Design & Development

Cart of the Week: Interspire “Obsesses Over Quality”

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 asking about its strengths and weaknesses. We’ll then ask a competitor about the cart, too.

In this installment, we’ve featured the Interspire Shopping Cart, an AJAX-intensive, licensed shopping-cart that boosts easy design and update tools for merchants that don’t have extensive XHTML, CSS, or other coding skills. Merchants can add or remove “panels,” swift content, or rewrite web copy without any coding or uploading, and the Interspire Shopping Cart works for both tangible and digital products.

Eddie Machaalani, CEO of Interspire

We asked Eddie Machaalani, CEO of Interspire, about the benefits of his company’s cart. Then we asked Michael Stearns, co-owner of MightyMerchant, a hosted cart solution, for his evaluation of the Interspire Shopping Cart.

Eddie Machaalani of Interspire

PeC: What are Interspire’s biggest strengths?

Machaalani: We’ve worked hard over the last four years to become known for three things: great software usability, professional and modern website templates bundled with our products, and I think we have perfected the balance between having all of the features you need without complicating the design of the application.

PeC: What is Interspire’s biggest weakness?

Machaalani: Our biggest weakness is that we haven’t launched the hosted edition of our shopping cart software yet, but it’s something we’re working on and will launch by the end of the year.

PeC: What are your plans for future cart development?

Machaalani: As I mentioned above, we’re working on a hosted edition of Interspire Shopping Cart so by the end of the year you’ll be able to simply come to our site, choose your plan and your store is created and up and running in a few minutes. We release a new version of our software every three months and we’ve got some really great features planned for 2009, with a large focus on integration – integration of other accounting systems, ERP integration, CRM integration, etc.

 

We have a very vocal and passionate customer base and so their feedback forms a large part of our market research, because who better to ask how Interspire Shopping Cart fits into their business than our customers?

PeC: Describe how your cart improves a merchant’s business.

Machaalani: We have an almost obsessive fascination with usability – both from a shopper and a store owner’s perspective. For example, we’ve built our entire application based on the principles of the Neilson Normal Group, which are designed to improve the buying process for customers significantly. Interspire Shopping Cart also includes easy to modify templates (drag and drop to change the layout, built-in logo editor, etc.), a powerful CMS (to publish news, web pages, RSS feeds, etc in your store) and an intuitive control panel for merchants.

A good example of our obsession with usability is that we have the only shopping cart software which has help tips next to every field when you’re adding a product to your store, processing an order, setting up tax rules and more. It’s the little things like this that most of our competitors miss, but we spend weeks perfecting.

PeC: Other thoughts for our readers about Interspire?

Machaalani: We’re all about listening to customers and building software that’s fun and easy to use. All of our software products were built to integrate out of the box (for example, you can integrate our email marketing and knowledge base software directly into your store in about 10 clicks), and we understand a shopping cart is simply one tool a business needs to operate, so we integrate with QuickBooks, bundle lots of marketing tools (coupon codes, bulk discounts, free shipping, etc) and make it easy to import/export data from a feed or even from a competitor’s product. I believe these are some of the features that set us apart from the competition.

The View of a Competitor

Michael Stearns, co-owner of Mighty Merchant, a hosted shopping cart and a competitor to Interspire, offers his views.Michael Stearns

PeC: What are Interspire’s biggest strengths?

Stearns: Interspire has developed a full set of tools that go beyond a generic shopping cart. They offer: a cart, email marketing module, CMS, and a knowledge base system. Interspire is based in Australia and has a presence in the U.S. and England, which would likely benefit those who need a solution tuned for different locales. They serve customers ranging from Fortune 500 down to mom and pop stores. According to Interspire’s website, they don’t seem to shy away from doing custom work. They have developed a rich Ajax interface which is a plus for usability. Their SEO implementation is also solid.

PeC: What is Interspire’s biggest weakness?

Stearns: I am not seeing a clear weakness in their product. I did notice that the sites I visited in their portfolio had some usability issues: such as wide static-width layouts (1000 pixels), poor placement of “Add to Cart” buttons, and unclear messaging after adding an item to cart. But these issues could be a function of choices made by the site owner/designer and not a flaw in the Interspire system. Interspire offers a quality, well-developed product. Kudos to their developers.

PeC: Other thoughts for our readers about Interspire?

Stearns: Interspire gets favorable feedback from users around the world. Their emphasis on listening to their customers seems to have served them well and has helped them develop an excellent product.

Interspire Shopping Cart

  • Licensed cart with a hosted version coming soon
  • Costs $295 to $1,795 plus extras
  • Interspire has been in business since 2003
  • The company has more than 20,000 customers
Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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