There are nearly 600 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 Navin Ganeshan, senior director of product strategy with Network Solutions, a web services company based in Herndon, Va. and Belleville, Ill. Network Solutions acquired an online shopping cart in 2006 called MonsterCommerce, and renamed it nsCommerceSpace, this week’s featured cart. (See “Related Articles,” below.) The nsCommerceSpace ecommerce platform currently serves roughly 10,000 users.
We’ll also hear from an nsCommerceSpace customer, Steve Leugers. He is president of UptempoAir, a Cleveland, Ohio-based online store that sells athletic and basketball shoes, with approximately $1.2 million in gross revenue via the cart.
Practical eCommerce: Please provide some general background on the cart.
Navin Ganeshan: “Originally called MonsterCommerce, it was created by an ecommerce merchant who was frustrated by her cart and capabilities. Her web developer could not make improvements to her customer cart fast enough. She and her partner grew the company to be one of the top carts, and they sold the company to Network Solutions in 2006.
“Today, we have incorporated it into our broad portfolio of solutions for small businesses. This is a good fit because we have a host of other security and marketing services that are ideal for growing online retailers.”
PEC: Is it hosted, licensed, or both?
PEC: How much does nsCommerceSpace cost?
Ganeshan: “Packages start at $26.95 per month for 25 products; $49.95 per month for 300 products; and $99.95 per month for 100,000 products. There are no transaction fees at any level.”
PEC: What is your company doing to become PCI compliant?
Ganeshan: “We are PCI certified by Visa® U.S.A. Cardholder Information Security Program (CISP), and we are also SAS-70 certified (an audit certification for transaction security).” [Editor’s Note: Network Solutions is named on Visa’s global list of PCI DSS validated service providers.]
PEC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Ganeshan: “All versions of the cart come with email, a domain, a shared SSL certificate, and other features that enable a one-stop solution. Just about all cart features are available at each price point, so online retailers really have an opportunity to experiment and grow their business. Merchants only need to upgrade as their product catalogs grow.
“We also have our shopping portal, MonsterMarketplace, which we use to drive traffic to our customers’ stores. For many merchants, it can actually drive up to 20 percent of their overall traffic. We process $2 billion of transactions every year and offer 13 different payment gateways.”
PEC: What are some of its weaknesses?
Ganeshan: “Some of the features that are appreciated by our more advanced users can be intimidating to new users. So, it is a challenge for us to provide a consistent but easy interface that caters to all levels of user. We are focused on making the entire experience easy for everyone. ‘Ease-of-use’ is not just a priority for our ecommerce packages, we view it as a key brand differentiator as well.”
ListenListen to Navin Ganeshan discuss Network Solutions’ acquisition of MonsterCommerce, and future trends that he sees for ecommerce.
PEC: What plans do you have for future cart development?
Ganeshan: “Our biggest areas of focus (in addition to ease-of-use) are syndication and marketing of products through new channels. We are working on efforts to tap into more channels for product promotion and syndication. We currently support Shopping.com, Shopzilla, Google Base and MonsterMarketplace, but we will be expanding to numerous other shopping portals.
“We also have a social media marketing roadmap that will enable merchants to market their products using Facebook pages and broadcast informative updates and promotions via Twitter.
“Another major area of differentiation for us will be our mobile strategy. We will be allowing merchants to build out mobile storefronts as extensions to their online stores. Our customers also will be able to use mobile management apps to monitor and manage their online stores.”
PEC: How would your cart help an ecommerce merchant, versus the cart he or she is using now?
Ganeshan: “In a lot of cases, it can probably save merchants money, since we don’t charge per transaction. Secondly, its built-in marketing features, as well as our broad set of search engine marketing services, can be used to drive more leads and sales. And, the cart‘s broad integration capabilities work seamlessly with the services merchants may already use, such as QuickBooks, Google Checkout, PayPal, and other payment gateways.”
PEC: Any other thoughts for our readers, who are mainly ecommerce merchants?
Ganeshan: “Your store is just the beginning, and a good home base. It’s really important for merchants to focus on all the avenues they have for marketing their products, including directories and shopping portals, social media channels and mobile devices.”
A Customer’s View
Steve Leugers is president of UptempoAir, an online store that sells athletic shoes via nsCommerceSpace. Leugers provides his comments and opinions about the cart below.
PEC: How long has your company been using nsCommerceSpace?
Steve Leugers: “Since 2003. It was called MonsterCommerce back then, and we chose it because it was the easiest to use and the easiest to set up at the time.”
PEC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Leugers: “The quickness of it–not just speed itself, but the amount of steps it takes on checkout. Customers don’t want to spend too much time online once they figure out what they want to buy. The nsCommerceSpace checkout process is rather quick, and you don’t need as many pages to check out as some other carts.”
“I also like the ability to configure it to where we need it to be. There is some flexibility in product descriptions and other areas.”
PEC: How could the cart improve?
Leugers: “I wish we had access to the cart itself and the coding, because there are a couple of things we wanted to do that we can’t. For example, we use Google Checkout and PayPal, and we would like the PayPal button on top and the Google Checkout button on the bottom, but we can’t change it.”
PEC: How would nsCommerceSpace improve another merchant’s business?
Leugers: “Network Solutions in general does a lot of promoting of products, so just by being on the platform, merchants get a lot of exposure. The cart goes hand-in-hand with the other solutions the company provides. For example, search engine optimization is built in automatically—you don’t have to do everything manually–you put the product in and it creates the SEO-friendly URL.
“But, the speed of the cart is why I like it so much. If you check out as a guest (you don’t have to have an account) it’s the same as if you log into your account. There are no extra steps.”
PEC: Do you plan on continuing to use the cart?
Leugers: “Yes, most definitely. I don’t foresee us using another cart at all. They are always updating and putting out new additions, they are always trying to improve it.”
PEC: Any other thoughts for our readers concerning the cart?
Leugers: “The customer service is really good. You can call them at 7:00 in the morning and get somebody on the phone. In this business that is very helpful when a major problem happens. Also, there has been no unscheduled downtime in probably a year.”