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 David Farache, vice president and COO for Fortune3 Inc., makers of Fortune3 hosted shopping cart. The Doral, Fla.-based company currently provides shopping cart services for more than 2,400 users.
We’ll also hear the views of Susan Fenyo, president, founder and owner of MyArnies, Inc., a Fortune3 cart user.
PeC: Please provide some general background on the cart.
Farache: “The Fortune3 shopping cart software was first released in 2001. The software has a flexible system for design and functionality, [including] the ability to completely customize the design, images, and layout of practically any part of an ecommerce site, as well as the ability to customize how the shopping cart and checkout process works.
“The latest version, 7.0, was released in early 2008, and we are currently in the process of testing version 8.0 for release within the next six to eight weeks.”
PeC: How much does the cart cost?
Farache: “The shopping cart software itself is free. We only charge customers for the monthly hosting and service fee.
“Our pricing is based on the number of products that are listed on the site. We offer several monthly packages, starting at $29.95 and up. All of the plans include all of the features that our shopping cart software and service has. Plans do not vary in features or functionality, but only on the number of products each package can hold.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Farache: “[First is] the fact that it is a PC-based software. This makes our unique product management tools extremely efficient and easy to use. Users can easily arrange their products via a visual tree-like interface, allowing them to move, copy, paste, and drag and drop any product, category, or options of a product. Also, it is compatible with graphic and web design programs, such as Dreamweaver, FrontPage, Photoshop, and Fireworks.
“[It is] truly an unlimited ecommerce hosting solution — the support, the bandwidth, the disk space, the number of domains you can have pointing to your site, the number of email addresses you can create, the disk space each email account holds, and the number of updates or changes to your site do not affect the monthly pricing in any way.
“Also, Fortune3 is committed to providing excellence in customer service. Whether it’s via our toll-free telephone number, our website’s live chat, or our online helpdesk and ticketing systems, our customers will always get an answer to their question within two hours, no matter what time of day or what day it is.
“[Additionally, the cart is] search-engine friendly. It creates static HTML pages for each of your [website’s] pages, and automatically optimizes meta tags and format to make pages as search engine friendly as possible. The meta tags are also customizable.”
PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?
Farache: “Although it is possible to use any computer in any location to make changes to the site, it is not possible for two or more people to work on the products catalog at the same time without overwriting each other’s work. This is something we are trying to find a solution for within the coming months.”
PeC: What plans do you have for future cart development?
Farache: “[As mentioned above], we are in the midst of testing and releasing version 8.0. After that, we have plans for releasing version 9.0 in late 2010, which will make the software’s product management tool multi-user friendly, as well as adding more advanced features for drop-shippers and vendors.”
PeC: How would your cart help an ecommerce merchant, versus the cart he or she is using now?
Farache: “Our cart is meant to help all merchants improve on their current cart, while offering them an affordable solution. Our shopping cart software helps boost sales because it can improve the look and feel and layout of an ecommerce site, giving customers more trust and a one-page checkout where orders can be placed in less than one minute.
“A second important reason is because Fortune3’s automated search engine optimization and submission tools will get quality search engine traffic, and therefore sales, all on its own.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers?
Farache: “We realize that there are hundreds of shopping cart software providers, but choosing the right one is probably the most essential part of an online business and its success. Try out different carts and compare not only the software, but also the service, the hosting, and the support.”
A Customer’s View
Susan Fenyo’s company, MyArnies, Inc., is located in Hollywood, Fla., and the company’s gross revenue is approximately $650,000 annually. Fenyo uses the Fortune3 shopping cart to sell brand-name sunglasses on four different websites, including MyArnies.com, RBsunnies.com, MyGuccis and MyDiors. She offers her views and opinions on the Fortune3 cart below.
PeC: How long has your company been using the cart?
Fenyo: “About four years, starting with one site. I brought over the other three sites within six months of my first site.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Fenyo: “[It is] incredibly easy to update my site and manage my orders and customers. I really like the fact that it can so easily print my shipping labels through the administration panel, and it automates the entire order process and communications with my customers.
“I’m also in love with the product management area of the software. I can easily modify my catalog, and make mass changes in just minutes. I used to hire three people to make changes to my site with my old cart; now I only have one part-timer because of how easy it is to manage my site.”
PeC: How could the cart improve?
Fenyo: “The cart could improve in CRM [customer relationship management] features. I would love to see a knowledge base and ticketing system integrated into the software to keep track of all customer contacts, but I have heard that Fortune3 is working on this.”
PeC: How would this cart improve another merchant’s business?
Fenyo: “I have tried over 15 different carts, and [I think] this one is by far the best, easiest to use, and has the most features. I also have run into no problems with my Fortune3 site. They are always up and running, and fully functional, [and I have had] no customer complaints or ordering problems.”
PeC: Do you plan on continuing to use the cart?
Fenyo: “Yes. In fact, I am building a new site with Fortune3 right now. I am really impressed by the features coming out in version 8.0 and can’t wait to start using it.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers concerning the cart?
Fenyo: “Almost every day something new is released, and the company is really dedicated to having the best software and support out there.”