There are more than 350 online shopping carts. And each week we feature one, interviewing both the cart’s developer and a customer. “Cart of the Week” is not a review or an evaluation, but rather an opportunity to learn about a shopping cart from the people who build it and use it.
This week, we’ll hear from Chris Eckland, product lead for Auctiva Commerce, a shopping cart platform with more than 4,300 active users.
We’ll also hear from an Auctiva Commerce customer, Bob Heitner. He uses the platform to power two online stores, Stuff Things and Goodies and Pattys Corner.
PeC: Please provide some general background on the cart.
Chris Eckland: “Auctiva provides listing, sales and marketing tools for eBay sellers, and Auctiva Commerce was borne out of the recognition that Auctiva customers desired an alternative sales venue to supplement their eBay sales activities. Auctiva Commerce is Auctiva’s stand-alone shopping cart platform, which was released live in January 2009.”
PeC: Where is your company located?
Eckland: “We’re based in Chico, California, with additional offices in San Jose.”
PeC: Is the cart hosted, licensed, or both?
Eckland: “It’s a 100 percent hosted solution.”
PeC: How much does the cart cost?
Eckland: “The base subscription cost is $9.95 per month, with software, hosting, upgrades and support included. There is also a percentage-based monthly sales fee, which is tiered and based upon sales volume. Please note, however, that the monthly subscription fee is being waived through March 2010.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Eckland: “It is easy to set up and use, and it offers robust search engine optimization [SEO] features, such as dynamic meta-tag generation, Google Analytics integration and Google Webmaster Tools support.
“Auctiva Commerce also offers automation of store owners’ Google Base feeds, and supports a full suite of product coupons, volume discounts, option and variant controls, and product reviews.
“Auctiva Commerce also supports all major currencies and offers shipping integrations with the major shipping providers (UPS, U.S. Postal Service and FedEx).
“Lastly, since Auctiva Commerce is integrated with Auctiva, we can import saved eBay listings from a user’s Auctiva account straight into Auctiva Commerce.”
PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?
Eckland: “Since the cart was initially designed around simplicity and ease of use, it’s not quite as customizable as some other shopping carts. We do allow for customization of many portions of the cart but not to a level that we’re completely satisfied with yet.
“We also do not yet support Amazon Payments.”
PeC: What plans do you have for future cart development?
Eckland: “Our next few releases are geared toward helping merchants manage their inventory, and helping them create and support their brands in the marketplace. To that end, we have planned improvements to our product import and bulk edit tools, in addition to updates to our email templates and email marketing tools. We’ll also be improving the customization options.”
PeC: How would your cart help an ecommerce merchant, versus the cart he or she is using now?
Eckland: “It offers a very affordable, fully-featured shopping cart that will allow small- to medium-sized merchants to cost-effectively participate in the ecommerce marketplace.
“Also, the suite of marketing and customer loyalty tools (coupons, volume discounts, email subscriptions) that are built in to Auctiva Commerce help it stand apart from other shopping carts.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers, who are mainly ecommerce merchants?
Eckland: “Recognize that, with any shopping cart, it will take an investment of time and energy to set up and run an online store. But, once set up, it’s an investment that is well worth the effort.”
A Customer’s View
Bob Heitner is the owner of two online stores that sell general merchandise, Stuff Things and
Goodies and Pattys Corner. Heitner’s company is located in North Lauderdale, Fla., and his stores take in more than $100,000 annually via the Auctiva Commerce shopping cart. Heitner provides his comments and opinions about the cart below.
PeC: How long has your company been using Auctiva Commerce?
Bob Heitner: “Ten months.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Heitner “Ease of use, superior support, excellent inventory management capability, SEO integration, and ease of integration with merchant accounts.”
PeC: How could the cart improve?
Heitner “By adding a blog function and links to Facebook and Twitter at the item level. It could also improve by adding bulk inventory export and import for editing.”
PeC: How would this cart improve another merchant’s business?
Heitner “It provides an easy and inexpensive way to set up and sell online.”
PeC: Do you plan on continuing to use the cart?
Heitner “Absolutely. We will continue using Auctiva Commerce as long as we are selling on the web.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers concerning the cart?
Heitner “We have had stores on eBay, Amazon, Go Daddy, Go Daddy Marketplace and buyitsellit. Auctiva Commerce has the most functionality of all the products we have tried, and it is the least expensive. It is a fairly new product but has matured nicely over the last ten months.”