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 what e-commerce site owners need, and more experience meeting those needs than the generic run-of-the-mill shared hosting provider who 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.
Find What You’re Looking For
fortune3 Company Background
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 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.
fortune3 Today: Full-Service E-Commerce Solution
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.
How Does fortune3 Stand Out?
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 by 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.
All fortune3’s plans include:
- A range of products from 20-unlimited, based on the plan
- Free or minimal setup fee (Just $50 for the 10,000 product and unlimited plan, free for all others)
- Unlimited email accounts
- Unlimited storage
- Solid support (limited for the lowest plan)
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Access to all the features fortune3 has
- An unlimited number of admin accounts
- No transaction fees
Pricing Based on Products, Not Features
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.
No Transaction Fees
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.
Added Bonus: Work Offline
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 PCs.
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.
Optional: Use a Designer Instead of a Template
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.
As far as e-commerce features and tools, fortune3 offers a few exceptional ways to customize your store.
Additional Services: Get Marketing and Advertising Assistance
Fortune3 offers additional tools and services, including:
- Access to professional marketing consultants to help set up and manage pay-per-click advertising campaigns to generate quality traffic and higher conversions
- Top-level domain name registration
- Custom logo design
- Selection of additional plugins and resources
You can execute a range of management functions from your store’s administration area.
- Tracking customer orders
- Making changes to an order
- Reports on unfinished orders and abandoned carts.
Print Product Labels Easily
You can integrate your online store with several major shipping carriers including FedEX, UPS and DHL. This integration lets you easily print shipping labels from your administration site in your fortune3 account.
Grow Traffic and Conversions: SEO and Pay-per-Click Advertising
When setting up your online store, you need to make sure your prospects can find you online. Most e-commerce providers will include SEO features to improve your ranking in organic search results.
Fortune3’s will automatically optimize your store once you sign-up. This is especially useful if you’re new to e-commerce. But if you’d like to have more control, there’s also the option to modify the meta tags and filenames.
While SEO focuses on increasing organic traffic, pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is an advertising model where you pay each time someone clicks an ad for your site. Fortune3’s marketing team can design a PPC campaign for your site.
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.
A few of the most popular payment processing options that work with fortune3 include:
- ACH direct
- Clear Commerce
- Merchant One
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.
New to E-Commerce?
If you’re new to setting up your e-commerce store, you may want to select fortune3’s in-house option.
The e-commerce solution offers a complete payment processing system open to store owners from across the world, and they’ll even set up a merchant account for you.
They promise a high level of control, fraud prevention tools and an increased number of payment settings. There’s no setup or integration fee.
Integrate With Your Current Payment Processor
If you already have your own payment processor, you can instruct fortune3 to complete the integration and they’ll charge a one-time setup fee.
If your payment processor is not integrated to fortune3, they will manage the process for you. Though this route is considerably more expensive.
Security: How to Secure Your Online Store
As an e-commerce site owner understands, security is all important when it comes to online retail.
As an online store owner, it is your responsibility to make sure your site is protected against hacks.
Online stores of all sizes are at risk. And even if you’re a small business just starting out online, you have to take measures to secure your site.
Once you demonstrate that your site is protected against potential threats, you contribute towards increased customer confidence in your business. There are several types of cyber attacks that can damage your reputation, and even result in the closure of your online store.
Malware is malicious code in the background of your website. One form of this attack sees the hacker injecting a script which can steal your client’s private financial data. The script captures the information on the checkout page. Consider the type of data your customer may input here: credit card information, physical addresses, etc. This script intercepts this data, and your customer may become a victim of credit card fraud.
While many hacks set out to steal your clients’ financial data, another form of malware diverts your customer to the hacker’s online store, so they score the traffic, and the sale.
This scenario poses less of a threat to the safety of your client’s credit card data, but it’s a threat to the growth of your online store.
Protecting Your Customers Data
When researching e-commerce software, consider their security offerings carefully. Reputable e-commerce platform providers will comply with regulations like PCI standards, which lists a set of safeguards to keep client data safe.
fortune3 has formed a partnership with McAfee Secure to ensure compliance with all PCI standards and requirements.
Your fortune3 e-commerce site will be scanned daily for malware but keep in mind that you will have to complete the PCI process for your own store as well.
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.
Use the Free, Included SSL or Buy Your Own
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 purchase a GeoTrust SSL certificate, which ranges from the basic option which encrypts to the communication between your site and your customer, to the mid-tier option that comes with a site seal and a $US500 000 warranty. The top tier SSL comes with a $US1.5m warranty, and the green browser bar. This SSL certificate is mainly geared towards enterprises.
What Type of Customer Service is Available?
fortune3 offers a few different ways to access various levels of support.
First, there’s an FAQ page. It’s not extensive but seems to cover many of the most fundamental 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.
24/7 Support via and Ticketing System
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Got questions about fortune3’s features or capabilities? We’ve got answers.
Is fortune3 SEO-friendly?
Yes, they are pretty SEO-friendly as far as e-commerce solutions go. They make it easy to create optimized meta tags and URLs, and they automatically submit your site to search engines (that is often a paid feature). They also provide access, so you can manually modify just about any part of your site.
If I use fortune3, will my site be PCI-compliant?
fortune3 states that their shopping cart and hosting environment (through McAfee Secure) is 100% PCI-compliant. To be clear, you’d need to purchase McAfee Secure ($99) to have the PCI-compliant hosting environment.
We recommend that you familiarize yourself with PCI compliance since, as a business owner, the responsibility for compliance is ultimately yours. You can start with this introduction to PCI security standards. Also, avail yourself of the resources on the PCI Security Standards Council website and contact them with any questions you may have.
fortune3 partnered with McAfee to offer additional packages aimed specifically at exceeding PCI regulations.
According to their site, sites that use a McAfee package have 10-15% higher sales than those who don’t. These plans include a comprehensive scan of your site, a McAffee Trustmark logo, unlimited support, and more.
Does fortune3 offer a money-back guarantee?
Fortune3 does not appear to offer a money back guarantee at this time. However, they do offer a free 30-day trial, which is pretty generous. You don’t even have to enter a credit card, just sign up and start building your site.
At the end of the 30 days, you will need to sign up to keep what you’ve built.