With close to 600 ecommerce shopping carts on the market, merchants have a lot to choose from. Each week in “Cart Talk,” we interview a merchant that uses a particular cart — including hosted carts, licensed carts and open-sourced carts — to get frank, real-world feedback on its use: what works and what needs improvement. We then interview a shopping-cart expert, for his or her observations on the cart and the merchant’s use of it.
This week, we’ll hear from merchant Jonathan Bussiere, owner and product designer of Hips and Hair, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based t-shirt, hoodie, tote bag and fine art company. Bussiere’s company uses Yahoo!’s hosted shopping cart. According to Yahoo!’s website, prices for the cart start at $39.95 per month, plus a transaction fee from .75 percent to 1.5 percent of sales.
Bussiere says this about his experience in ecommerce, “I am definitely an amateur when it comes to ecommerce. I am a graphic designer, fine artist and screen printer, not an ecommerce pro or web designer.
“The site and store were set up for the whole purpose of having a forum to showcase and sell my art and, hopefully, one day being able to pay my rent with what I make.
“I started my business for the sole purpose of being able to do things on my own. The learning curve is steep and mistakes cannot be blamed on anyone but myself. But the liberation one feels of owning and running something made entirely from scratch is unlike anything I have encountered before.”
Bussiere uses his Yahoo!’s cart to sell approximately 150 units per year with annual revenue of approximately $18,000.
Practical eCommerce: Why Yahoo!’s shopping cart?
Jonathan Bussiere: “I use the Yahoo! system because I tried to build my own ecommerce site from scratch. I even purchased Dreamweaver and taught myself how to use it to do so, but the process was taking way too long and the learning curve was too steep for my minimal web design skills. So, I talked to a few different developers, and decided that Yahoo! was the way to go.”
PeC: How long has your company been using the Yahoo! cart?
Bussiere: “I’ve been using my Yahoo!/PayPal combo since 2008. I use PayPal for my credit card processing, as well as PayPal payments.”
PeC: Can you describe how you process orders in the Yahoo! cart, step-by-step?
- “When I receive an order I get an e-mail with all the order details.
- From There I log into my Yahoo! Small Business account and bring up the actual order.
- Depending on how the individual chose to pay — credit/debit card, or PayPal — I have to ‘capture’ the funds, which then authorizes PayPal to process the payment.
- I then log into PayPal and transfer the funds to my bank account.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Bussiere: “The cart’s biggest strength is peace of mind. Yahoo! is such a large and trusted name that people will not be scared away by an unknown company and therefore not order from me.
“Also, while the store/cart URL is different than my actual site, the customization allows the look and aesthetic from my site to my store/cart to be seamless. And since I also set up booths and sell my merchandise at so many designer shows and events like Unique LA [an independent design and gift show out of Los Angeles, Calif.], having the ability to do manual transactions at my booth, through either Yahoo! or PayPal, is a great asset.
“That, along with all the new third party apps for phones, like Square for iPhone and the USB Swiper for laptops, allow me to swipe credit cards at these design shows. So my store/merchant account combo can be used for more than just online transactions.”
PeC: How could the cart improve?
Bussiere: “The cart could improve by offering more options on easily compatible payment gateways besides PayPal. I’d like to see a few minor changes in the actual updating of products in the cart to be more uniform so I don’t have to make the same custom changes for every new product put in the store.
“For example, let’s say I want a black border around every image of product I put in the store. If there was a way to make this uniform so that every new product I put in automatically had the selected border instead of having to set up the border individually for each new item, it would be a great timesaving feature.”
PeC: Do you plan on continuing to use the cart?
Bussiere: “I plan on continuing to use this cart until I am big enough, and draw enough online sales, to warrant hiring a developer to create a personal cart for me. I would, at that time, also move from a third party processor (PayPal) to a separate merchant account provider.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers concerning choosing a shopping cart?
Bussiere: “There are a ton of options out there, and if you are like me, doing the ‘homework’ to choose one is a huge headache. I would recommend contacting other small businesses that you respect and asking them what they use.
“Also, pay close attention to small fees that may come back to bite you. For example, I would much rather pay a large monthly fee that may, in the first couple years, not make sense as opposed to choosing a cart with lower monthly rate but higher transaction fees. But as you grow, this monthly fee will be your savior, as your transaction fees will stay almost the same. And switching from one cart to another to save on these transaction fees seems like a monumental task full of sleepless nights and countless migraines.”
Observations from a Shopping Cart Expert
As a new feature of “Cart Talk,” we ask a shopping cart expert to analyze the cart in question and the merchant’s use of it, offering up some constructive advice in the process. This week, we spoke to our own senior contributing editor, Armando Roggio, about the HipsAndHair.com Yahoo! cart. In addition to his work for Practical eCommerce, Roggio is site director for Ecommerce Developer, our companion site for web developers. He’s also an ecommerce merchant and an independent developer.
Armando Roggio: “Mr. Bussiere faced a common problem — not having any web design or development experience — and chose to solve it with a cart that certainly can be easier to implement. One of the Yahoo! cart’s strengths, in my opinion, is the fact that you can get it up and running without having much web experience.
“With regards to payment options, it is possible to use other easily compatible payment gateways with Yahoo!’s cart. So while it might be made easier to use with PayPal, I don’t believe that is a weakness.
“As far as the design goes, in my option, the transition from the main Hips and Hair site to the Yahoo! store is stark. Notice for example the site navigation, which should be identical but is actually very different. Also, the body is borderless on the main site and wrapped in a border on the store pages.
“Overall, Mr. Bussiere’s choice of the Yahoo! is a good fit for his use. The Yahoo! cart is generally a good cart that helps merchants, particularly those without a lot of development experience get started. That seems to be exactly what happened here.
“For just a few hundred dollars, Mr. Bussiere could get further help with the design so that his site and store are exactly the same in terms of appearance.”