Practical Ecommerce

Field Test: Shopping Carts, Part Two Of Three

In Field Test, Practical eCommerce has gathered twelve seasoned ecommerce merchants and asked each of them the same questions around a given topic. This month’s topic is shopping carts.

The participating ecommerce merchants are: Dave Norris, House of Antique Hardware; Justin Hertz, MuttMart; Chris Stump, Only Hammocks; Mike Feiman, PoolDawg; Dan Stewart, Xtreme Diesel Performance; Cindy Barrileaux, Write Your Best; Claudette Cyr, Gear-Source; Kristen Taylor, Juvie; Jeff Muchnik, RedBox Tools; Kara English, Candles & Such.

This is the second set of merchants who have responded to the following questions. The responses were chosen randomly and arranged to maintain anonymity.

PeC: What shopping cart do you use?

  • FIELD TESTER 4: We built a custom shopping cart because we needed some very specific functionality.
  • FIELD TESTER 5: E-junkie.
  • FIELD TESTER 6: MonsterCommerce by NetworkSolutions.

PeC: How long have you used this cart?

  • FIELD TESTER 4: Just over three years.
  • FIELD TESTER 5: Four months.
  • FIELD TESTER 6: Since 2002.

PeC: Why did you choose it?

  • FIELD TESTER 4: There were no out-of-the-box options available that would work for our business model and sell process.
  • FIELD TESTER 5: _It was recommended as easy to set up. _
  • FIELD TESTER 6: At the time it had the most features for the price.

PeC: Are you pleased with it?

  • FIELD TESTER 4: Not anymore. It served its purpose, but we’ve really outgrown it.
  • FIELD TESTER 5: Yes.
  • FIELD TESTER 6: Yes, overall I am very happy with it.

PeC: Which aspects of the cart are you most pleased with?

  • FIELD TESTER 4: It works. That’s about all.
  • FIELD TESTER 5: It is easy to set up.
  • FIELD TESTER 6: The system is well laid out and easy to navigate. The uptime has been near 100 percent, and the technical support has been very helpful when I’ve needed it.

PeC: What would you change about it?

  • FIELD TESTER 4: A lot. We are actually rebuilding our site now using NetSuite, and one of the main reasons was to greatly improve the whole order-processing and shopping cart process. NetSuite development is far from painless. However, we feel the end result will be worth the time, effort and expense to get us there. It was the best option available over anything else we looked at when we made the decision.
  • FIELD TESTER 5: Nothing at this point.
  • FIELD TESTER 6: I would have liked to have seen more SEO (search engine optimization) features built in.

PeC: What advice would you offer merchants who are seeking a new shopping cart?

  • FIELD TESTER 4: Do lots of research before you settle on a solution. Ask lots of questions; have your complete online business model defined, mapped out and in a format that can be presented to potential solution providers so they can show you how their product will serve your business. There are lots of options available now and new things coming on the market every day so, take your time, be specific and be selective. Be aware that modifying an out-of-the-box option to meet your needs is never as simple as it is made to appear.
  • FIELD TESTER 5: Get a recommendation from someone who knows your unique needs.
  • FIELD TESTER 6: My number one recommendation is to demo the software. Each system will offer different features the will appeal to different people.
Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons

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  1. Legacy User May 27, 2008 Reply

    Now that Magento has entered the field the game has just become A LOT more interesting. I started with Miva Merchant and migrated to OsCommerce when I was no longer able to make modifications using Miva script.

    OsCommerce was great but it was kind of outdated. Straight out the box… Magento beats most carts in areas of SEO alone….

    — *Ramco WorldWide*

  2. Legacy User May 27, 2008 Reply

    We are about to change, and are looking at Netsuite. I haven't heard of Magento, and wonder what do you mean when you say, "… Magento beats most carts in areas of SEO alone…???"

    — *rich*

  3. Legacy User May 27, 2008 Reply

    You have to test this cart to believe.. it's a truly modern system…
    The built in SEO capbilities are astounding…. I could go on…

    better yet… just check the site.. and the feature set that it offers right out the box…

    It really blows away almost everything that's currently out.. Miva, Osc (and all it's forks), etc..

    — *Ramco WorldWide*

  4. Legacy User May 28, 2008 Reply

    Magentocommerce will be a markedleader in open source soultions in a year or two. I'll be willing to bet money on that..

    If i were considering building a new store at this time i would for sure look into magentoecommerce

    — *Akvario*

  5. Legacy User May 29, 2008 Reply

    Also worth looking at: Volusion, Nexternal, GoodBarry, Shopify and Zoovy.
    Rich – make sure you ask a LOT of questions about NetSuite. Tons of questions, and dig into the details. Other tips: ask them for a demo that includes some of YOUR specific requirements, and also ask which of the customer ecommerce sites (that they have on their website) were built with standard functionality as opposed to with their "Advanced" module.

    — *Cindy*

  6. Legacy User May 29, 2008 Reply

    "Magentocommerce will be a markedleader in open source soultions in a year or two. I'll be willing to bet money on that.."

    I'm willing to go even beyond that and say that they will be an "ecommerce leader"…

    open source or whatever

    — *Ramco WorldWide*

  7. Legacy User June 5, 2008 Reply

    One of my friends uses a souped up version of OS commerce, which is really powerful. They've got a tremendous amount of support etc.

    If you are looking for something low-end to start on, I would suggest looking into CRE loaded. They are the upgraded version of OS commerce, with SEO plugins included on installation, and much more. It's easier to find templates for them etc. So out of the box it's easier, and it has a large developer community. (Always good, in order to find cheap knowledgeable programmers).

    I saw magento at one of the conferences, and played around with it etc. I was really impressed, and although I have downloaded it to play around with, I haven't had the chance yet. My concern would be that although they do have a passionate developer community (and a superior product), if you are really starting small – and can't afford the $1,000 or so to get a template setup, or don't have someone to customize it, I would stick to CRE loaded. The developer community at magento is still comparatively small.

    — *David Jaeger –*