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Recommend an Alternative to Mal's E-Commerce Cart

 7:20 pm on Jul 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have an ecommerce store with about 150 items. All CC payments are handled on the First Data gateway. My website uses static HTML pages. Using Mal's E-commerce cart, I've pasted the HTML for the "Add to Cart" buttons into my pages.

I've had problems with Mal's cart from the beginning, and I'm frustrated enough with its limitations to switch to a new cart. I would like to switch to another 3rd-party, hosted cart that is PCI compliant. I want a cart that will let me paste their "Add to Cart" code into my existing pages.

Here are the problems that I'm trying to solve:

1. Oftentimes when customers use their BACK button in the shopping cart, it loses their order and they have to start over.

2. My customers don't get a dropdown list to choose their credit card. This is a bug because they should get one, but I've been unable to get Mal's admin to fix it.

3. I charge a Flat-Rate for shipping (USPS), and want an option wherein the customer can pay an extra $2.00 for Insurance, but the cart can't do this.

4. I ship only to the USA. I don't ship to overseas military bases or U.S. protectorates that require Customs forms. Mal's shipping locations for the USA include those places and it won't let me exclude them.

5. Selecting to ship only to the USA won't let me ship to the U.S. Virgin Islands, even though it has a U.S. zip code. I've discussed this with Mal, and he insisted that the U.S. Virgin Islands is a foreign country.

Can anyone suggest an alternative?




 11:42 pm on Jul 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

Nice to see such a well-crafted question.

I believe Shopsite can do everything you want...easily. But it isn't free like Mals.

BTW, there are two Virgin Islands groups: The British VIs and the United States VIs (St. Croix, St.Thomas, St. Johns)

I found your post interesting. I never dreamed Mal's had such limitations.


 12:46 am on Jul 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks, jsinger, I'll look into it.

I'm using the paid version of Mal's, and I stand corrected! The U.S. Virgin Islands is now included in the list of U.S. shippping destinations. My apologies to Mal's for the misinformation; it's been awhile since I checked.

The missing dropdown menu for the credit cards is definitely a bug, though, because other people who use this cart have a dropdown. I have the backend configured to display it, but it won't display. Asked many times for help, and all he told me is to configure the cart to show it. I told him that I had!... asked him to go to my site and try to "buy" something to see for himself, but got nowhere.

So it's a combination of limitations, bugs, and support that doesn't always listen. I'm not trying to bash Mal's in any way because it's great for the price and there have been times that Mal's been extremely helpful, but I want something a bit more user-friendly.


Since posting my original question, I've found "Emartcart" and "CoolCart". Any thoughts on those?

My webhost offers C-Panel with OS Commerce and Agora, but I think they're full content management systems. I can't figure out if they'll let me just copy and paste button code into my existing pages.


 2:54 am on Jul 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

My webhost offers C-Panel with OS Commerce and Agora, but I think they're full content management systems. I can't figure out if they'll let me just copy and paste button code into my existing pages.

Agora will work with existing pages/button code. It does require a bit of set up though...but their forum is generally pretty helpful especially if you spring for the $40 membership. If you try it, download the newest version from agoracart.com as I believe the cPanel version is outdated. It would be able to do all the things on your list.


 1:46 pm on Jul 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

The cost within reason is a minor consideration.

Remember that even in the best of economic times shopping cart companies went out of business. Shopsite has been around for more than a decade. It has many third party add-ons. It has a large help forum. Good SEO-ability. Enhancements at least once a year. Large user base. Three price levels depending on features.

OSC is pretty cumbersome from what I've heard. I'm Not familiar with Agora.

One other thing: Shopsite is located in USA (Utah). We've been with them for about 5 years and they've always been reliable. No BS from them.


 2:33 pm on Jul 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

i recommend ShopSite as well.

because you have so few products, i also recommend reviewing ecwid.


 7:30 pm on Jul 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thank you all for your advice- I really appreciate it.

Shopsite sounds good, but is more than I can afford at this time.

I don't understand how ECWID works. It seems to be a blog extension?

Agora looks like it might do, but also looks really complicated. A downside is that upgrades can break things, and I cannot afford to lose sales due to downtime. I don't think I have the technical skill to do it. My webhost can install it, but not support it. And I just don't have time to devote to mastering a new technology.

I maybe found a possible solution right under my nose, though! My webhost offers a shopping cart as part of my hosting package. I never really thought about it for my store because I was using Mal's when I moved my domain to this host. It's the precisionweb cart (is it OK for me to mention that?). The logo on the login page says it's by "Cart7 Technologies" but I can't find any information on them. I guess precisionweb is a reseller of this cart?

Do any of you know anything about Cart7 Technologies?


 12:47 pm on Jul 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

How about having one custom written ?Sticky me for a sites name


 1:49 pm on Jul 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

How about having one custom written ?

Because I don't want to host my own cart. If I handle credit card data myself in my own cart it gets more expensive. I'd have to buy a SSL certificate and my PCI compliance becomes much more complicated. Mine is a "very tiny" business, and that would just be overkill.


 2:41 pm on Jul 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

"Because I don't want to host my own cart. If I handle credit card data myself in my own cart it gets more expensive. I'd have to buy a SSL certificate and my PCI compliance becomes much more complicated. Mine is a "very tiny" business, and that would just be overkill."
Exactly why I suggested you look at ecwid.

"I don't understand how ECWID works. It seems to be a blog extension?"
You said you've "pasted the HTML for the "Add to Cart" buttons into my pages."... so i understood you have an existing site... you don't need a cart that is a catalog front-end too, just a checkout back end.

Yes, ecwid can be added to a blog. But it can also be added to an existing site. They host it and handle compliance, but since it's ajax it doesn't feel to the consumer like they've left your site. And it's cheap too.

take a look at how some implementations have been done:

in any case, good luck in your hunt!


 3:49 pm on Jul 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thank you for the link, RhinoFish. I'm looking at the sourcecode of the stores showcased there that are using HTML. They're all using javascript. Is that the ECWID code, or just the way the webmasters chose to go?

I'm going to study ECWID further. Thanks again!


 2:48 pm on Jul 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

i don't know, but yep, it looks like you're seeing it as i am.

what i do know is that when you have your own front end, there aren't many good choices for back-end carts to hook onto your site. leaving your domain (to a hosted off domain cart) always seems like it'd kill conversions to me. before i found ecwid, i thought you had two choices - externally hosted on a different domain name -or- hook a higher end cart onto your existing site not using the cart's front end and figure out how to get your products into the cart's database. ecwid looks like the domain name won't be an issue, compliance won't be an issue and it's easy and cheap. it doesn't have a rich feature set yet, but looks like it's coming along well with time.

i almost went with ecwid, but choose Shopsite instead becuz they have an easy import dealio (i have 5,000+ products) and becuz my existing front end is dynamic driven database site that i built, so scripting the database to output Shopsite's upload file was simple (which isn't the case for many other carts). and shopsite has every feature under the sun, so i spent the money and bolted it on, just as a back-end (it has an optional front-end that i don't use)

i do have plans for several much smaller sites, no big database involved, and i plan to use ecwid with those. speed is very important to me, and i like to control the front-end and build it for SPEED. so i'll always be interested in discussing add-on back-end carts. :-)


 9:42 pm on Jul 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

hmm, tigerflag if your used to mals-e then i would recommend 1shoppingcart.com. It's very similar to mals-e but better. 30 a month for the starter plan, and no transaction fee's. I used to use mals-e and switched to 1shoppingcart.

Less headache's then moving over your site over to a full hosted solution.

keep your website that way you have more control of the structure, and simply add in the buy now buttons.

hope this helps,


 10:34 pm on Jul 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

You've all been so helpful, I really appreciate your input.

After researching your suggestions (including 1shoppingcart.com) I decided to go with the precisionweb cart offered by my webhost for several reasons. I don't know why I didn't think of it to begin with. Guess I just needed to research a bunch of options to realize that I have a pretty good setup under my nose:

I'm already hosted there and don't have to move anything.

It's included in my hosting package at no extra charge, and my webhost has always given me good tech support. They also handle the SSL certificate and PCI compliance of the server configuration.

It's an elegant cart to work with, both on the frontend and backend. My customers won't be taken to a different server when they're in the cart. Compared to Mals, I think it will be an easier experience for them, and it doesn't have any of the limitations that have been bothering me.

The HTML code for the "Add to Cart" buttons is pretty minimal, especially compared to the javascripts in ecwid. I'm always hesitant to paste a lot of outside code into my lean, clean pages, especially if I don't understand the language. I took the code the cart generated and removed almost all the formatting, since I use my own CSS. This made it even smaller.

FWIW, that's my review of the precisionweb cart. (I am not affiliated with or financially compensated in any by precisionweb.)

Now I have 3 weeks to get it all done before I have to renew Mals.

Thank you all SO much!


 8:32 am on Sep 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

I wonder if that AJ shopping cart that you've recommended in a few posts has patched the exploit that is listed when searching for said cart?

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