There are more than 350 online shopping carts. And each week we feature one, interviewing both the cart’s developer and a customer. “Cart of the Week” is not a review or an evaluation, but rather an opportunity to learn about a shopping cart from the people who build it and use it.
This week, we’ll hear from Jim O’Neill, sales manager for Beanbasket shopping cart software. Beanbasket is an Appleton, Wis.-based company with approximately 200 cart users.
We’ll also hear the views of Rajat Arora, founder and CEO of the online store Nimli, a Beanbasket shopping cart user.
PeC: Please provide some general background on the cart.
O’Neill: “Beanbasket has been providing ecommerce services to Internet retailers since 1999. It provides a web store management system that handles everything from catalog and account database management to product and static/dynamic content management, [including] physical and downloadable items; image tools; rich media capabilities; customizable business rules, pricing, and promotions; multiple currencies; multiple languages; third party integrations and more.”
PeC: Is the cart hosted, licensed, or both?
O’Neill: “Hosted. We manage deploying your store, maintenance and security for the web, and database servers, as well as constantly updating the core application.”
PeC: How much does the cart cost?
O’Neill: “Beanbasket offers three plans starting at $300 per month. All of them have a flat monthly fee and a per-page-view fee.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
O’Neill: “Flexibility and customizations, design freedom, and scalability. Our strength comes from understanding how to turn those features into more visitors, more conversions, increased order values and more return shopping.
“We get clients looking for better back-office integrations, either with OrderMotion or other legacy ERP [enterprise resource planning] systems, and we are seeing more attention to our personalization and multiple price list and product list capabilities for business-to-business operations.
“We recently added faceted search and a guided navigation option to make site navigation more engaging. We also have an excellent integration for automated intelligent recommendations using Strands or MyBuys.
“Another strength is we spend a lot of effort documenting every aspect of a site so that you are sure we understand what you want.
“Lastly, you can contact anyone here directly and [customers] have a strong say in our product direction.”
PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?
O’Neill: “We are not a generic template store, so we typically need to partner with design firms for the store layout in HTML and CSS, [but the platform] does offer near absolute flexibility.
“Also, we don’t have a direct integration with QuickBooks, but we do offer integration through TrueShip.com [,a shipping software provider].”
PeC: What plans do you have for future cart development?
O’Neill: “We just released an interim update and are preparing for the next release. Some priorities on the next release are multiple ship-to’s on an order, expanding the alternate payment method options, enhancing the reporting tools, and looking at other order management integrations.”
PeC: How would your cart help an ecommerce merchant, versus the cart he or she is using now?
O’Neill: “We offer an advantage if you need a very robust and customizable, high performance, scalable, high-volume site with a potentially complex design. If your site needs to handle complex business rules and integrations with legacy ERP systems, especially if you need B2C and B2B capabilities, we are a great fit.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers, who are mainly ecommerce merchants?
O’Neill: “We understand that Beanbasket, or any other system, is not the perfect fit for every situation. We encourage prospective clients to work out prioritized requirements to determine which of our service levels is the most appropriate fit. This prioritization and clear understanding of expectations helps us work together with a client to streamline the integration process and reduce the time to market.”
A Customer’s View
Rajat Arora’s company, Nimli Inc., is located in New York City, and its mission is to promote a natural, organic and green lifestyle. Arora’s store, Nimli.com, sells environmentally-friendly clothing, gifts, accessories, home décor, beauty products, pet supplies, and more, grossing $1.5 to $2 million annually via the Beanbasket shopping cart. Arora offers his views and opinions on the Beanbasket cart below.
PeC: How long has your company been using the cart?
Arora: “Since 2007.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Arora: “It offers complete customization while making available all the major features [we require] from a cart solution. We especially like the faceted search and navigation, the ability to easily update the website, and its strong integration with OrderMotion.”
PeC: How could the cart improve?
Arora: “Beanbasket has been very responsive about features and various integrations sought by us. We [have requested] additional features such as images zoom, multi-currency and RSS feeds.”
PeC: How would this cart improve another merchant’s business?
Arora: “Beanbasket’s ability to customize is the most significant. Merchants with larger catalogs can take advantage of its automated recommendations given its integration with Strands and MyBuys. The automated search, navigation and recommendations save tremendous resources that can be allocated elsewhere.”
PeC: Do you plan on continuing to use the cart?
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers concerning the cart?
Arora: “Overall, [Beanbasket is] a great solution that offers customization and value. As our business grows, we are confident to continue to work with Beanbasket to further add features and integrations with other third-party solutions.”