Practical Ecommerce

Cart of the Week: Miva Merchant

Practical eCommerce counts over 300 different shopping cart platforms. This includes licensed carts, hosted carts, and open-source carts. In this, our “Cart of the Week” feature, we’ll profile a specific shopping cart ask about its strengths and weaknesses. We’ll then ask a competitor about that cart, too.

In this installment, we’ve featured Miva Merchant, a popular licensed cart that has been around for a long time. We asked Rick Wilson, Executive Vice President at Miva, about the benefits of the cart. Then we asked David Hills, CEO of ShopSite, for his evaluation of Miva Merchant.

Rick Wilson

PeC: What is Miva’s biggest strength?

Wilson: Our enterprise level architecture combined with our flexibility. You can make a store running Miva Merchant do virtually anything you need. Do you need to cycle last week’s best sellers as front page features and offer free shipping on just those products? No problem. Do you need a store with 250,000 products in it? No problem. Do you need a store with both retail pricing and unique per-customer pricing for your 250 returning customers? No problem. Do you want to do all of the above, have 100 percent control over the look and feel and not have to spend a fortune on an enterprise level implementation? Miva Merchant is the choice for all of that and more.

PeC: What is Miva’s biggest weakness?

Wilson: From a design standpoint our learning curve can be steep. Miva Merchant makes a lot of sense once you understand the logic used to build the product, however many web designers/graphics designers just don’t think about those issues and struggle to understand the method to our “madness.”

PeC: What are your plans for future cart development?

Wilson: The two biggest things on our roadmap right now are continuing growth to allow for larger and larger online stores to run Miva Merchant (our customers keep growing and we’re staying ahead of them) and also to focus on solving the problem highlighted above which is to make the product easier to use and better-documented for web developers and novices alike.

PeC: Other thoughts for our readers?

Wilson: Miva Merchant has the best track record in ecommerce, bar none. When it comes to the technology powering your online store, you want to have a product that has been through the rigorousness of billions of dollars of real orders, and only Miva Merchant has that track record.

The view of a competitor to Miva Merchant

David Hills, CEO of ShopSite, offers his thoughts on Miva Merchant.

PeC: What do you think are Miva’s strengths?

Hills: Miva originally was a set of programmer’s tools for building a shopping cart. From that early history, Miva has a number of application programming interfaces (APIs) and a number of third party add-ons.

PeC: What do you think are Miva’s weaknesses?

Hills: Miva’s many APIs and third party add-ons for those APIs make upgrading to newer versions very hard, since backward compatibility is an issue. Also, being built on programming tools and then adding a user interface afterwards on top of those tools means that the product is not as easy to use as others that were first designed with the user interface in mind. Miva was also designed to create dynamic pages. Every shopper that clicks on a dynamic product page needs to have Miva first process that page which obviously can affect performance and server resource usage.

PeC: Other thoughts for our readers about Miva?

Hills: Miva has been around for a long time, so you can find a number of hosting providers offering it. However, in the past few years the company has been bought (2004) and then sold (2007). The changing of ownership no doubt has affected the product, support and the relationship with its hosting providers.

Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons

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Comments ( 3 )

  1. Susan Petracco October 17, 2008 Reply

    I’ve worked with Miva Merchant since 2000. I knew how to do almost anything with it, but often it took lots of hacks and workarounds. With Miva Merchant 5.5, the flexibility is SO much greater. It’s a lot easier to build a bigger, better, more usable and more functional ecommerce site. For those of you who’ve been turned off by MM in the past, I highly recommend taking a look at version 5.5.

  2. Rick Wilson October 17, 2008 Reply

    David Hills is right about us being sold and bought back. But a number of us here (myself included) are from the original team that made Miva Merchant great and our product and support is far better now than it’s ever been in the history of this company.

  3. chucklasker October 18, 2008 Reply

    Thank you, Mr. Hills, for not using this opportunity for unfounded slams against your competition. My only comment is that the dynamic page generation of Miva Merchant, which is lighting-fast with Miva Merchant 5.5, allows mini-baskets, customer-specific-pricing, live best-seller data display, etc., so I consider it one of the biggest selling points of Miva Merchant.