Debate: Hosted Shopping Carts "Perfect For Most Entrepreneurs"
1ShoppingCart is a hosted shopping cart with thousands of small business customers. Michael Valiant, 1ShoppingCart’s product management and marketing specialist, offers his views on hosted cart solutions.
PeC: Why should an ecommerce business consider a hosted shopping cart, versus purchasing a one-time cart license?
Valiant: “A hosted solution ensures quick implementation and turn around, inclusive security, 24/7 monitoring, no investment in infrastructure, full and continued support, regular automatic and free software upgrades, a maintenance free environment, easy data management accessible from anywhere in the world and a generally more robust system.”
“Hosted solutions are responsible for the entire infrastructure, as well as maintaining the safe and smooth operation of merchant’s data and order processing. It’s fully prepared to deal with any emergency situations that may occur with its merchants’ businesses online.”
“A hosted solution is perfect for most entrepreneurs and small to medium sized businesses that don’t have or want to invest in their own IT departments. Choosing to run your business online using a hosted shopping cart solution would prove to be the cheaper, easier and least risky solution for most business owners.”
PeC: Critics say that hosted carts are less flexible than licensed carts. Is this true?
Valiant: “That’s such a broad generalization. It’s sort of like saying all domestic cars are less reliable than imports.”
“Like licensed carts, not all hosted carts were created equal and I’m sure you’d find both more and less flexible versions in both categories. While it may be true that some licensed carts may offer slightly more shopping-cart-page customization [as long as you’re comfortable programming your own changes or paying for a developer to do it], many of those same carts lock you into very specific templates and design constraints through your entire storefront [website, catalogue pages, etc.]. This is something you won’t encounter with a hosted shopping cart.”
PeC: What does 1ShoppingCart cost? Price ranges?
Valiant: “Our shopping cart package ranges from $29 to $79 per month and includes everything needed to run a business online. The low monthly prices with no start up fees ensure a low start-up and maintenance cost for any business.”
“One of the benefits of being a hosted solution allows for us to offer a whole suite of more advanced tools, including email and broadcast marketing, affiliate marketing, ad tracking, dedicated IP services etc., without having to charge our merchants until their businesses are prepared to take advantage of the increased functionality. All modules are pre-integrated and available with a flip-of-a-switch readiness that allows us to grow alongside our merchants’ needs.”
PeC: By Practical eCommerce’s count, there are over 300 hosted and licensed carts available. How can a smaller business know which of these is the best fit?
Valiant: “It’s hard to do when you’re first starting out, but it’s really important to think about where your business is going to be in one, three and five years and choose a platform that will continue to be a viable solution throughout your growth. Finding a solution that can grow with your business, while not having to pay for features you aren’t using right from the get-go will prove to be an extremely valuable asset for your small business.”
“Also, consider the amount of time you want to invest in maintaining and upgrading your ecommerce solution. Most business owners will agree that time is much better spent on efforts to grow their business. That means a hosted solution is the way to go.”
Other things to consider:
- Time to market — How long it takes you to launch your ecommerce store after investing in a solution.
- Security — Is the cart PCI/CISP certified? Does it offer HackerSafe?
- Support — Can you call someone? Submit email or ticket support? What are the hours of operation? How well trained is the person helping you?
- Growth potential — Is the shopping cart just a shopping cart or does it offer advanced features like email marketing, autoresponder follow-up, affiliate management, ad tracking, analytics, etc.? Do you have to pay for these features before you’re ready to use them?“
PeC: Other thoughts on hosted or licensed carts?
Valiant: “The fact is there are a variety of great licensed and hosted shopping carts available. You really have to compare what you’re getting for your money and consider how much time you want to, as a business owner, dedicate to integrating and maintaining your shopping cart process.”
“When you invest in a hosted system, you’re paying for an entire secure infrastructure where, frequently, millions of dollars have already been invested to build-in the highest levels of certified security, including PCI/CISP certification through the credit card industry and HackerSafe certification through ScanAlert.”