Merchants have almost 600 online shopping carts to choose from, including hosted carts, licensed carts and open-sourced carts. Each week in “Cart Talk” we will be interviewing a merchant that uses a particular cart, to get frank, real-world feedback on its use – what works and what needs improvement.
This week, we’ll hear from Matthew Johnson, owner and artist behind Seventh.Ink, a Palm Harbor, Fla.-based t-shirt, hoodie and greeting-card company. Johnson’s company uses LemonStand, a licensed shopping cart that, according to its website, costs $299.98 for a one-time fee for a single license.
Johnson uses LemonStand to sell approximately 600 products annually. Seventh.Ink is a small business with gross annual revenue between $10,000-$50,000 per year.
Practical eCommerce: Why LemonStand?
Matthew Johnson: “I was first drawn to LemonStand because of the clean look that they portray on their site. I had been using ZenCart and was constantly frustrated with the interface; it wasn’t up to date and I had a lot of trouble finding little things that I needed to check from time to time. I would forget where they were located in the menu system.
“LemonStand streamlines everything into an easy-to-use menu system that works great. I love the dashboard and the fact that I can customize just about every feature in the cart.”
PeC: When did your online store launch and how long have you been using LemonStand?
Johnson: “It launched in October 2007 with Zen Cart and we just switched to LemonStand in February 2010.”
PeC: Can you describe how you process orders in LemonStand, step-by-step?
Johnson: “As an administrator, I decide how I want to be notified of new orders. I currently have it set up to email me a copy of an order when it is placed as well as an email when the order changes from ‘New’ to ‘Paid.’ That way I can follow up if someone places an order but seems to have trouble paying. I can customize my admin emails and create templates to use for situations that seem to be repetitive.
“Once the status changes to ‘Paid,’ I package up the order and then go into the admin tool to change the status to ‘Shipped.’ Because ‘Shipped’ is also a customizable option, I can choose whether or not the customer would then receive an email notifying them of shipment.
“I prefer to use Endicia [a shipping tool that integrates with U.S. Postal Service] for this because it sends out the tracking info as well. So it’s nice to be able to change the status of the order in the admin and only send the customer one email through Endicia.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Johnson: “Overall, I would say that the biggest strength of the cart is the highly active team behind it. They bend over backwards to provide new features based on feedback and conversations both in forums and offline.
“I acted as an alpha tester for about three months while I slowly crafted the Seventh.Ink store, which gave me a chance to provide live feedback to the team based on an actual live cart setup.
“I wasn’t paid for this testing, but I was rewarded with a nice discount off of the price of the cart license. It was a great opportunity to give feedback and help shape certain aspects of the cart.”
PeC: How could the cart improve?
Johnson: “They just implemented jQuery, which was a needed improvement. I would also love to see gift certificates become a feature of the cart. I know they’re working on this, and I really look forward to the day that feature goes live.”
PeC: Do you plan on continuing to use the cart?
Johnson: “Definitely. I’ve recommended it to everyone I know and I can’t see myself ever changing for any reason. I’ve even considered specializing in developing sites for other companies using LemonStand, which I think says a lot.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers concerning choosing a shopping cart?
Johnson: “If you’re serious about creating a great ecommerce site that will knock the competitors out of the park, I highly suggest you give LemonStand a try.”