Hosting providers with e-commerce tools are everywhere you look these days. How can you decide which one best suits your needs?
One option is to prioritize providers who specialize in e-commerce. The operating premise behind this approach is that the company in question has a much better grasp of e-commerce site owner needs, and more actual experience meeting those needs than the generic run-of-the-mill shared hosting provider who just happens to also offer a shopping cart.
In the case of fortune3, that experience translates into a scalable platform and service that’s worth a closer look. Is fortune3 the right provider for you? Let’s see.
The fortune3 platform has been around since 2001 and is based in Doral, Florida, with about 38 employees. The company states that it has built, managed, and served as the foundation for over 200,000 online stores.
In the early days of the company’s existence, the fortune3 product was actually a piece of software that customers downloaded and used locally as a wizard to help build online stores. After the store was built out, the user would then upload the resulting site files to their own hosting company servers. It was only available for PC users.
Now, however, fortune3 is a full-fledged, full-service, one-stop-shop solution for e-commerce users on any platform. Since it’s cloud-based, anyone with any kind of OS on their local machines can use it. Since it’s full-service, there’s no need to go hunting for separate hosting services. Everything is included, from site design to e-commerce functions to hosting and more.
To be sure, fortune3 isn’t the only player in the e-commerce site-builder field to provide complete soup-to-nuts solutions for e-commerce site owners.
Where does fortune3 distinguish itself from the competition, then? Primarily, in a few separate areas: first, the pricing structure which gives all users the same set of features, and distinguishes fees only on the basis of the number of products offered for sale on the site in question; and second, in the greater flexibility of its site-design options.
The services and products that are fortune3’s e-commerce bread and butter are, like most of its competitors’ plans, built on a subscription SaaS (software-as-a-service) model. You get the platform to build your site, tools to turn it into an actual e-commerce platform, and the hosting to make it all work.
Fortune3 plans are based on the number of products you have for sale on your site. That means that even with the free 30-day trial you’ll enjoy the full range of features and benefits fortune3 has to offer. You’ll get boosted to the next plan if you add products that take you over your current plan’s limits.
See all fortune3 plans
There are no transaction fees for fortune3 subscribers who utilize the company’s payment processing service. However, if you choose a different solution for payment processing, you’ll still need to pay fees for payment processing.
No matter what plan you start with, you’ll get unlimited emails, storage, and bandwidth. The difference is in the number of products allowed per each of the six levels of available plans, ranging from 20 products for the lowest-priced entry-level plan to 10,000 products at the top end. There’s also a plan that allows for unlimited products, but also carries a setup fee, which lower-end plans do not.
Whether you need a bigger plan or not, you can always change your plan at any time without penalty or additional fee.
Finally, you can still use the downloadable fortune3 software wizard to work on your site offline, if you like, or you can use the cloud-based tools exclusively. The wizard, however, is still apparently only available for PC computers.
fortune3 Sitebuilder Tools and Templates
The fortune3 site-building workflow is a simple four-step process that puts the emphasis where it should be for an e-commerce site — on the commerce. The retail functions and options are addressed ahead of issues related to site design:
- Open up the site-builder wizard
- Configure your selected payment and shipping options
- Add products, images, and copy to your site
- Then choose and configure (and optionally customize) your template.
This doesn’t mean that site design is an afterthought with fortune3, however. With respect to your site’s look, the company offers two basic approaches: the DIY method, by selecting one of their hundreds of free templates, or the professional-design outsourcing method.
You can sign up for a free, fully featured 30-day trial of fortune3’s e-commerce builder. There’s a free cloud-based version you can play around with as well, which can help you decide if you want to give the full version a closer look.
And if those templates simply don’t do it for you, and you don’t have the CSS skills to change them up yourself, you can outsource a custom design and site deployment to fortune3 designers. The company offers turnkey packages that include everything from design and development to programming.
You can take a closer look at the fortune3 portfolio to see what sites built by actual fortune3 users actually look like. If these sites are built on out-of-the-box templates, without any customization, the gallery speaks rather highly of the available selection and design quality inherent in the base themes from which you can choose.
And if they reflect CSS customization, well, that may be even better. You might have to put in a little more effort to tweak your site’s design to suit your needs, but with fortune3, good, clean, modern design is available.
See more fortune3 features
The platform works with several payment processing gateways. If you’ve already signed up with a payment processor, chances are you can continue to use it.
Alternatively, you can use the fortune3 payment processor. The fiscal difference will be whether you pay a transaction fee — you won’t if you use the fortune3 service, but will if you bring your own processor along.
Additional tools and services offered include access to full-time marketing consultants to help set up and manage pay-per-click advertising campaigns offering quality traffic and higher conversions; top-level domain name registration; custom logo design; and a selection of additional plugins and resources.
As an e-commerce site owner understands, security is all important when it comes to online retail. While fortune3 does provide an SSL certificate — a must for e-commerce sites — your site’s secured pages will show up as a second-level URL on the fortune3.com domain.
To get around this, and have your own domain show up for all your secure checkout pages, you can purchase your own SSL certificate. You’ll be prompted during the signup process to select one or the other approach.
The free SSL is certainly more budget-conscious, and it gets configured for you automatically, but the tradeoff is that your customers get redirected to a fortune3.com URL for checkout.
You can also purchase additional security measures through fortune3. And the company has formed a partnership with McAfee Secure to ensure compliance with all PCI standards and requirements.
fortune3 offers a few different ways to access various levels of support.
First, there’s an FAQ page. It’s not terribly extensive but seems to cover many of the most basic questions a prospective or new customer might have.
There’s also an extensive knowledgebase with several articles on many subjects. Topics include taxes, shipping, wholesale issues, and more, as well as topics directly related to fortune3’s tools, such as hosting, search engine optimization, and site customization.
If that fails, you can request free technical support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through fortune3’s ticket system.
Billing and Cancellation
Choosing an e-commerce platform and hosting company is a big decision. The fortune3 brand offers a 30-day free trial to try it out for yourself and see whether fortune3 is the right e-commerce solution for you.
Other than the 30-day trial, however, there doesn’t seem to be much information provided on the fortune3 website in regards to billing procedures. The company does permit cancellation at any time, but you must submit a ticket request to initiate the cancellation process.
Should You Choose Fortune3 Ecommerce Builder?
Fortune3 seems like a solid choice for small e-commerce sites that want to pick a platform that can grow with them. You can start small with an entry-level plan, a handful of products, and an out-of-the-box theme. Then you can expand into more products and invest in a more customized look for your storefront once your revenue supports the additional investment.