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 ProductCart, by Early Impact, Inc. Based in Mission Viejo, Calif., the company offers the licensed cart for a starting price of $695 with optional add-ons. We interviewed co-owner Massimo Arrigoni about the cart. We then asked Kevin Cook, ProductCart developer and owner of Nuclearsiloman.com, for his evaluation. Cook is a ProductCart customer.
PeC: Please provide some general background on the cart.
Arrigoni: “ProductCart is a licensed shopping cart. We started in 2001, and we’re currently shipping version 3.51. Several thousand licenses have been sold.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Arrigoni: “Eight years of development based on a constant stream of customer feedback, which translates into a feature depth that is hard to find in other shopping carts. It also means that we have had the opportunity to implement approved integrations with FedEx, UPS, eBay, QuickBooks, Google Website Optimizer, Google Checkout and dozens of other systems.”
“For companies that sell custom-made or configurable products and services, our ‘Build To Order’ version with conflict management can provide solutions to problems that are hard to solve. A quick example: Being able to provide online quotes for catered events where some of the prices change dynamically based on the number of guests, and some don’t, such as a fixed price for the jazz band, but variable food costs.”
PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?
Arrigoni: “Multi-lingual support. The feature set is so broad that to make everything from custom search fields to gift wrapping options available in multiple languages would require substantial changes to the system architecture. So it’s an area where we simply say, ‘Sorry, it doesn’t do it.’”
PeC: What plans do you have for future cart development?
Arrigoni: “We asked our users what they were missing. It’s incredible the amount of smart features they came up with. We haven’t made final decisions on everything that will make it into the next release, but we can say that ProductCart v4 (coming in September 2009), will have a slick, AJAX-powered one-page checkout, more sales and coupon management features, stronger content management tools and lots more features.”
PeC: How specifically would switching to ProductCart improve a merchant’s business?
Arrigoni: “I’d say three areas: It can solve business problems other shopping carts can’t solve, such as the Build To Order system mentioned above. It contains a lot of time-saving administration tools that can really make the difference on a day-to-day basis, such as automatic synchronization with QuickBooks. And it provides storefront features that can improve the customer experience, such as AJAX-enhanced search that makes for quicker, friendlier searches in the store catalog.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers?
Arrigoni: Your needs may change over time. Go with an ecommerce system that can change (i.e., be customized) as your needs change. Choose robust, proven software like ProductCart that’s been successfully put to the test for years.
A Customer’s View
Kevin Cook of is a ProductCart developer and reseller. His site, Nuclearsiloman.com, uses the cart as well. Here is Cook’s take on the cart.
PeC: What are ProductCart’s biggest strengths?
Cook: “It’s the only shopping cart technology I use because it is a good cart. It has more features for the price. It’s designed ergonomically, and it’s easy to use and understand. I used to be a Zen Cart developer, and the number one complaint from customers was that the admin was so complicated that they couldn’t remember where things were. That’s when I started looking at other cart technologies. I looked at a lot of carts in ProductCart’s class, but I decided on it because it is easy to use, full-featured, has excellent support from the company and a large user base.”
“From a developer’s standpoint, the code is very clean and straightforward. For people like me who do custom development it’s precision surgery—in and out. The administration of it, everything from setting up initial categories and products that go in those categories to being able to control layout on presentation side, is great for the price.”
PeC: What are some things it could improve?
Cook: “Like any software, once you say you’re done improving it you’re out of business. One thing is content management, creating non-cart pages. Massimo said he is working on that for the next release.”
PeC: How specifically would using ProductCart improve a merchant’s business?
Cook: “The first payback is simple ROI [return on investment]. For $695, to have so many features that support acquiring new customers and creating repeat business is one of Product Cart’s strengths. The cart offers many features itself and integration with all major third party companies and practically every payment gateway known to man.”
PeC: Do you plan to continue using ProductCart? Why or why not?
Cook: “Absolutely, I plan to retire on it. I told them if they ever stop publishing it, I’ll hunt them down.”
PeC: Any other thoughts on shopping carts for our readers?
Cook: “Make sure the cart’s feature set supports all the touch points you want with potential customers. Lots of carts do certain things very well, but those tools may not be the ones you need to reach your demographic. ProductCart has tools to reach every demographic you would need. Also, it’s very important that before you buy a cart, make sure you demo the admin portion of it.”