Practical Ecommerce

Shopping Cart Software Solutions

PeC: What are some distinctive characteristics of shopping carts that you might share with a new ecommerce business?

MikeRandolphRandolph: I’d say everything has a place. Yahoo! Stores has over 150,000 merchants now so, without a doubt, the hosted solution has a place in the marketplace. There are other solutions out there. The eBay ProStores has a large user base. For certain kinds of merchants, I think they are attractive. Specifically speaking about Yahoo! Stores, I think they make it easy for a broad base of users to get started quickly. They have an attractive fee schedule that, if you’re not selling much, works out well. I think they hit you when you start becoming more successful. Those kinds of solutions become more expensive and tend to be more limited in what you can do with that solution.

PeC: Hosted solutions say users don’t need a lot of technical experience to use their solution and, by default, imply a software solution needs significant technical prowess to use. Is that a fair characterization?

Randolph: Without a doubt, the initial setup of an AbleCommerce store requires a higher sophistication from the merchant than a Yahoo! Store. However, the stuff that’s really more difficult to customize to begin with, you have the same hurdles regardless of whether it’s a Yahoo! Store or an AbleCommerce store, in reality. Once you get the templates designed and the look-and-feel over the top of the store, a Yahoo! Store and an AbleCommerce store are very easy to use. The day-to-day usage for the stores is all very similar.

PeC: What are some factors that separate a software option and a hosted option?

Randolph: I think if you’ve done your homework in regards to your market space, you have a product that you know is going to sell, and you have your shipping pricing figured out so you you’re going to be competitive in the marketplace, then your investment in a software solution is going to pay off quite quickly. If you don’t know how your product is going to sell or the way your marketing is going to work, then obviously the $29.95 per month Yahoo! solution is a heckuva lot safer way to get started.

One of the big disadvantages I see in a hosted solution is when you decide to move forward because you’re unhappy with the performance of the solution; you have to throw away all that investment in time and money that you’ve put forward creating that store. You can’t go buy Yahoo! Store on a CD, take it to Rackspace.com, install a Yahoo! Store and transfer your data. There are many software-based products that allow you to get started in the hosted environment that, should you get mad at us, you can always take your store and move to another server.

PeC: How should a merchant analyze the cost differences between a hosted solution and buying a software license?

Randolph: The cost of the shopping-cart software is really insignificant compared to the rest of building up a successful store. Trying to save $500, by the time your time is involved, just doesn’t make a lot of sense. If you’re going to do that, go with a Yahoo! Store and once you’re paying $100-$200 per month in fees, then go out and look for a real solution. We’ve always loved Yahoo! Stores and MIVA because they get people going. Merchants realize that even though they didn’t do a lot of homework, they’re still selling. Once you get one out of 20 merchants who are successful, they start looking for a product that will carry them through years three through seven. We had one merchant that was paying Yahoo! Stores over $10,000 per month in fees and they came to us and are paying less than $2,000 per month. The fees, once you are actually successful, tend to become rather aggressive on the side of the hosted solution.

Practical Ecommerce

Practical Ecommerce

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  1. Legacy User March 7, 2007 Reply

    We are using GoDaddy as well. Yes, the customer service is wonderful. you can always get someone on the phone. I'm not so happy with the way the cart looks, though, and I'm not getting good traffic/sales … I don't know why. Anyone want to comment on http://www.shop.kelleygreen.org?

    — *NINA*

  2. Legacy User March 8, 2007 Reply

    I, too, did some major research before committing to GoDaddy's cart. My customers are now having trouble accessing the store after a major promotion – and the 'great customer service' at GoDaddy can not figure it out. Ask a lot of questions and ask the important questions several times, several different ways, to make sure you get the right answers (and support) before committing… Gee, can YOU access my store? http://www.shop.twogreenthumbs.com.
    Signed,
    Dead in the water in Seattle

    — *Janit*

  3. Legacy User March 6, 2007 Reply

    I checked out a ton of shopping carts before committing, including Yahoo!'s. At least 25. Ended up with Godaddy's cart. Works best for us. Great cart with lots of options, and the customer support is truly phenomenal. Best 24×7 customer support I have ever encountered anywhere.

    — *Russell Sims*

  4. Legacy User March 8, 2007 Reply

    Good advice, Janit.

    FYI – I was able to access your store. It loaded pretty well and looks great.

    — *Brian Getting*

  5. Legacy User March 8, 2007 Reply

    Couldn't access your site as of 3/8 4:55 pst

    — *matt*

  6. Legacy User March 26, 2007 Reply

    If you are selling information product, then 1ShoppingCart is the way to go. It has autoresponders, broadcasting, coupons and an affiliate program all bundled together. You can learn more at http://www.ShoppingCartQueen.com.

    — *Christina Hills*

  7. Legacy User May 2, 2007 Reply

    I found the 1shoppingcart very limited in specific areas. Though slightly improved, for example, on the breakpoint discounts, I actually had to pay one of their guys to work on my suggestion for this. It didn't actually work but I still had to pay for it !!!!! Not a nice company to deal with in my opinion.

    — *paul soffe*

  8. Legacy User June 13, 2007 Reply

    I have been rnning an ecommerce business for five years I have done it both ways !
    Believe me if you do not want to pay a ton of money for a so so shopping cart software and deal with IT issues or site security go with a hosted solution !!

    I have tried the bigger names like volusion and monster commerce they were pretty good but could not handle the look of my new site so I decided to go with Intensecart they give you all the features of volusion and more for less money I guess these companies are really trying to compete for our business.

    The support was great and I had my cart up and running in a few days.
    you can visit them to schedule a demo @ http://www.intensegroupinc.com
    These guys took care of my merchant account and my SSL for free.

    — *Mark Newman*

  9. Legacy User May 27, 2007 Reply

    For everyone that's tried Go Daddy's cart without success, you might be interested in the AbleCommerce free trial or demo. I haven't ordered AbleCommerce yet but I'm about 95 percent sure that I'm going to. The demo is very impressive and there seem to be a number of third partys out there that will design a very nice look for a reasonable price. Yes, the initial investment is high but the final product will look much more professional. As stated in the article above, if you're planning to succeed then go with a software cart. I think AbleCommerce will be my cart of choice. The only other contender that I'm still considering is ASPDotNetStorefront – it is very comparable to AbleCommerce in features and price. It also has a free 30-day demo that you can sign up for so you can actually play with a functional site (frontend and backend) before making your decision to buy. Hope this info helps some of you.

    — *Dan Niebrugge*