customers are redirected from your website to FastSpring to view their cart and complete their checkout. With the Popup Storefront, FastSpring integrates into your existing website and allows customers to check out through a “pop-up” window displayed on top of your webpage. The type of Storefront you use ultimately depends on what is best for your business needs.
Additionally, not only is FastSpring a full-service ecommerce platform, but it also serves as your merchant account provider and payment gateway. To briefly explain, the payment gateway is the software that works with your ecommerce platform to authorize online payments. When a customer buys a product from your online store, the payment gateway receives the funds and deposits them in a merchant account. This means that when you use FastSpring, they authorize your payments, receive the funds, and transfer them from their merchant account into your business banking account. All of this is to say that where some ecommerce software requires you to pay for these services from third-party providers, FastSpring includes it as part of their service.
Now that we’ve broken down the basics of FastSpring, let’s dive deeper into the specific features that this ecommerce platform offers:
One of the big features that FastSpring offers is solutions geared specifically toward businesses with subscription services. FastSpring provides customizable subscription management with multiple billing models, pricing structures, and payment options. With this software, you can send outstanding payment reminders to customers as well as invoices, receipts, and account summaries. You can also create special promotions, sales, trial periods, discounts, and coupons for your customers.
As mentioned earlier, FastSpring allows you to accept payments on all of your customer orders—serving as both your merchant account and payment gateway. FastSpring enables you to receive payments from a variety of different credit cards, standard payment methods, as well as alternative payment methods, like PayPal or Amazon. Using this software, you can display and collect currencies (more than 20) based on your customer’s location, and receive the payments in your preferred currency. FastSpring also provides you with the ability to display your checkout interface in over 25 languages so that you can receive orders from all over the world. The platform also handles settlements, refunds, and remittance, as well as PCI and local law compliance.
Not only does FastSpring provide the different checkout functionalities as we discussed earlier, but also benefits that go along with their process. The unique popup cart gives customers a seamless purchasing experience with minimal steps, reducing friction and checkout times. The FastSpring checkout also creates a user account behind the scenes as opposed to making it a requirement for purchases.
Part of the FastSpring software all-in-one offering is your ability to customize your storefront and make the experience that you want. With the FastSpring StoreBuilder Library, you can build your own products, checkouts, and customer experiences. Through this process, you can easily make changes, add promotions, create bundles, show upgrades, as well as generate and distribute licenses.
In order to help you grow and engage your customer base, FastSpring software includes website, mobile and in-app functionality and an affiliate network that can integrate with your store and vertical. The platform offers optimization and conversion capabilities to track emails, banner ads, and other lead-generating campaigns. FastSpring also has reporting tools to provide insights into your customers, product success, and overall growth. Additionally, you can integrate FastSpring with a variety of different platforms like MailChimp, Google AdWords, AdRoll, Google Analytics, Salesforce, and more.
The FastSpring software platform handles all of your back office operations in addition to its shopping and checkout functionalities. FastSpring handles your tax collection, compliance, and necessary payments, including taking care of U.S. state taxes and VAT. The platform also gives you access to detailed financial reports and can integrate with other accounting tools. FastSpring also manages chargebacks and provides customer service for both you and your customers.
It’s worth noting that while all of these features are typically part of the traditional FastSpring software platform, the company recently released the FastSpring plugin for WordPress. Similar to the extremely popular WooCommerce, the FastSpring plugin allows you to manage your ecommerce store directly through your WordPress site. Just like with the FastSpring software platform, you can use the FastSpring plugin to setup your online store, configure your digital products and pricing, and ultimately process transactions. You must, however, have both a WordPress and a FastSpring account to utilize the plugin.
FastSpring has three different plan options, Pay As You Grow, Business, and Enterprise. While FastSpring details the three plans on their website, they do not list the pricing associated with each. Therefore, we have to conclude that the FastSpring pricing is quote-based and you have to speak to their sales team directly for pricing information based on your needs.
Although we don’t know the pricing specifics, we can explain what is included in each plan.
Every plan includes:
Breaking down the individual plans, the Pay As You Grow plan is “pay per transaction” and requires no contract. It includes standard ecommerce services and base benefits. According to FastSpring’s site, they offer “low competitive rates” for this plan.
The Business plan is a “subscription” plan and is best served for established companies and software-as-service (SaaS) businesses. In addition to the base benefits and services, this plan has premium benefits including subscription management capability, affiliate network and marketing extensions, as well as API and Webhook access. The site specifies that this plan has “low monthly fees.”
For both the Pay As You Grow and Business plans, you can create a FastSpring account right from their website.
The final plan, the Enterprise plan, has “custom pricing” and is best for businesses with greater than $2 million annual sales. This plan includes all of the services of the previous plans, as well as additional Enterprise benefits like dedicated onboarding, user experience customization, and ERP, CRM, and legacy integrations. To set up an Enterprise account, you have to contact the FastSpring sales team.
As with the other FastSpring options, FastSpring’s website does not mention any pricing information in regards to their WordPress plugin either. However, since they do specify that you must have a FastSpring account to use the plugin, we’re led to believe the pricing for the plugin corresponds to the FastSpring software plans. Again, you’ll have to contact FastSpring directly to get the exact pricing information.
After sorting through all of the features and pricing of the FastSpring ecommerce software platform, there are several benefits worth considering:
One of the big benefits of FastSpring is the all-in-one nature of the platform. With one software, you have access to all the features discussed above, essentially providing you with everything you need to run your online business. Additionally, the fact that FastSpring serves as your merchant of record and payment processor takes a huge lift off your shoulders as a small business owner.
Another advantage of the FastSpring platform is their international capabilities. When using FastSpring, you can accept international orders and payments and show customers prices in their currency based on location, without any additional work on your end. This functionality can help you extend your business’s reach, as well as create a seamless, intuitive shopping experience for your customers.
If your business sells digital based products or services (ebooks, software, content, etc.), FastSpring was designed with you in mind. FastSpring has specific subscription capabilities for digital services that run on a subscription basis. They also specialize in fulfilling digital orders, allowing for instant file download and they integrate with license and rights management providers to protect your intellectual property.
While there are some advantages to using FastSpring as your ecommerce platform, there are also some drawbacks. Here are a few:
FastSpring does not offer transparent pricing, which can be problematic, especially when trying to compare their service to industry competitors. While the website claims the service has “low competitive rates” and “low monthly fees,” it’s impossible to verify that information without actually seeing their prices laid out.
Although many FastSpring customer reviews out there are generally positive, the one recurring negative is that the software is not particularly user-friendly. Some reviewers noted that it’s difficult to understand all the features on the dashboard and that the software can be overwhelming, especially when getting started.
FastSpring can certainly be appealing if you’re a digitally based business, but this specificity also alienates a huge portion of ecommerce businesses. FastSpring doesn’t seem to have capabilities designed for businesses selling physical goods like inventory management or shipping services.
Before deciding that FastSpring is the ecommerce software platform that best suits your business needs, let’s look at some of the alternatives in the industry.
Shopify is one of the biggest players in the ecommerce industry, and for good reason. Shopify is customizable, easy to use, and has numerous features similar to FastSpring, including digital product offerings. Additionally, Shopify offers a full range of capabilities for businesses selling physical goods. Shopify does not, however, have the same language and currency customizations that are an integral part of the FastSpring platform. In fact, in order to sell in multiple currencies with Shopify, you have to have Shopify Plus. Similarly, while the FastSpring Popup Storefront allows customers to check out directly on your site, this capability is only available to Shopify Plus subscribers.
Like FastSpring, on the other hand, Shopify has the ability to serve as a payment processor. Shopify, however, details their pricing—monthly fees for their plans can range from $9 to $300, plus credit card processing fees. Ultimately, Shopify’s diverse offerings and transparent pricing makes them a worthy alternative to FastSpring.
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If you’re looking for an alternative that has some benefits quite similar to FastSpring, Selz is worth a look. Although Selz has the general capabilities of popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify, like FastSpring, it also has features particular to digitally based businesses. Selz calls these their “Digital ninja” services and they include the ability to sell ebooks, videos, courses, and apps. With these services, you get additional benefits like automated PDF stamping, limited downloads, unlimited hosting and bandwidth, automatic product updates, and license keys.
Also like FastSpring, Selz serves as your payment gateway, offers an on-site shopping cart and multi-currency charge and payment options. Selz has four different plan options, the most basic of which has no monthly fee. The other plans range from $17 per month to $35 per month, plus transaction and processing fees. For advanced features like license keys, you’ll have to choose the most expensive plan, however, this plan has the lowest fees. If you’re looking for a software with digital-businesses in mind that has transparent pricing, Selz is definitely worth considering.
Not to be confused with the similar sounding Selz or Shopify, Sellfy is an ecommerce platform that, like FastSpring, only deals with businesses selling digital products. Sellfy has similar digital-focused features to FastSpring and Selz: subscription offerings, PDF stamping, and limited downloads. Like FastSpring, Sellfy also has customizable shopping cart options, language adjusting capabilities, as well as multiple currency options. Sellfy strongly promotes the user-friendliness of their platform, using the tagline: “Build your store in under five minutes.”
Unlike the other platforms, however, Sellfy requires that you use PayPal or Stripe to process payments. In addition to the fees from your payment processor, Sellfy has two plan options, Pro for $29 per month and Pro Plus for $99 per month. The only difference between the two is that Pro Plus has a 0% transaction fee, as well as premium support. The transaction fee for the Pro plan is 2%.
Since Sellfy is also a digital-specific ecommerce platform, it seems like a fair competitor to FastSpring, especially considering its transparent pricing and ease-of-use. If you already have a payment processor, all the better.
Ultimately, FastSpring seems best-suited for established businesses that sell digital products or services. If your digital-based business has an international reach (or wants one) and would derive significant value from currency and language capabilities, FastSpring is worth considering. Similarly, if your digital business has a robust website and is looking for an onsite shopping cart, the FastSpring Popup Storefront could work for you. At the end of the day, however, you have to be willing to discuss pricing with the FastSpring sales team, and it’s certainly sensible to explore the numerous ecommerce software platforms available to determine which one best suits your individual needs.