|Looking for e-commerce solution. Help|
Currently I'm looking for e-commerce solution. Not hosting service.
My company is fashion/apparel and I joined this company recently. They want to use Volusion hosting. But I disagree this because customization is really tough what I know.
This company is operating retail store and I want to integrate back-end program called "POS" with e-commerce solution.
POS is hosting by IT service company. Best way to success integration is just outsourcing all e-commerce to them. But they suggest us Cart Viper. I thought not a popular solution and as a result we don't have enough choice to ask freelancer in case of problem happen.
My idea is just select a reasonable and popular e-commerce solution and provide it to our POS hosting company to integrate with back end POS. If they can't, I'll hire somebody to solve that.
From our research Magento is fast growing e-commerce solution but found another negative view due to complexity.
Please help me to choose nice solution this situation.
There are many options available and it's impossible to recommend options without knowing a bit more about your requirements. Take some time and tell us more about the following:
How many products and product categories?
Will there be a "similar products" feature or upsell ability?
Do you plan to include any useful tools or functionality like allowing the user to select different colors for a product and change the product photo to match?
How will you ship? Different shippers? International or domestic? What country of origin? S&H fees?
Will pricing include volume discounts or not? Will you use coupon codes or wholesaler pricing?
If you can answer some of all of these and help us understand what you're looking for, then you're more likely to get a better answer.
It would also help to know you're coding abilities. What script language and your proficiency.
Lorax, Thank you.
Here is my answer and thought.
Our sales categories are clothing, bags, and shoes.
Our site will be like this, [shop.nordstrom.com...]
How many products and product categories? => Initially we'll upload 5000 items and will add as many as we can.
Will there be a "similar products" feature or upsell ability? Do you plan to include any useful tools or functionality like allowing the user to select different colors for a product and change the product photo to match? => Yes, will be listed under similar categories.
How will you ship? Different shippers? International or domestic? What country of origin? S&H fees? => UPS, FEDEX, USPS, Domestic and International, S&H fee also free shipping and free return.
Will pricing include volume discounts or not? Will you use coupon codes or wholesaler pricing? => Definitely volume discount. Coupon codes are important to us. Also want to develop "invitation code" like ideeli.com.
It would also help to know you're coding abilities. What script language and your proficiency. => I'm not a programmer. My think is getting e-commerce solution and hire Web developer to implement this project. I don't want to depend on programmer oriented project, just e-commerce solution dependents and find qualified engineers.
Also will develop reward and cashbag program to manage returning customer.
Your kind advise will be greatly appreciated.
been there done that!
We tried, 7 different solutions including Magento
we are now using an ecommerce solution called myEbiz.
It really is a complete full featured ecommerce platform.
It is provided by company down in LA, california.
I just checked their website and they are renovating, but they have an email and phone(yes you actually talk to someone to know more about their solution) and provide free trial.
their company website is myecommerce.biz
The issue we had with magento is that not only it is real complex, but they do not have support, only a nice forum. If you want support for Magento you need to get the professional version and pay about $1000/month and that is EVEN if you do not use the support.
The solution we used offers support that you pay only if you use it, we love it cuz we only need support once in a while. They also accepted to give us contact of few of their customers that we contacted to get feedback directly from them. Just like us they could not be happier with that solution.
I would stay away from hosted solutions, very far away.
We had a volusion account, they could never deliver or do real custom additions and when we moved away from them, we had to rebuild everything and we lost ranking in the search engines because their URL format were real custom to volusion, etc...
Good luck with finding the right solution for your business.
I developed and customized Volusion sites for about 6 years. Each version (since v.4) the company repeatedly reduced the customizable aspects, and all but removed the native ASP scripting capabilities.
Along the way they have also managed to make the back-end "Admin" interface increasingly complex, to the point where -- with 6 years experience I can no longer easily navigate to the most commonly used features -- and need to wade through screens to find data because they changed the names of fields, eliminated or merged key data, etc.
In addition their customer support has gone from "tolerable" to virtually non-existent. Waiting a 1/2 hour or more on the phone for someone to answer is not uncommon. When their first line support people answer the phone, they usually have very little experience with the software and most often give one of two answers;
A). The software does not support [whatever].
B). I can open a ticket for you.
In the cases where they open a ticket, it can take 2 days, and the reply will come back, "The software does not support [whatever]".
The only thing good about Volusion was that as a totally hosted solution that included front-end, back-end, payment, shipping, stats, email and everything else -- using it eliminated the "finger pointing" that can come from using;
a. - web host or your own server
b. - cart software package
c. - merchant account / gateway service
d. - 3rd party shipping, tax, reviews, CRM, and other add-ons.
(In which case, since you cobbled together the solution yourself, when something doesn't work, 3 out of 4 of the software/service providers will "point fingers" at the others or blame you for not doing something right.
I was an advocate of using (my own or open source) cart software for years before moving customers to Volusion, (including writing my own cart scripts), but when ecommerce became increasingly complex, (e.g.- demand for multiple payment methods, multiple shipping options, multiple tax rates, currency conversion, tiered pricing, CRM and loyalty programs, affiliate tracking, etc)... I figured an "all in one" hosted solution was easier --- it was.
Now I am back to square one.
Use the guiding principal that: NO CART SOFTWARE WILL PROVIDE 100% OF THE FUNCTIONALITY YOU WANT -- shoot for the most important 90%, and change your plan to work around the 10% it won't handle, (e.g.- if you planned on running an loyalty discount program, and the cart software you find that fills the other 90% doesn't handle it -- instead of depending on the cart, just be sure you can export data easily and use a CRM program to manage sending out "thank you" discount coupons to loyal customers, etc... --- or go low-tech and stick a printed coupon in with their order, etc.
While deciding on an ecommerce solution, use the "90% rule" and you'll save yourself a lot of stress.
NOTE: I am interested in hearing from anyone else was committed to Volusion for a long time (as a customer, or developer) and what they've switched to.
We had Volusion for a long time (close to 1 year), we really like many of the features they had.
However, after so many reject about our requests for custom features we decided to use Magento, it was another bad idea because free quality support was really hard to impossible to get and if you want a professional phone or even email support with Magento, you have to use their Professional version and pay over $1000 a month WOW! - WHY?@!&*#
EVEN IF OU NEVER USE THAT SUPPORT SERVICE!(what a rip-off)
Finally after trying 7 different solutions (including 3dcart) we found this amazing cart that we use.
They offer professional support that you only need to pay only when you need it, very reasonable and fast and with an excellent development team.
They did not have our payment gateway, so they built it for us...(sweet!) I mean a real 5 stars product and a 5 stars company.
We really recommend that product.
Hosted ecommerce solutions such as Volusion and BigCmmerce are not BAD for everybody or every business.
HOWEVER they really and ONLY are good for a very specific business model which are the people that just want a TEMPORARY online business.
Such business usually do not care about search engine ranking, they will probably just do Paid Search advertising
(PPC and other network ad) and will only sell a limited # of items.
All other type should really think about buying a nice ecommerce solution and grow with it.
|We really recommend that product. |
um... you REALLY didn't. :-)
(you never mentioned the name of the product)
You should read all my messages in that "ticket" not just one of them.
Look, I am not here to promote this product.
I mention it in my first message in this page, I am not going to start a campaign for them in every message that I post.
that said I feel they really have the best ecommerce platform, or at least the best we ever used among the seven we tried.
A friend we have is using them, in less than 7 months this ecommerce company had custom built for my friend a store locator, a multiple address book and a point of sale virtual terminal. If those aren't customer features, then what is?
Volusion nor BigCommerce would never ever do anything like this for you!
Of course development of custom features is not free, but at least you know they can do anything for your store. AND on top of that, you own it, its yours! You are not renting it!
ok.. now I see it. Their site is down, (I know it says renovating), and no live person to answer phone for sales or support.
My #1 rule for doing business with ANY ecommerce provider: Company must provide some level of 24/7 live support.
It's 5:20pm in California -- and I know it's Saturday, but ecommerce happens 24 hours a day.
This company sales dept is closed on week-end.
They do NOT offer phone support, but 24hr helpdesk access (with a 10 mn SLA reply)
Even Magento 24x7 supposedly phone support is NOT phone support, ALL you get over the phone is someone on the phone that helps you to open a ticket and that's all.
NO support in the world can debug any complex issue on the phone, NO-ONE! IT DOES NOT exist!
They need to seat down and investigate your issue and try to reproduce the issue that you're experiencing it etc....
if you just need phone support to help you use the features of the cart, then that is not what I call support and in that case, email is just fine.
We have had many ecommerce websites for years, do you have ANY?
If you do not then how could you possibly put yourself in my shoes/ in our shoes?
We have tried 7 ecommerce platform!
We could write a book about it.
How many ecommerce solutions have you tried?
Thank you for your advise.
I want to go to Magento. I don't expect Magneto's 24x7 support but there are so many specialist and I can manage e-commerce issues with their support. Of course pay them for their effort and time.
Lexipel's saying 90% rule, I fully agree. Somehow give up 10% is good for my health and money because that's like an investment of weather forecast accuracy.
It's time for me to find a Magento expert to help me.
If I have a enough time to research Magento, I can. But need to immediate start to sell our product.
Thank you and have a nice weekend.
|They do NOT offer phone support, but 24hr helpdesk access (with a 10 mn SLA reply) |
|if you just need phone support to help you use the features of the cart, then that is not what I call support and in that case, email is just fine. |
Good software does not need (much) support.
Well documented software does not need (much) user training.
One thing that Volusion did early is to USE THEIR OWN SOFTWARE to SELL THEIR SOFTWARE. This was as obvious as it was brilliant in my opinion. They setup the "product" as a free trial -- potential customers could sign up with no credit card and do it themselves with no help -- and there was a toll free (1-800) phone and live pre-sales chat support 24/7.
Not only did this mean the software had to run right for Volusion themselves 24/7, but when they'd update or upgrade the software, they had to update their own site, (the company you are recommending seems to have missed this point: What "decent" software company needs to shut down their we presence completely to revamp their website -- to me it's an indication that future updates of the software could leave store owners in the same predicament).
I'm not knocking ANY ecommerce developer -- it's probably the hardest class of software to develop -- you need to deal with many types of products and services, multiple vendors, payment methods, shippers, etc, etc... AND make it all works well, work fast, look great -- and work for many types of sellers.
|We have had many ecommerce websites for years, do you have ANY? If you do not then how could you possibly put yourself in my shoes / in our shoes? |
As I said in my first post on this thread, I've built and customized Volusion stores for the past 6 years.
I've tested, built, worked with, or customized many, many ecommerce solutions over the past 25 years, (before the web I was a BSS sysop and 3rd party software developer and worked with online sales programs and merchant accounts using native BBS technology).
I have several customers that do $1-$5M annual sales through stores I've either built or helped build (and customers who I've worked with for up to 10 years where they trust me to manage the technology side of their online business).
I am willing to look into your provider's solution -- they may have the next great cart -- but not answering the phone 24/7 in this "age of instant satisfaction" is not a good idea, (IMHO).
Feel free to sticky me the URL of an online store using the cart -- I'd be interested to see the user facing interface.
If it looks good, I'll call them on Monday and see what they have to offer.
There is a big gap between developing the technology and using it.
I have been managing ecommerce stores for years and it is really hard to succeed if you do not have the right tools.
We had Volusion and also 3dcart and 24x7 phone support was never able to help us in what we had to do, NEVER!
The person at the other end of the phone never knew how to help us, he always(99% of time) had to escalate to level 2 or level 3 even.
Look, I do not know why their website is in "renovation" mode and yes of courtse it does not look good! but they are not advertsing either these days, so...
PLUS, they gave us a private URL and we(existing customers) still have access to their old website and of course to their helpdesk.
Like I said before I am not promoting for them.
if you want to call or email them it is up to you. However you should think a little more before shooting all these negative comments about the lack of phone support...
I do not know any ecommerce company in the world, that is NOT a hosted ecommerce solution company and that provide phone support!
I mean do you know a company that is actually selling you an ecommerce solution, I mean a cart that you can actually BUY! NOT RENT! and that is also providing you with 24x7 phone support?
Do you really know such company?
There is none that we know except the Magento professional version where you have to pay about USD 1000.00 MONTHLY!
Whether you use the support OR NOT!
The company we use now only charges us when we use the support.
We have been in the ecommerce arena for nearly 5 years now. Here is a small sampling of what we have used:
Volusion - since May.
Most of these were a nightmare. Using open source is just not an option for a business with many changing products and we needed the stability and service options a professional service offered.
After all of this, Volusion offered us the most flexibility (although limited) and was the best overall selection of features. A key for us is being able to use their XML API to synch our inventory. We sell on eBay, Amazon, New Egg and Buy.com plus a couple of even smaller sites. If we couldn't easily synch this, we would be toast. I agree that Volusion does limit stuff, but only to keep the know a little's from screwing stuff up. As far as service, I've never had to wait 2 days. Always within 24 hours and usually can chat or reach someone by phone. To be honest, I like Big Commerce a little better than Volusion but the flexibility Volusion offered was much better. No
Now, all this said, I feel their shipping is very limiting. It is just not flexible enough for our needs. I also feel some of their design elements are not flexible enough. I think this is so you will use their developers. I also wish they would allow other SSL certficates. You are basically forced to use their SSL. My 2 cents for what it is worth.
|I think this is so you will use their developers. |
You've hit the nail on the head there.
After v.4 they moved most of the .ASP files to a shared pool that customers can not get to. At the same time they began offering more in-house services.
I am convinced they only want (2) types of customers:
A). people who just use the canned service as it is and accept "the software was not designed to do that" as an answer for anything beyond basic, and;
B). big money accounts who will hand over complete development to Volusion and pay whatever Volusion wants.
Then they rolled out "SkipJack" (which is basically their own Authorize.net branded merchant account, except it costs more and can only be used with Volusion), SEO services, AdWords management ("Fast Traffic"), and other marketing and design related services.
If you think about it -- no company can do effective SEO / SEM for two customers in the same niche, (e.g.- Volusion doesn't care and will sell SEO and Adwords management to 2,3,4 or 10 companies all selling "blue widgets" and make them all think they're going to get top rankings)... big conflict of interest there.
The worst nightmare case I saw was a client who had another developer build their store. It was an approximately $20k development. The first month the store was up, Volusion sent them an $8k bandwidth overage bill. I had published a how-to article to help people "Reduce Volusion Excess Bandwidth Fees" and they brought me in to get the bandwidth under control.
When they rolled out Winter '09 and then v.11 their entire network was down numerous times for several days -- they blamed it on RackSpace and on DDOS attacks -- but the truth was they were moving the core software and customer data to virtualized servers and kept messing up. They also lost a lot of their key engineers who were tired of trying to patch 10 year old crappy core software.
Last year I said "Adios Volusion"... their lack of business ethics make them a company I do not want to be associated with.
|Like I said before I am not promoting for them |
Ok. Got it. Still, I'd like to see your store -- please sticky me a URL.
I love a company called VPASP based in Australia. I have used them ever since I started online back in 2001. We now have about 4000 products in our cart and have processed over 250,000 orders through it.
What I love is they give you the full source code so you can do what you want with it (although you can customise a lot through the web admin) Support is great (although it can take a few hours to get a reply at times) however once it's up and running you really shouldn't need any.
But the big thing for us is that as your business grows and you think up new features that you want specially designed for your business - because you have the souce code you can get it designed. You can get them to do it but if you aren't happy with the quote you are free to go elsewhere.
I had a friend that paid £20K for a shopping cart and a high monthly fee anf after 1 year changed to VPASP for a one off cost and has never been happier with it. He thinks it's better than the £20k solution he was using!
Good luck in whatever you choose
Magento offers many solutions, CE, community edition, 'free' does not offer support. I'm not sure why someone would expect open source to offer support? comparing paid solutions to open source is just odd.
Magento Go, hosted turnkey solution
Magento Pro, can be ether and does not cost $1000 a month.
Complex? not really when you understand what it does and how it does it. If you don't care then I suggest you stay out of e-commerce because that's what it's about. Almost every support call is related to a development related issue, how can we add such and such a feature, Etc. End users expect this to be pre-programmed in as if a platform can read your mind. this is where the expectation of the 'best' platform comes from. Bells and whistles add complexity, not make it less.
OP: I know what a POS is in commerce (point of Sale) but as a singular application I'm not sure what that is? Magento has POS extensions for sure. I have it set up with a client doing both web and in store sales.
""not really when you understand what it does and how it does it"
And that's the rub with ALL shopping catalog/cart solutions. If you don't take the time to figure out the details, then you risk uncovering gotchas when you least want to find them.
You might also look into a shopping cart called Miva Merchant.
You can find hosted solutions for around $50 a month. It's a pretty stable company (been around since mid to late 90s, I think) and they are pretty good at rolling out updated.
It has a small but devoted following, and the user forum is very helpful at finding solutions.
The tech support is kind of "in flux" at this time. They just basically merged with one of the best hosting companies (for Miva Merchant) and brought in the tech people from that company. So response time and thoroughness of responses have improved lately, and should continue to do so.
It still doesn't have ALL the features of some carts. For instance, it has a somewhat limited implementation of zoomed product images. But for most of it's short comings, there are several inexpensive third-party modules that can fit the bill.
Thank you for your introduction. I'll look at Miva Merchant. Zoomed in product is very important in fashion apparel goods. I want it~~
I'm thinking of OsCommerce. But that is very vulnerable to malware and virus due to easy code analyzing. How about your opinion on this topic?
I can't say anything about OS Commerce, because I haven't ever used it.
Miva Merchant is very secure. Miva company provides security updates directly which you can stream in. In your admin panel, you just click the updates button, and it automatically updates.
The difficult thing with Miva Merchant is that while it is a template based system (which is similar to many PHP based shopping carts, forums, blogs, and other software).
The thing is, PHP based systems use a "template syntax" that is similar to PHP code. So if you want to customize things, and you already know a bit about PHP coding, then it is a little easier.
Miva Merchant uses a "template syntax" that is based on Miva Script (a coding language that is owned by Miva Corp). It's not real difficult to learn, but if you want to have someone modify the code for your templates, you will either need to learn how the template language yourself, or use hire someone who knows the Miva Template language.
There are less developers who know the miva template language, but they are no more expensive than other developers.
Also, there are some pretty good references available (a good book and the user forum is quite good - the COO of the company regularly participates in the help forum.)
Hope this helps.
|I'm thinking of OsCommerce. But that is very vulnerable to malware and virus due to easy code analyzing. How about your opinion on this topic? |
What is vulnerable? Almost everything you read around about it is because some store owners, insist on not locking down the admin folder. Along with the mistake of the most recent versions having support for multiple admins believing that's somehow they're protected by an admin login page.
I am using the ancient MS2.2 converted for PHP5 support and has no security problems and outperforms in every aspect, pretty much every single one of the "ready solutions" you read about. The only thing you need to do is to lock down the admin end from the host cpanel - something really basic btw.
I would stay away from OS Commerce in my humble opinion.
I've integrated it for years but it's old code with the only solution to put a second directory server password access because the core is Swiss cheese as far as security. I understand the attraction but it's code simplicity is it's downfall. Version 3 was supposed to be out with real modules instead of hacking the core but that is just trying to copy Magento. The other issue with OS Commerce is the development 'team'. Harald sort of lords over the project when he has the time or is bored. One thing to watch out for on any hosted systems are the surcharge on sales, some seem OK to start but quickly cut into your profit.
I can't count how many hacked OSC installs I've had to 'fix' in the past. Never mind the modules that are additional security risks.
@enigma1 you must be hard core OSC to say it's secure. It can be modified to become somewhat secure but it can be punched through with a bot. To each his own :)
So without getting into a which is better scenario, some thoughts, not in order.
1. active development of platform, when was the core last updated
2. excellent support or
3. excellent development community (as in open source)
4. wide range of modules/extensions or at least the ones that offer you the features you are looking for.
5.cost, initial cost and development cost
6. Web server platform, yours or a hosted solution, LAMP or IIS
7.Ease of use
8.flexibility in template changes, temp or permanent.
9. hosted platforms, how much access and customization can really be done?
10.Security. This is not a static requirement, it changes every day.
@samc, you should do some research first before getting into these conclusions and statements, because it will make you look bad. So to give some info and facts:
osC version 3 started development in around or even before 2005. Harald probably is one of the few to know the exact date. There was no magento back then. And in fact it's quite the opposite. But the development of the next version didn't progress as expected and I don't know all the reasons. Although documentation/maintenance isn't that great it's still recorded:
Do you recognize the code? That's version 3. Others did copy that code since then and some never gave credit to the original authors.
Regarding the security issues you read about, all these started in 2007 with the RC versions. The reason was very simple. The later rc version incorporated an admin login page, giving the wrong impression to the site owner his admin was secure. The same thing continues today. Merchants didn't bother to lock down the admin folder from the cpanel, the rest it's history. It's also the reason I never switched to those releases other than porting some PHP compatibility code to MS2.2. And they're more complicated.
For the rest I follow up with technology and I haven't got a single security breach thus far. The old version may look ancient at a first glance. With a bit of work it can be customized and support pretty much anything you imagine.
So what you were trying to "fix" as you put it, is like trying to seal a well with a pin. And no matter which cart you choose you never deploy modules without checking the code. So if you use a contribution you need to check the code, you need to do proper integration. Otherwise the 5 minute code drop and override will cost you or your clients in the future.
You keep using the singular, you. The OP probably does not have the 'skills' you possess. Instead of trying to flame me about how great OSC is for you, I have worked with it since 2004 (actually looking back it was the late 90's for one of our first sites) so don't start preaching to me about how great it is. You are doing a dis-service to the OP. I'm not sitting on the rail throwing stones at OSC, I cut me teeth on that application. Hard core OSC users just defend it to the end..It was brilliant at the time, not so much anymore and that is why it was forked off in many modern eCommerce solutions. But you know better and will stand by the steam engine till the end of time. Be that as it may don't be going around suggesting to newbies, you give the very reasons in your post. Unless you are Harald?
Oh and about breeches with OSC, many you can not see unless you go use fetch as googlebot as the hacks are hidden, designed for SEO spam, built off a hacked OSC extension. Just one of the nasty little surprises for newbies. Completely wrecks the database and files. Site looks fine but you start coming up for odd search terms. Surprise you have been hacked.
This doesn't have to be hard. Shopsite will do everything you want for apparel. Use Lexiconn as a host.
24/7 support almost instantly. We've been with them for >5 years with almost no downtime.
The OP wanted to get some information on osCommerce. This is what he posted.
|I'm thinking of OsCommerce. But that is very vulnerable to malware and virus due to easy code analyzing. How about your opinion on this topic? |
What I mentioned is my personal experience with the application about the security issues. As I understand he wants to know from people who are using it yes? Therefore I don't see why I am not helping him.
But then you posted some comments that aren't true like the code is copied from another cart and then you continue with the forks/derivatives comment which is also false for the most part and if I am not mistaken you directly referenced my username so I responded to your comment.
Regarding the security concerns is pretty much the same with every piece of software and especially open source. You need to carefully review the code modules you integrate. And if you are a beginner you still have choices. Spend the time and learn the code or find someone who knows it and ask for help etc.
Some of the top ones from my notes:
- JigoShop with Wordpress as backend (VERY clean and goodlooking)
- Shopify (hosted shop, but customizable)
As for hosting, that's a separate consideration IMHO. Just use a decent and well-known host like Site5 (if shared hosting is ok) or SoftLayer (if you need to go dedicated).