Platforms & Apps

Cart Of The Week: ShopSite

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 and ask personnel of that cart about its strengths and weaknesses. We’ll then ask a competitor about that cart, too.David Hills

In this installment, we’ve featured ShopSite, a licensed solution with many recent third party integration capabilities. We asked David Hills, CEO of ShopSite, about the benefits of the cart. We then asked Eddie Machaalani, CEO and Co-Founder of Interspire, a cart producer and a competitor of ShopSite, for his evaluation of ShopSite.

PeC: What are ShopSite’s biggest strengths?

Hills: ShopSite was designed from the ground up to be easy to use. Other carts were built with programmers in mind, and then a user interface was added on later. ShopSite has always had the end-user in mind, whether that is the shopper, merchant, or hosting provider. For example, for the shopper ShopSite displays the order total (pricing, shipping, tax, etc.) on the initial checkout screen. No having to wade through several screens to find out what your total cost is really going to be. For the merchant, ShopSite provides a wizard to get them going, then they move to basic editing which gives them more functionality, and when they want to see all the bells and whistles they can turn on advanced editing. For our hosting providers we make upgrading to a new product level (Manager to Pro) as easy as replacing one data file or upgrading to a new version (v8.1 to v9.0) completely automated. In fact, you can upgrade directly from v4.x (released in 1999) straight to v9.0.

PeC: What is ShopSite’s biggest weakness?

Hills: One of our strengths, that we do not directly host stores and instead resell through hosting providers, can also be a weakness. The option to select your hosting provider means you can find a host that offers the service, performance and price that fits your budget. The tradeoff is that when we release a new version some hosts can take a little longer to roll it out since they’ll first run it through their own testing.

PeC: What are your plans for future cart development?

Hills: We are always adding new features. The past two years has seen us integrating with more third party services such as Google Checkout, Google Analytics, Google Base, buySAFE and international gateways such as NETBANX and Protx while also adding features such as cross-selling, free shipping coupons and auto-creation of image thumbnails. You will continue to see us add new features, while also integrating any improved functionality from Google, PayPal and other third parties.

PeC: Other thoughts for our readers?

Hills: While ecommerce has indeed matured and become more sophisticated, it is still open to the smallest business or mom-and-pop enterprise that wants to test the waters. For under $10 a month you can open a web site and begin selling a few products. Then as your expertise grows and you become more successful you can add more products, upgrade your site and pull in more sales.

Eddie Machaalani

A Competitor’s View

Eddie Machaalani, CEO and Co-Founder of Interspire, offers his thoughts on ShopSite, a competitor.

PeC: What are ShopSite’s biggest strengths?

Machaalani: Over the years ShopSite has built partnerships with web hosting companies which gives them a wide distribution channel to webmasters – a decent percentage of whom may be interested in selling online through the integration of ShopSite’s software with their web host’s control panel interface.

PeC: What is ShopSite’s biggest weakness?

Machaalani: ShopSite store templates and control panel interface are very outdated and look like they were designed in the 1990’s. Their store templates still use table tags instead of an XHTML/CSS-based W3C compliant layout.

PeC: Other thoughts about ShopSite?

Machaalani: If you’re looking to get a store up and running quickly or to simply compliment your small retail store then ShopSite is a fair option, as it comes bundled with hosting plans from different hosting companies and seems easy enough to configure and use.

Brendan Gibbons
Brendan Gibbons
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