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 Ruud Stelder, co-founder and managing director of SEOshop, a hosted ecommerce platform based in the Netherlands.
We’ll also hear from cart user, Tom Canters, marketing director of RuToo eCigarettes, a division of Play Solutions B.V., also a Netherlands-based company.
PeC: Please provide some general background on the cart.
Ruud Stelder: “Four years ago we decided to merge two companies, Freestyle web design and iFabriek. After two years of successful operations and growth, our main problem was updating individual web shops for existing customers. [Programming sites individually] was expensive for our customers and not scalable for our company. With the upcoming web 2.0 trends we decided to start from scratch, and we began developing a SaaS web shop platform that is [now] SEOshop.”
PeC: How much does SEOshop cost?
Stelder: “SEOshop is one of the first web shop platforms with pricing plans based on the pay-as-you-earn principal. SEOshop charges a standard administrative fee of 25 EUR [$37.36 USD] at the beginning. After that, SEOshop charges only a small percentage of the monthly sales excluding tax and shipment costs. The higher the monthly sales, the lower the percentage will be. If you don’t sell anything, we are still talking care of the hosting, that’s our risk. But if your sales are high, you must have many visitors, and visitors use server-capacity and bandwidth.
“At the moment we have contracts with an average commission of 3.5 percent. For customers with special needs we have pricing plans with the possibility to get a fixed-fee license, for example, if you want to have a catalog without a basket [cart].”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Stelder: “SEOshop is what the name suggests, a very search-engine-friendly shopping cart. We developed the platform following the guidelines of the search giants like Google and Bing. In the Netherlands, nearly 90 percent of our customers are ranked in the first ten results on a Google search for their intended keyword.
“Another strength is that the platform is a license-based hosted solution. We take care of the development, hosting, support and maintenance, so our customers have time to focus on their core business.
“Also, it is one of the newest platforms around and uses only the latest technologies. With SEOshop your company is scalable and ready for growth. It has an extensive inventory management module, as well as integrations with about 20 payment services, comparison sites and social networks.
“Lastly, SEOshop has a very user-friendly interface and it is fully optimized for efficient order processing, with barcode support and lots of bulk features. The platform is translated in 14 different languages. Each component in the backend has an auto-translate feature that makes it easy to expand your business worldwide.”
PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?
Stelder: “At the moment the platform is not yet open for developers. This means you have to use a standard template, which you can easily design with our design configurator. On the other hand, this makes it more secure than an open-source alternative because SEOshop developers are the only ones who know the source code.”
PeC: What plans do you have for future cart development?
Stelder: “We plan to release a template engine in February 2010. With the new template engine, developers will be free to design their own look and feel.
“We also plan to build some enterprise features. For example, if a customer enters the checkout process but does not complete the sale, the cart will be able to send a personal email shortly afterward with a discount coupon on the items that were in the cart, making for a higher conversion rate.
“Also, we are working hard to link multiple storefronts to one backend. This way it will be easier for our customers to set up a multichannel ecommerce platform.”
PeC: How would your cart help an ecommerce merchant, versus the cart he or she is using now?
Stelder: “First of all we have smart import features which makes the migration [to SEOshop] a piece of cake. Also, we believe phone support is more personal than email, therefore we offer customer support by phone.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers, who are mainly ecommerce merchants?
Stelder: “SEOshop is framework based, and we have the ability to create ‘white label’ accounts for resellers. [A white label item is rebranded to a company to make it appear it’s the maker of the product.] We are looking for agencies in other countries to resell our licenses, and we intend to work with just a few parties per country.
“Merchants will be interested to know that we just released SEOshop 2.0 with many new features.”
A Customer’s View
Tom Canters is the marketing director for RuToo eCigarettes. The company manufactures and sells battery operated, electronic cigarettes as an alternative to traditional cigarettes, and its annual revenue is roughly $1 million USD.
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Canters: “It’s very friendly to use. This shopping system makes it possible for practically anyone to start a web shop in a few hours.
“Also the SEO tools are easy to use and very effective in terms of Google ranking.”
PeC: How could the cart improve?
Canters: “They should make it possible to change the front end of the website with help of a designer, so that every web shop has its own unique identity.”
PeC: How would SEOshop improve another merchant’s business?
Canters: “I think it can improve every traditional business that does not yet have online sales, because of its ease of set up and use.”
PeC: Do you plan on continuing to use the cart?
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers concerning the cart?
Canters: “Just try it yourself and you will discover how easy it is to start your own Internet business.”