There are more than 500 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 Bernard Kohan, chief business development officer and co-founder of Comentum, a software development company. It offers a hosted ecommerce solution called CashCowCart that serves around 2,000 online merchants, as well as a customized ecommerce solution called Comentum Custom Cart.
We’ll also hear from a CashCowCart customer, Alec R. Lopez, CEO of Sitbetter.com, a San Diego, Calif.-based store that uses the online cart to sell office furniture and accessories.
Practical eCommerce: Please provide some general background on CashCowCart.
Bernard Kohan: “CashCowCart was released 1998 and was modeled after large scale, well-known, existing shopping carts. It has evolved into a robust, full-featured shopping cart with hundreds of features, such as search engine-friendly pages, PCI compliance, built-in CMS, marketing, ease of use, and flexible coupons.
“Additionally, there are options to fully customize the cart and tailor it for a specific industry or custom need. The cart uses a standardized open source framework to provide better scalability and growth.”
PeC: Is it hosted, licensed, or both?
Kohan: “CashCowCart is hosted, but we offer both options.”
PeC: How much does CashCowCart cost?
Kohan: “It starts at $750, which includes some customizations to integrate with your current site, and $39 per month for hosting. There are no additional per-purchase fees.
“Alternately, the Comentum Custom Cart averages around $15,000, with no per-transaction fees. Hosting is available, but not included in this version.”
PeC: What is your company doing to become PCI compliant?
Kohan: “We have created our own security scan tools, and we are also using third party scanning tools, such as SecurityMetrics, to regularly check and fix any new security issues.” (Editor’s Note: Neither Comentum nor CashCowCart is listed on The PCI Security Standards Council’s list of validated payment applications or on Visa’s global list of PCI DSS validated service providers.)
ListenListen to Bernard Kohan discuss the beginnings of CashCowCart, and also offer tips for merchants.
PeC: What are CashCowCart’s biggest strengths?
Kohan: “It has the ability to be easily customized and the flexibility to add robust, tailored features.”
PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?
Kohan: “CashCowCart is not fully customizable, so it may not suit a merchant who is looking for extensive customizations. (On the other hand, Comentum Custom Cart requires customizations for each website, so it would not suit the merchant who is looking for a generic cart.)”
PeC: What plans do you have for future cart development?
Kohan: “Our ecommerce software is always evolving to accommodate today’s technology needs, such as mobile devices, Facebook integration, and more.”
PeC: How would your cart help an ecommerce merchant, versus the cart he or she is using now?
Kohan: “It can improve the way they do business because the cart can perform the way a client needs it to operate for their specific business requirements.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers, who are mainly ecommerce merchants?
Kohan: “If you are planning for substantial growth and success, you will need a reliable, long-term developer and a flexible and customizable shopping cart application that can grow and evolve with you. Our company offers those options.”
A Customer’s View
Alec Lopez is CEO of Sitbetter.com an online store that sells office chairs and ergonomic accessories via CashCowCart. The website processes roughly $950,000 in gross annual revenue, and Lopez provides his comments and opinions about CashCowCart below.
PeC: How long has your company been using the cart?
Alec Lopez: “Our website was initially built on CashCowCart two years ago, and we’ve stayed with it. We chose more than a cart, we wanted a solid partner in launching our website. Other carts were generic, and just that–carts. CashCowCart was a solution that could be dynamic and could evolve to our specific industry needs.
“Also important, the company that came with the cart fit the type of partner we were looking for, and to whom we could entrust our cart-building and inventory management software. We said, “Build a backbone to our site that can grow with us,” and they did.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Lopez: “Its malleability towards our industry-specific needs. Anything we need to be custom built can be done.”
PeC: How could the cart improve?
Lopez: “Reporting. The reporting is good, but not great. Currently, we weigh the sales reports from CashCowCart with Google Analytics and we rely on QuickBooks reports more than anything.
“Integration with QuickBooks would be nice, but we have not requested it at this time. Improvements to the cart are never general improvements, but rather specific to my version of the cart, which is great.”
PeC: How would CashCowCart improve another merchant’s business?
Lopez: “If another merchant is using ‘get-arounds’ (meaning the current cart does a lot, but not exactly everything needed), or has features not in use but the merchant is paying for, then the merchant is not getting the full value from the cart. Since CashCowCart was designed for my use, and since we’re improving on it regularly, I pay exactly for what I need.”
PeC: Do you plan on continuing to use the cart?
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers concerning the cart?
Lopez: “I consider CashCowCart more than just a cart; it is our merchant partner and the backbone of our site. The cart’s ability to change, and the company’s ability to work closely with us, provides us with a unique relationship with our cart developer that really lets the cart meet our exacting needs.”