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 Nathan Focht, president of CommerceV3 Inc., a software company based in Savannah, Ga., that provides its CommerceV3 shopping cart to more than 350 online merchants.
We’ll also hear from a CommerceV3 customer, Tim Walter, vice president of Eagle America.
PeC: Please provide some general background on the cart.
Nathan Focht: “What is now CommerceV3 [CV3] started in 2001 as a way for our staff to launch stores for our clients faster. After the first few clients began using the tools, we realized that we had the potential to turn it into a hosted, SaaS [software as a service] application. Since then we have added many features with the goal of allowing our clients maximum control and still provide the stability of a shared environment.”
PeC: How much does CommerceV3 cost?
Focht: “Setup is between $995 and $7,495, and the monthly fee is $295.”
PeC: What is your company doing to become PCI compliant?
Focht: “CV3 is an audited and certified VISA Third Party Application. We have been PCI-DSS certified since 2008 and just received our 2010 approval. We were audited by Fortrex.” [Editor’s Note: CommerceV3 is named on Visa’s global list of PCI DSS validated service providers.]
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Focht: “It is different for each of our clients, but, I think that the reporting is very valuable. The second strength is the ability for our clients to have full control of their site design. This gives them a unique look and also minimizes development costs for them.”
PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?
Focht: “The price and monthly fees are high for younger businesses. Another common issue is that our templates do not have a WYSIWYG [what you see is what you get] tool for the non-technical users.”
PeC: What plans do you have for future cart development?
Focht: “We are always adding features. We release a build every two or three weeks with something new. 95 percent of those features are suggestions made by our existing user base.”
PeC: How would your cart help an ecommerce merchant, versus the cart he or she is using now?
Focht: “There are a lot of cart solutions out there, so it is just a matter of which cart provides the best match for your business. I recommend that people build a list of what they need and then it is easier to find the best fit. However, if you find we do not do something you need, please let us know so we can improve our offering.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers, who are mainly ecommerce merchants?
Focht: “After so many years and hundreds of websites, there is one thing that I see over and over again. People think that the website and every letter and picture on it have to be perfect before they can launch that new design or holiday campaign. But, one of the great things about your website is that you can come back later and continue to improve your work. It is better to have something new on your site now than wait for weeks to get it ‘just perfect.'”
A Customer’s View
Tim Walter’s company, Eagle America is based in Chardon, Ohio, and its website uses the CommerceV3 shopping cart to sell woodworking tools and supplies, with more than 6,000 active SKUs. Walter provides his comments and opinions about CommerceV3 below.
PeC: How long has your company been using CommerceV3?
Tim Walter: “We have been live with CV3 since May 2009. We chose the platform for a number of reasons but the two largest were:
1) The cart offers good value, with a robust feature set at a fantastic price;
2) The cart integrates with our order management system (CoLinear’s Response), which is an added bonus.”
PeC: What are some of the cart’s other strengths?
Walter: “It has excellent built-in reporting tools that give you quick visibility to all aspects of activity on our site. Inventory management is very simple (category level, item level, and more), and it provides a lot of flexibility. It also has some great promotional tools built in via customer management, and we all know how important those are.
“Also, our comments and suggestions are logged, and the team rolls out upgrades and enhancements on a regular basis. They are constantly working on ways to enhance site security and maximize up-time for their clients.”
PeC: How could the cart improve?
Walter: “Depending on the time of year, there can be a longer lead time for custom programming. And, although the support staff has shown us creative ways to manage the existing cart functionality to avoid custom programming whenever possible, it would often just be easier to have something customized specifically to my needs.”
PeC: How would CommerceV3 improve another merchant’s business?
Walter: “I think they can help you sell more product for less money–there is nothing better than watching both the top line and bottom line grow at the same time.”
PeC: Do you plan on continuing to use the cart?
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers concerning the cart?
Walter: “There is always concern when changing platforms that your customers will notice only negatives of the change. I can say that when we switched from a higher priced cart to CV3 our customers did not blink. We actually received a number of compliments about perceived improvements we had made. The CV3 staff is very responsive and they are problem-solvers for us. Potential customers should know that they would be supported by a class organization when working with CV3.”