There are more than 500 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 John Panyavorachart, co-founder and CEO of Vevo Systems, developers of VevoCart. The company is located in Bangkok, Thailand, and its shopping cart currently serves around 6,000 users.
We’ll also hear from a VevoCart customer, Stephen Bowden, director of marketing and operations for Tres Beau, a site that sells wedding accessories.
Practical eCommerce: Please provide some general background on the cart.
John Panyavorachart: “The first release was in 2006 and version 4 was just released. The software is written in C# ASP.NET 2.0, and the cart is designed to offer a complete ecommerce solution with an intuitive and user-friendly interface. It is simple for merchants and customers to use and understand. The architecture is designed so developers can understand the source code, and customize or extend it easily.”
PeC: Is it hosted, licensed, or both?
PeC: How much does VevoCart cost?
Panyavorachart: “It is available in a Professional version for $259, and a Deluxe version for $350. Both versions come with free email support and upgrades for six months. There are no transaction fees, and no ongoing fees.”
PeC: What is your company doing to become PCI compliant?
Panyavorachart: “The latest release has complied with PCI requirements. VevoCart 4 is currently being audited to become PA-DSS certified.” [Editor’s Note: As of this writing, VevoCart is not currently named on The PCI Security Standards Council’s list of validated payment applications.]
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Panyavorachart: “VevoCart offers complete features for most ecommerce needs, and storefronts are easy for merchants and visitors to use. It is designed to be more satisfying to use, with an intuitive and user-friendly interface that results in a better user experience.
“The VevoCart platform is flexible and configurable, requiring less customization effort, and the license includes the full source code. This allows customers to further modify functionalities, add features, and adjust the look and feel of an online shop, with no extra cost.
PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?
Panyavorachart: “As of the current version, we do not yet have a published API [application program interface]. We have also received suggestions about adding storefront templates. Lastly, some customers might require a VB.NET version, which is not available.”
PeC: What plans do you have for future cart development?
Panyavorachart: “We continually improve the quality of the software, for both merchants and developers. We plan to provide more flexibility for developers by publishing a VevoCart API. We will also improve in performance and scalability.”
PeC: How would your cart help an ecommerce merchant, versus the cart he or she is using now?
Panyavorachart: “VevoCart is a search engine friendly cart. Products, services and contents are being crawled and indexed effectively. This increases chances to get noticed. Merchants can take advantage of organic search engine optimization with URL rewriting, automated sitemap, and automated meta information. This reduces the need for paid marketing campaigns.
“VevoCart helps merchants with ready-to-use promotional tools. Merchants are able to offer discounts, create affiliate programs, cross-sell products, and submit product feeds to popular shopping comparison networks.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers, who are mainly ecommerce merchants?
Panyavorachart: “Most merchants are in a hurry to launch an online store without taking time to do some research. A merchant needs to have a clear understanding of his or her products and services, and good research is vital.
“Know the strength of your offers against your competitors, and highlight your strengths. It will impress your visitors, and can greatly increase conversions.
“Lastly, pay attention to tracking and measuring your campaigns. There are lots of free tools available.”
A Customer’s View
Stephen Bowden is director of marketing and operations for Tres Beau, a wedding accessories store based in Sydney, Australia. Its website uses VevoCart to sell hand-made invitations, jewelry, evening bags, hair combs, and other bridal accessories, with a gross income of around $100,000 per year. Bowden is also managing director for Click IT Solutions, a web design and software development company. He provides his comments and opinions about VevoCart below.
PeC: How long has your company been using VevoCart?
Stephen Bowden: “Tres Beau has been using VevoCart for the last year to run its online store. We started developing the software in about August 2008, and then went live with the website in February 2009.
“We decided to choose this software because we looked around at a lot of alternative software, like Microsoft Commerce Server and Intershop, but the scale of these alternative solutions seemed too much focused on an enterprise scale. They offered a lot of functionality, but for the size of Tres Beau, we would only use about 20 percent. VevoCart offered everything we needed and the licensing for it was cost effective. It allows us the freedom to customize the website and apply our own business logic.
“We are currently looking at an alternative solution to bring more marketing features to isolate customer trends, and Version 4 of VevoCart looks like it is going to fill this gap. So, we plan to upgrade to the new version in the coming weeks.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Bowden: “Strengths would be the licensing cost, and the flexibility to be able to completely customize the source code with ease. VevoCart provides all the source code required to drive the project, so we have been able to customize every aspect from the website’s front-end, back-office, shopping cart and payment gateway.
“Also VevoCart has designed a payment gateway that can be easily modified to add alternative payment gateways. This was useful for us because we wanted to migrate an Australian merchant to perform real-time credit card processing from the VevoCart checkout. We were able to tailor the website to incorporate our custom business rules into the application so that we have a solution which is custom-made to our needs.”
PeC: How could the cart improve?
Bowden: “In the current version we are using, it would be nice for the cart to contain more marketing tools in the back-office section. We have had to write a number of modules to track our customers’ trends, such as items in cart, log on activity, and others. This appears to have been corrected in version 4, so it will be a definitive motivator for us to upgrade to the new version in the near future.
“Another challenge was using Microsoft IIS7 to run VevoCart. A bit of tweaking was required to get the Tres Beau site running on this web server. Fortunately, VevoCart provided a comprehensive guide with steps to modify IIS 7 to run this release of the software.”
PeC: How would VevoCart improve another merchant’s business?
Bowden: “Simply by providing the ability to streamline the process of configuring an ecommerce shop online. Since it is cost-effective and easy to use, it is perfect for amateur users who have little experience with ecommerce websites, but are excited to start their own online business.”
PeC: Do you plan on continuing to use the cart?
Bowden: “We plan to continue using this cart for a while since there isn’t an immediate plan to upgrade to another solution. The only motivation for us to move to another solution in future would be when our business expands. We will want a cart solution to integrate with the rest of the business, and we will need more powerful marketing analysis in the back-office to help determine customer trends to assist with marketing the site.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers concerning the cart?
Bowden: “If you have a small business, or are considering opening your first ecommerce website, then this is a good solution for you. It provides ease-of-use and all the necessary functionality to get your business online with ease. There is even support for using Microsoft Access database, so, if you don’t want to spend a lot on hosting, this is an alternative option.”