Thrivecart vs PayKickstart – In-Depth Review and Comparison

What is a payment platform?

You may have heard of payment providers like PayPal or Stripe or even the bigger traditional players like Visa, Mastercard or American Express. All of these merchants allow you to accept digital payments from your customers in exchange for a goods or service. From a technical perspective, in the schemes world, they are referred to as the Acquirer because they acquire and process the transaction. If you want more information, can you check out this detailed article but it’s probably not required. All you need to know is that there are only a handful of large and reputable providers who work like an online bank to process your transaction.

So what is ThriveCart and Paykickstart?

Having worked in the issuing side of the credit card industry for more than a decade, I’ve got a good idea of how the Acquiring side of the business works.

The schemes I mentioned earlier, Visa, MasterCard and Amex are all self-sufficient merchants and they’re capable of handling payments themselves. If you would like to accept payments from customers, there’s nothing stopping you from working directly with one of these companies. Also you generally can the same by contacting your bank.

However, even in that scenario, your bank will play the middleman. As such, your bank will charge for this service on a monthly basis.

PayPal, Stripe and more recently Authorize.net is basically the virtual version of Visa, MasterCard and Amex. They handle what’s known as the Acquiring side.Companies like ThriveCart, PayKickstart or even SamCart act like your bank, playing the middleman. However, in my opinion, they play much more of a vital role that than for a customer to commit to paying for a transaction online requires much more than a payment button. Especially if you’re not one of the big players like Amazon or eBay.

Do I need a Payment Gateway?

If you’re referring to Payment gateway as ThriveCart or PayKickstart, then the short answer is no. You can start accepting payments on your website as all of these payment gateways offer a basic button and link service. Basically, you specify

  • product name
  • the amount you wish to charge
  • short description

However, this is so basic that it will not entice your customers to buy from you. It certainly would and did work in the 90s but not today. This is why payment gateways such as ThriveCart and PayKickstart as so much value as they act as the middleman to the Payment Processor (PayPal, Stripe and Authorize.net).

You as a product creator or service provider have so much control over how your product is display, not to mention adding upsells, downsells, bump offers, timers etc. It’s just a more professional way to conduct business.

Affiliate Centre

If you currently have a product and would like to really scale up your scales, the best way to do this is by building an army of affiliates who will sell your product for you. In exchange, you give them a commission. The actual percentage is entirely upto you. If it’s a digital product, there’s no reason why you can’t easily give as high as 40% and still be worth your while. This is how companies like ClickFunnels have grown and expanded virally completely obliterating conventional sales and marketing methodologies.

The good news for you is that you don’t have to create your own Affiliate management system. I still see companies doing this and can’t understand why one would spend that resourcing in building something from scratch when you can leverage a proven and solid infrastructure of a payment gateway. Both PayKickStart and ThriveCart have Affiliate Centres. I highly recommend you utilise this section this to sell your products to crush your competition. It’s such a win/win scenario. Your affiliates are given the opportunity to promote a product that they don’t own but they can still make some money for their efforts. You in turn as the vendor increase your sales but pay only when your affiliates make a sale.

Upsells and Downsells

There is one thing I need to make clear. Neither of these two are page or funnel builders. Instead, you can create a landing page using your preferred page builder and link up each page to the sequence you desire. I found this confusion at the start but it is very straight forward with a little bit of thought. Paykickstart is visually structured better than ThriveCart but the end result is the same. You build your pages where ever you want but the links to those pages can be managed in either platform.

Features Compared

Below is side by side comparison of the key features of each product. The way each Payment Gateway executes on each feature might be slightly different but the outcome is the same.

NameThriveCartPayKickStart
1 click bump offfer✔️✔️
1 click upsells✔️✔️
Embeddable cart✔️
Funnel Builder (not page builder)✔️✔️
A/B Testing✔️✔️
Affiliate Center✔️✔️
Webhooks✔️✔️
Auto Followups✔️
Autoresponder Integrations✔️✔️
Coupons✔️✔️
Customer Hub✔️✔️
Detailed Stats✔️✔️
Shortened URL ✔️✔️
Dunning/Auto-Retry✔️✔️
Instant Affiliate Payments✔️✔️
2-Factor Authentication✔️✔️
Two Step Cart✔️✔️
Link Tracking✔️✔️
Membership Integration✔️✔️
Modal Cart✔️✔️
Predicted Sales✔️✔️
Product Upgrades✔️✔️
Automatic Receipts✔️✔️
Retargeting✔️✔️
Digital Sales Tax✔️✔️
Subscription Management✔️✔️
Secure URLS✔️✔️
Advanced Trial Support✔️✔️
Unlimited Carts✔️✔️
Video Carts✔️✔️

Payment Processors Compared

As advised earlier, both ThriveCart and PayKickstart play the role of the intermediary between the customer and the ultimate payment processor.

Please diagram shows the customer journey from the point of entry into the website to where the payment will finally be processed.

NameThriveCartPayKickStart
PayPal✔️✔️
Stripe✔️✔️
Authorize.net✔️✔️
Braintree✔️
EasyPayDirect✔️

Webinar Integrations Compared

NameThriveCartPayKickStart
Demio✔️✔️
WebinarNinja✔️✔️
GotoWebinar✔️
Webinar Ignition✔️
Webinar Jam✔️
Webinar Jeo✔️
Zoom✔️
Big Marker

Autoresponder Integrations Compared

NameThriveCartPayKickStart
ActiveCampaign✔️✔️
Aweber✔️✔️
Campaign Refinery✔️
Constant Contact✔️
CovertKit✔️✔️
Drip✔️✔️
GetResponse✔️✔️
GetResponse 360✔️
iContact✔️
Infusionsoft✔️✔️
Interspire✔️
Klaviyo✔️
MailChimp✔️✔️
Market Hero✔️
SendReach✔️
HTML autoresponder✔️
Raw SMTP✔️
Amazon SES✔️
Sendlane✔️
Ontraport✔️✔️
Moosend
Maropost✔️

My Concerns with each product

ThriveCart – I bought into ThriveCart in July 2017 on a LifeTime Deal. At the moment, there wasn’t a marketer who didn’t think this was a good deal, especially because the massive discount that they were offering. I paid USD$690, a large sum at the time being the offering seemed solid.

Like most people, I had the impression that this was a very time-sensitive deal and ThriveCart would be opened to the public in a matter of weeks or worst case, months. However, it’s been years and it’s still not available for the public.

To their credit, they haven’t stopped improving ThriveCart. Every so often, a large batch of improvements are rolled out. The community itself is very passionate about the product and it has large number of integrations with other SaaS products. If you are wanting to get ThriveCart, you can only do this via a selected number of approved affiliates like me.

My concerns are that if this isn’t released to the public via normal pricing, is ThriveCart sustainable in the long term. As I said, at this stage, I can not fault it from a feature or support point of view. There is definitely room for improved in the UI space; other than that, it ticks most of the boxes.

Currently, there are no active Webinars running for ThriveCart. However, you can watch the pre-recorded from 2019 which is still relevant and give you great insights on how the platform performs.

Get Lifetime Access to ThriveCart, click here

Get LifeTime Access

PayKickStart – Contrary to ThriveCart, PayKickstart is backed by a very reputable marketer Mark Thompson and the Digital KickStart brand. All of his products are rock solid. This isn’t flattery but the truth. I’ve bought a large portion of Digital Kickstarts products and there’s only been a handful which I’ve refunded or that I didn’t like. For example, FreshMember is a great membership platform but it lacks the integration into say ThriveCart. Obviously I understand their rationale for this as but I can’t openly recommend that particular product.

Mark has never released a lifetime membership (as far as I’m aware) for his flagship product. However, there’s been a number of times where he has bundle by some training with Paykickstart and ran promos. You can check this out here via the webinar.

My concern for you here is obviously the pricing. Comparing these side by side, without taking the price into account, I would select PayKickstart because it’s so well supported, the UI is amazing and it’s well integrated with other applications beautifully.

Click here Watch PayKickStart Webinar *

*while it’s still available


Head to Head

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

As I’m writing this in 2020 and because there’s still a Lifetime Deal still available with ThriveCart, I’m going to recommend ThriveCart as this will serve more people, with a large support network and an ever-growing feature set. This is ideal for Solopreneur to medium size business

If you have a large business and would like extraordinary customer support, then go with PayKickStart.

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