Practical eCommerce counts over 300 different shopping cart systems. In this weekly “Cart of the Week” feature, we profile a specific cart, asking the cart’s owners and users about its strengths and weaknesses.
Here we profile Shop-Script by WebAsyst, based in Delaware. WebAsyst offers their cart in hosted and licensed versions with varying price levels, described below. We interviewed U.S. Director Lucinda A. Papa, asking her to explain the benefits of her company’s cart. We then asked Andrew “Zig” Leipzig, owner of Long Island, N.Y.-based Zig Studios for his evaluation.
PeC: Please provide some general background on the cart.
Papa: “The Shop-Script project began in 2002. Since that time, Shop-Script went through many stages of development and grew from Shop-Script 2.0 to Shop-Script Pro and Premium versions. Last year we merged with our parent company, and the software is now sold as WebAsyst Shop-Script.”
“WebAsyst Shop-Script is available to customers in both hosted and licensed solutions. “This hosted version offers free signup, flexible pricing from $0 to $99.95 per month depending on features, number of products and number of orders processed with WebAsyst Shop-Script.”
“The licensed version is available as PHP software with open source code, it costs $299 per installation on a single domain name. The cart is fully customizable, multi-user, with no limitations on functionality, and an automated installation and software update wizard.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Papa: “WebAsyst Shop-Script is one of the applications of the WebAsyst family. (WebAsyst is a suite of nine applications for online collaboration and ecommerce.) Shop-Script provides tools for creating an online store and managing orders, while the other eight applications can be easily installed with Shop-Script and offer additional functionality to manage an ecommerce business, such as managing contacts, managing document and files, sending bulk email newsletters and collaborating with your team and customers.”
“The ability to use WebAsyst as both hosted and PHP open source code solution is also a great benefit. We make it very easy to try WebAsyst by creating your own free account at Webasyst.net. The free account is also a great way for beginning ecommerce entrepreneurs to test or start their businesses.”
PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?
Papa: “WebAsyst Shop-Script provides many features for ecommerce. However, the current version that is available, as PHP software with open source code is not well documented for customizations. We are creating an easily customizable shopping cart platform that will allow customers to customize Shop-Script shopping cart software and other WebAsyst applications more quickly and easily.”
PeC: What plans to you have for future cart development?
Papa: “Currently, we are working on an open platform for creating plug-ins for WebAsyst Shop-Script, and detailed documentation of how to customize the software. Our top priorities are: open plug-in structure, API, integration with the WebAsyst Contacts application and new marketing features.”
PeC: How specifically would switching to the WebAsyst Shop-Script cart improve a merchant’s business?
Papa: “WebAsyst’s biggest strength is that it offers not only the shopping cart application Shop-Script, but eight more great applications to help entrepreneurs run their businesses. This means that with WebAsyst you can get not only a shopping cart but also a whole intranet collaboration system. Applications can be easily added to your Shop-Script installation: You buy the application, and WebAsyst Installer automatically installs it.”
“WebAsyst Shop-Script’s widgets feature is also a great benefit. It allows you to integrate shopping cart buttons into any website (including blogs and forums), which is a great marketing tool that allowing users to sell on almost any website.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers?
Papa: “We understand the difficult business environment, the need for innovation and great products and we do our best to help small and medium businesses operate effectively and profitably via the Internet.”
A Customer’s View
Andrew “Zig” Leipzig is a designer and artist who owns Planetzig.com. He uses Shop-Script on Twisted Chrome Pinstripes, his Verio-hosted site that sells custom pinstripe decals online. He has also used Shop-Script to develop sites for clients. Here is Leipzig’s take on the cart.
PeC: What are Shop-Script’s biggest strengths?
Leipzig: “Instant bells and whistles, but you have to be knowledgeable about how to set it up on your server. For me, it’s one of the better plug-and-play solutions. You do have to know how to script. As much as I say it’s plug-and-play, you have to know what you’re doing.”
“I like the templates. They give a lot of flexibility, but you have to be careful in altering it. Test the changes little by little, line by line. I also really like that it exports to Google. It’s an invaluable feature because it really does work.”
“I just set up one store with Shop-Script, a business I had on eBay. The first night I had two orders. By now, I’ve had easily a dozen orders. It works, and if there’s money in the bank, it’s working. I stripped out all the other stuff that comes with the template and customized it myself.”
PeC: What are some things it could improve?
Leipzig: “More flexibility on templates and product custom options. It’s very strong, but it’s not as strong as I might like. Also, when it integrates with PayPal, for some reason it overrides the order summary, and it just wants to give them the receipt. I don’t know how to overcome that.”
PeC: How specifically would using Shop-Script improve a merchant’s business?
Leipzig: “I think they’d have to have a lot of things in place before jumping in, like if they have shared SSL or their own SSL certificates. They would have to be looking for a features list that already exists on Shop-Script.”
PeC: Do you plan to continue using Shop-Script? Why or why not?
Leipzig: “I always stay open, but right now it’s working for me. Its support is good, too. When I have a problem like scripting issues, I find them really helpful. Don’t count on them for phone support, but definitely with email. I’ve had major issues, but they just kept banging away at them, so I’m really thankful.”
PeC: Any other thoughts on shopping carts for our readers?
Leipzig: “It works for me, and I find that it’s easy for me to integrate graphics into it. I wish it were a little more flexible with having a sale or creating individual products that don’t have to fall into a category. Those you have to throw in on a graphic basis instead of as an item, so you’re always messing with the HTML on those templates. They have a wide range of templates, but I only use one and customize it.”