GoDaddy is perhaps best known for its excellent web hosting service, but the company also has a long history creating site builders and e-commerce platforms. The company’s newest product, GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store (which begins at $29.99) is a solid e-commerce site builder that falls just short of Editors’ Choice shopping cart tools Shopify and PinnacleCart. However, because of its ease of use, lack of transaction and bandwidth fees, GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store is worthy of your consideration.
Pricing and Plans
All GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store plans let you build a site and market it for as long as you like, for free. Whenever you’re ready to begin selling, you’ll have to pony up credit card information and $29.99 per month. GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store offers several site builders that don’t offer e-commerce functionality. The Personal plan (which is $5.99 per month, billed annually) is the most basic plan. It includes responsive design, Getty images photography, web hosting, and 24/7 support. The Business plan (which is $9.99 per month) adds PayPal integration, SSL certification, and search engine optimization (SEO) tools on top of everything you receive in the Personal plan. The Business Plus plan (which is $14.99 per month) gives you access to an email marketing platform, social media integration, and the ability to tie your website to your company’s Facebook page; it also offers everything you receive in the Personal and Business plans. The Online Store plan (which is the plan we tested) is the only GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store plan that gives you access to a fully featured shopping cart, credit card payments, product pages, abandoned cart recovery emails, and SMS notifications for new orders. GoDaddy doesn’t charge a bandwidth fee; however, you’re limited to 1,500 products and 10 images per product.
For comparison’s sake, Shopify offers three packages as part of its standard offering: Basic, Professional, and Ultimate. The Basic plan (which is $29 per month) charges 2.9 percent and 30 cents for every online credit card transaction and 2.7 percent for every in-person transaction. The Professional plan (which is $79 per month) charges 2.5 percent and 30 cents for every online credit card transaction and 2.4 percent for every in-person transaction. The Unlimited plan (which is $179 per month) charges 2.25 percent and 30 cents for every online credit card transaction and 2.15 percent for every in-person transaction.
With Shopify, you never have to worry about bandwidth or storage limitations, which is helpful for companies that have deep inventory and are expecting heavy traffic volume. In fact, most of the services we reviewed—including 3dcart, PinnacleCart, and Volusion—don’t charge transaction fees. Rather, they offset payment charges to the gateway with which you choose to accept payments.
Set-Up and Site Design
GoCentral Online Store utilizes a very simple, wizard-based set-up that is similar but not as attractive as the Wix Stores set-up process. Once I was logged in, the wizard asked what kind of store I wanted to create. I typed in “Fishing Tackle Shop” and those exact words popped up as one of the wizard’s template options. GoCentral provides more than 1,500 distinct categories, which is one step above Wix Stores’ 445 options. The wizard asked me to enter the name of the shop and the address where the physical store would be located. Once I entered that information, the store was created and designed using stock photos that aligned with the fishing theme. My information appeared throughout the site, and I was ready to begin adding products and adjusting the site’s interface.
Once you’ve got a basic foundation built, you can easily change the site’s appearance. Things like headers and featured products can be changed by clicking the navigation bar along the right-hand side of the dashboard or by clicking directly onto the element within the page. Changing layouts and color schemes is as simple as scrolling through visual representations of prebuilt options or by clicking into the navigation to make custom changes or input text. You can even use this navigation panel to add sections to your site, such as a blog or a calendar or links to social media. Although this part of the site creation process isn’t guided like the one you’ll find with Wix Stores, GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store makes everything very simple, easy to find, and intuitive enough that anyone who has ever done online shopping should have no trouble making changes.
Changing your site’s overall theme is equally simple. On the right-hand side of the Themes dashboard, you’ll be able to scroll through seven prebuilt models. As you click on a new theme, your site adjusts to let you preview that theme. You can also adjust the background, button, and header colors by clicking on the colored boxes along the right-hand side panel.
Adding products in GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store is basic data entry. You’ll enter a product name, price, a sale price (when necessary), a SKU, and any categories to which you’d like to add products. GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store gives you a field for search engine crawls. You can use this field to add product keywords and a description that will best apply to your product in order to attract people who search for it or others like it online.
GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store lets you set up text-based notifications so that, if a customer orders a product, then you’ll receive a text message. This is a nice feature, especially for smaller stores or stores with big-ticket items. Abandoned cart recovery emails can be sent automatically if a customer abandons cart. However, these emails can only be sent 20 minutes, 1 hour, or 24 hours after a cart is abandoned, which is an annoying limitation. The email template is incredibly simple and can’t be customized, which is another annoying limitation.
An SEO wizard walks you through the optimization process by asking you a series of questions about your store, such as: “Is your customer base local or national?” or “Which search phrases best apply to your product?” The SEO wizard then lets you choose optimal keywords and helps guide you through text additions to your site. This ensures that your keyword is included in descriptions, search phrases, and elsewhere on the page.
GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store offers dozens of sales and marketing-related add-ons that you can turn on with just a click. These add-ons include sign-up forms, auto-responder emails, the ability to automatically add customers who click specific links to email lists, and personalization tags that let you communicate with subscribers on a first-name basis. You’ll need to be on the Online Stores plan in order to access these features without incurring additional charges.
Unfortunately, page and section templates are impossible to customize. For example, I created a Featured Products page. Within that page, the only things I can change are the background and piping colors that can be used within that template. The same is true for the Menu/Price List template. I can only adjust the page’s display. I can’t go in and completely restructure the design to suit my own wants and needs. This is great for new sellers, but it might frustrate those companies who demand a bit more flexibility in the initial site creation.
Features and Functionality
Because of its integration with Apple Pay, GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store lets mobile users make a purchase right from a product page rather than having to add to cart, enter payment and shipping information, and click “Purchase.” The GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store’s application programming interface (API) grabs things such as your shipping and payment information directly from Apple, so that all you need to do is click the Apple Pay button and confirm in order to buy products.
GoDaddy doesn’t offer mobile apps, which is a huge bummer. However, the company provides a full store editor within the mobile browser experience from which you can tweak and publish your site. You can add photos, pull images from the web, and edit the images on your mobile device–all within the mobile GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store experience. Still, anyone who has ever used a mobile site to create content can tell you that the experience can get quite cramped, especially on small-format smartphones. A GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store mobile app should be in the works, if it isn’t already.
In addition to Apply Pay, GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store also integrates with PayPal OneTouch and Stripe. The tool doesn’t provide an automated tax calculator so you’ll have to manage those manually. Unlike Wix Stores, the tool can’t handle booking so, if you’re a massage parlor or golf instructor, then you’ll want to look elsewhere for your online store. GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store doesn’t provide a developer API, so you won’t be able to have your team create connections between the tool and third-party software, and it offers no point-of-sale (POS) support.
The tool also doesn’t provide a lightbox tool. For those who don’t know what a lightbox is, it’s an overlay unit that pops up whenever a user lands on a specific page. For example, rather than updating your entire website for Valentine’s Day, you could create a lightbox to advertise your chocolates whenever someone lands on your homepage. Additionally, GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store doesn’t provide thematic overlays. So, if you’d like to add a Christmas theme to your site, then you can’t just click a button and turn it on; you’ll need to change all of the elements within your original template.
The Bottom Line
GoDaddy GoCentral Online Stores is an affordable tool that offers most of the premium functionality you’ll find on competing e-commerce site builders. However, its lack of mobile apps, its products limitation, its lack of POS support, and its locked API make it impossible for me to give it an Editors’ Choice nod.
For first-time users who don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars per month on an e-commerce platform, GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store does a solid enough job letting you build a site, post products, and start selling at an affordable rate. Unfortunately, once you move past the initial stages, you’ll want to be able to adjust your site to meet very specific requests, but GoCentral won’t give you that flexibility.