Practical eCommerce counts over 300 different shopping cart systems. In this ongoing “Cart of the Week” feature, we profile a specific cart, asking the cart’s owners and users about its strengths and weaknesses.
Here we profile Corncart, a free open-source cart first made available for download in December. The cart is based in China, but the company plans to open a branch office in the United States this year.
We asked Sophie Zhou, marketing director for the Open Software Innovation Center, the developers of Corncart, to explain the benefits of her company’s cart. We then asked Allison Mustin, an ecommerce consultant whose client currently uses Corncart, for her evaluation of the software.
The View of Corncart Staff
PeC: Please provide some general background on the cart.
Zhou: “Corncart is the product of OSIC, the Open Software Innovation Center that focuses on offshore web development and ecommerce here in China. The version currently available is Corncart 1.0. We developed Corncart under the GNU General Public License, so it is free to download. Our developers have gathered all the advantages of traditional shopping carts and integrated them into a complete suite of tools to help users build and expand their online business. Corncart users can enjoy all of the benefits of owning a full-featured online store. In addition, our support team is dedicated to helping users solve any kind of problem they may encounter when using Corncart.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Zhou: “As open source software, Corncart is available for free. I think this is the most attractive point of it. Corncart is much easier to install and manage than other open source shopping carts. Users with little knowledge of Apache web servers, MySQL, PHP, XML, XHTML, and CSS can utilize Corncart as their ecommerce solution without any difficulty. Corncart includes a user-friendly administrative panel that provides users with freedom and total control over their online stores.”
PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?
Zhou: “Corncart is new. We will make continuous efforts to perfect it, and new features will be added according to requirements of Corncart users.”
PeC: What plans do you have for future cart development?
Zhou: “We have collected specific requirements and unique requests from users and will release a new version of Corncart in the near future. Also, the Corncart team plans to bundle the domain and hosting service in the new Corncart package and charge a monthly amount for this package. Also, we will strengthen our effort in developing the Corncart community, where merchants and developers can communicate freely.”
PeC: How specifically would using Corn-cart improve a merchant’s business?
Zhou: “Under each item of the product, we have created a blank box for users to enter the tag of their product, so it is easy for search engines in or out of the website to search for the product. We also offer a creative foreground with attractive templates for strong visual appeal and to enable the customer to have a comfortable shopping experience.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers?
Zhou: “We are grateful to those who have tried Corncart and provided valuable feedback about it. We are focusing on service, quality and innovation, so we sincerely hope that Corncart will become a household name in the ecommerce world.”
The View of a Corncart User
Allison Mustin provides services to merchants through the Peak Performance Institute, an Austin, Texas-based consulting firm. One of her clients, Lisa Brown, uses Corncart for her online store Shoptheseason.com. Here Mustin relates her experiences with the cart and her recommendations for potential users.
PeC: What are Corncart’s biggest strengths?
Mustin: “The interface is very easy to navigate. My not-so-computer-savvy client was very impressed when she began using it.”
PeC: What are some things it could improve?
Mustin: “The image resizing feature. Sometimes they blur, and most users do not know how to use other image editing software.”
PeC: Do you plan to continue using Corncart?
Mustin: “Yes, I will recommend it to future customers.”
PeC: Any other thoughts on shopping carts for our readers?
Mustin: “The only issue I have with many shopping carts is the ability to sell customizable products. I usually have to create my own customization page that sends a separate email with the customer’s information. It would be great to have this be a feature of a shopping cart.”