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7:05 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I have a small business client building an online shop as an addon to their offline store and ebay. The volume is not big, so I am not looking for something like Magento (nor does the client has the budget for it).

So far I’ve been looking at several providers, both self and cloud hosted.

As far as the cloud, the option seems off, since I’ve read some really terrible reviews on Volusion and BigCommerce customer support (including lies in advertising). As far as Shopify I heard it is way too simple.

From the Open source, there are very mixed reviews on every cart out there.

•Prestashop - Some say Prestashop is good (not sure if those are real reviews), some say that you have to pay for almost every common option out there, and the out of the box software is very stripped down. Paying is not a problem, so if several thousand dollars have to be invested that is fine. Just want to make sure that the cart, as well as the add-ons actually work.
•OS Commerce – too old and there are upgraded version of it.
•ZEN Cart – currently doing the research, but it is an updated / customized version of OS Commerce
•Magento - off the list. From what I understand it’s a very robust platform, but needs some very serious tweaking by coders for many $$$ hours. Also, this is more of an enterprise software, rather than a small shop cart.
•OpenCart – did not look into details. Will post once I know more.
•Freeway – also do not know the details.

Xcart seems to be 1 choice right now, however I have not seen any up to date templates for it anywhere. Everything on the market seems from way back 2001 style. Are there problems with designers or the cart is way out of date now? Also one of the problems shop owners report with it is inability to update the cart if its been customized (seems like a problem with every cart), so all the updates end up costing $$$ and time.

Was wondering if you can recommend some carts, from your own experience. It is very important you tried and actually worked with the carts, rather than read research / forums / blogs, as actual users know the real pitfalls of the software. If you used the software, and know the ups and downs, please post them.

Would appreciate your input, and I will be back with some info on more carts as I do more research.
8:32 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Ecommerce Templates.

5:13 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

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As far as Shopify I heard it is way too simple.

You heard? Have you tried it? It's simple because it's made for users, the antithesis of Dragento. It can create robust products, but what I absolutely love about it is it's a programmers' API. We can get in there and tweak it like you can Wordpress, and it has it's own basic programming language.

Second it's a full site solution, geared for eCommerce. You can create all your pages in it as well. You can customize your own themes and upload them, or edit them directly in the admin area.

You can customize URL's and make it SEO friendly. The only place it falls short, and it's not a bad one, is all static pages besides the main page are in /pages.

If there's one thing bad about it, it's this: it's hosted. There are limited backup options, but you can work in a scheme to download the database data (you already have the file system.)

I like it (and it's not often I'll say that,) it's a good midpoint between bloated over the top carts and basic user friendliness.
7:54 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the feedback.

That is the problem I am trying to figure out right now. I only heard, I never tried. This is the first time for me venturing into the ecommerce field, so I the only thing I can trust at this point are user reviews, and non paid / affiliated articles.

Testing out Presta, Open Cart, Zen Cart, CRE Loaded, and also Magento, as a guy at another forum recommended it as well.

It's pretty tough I tell you, becuase there's no way to predict future problems, and a cart may fulfull the requirements, however it may be a problem down the road. This is why I am trying to gather as much feedback as possible, because I don't want to step into a pile of s**t.
5:48 pm on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Yeah . . . and you're not getting paid for research, either. But it's the only way to know. Shopify does have a free trial. Another thing I really liked about it, their wiki and API are actually helpful and intelligible, and it doesn't try to talk over your head.
8:49 pm on July 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'd crossed shopify off my list when i was reviewing the Shopify API didn't see a good way to hook freight shipping in. Am I mistaken? We would like to be able to integrate with freightquote.com to provide pricing. In the future we'll want to unlock guides / tutorials behind a login portal for a user after they've purchased corresponding equipment. Is this a posibility? Free virtual good with purchase of physical? Can you do per item shipping choices?
1:59 am on July 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

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FoxyCart API might be of interest to you. Online service for the checkout portion - you can build the catalog any way you like. Integrates into most common CMSs. I suspect there are others out there too.

I've used eCommerce Templates and like it as well. X-Cart was many moons ago but not bad. Ran on the Smarty Template engine and you could run a dynamic site or have it publish the pages as static HTML.

The only downside to any of them is the learning curve before you discover it doesn't quite do what you want or will take far more than you expected to implement some feature. That's one reason I kind of like the online checkout services.
4:26 am on July 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Your "small business client" is apparently trying to make a profit, so it's ironic that you wouldn't consider (or at least, list) "for-profit" carts.

You listed all of the open-source (aka, non-profit) carts, but why did you stop there? You may be overlooking some excellent carts that may cost your client some money.
11:48 pm on July 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Yes I know what you are saying.

I had my own handcoded website, but needed a shopping cart.

So as I have a limited budget I went with Opencart.

Its back office is great.
But there is a big leaning curve and it is user supported, lots of add ons etc.

But I don't feel in control.
But I have to persevere with it as I have got it up and running and have made some sales through it.

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