Practical Ecommerce

Cart of the Week: Interspire “Obsesses Over Quality”

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—but not evaluate—a specific shopping cart asking about its strengths and weaknesses. We’ll then ask a competitor about the cart, too.

In this installment, we’ve featured the Interspire Shopping Cart, an AJAX-intensive, licensed shopping-cart that boosts easy design and update tools for merchants that don’t have extensive XHTML, CSS, or other coding skills. Merchants can add or remove “panels,” swift content, or rewrite web copy without any coding or uploading, and the Interspire Shopping Cart works for both tangible and digital products.

Eddie Machaalani, CEO of Interspire

We asked Eddie Machaalani, CEO of Interspire, about the benefits of his company’s cart. Then we asked Michael Stearns, co-owner of MightyMerchant, a hosted cart solution, for his evaluation of the Interspire Shopping Cart.

Eddie Machaalani of Interspire

PeC: What are Interspire’s biggest strengths?

Machaalani: We’ve worked hard over the last four years to become known for three things: great software usability, professional and modern website templates bundled with our products, and I think we have perfected the balance between having all of the features you need without complicating the design of the application.

PeC: What is Interspire’s biggest weakness?

Machaalani: Our biggest weakness is that we haven’t launched the hosted edition of our shopping cart software yet, but it’s something we’re working on and will launch by the end of the year.

PeC: What are your plans for future cart development?

Machaalani: As I mentioned above, we’re working on a hosted edition of Interspire Shopping Cart so by the end of the year you’ll be able to simply come to our site, choose your plan and your store is created and up and running in a few minutes. We release a new version of our software every three months and we’ve got some really great features planned for 2009, with a large focus on integration – integration of other accounting systems, ERP integration, CRM integration, etc.

Interspire: A licensed cart that costs $295 to $1,795 plus extras and has an installed base of more than 20,000 customers.

We have a very vocal and passionate customer base and so their feedback forms a large part of our market research, because who better to ask how Interspire Shopping Cart fits into their business than our customers?

PeC: Describe how your cart improves a merchant’s business.

Machaalani: We have an almost obsessive fascination with usability – both from a shopper and a store owner’s perspective. For example, we’ve built our entire application based on the principles of the Neilson Normal Group, which are designed to improve the buying process for customers significantly. Interspire Shopping Cart also includes easy to modify templates (drag and drop to change the layout, built-in logo editor, etc.), a powerful CMS (to publish news, web pages, RSS feeds, etc in your store) and an intuitive control panel for merchants.

A good example of our obsession with usability is that we have the only shopping cart software which has help tips next to every field when you’re adding a product to your store, processing an order, setting up tax rules and more. It’s the little things like this that most of our competitors miss, but we spend weeks perfecting.

PeC: Other thoughts for our readers about Interspire?

Machaalani: We’re all about listening to customers and building software that’s fun and easy to use. All of our software products were built to integrate out of the box (for example, you can integrate our email marketing and knowledge base software directly into your store in about 10 clicks), and we understand a shopping cart is simply one tool a business needs to operate, so we integrate with QuickBooks, bundle lots of marketing tools (coupon codes, bulk discounts, free shipping, etc) and make it easy to import/export data from a feed or even from a competitor’s product. I believe these are some of the features that set us apart from the competition.

The View of a Competitor

Michael Stearns, Co-owner of Mighty Merchant, a hosted shopping cart and a competitor to Interspire, offers his views.Michael Stearns

PeC: What are Interspire’s biggest strengths?

Stearns: Interspire has developed a full set of tools that go beyond a generic shopping cart. They offer: a cart, email marketing module, CMS, and a knowledge base system. Interspire is based in Australia and has a presence in the U.S. and England, which would likely benefit those who need a solution tuned for different locales. They serve customers ranging from Fortune 500 down to mom and pop stores. According to Interspire’s website, they don’t seem to shy away from doing custom work. They have developed a rich Ajax interface which is a plus for usability. Their SEO implementation is also solid.

PeC: What is Interspire’s biggest weakness?

Stearns: I am not seeing a clear weakness in their product. I did notice that the sites I visited in their portfolio had some usability issues: such as wide static-width layouts (1000 pixels), poor placement of “Add to Cart” buttons, and unclear messaging after adding an item to cart. But these issues could be a function of choices made by the site owner/designer and not a flaw in the Interspire system. Interspire offers a quality, well-developed product. Kudos to their developers.

PeC: Other thoughts for our readers about Interspire?

Stearns: Interspire gets favorable feedback from users around the world. Their emphasis on listening to their customers seems to have served them well and has helped them develop an excellent product.

Interspire Shopping Cart

  • Licensed cart with a hosted version coming soon
  • Costs $295 to $1,795 plus extras
  • Interspire has been in business since 2003
  • The company has more than 20,000 customers

Want to have your company’s shopping cart featured as a Practical eCommerce Cart of the Week? Contact us via email with your request.


Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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Comments ( 10 )

  1. sallyblue February 16, 2009 Reply

    Want to know Interspire’s biggest weakness? It’s that they only offer tecnical support during Australian working day, despite what their web site says. This means that if you are in UK, you often have to wait nearly a day for any support and then they have to wait a day for you to respond and then you wait a day for them etc etc etc. UK buyers beware!

  2. radow March 9, 2009 Reply

    biggest Interspire weaknesses are:

    Very expensive if you add up all "hidden cost"
    Interspire Shopping Cart Ultimate Edition $1,795 USD
    Support & maintenance for 12 months $359 USD
    This includes updates but not upgrades
    Upgrades 50% of the purchase price
    Integrate your existing store design into Interspire Shopping Cart $1,900 USD
    This includes updates but not upgrades
    Upgrades 50% of the purchase price

    Support often takes several days
    Implementation of many of key features is lacking in reality despite what web site promises.
    Not very customer orientated after you placed your order
    Censored "community forum" negative reviews will be moved to hidden forum or deleted.
    No road map

  3. blueberry_cs March 9, 2009 Reply

    Agree with previous comments but would like to ad that updating a modified cart is tedious and expensive.

    Obsesses Over Quality = not sure about that, updates are frequent and plenty of bug fixes are required often updates feel half baked.

  4. blueberry_cs March 10, 2009 Reply

    Interspire 4.0.2 > 4.0.3 > 4.0.4 > 4.0.5 in less then 16 weeks!

    sounds a bit to many for a company "Obsesses Over Quality"

  5. bizonesource July 4, 2009 Reply

    I have been using Interspire Software Since 2003, and currently have about 20 of my clients who use their products. All of which are in the United States – I have found the technical support from Australia not only to be the best out there in, well the world (from those I have encountered) but they actually follow through and pick up a telephone. The fact that they are in Australia has not been an issue for me at all. They have also just opened a US office in Austin. I would highly recommend the purchase of any any interspire product. They have accomplished the number one rule, and that is simplicity is the art of good design. Well KUDOS to them. I think you will be hard pressed to find a down side of anything they sell.

    (note — i am not a member of their team, nor am I even an affiliate — just a very happy customer going on 6 years and counting, we lauch one of their systems every other month now)

  6. blueberry_cs July 17, 2009 Reply

    I would suggest reading this independent 9 month review of the Interspire cart as it’s very accurate and will help you to make a informed decision whether Interspire is for you

    http://www.websitepublisher.net/blog/2009/06/20/interspire-shopping-cart-50-review/

  7. RKC August 7, 2009 Reply

    Being a ecommerce newbie I was suckered in by the Interspire hype. What a mistake. It looks like a hot rod on the outside, but powered by a cracked rubber band on the inside. Basic settings didn’t work. I was selecting countries I did not want to ship to, and the cart did the exact opposite. Support took 4 days to get back to me on an HTML issue. Meanwhile time goes by and it’s coming time to renew support. JUNQUE, slick junk.

    Randy Curtin
    Goldenspike.us

  8. Mitchell Harper September 16, 2009 Reply

    Hi everyone,

    After really listening to your feedback and talking to hundreds of customers, we’ve now officially changed our upgrades and maintenance policy.

    Here’s an overview:

    - All new purchases include 12 months of maintenance free
    - All upgrades are provided to customers free instead of being paid
    - If your maintenance period expires, you can optionally renew it, however it’s completely optional
    - All customers have been given an extra 9 months of maintenance free, giving them more technical support and the latest release of the Interspire Shopping Cart free

    The new upgrade and maintenance policies have been really well received by customers and we really do thank everyone for your feedback, both good and bad.

    You can have your say and learn about our new policy (which was implemented last Monday) here:

    [http://www.interspire.com/content/blogs/477/](http://www.interspire.com/content/blogs/477/)

    Cheers,
    Mitchell Harper
    Interspire Co-Founder
    mitch [AT] interspire [DOT] com

  9. Greg Percifield September 27, 2009 Reply

    We use the Interspire cart, and it has gotten the job done well. My biggest disappointment (which is probably a good thing for everyone else), is that in a very short time after we installed the cart, it jumped up several versions.

    We have heavily modified the cart in order to get a perfect fit with the flow of the rest of our site. In doing so, it has become very difficult keeping the cart current.

    They have a unique way of gathering feedback for future version releases, which has proven to be quite effective for making substantial improvements with new releases.

    I only wish that we could get a link back from them, as they promised when we purchased it. :p

  10. Louis Camassa February 19, 2010 Reply

    Just to clarify what bizonesource said in his comment: Interspire does not currently offer phone support. When you call their US line, a message asks you to submit a ticket through their website.

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