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I hope it's not considered rude to break into a thread like this. I'm prevaricating over my first dip into e-commerce, carts etc. but am now firmly leaning towards Actinic Business over hosted solutions (particularly SearchFit and MonsterCommerce). See thread [webmasterworld.com...] if interest in earlier musings).
Not [yet] familiar with Ablecommerce but it looks comparable/interesting. Other apparently turnkey solutions that caught my eye included YourVirtualStore (based on VP-ASP) and StoreFront.
I like Actinic's UK orientation (home is where the traffic jam is) and the greater control it would offer me over a hosted solution (e.g. for migrating between hosts). Seems to have a good, solid if a little stodgy reputation. Seen some very nice Actinic-based shops, which is reassuring.
Apart from hoping someone could confirm/knock the wisdom of favouring Actinic Business, I'm now trying to find out more in areas that hopefully complement this thread. So:
* Any recommendations for good UK Actinic hosts/packages, both for the platform and QoS. Thinking about ClaraNet.com and others but I'm always a sucker for slick presentation.
* Is Actinic Business Developer Professional worth the premium pricing (interested in the Dreamweaver integration not the multi-site capability)?
* Are the bundled extras, such as Cover and training, worth considering?
* Does anyone have experience with the Download Option. Sounds like just what I need but does it deliver on its promise.
* Any hints, tips etc. for an Actinic newbie* -- e.g. good resources, threads, lessons learnt etc.
* Thoughts on Actinic re. support, development etc. (I notice they've recently done an MBO so want to be reassured they'll go the distance etc.)
* Are there any ways to spread the cost (starts at over £799/$1,300+tax just for the software)? The upfront hit for everything would be painful. Staging over 12 months would far better.
* Is it easy enough to sign/configure a payment processor (I have offline merchant accounts).
(* Also a WebmasterWorld newbie and really grateful for all the info/knowledge I've been hoovering up. Really boosted my confidence re. choices and dipping into this area etc.).
I like Actinic's UK orientation
The word "catalog" appears in all our URLs. It still bugs me after two years!
Also, as far as configurable products are concerned (like PCs) Actinic Business is an absolute pain and I hate it.
With any package the most important part is figuring out what they DON'T tell you. I spent £1000 on another package and discovered that while their ads were technically correct there were a million little bits and pieces that didn't work like we wanted, major bug bears being the "configurable" fields for Debit card issue number and start date (Americans don't have this), removing the "State" option in address fields, manual control of shipping costs rather than integration with a shipper's online systems (the gumpf suggests there are a variety of options to fully configure this. In practise software like this hardly ever does exactly what you want it to do), the ability to charge an extra % for credit card use ... I could go on.
Prepare a long list of exactly what you want. When you confirm it with the vendor get their confirmation on each point in writing.
In my opinion, the lower priced solutions can compete in that price range because they are somewhat rigid. Not many offer the ability to change workflow/checkout paths or EVERY element on EVERY screen.
If these items are critical to your business processes, you must consider a higher priced item that offers true infinite flexiblity.
These higher-end products ARE NOT cookie cutter solutions and each implementation will look and act very unique.
I suppose what I am interested in understanding is where is the breaking point? You demand certain flexibility, but at what cost?
Actinic did their MBO in July 2002. In the financial year ending September 2003 sales have gone up versus the previous year. The company is also now profitable so things have completely turned around for the better in the last 15 months.
I think that it's safe to assume that we're going to be around in the future.
Chris (Actinic CEO)