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Pros & Cons of a Shopping Cart Service Provider

are they a good fit for me?

     
8:52 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

I am newbies in field of internet marketing. I am a small businessman, dealing in gifts, toys, and home decorative items. I have a catalog of around 700-800 products. I am looking for a good hosted shopping cart solution. It must facilitates catalog management, online shopping cart, support for all online payment methods, customer management, sales notification inforamation system, proper reporting system, product inventory, easy to maintain administrative panel, professional look of website.

I heared about hosted shopping cart solution particularly monstercommerce and b2bparadise, but i am confused, i think such type of solution provides little flexibility.

Please suggest me the appropriate solution.

Thanks,

1:08 pm on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld EstoreSeeker,

Hosted commerce solutions like the two you mentioned are appealing to beginners because they take care of the backend (the database, the SSL Cert, the coding for the cart and the Credit Card gateway, etc...) for you. All you need to do is to plug in your products and dress the templates up to fit.

The disadvantage of these solutions is a lack of flexibility. You cannot make modifications to their code and/or templates.

Sometimes it makes sense for a newbie to go this route to start. It's hard telling not knowing though. If you happen to be a good at PHP or ASP or some other script language then maybe building your own cart makes more sense - a few more headaches for a lot more flexibility and control.

11:26 am on Dec 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thanks lorax,

Coding is not the only headache. Design of HTML layout, quality of look and feel, website security for money transaction are few more. All these stuffs can be handled by the hardcore technical person and its difficult for me.

1:19 pm on Dec 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Quite often a person in your position will seek out an experienced developer. The advantage of this route is that you can get exactly what you want. The disadvantage is that you can get burned either through the developer's lack of integrity, skill, and/or miscommunications between you.

Using a ecommerce solution provider is a good way to get your feet wet and to learn about what you want and don't want in a store. If you keep reading threads here you'll learn about the tricks of the trade and perhaps (hopefully) many things you didn't even know were possible but would make your life so much easier. Then you can compare what you learn with the limitations of the ecommerce solution you're using. At that point it will be pretty easy for you to develop a wish list and start shopping around for a developer.

9:37 pm on Dec 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've taken 30+ eCommerce sites live...and trust me...a boxed application is the way to go. Many of them are a bit rigid, but if you are trying to be successful on-line, a bit of rigidity is a small price to pay for minimal staff investment, minimal hardware investment, minimal software investment, basic tools integration (like analytics, Search marketing, Affiliate marketing, eMail marketing, Payment Processing, more).

Just starting out, your internet retail investment need to be the least of your concerns...get your site up and start taking orders. If you need a push out of the gate, hire a decent web marketing consultant (should cost you no more than $120 - 150/hour and should take you no more than 1 week). If you have a "webmaster" (Content engineer would suffice) they can execute the marketing plans created by the consultant.

I recommend a Yahoo store. Decent solution, good payment processing, moderate design freedom (some PHP would be appropriate), and EASY administration (adding updating, changing SKUs. Yahoo does lack in analytics, some of the cool "bells and whistles" (product comparison, reviews, more) and most check out process are identical for Yahoo stores (though not bad - a 4 step check out)...still, it takes orders, statuses orders, and conducts a nice transaction (free particiapation in Yahoo shopping is a nice perk as well).

Internet retail is a path, and Yahoo will HELP you start out on the right foot. In time, when growth (revenue and shopper base) justifies the move, then start looking at developers, platforms, and more…and when that time comes, email me:)

10:00 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yahoo can be OK but a little expensive on the hosting plus they add a percentage to each sale. If you business warrants it - then yes, go for it. But always look to see what you might be spending & bringing in

-Corey

11:15 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hi Corey,

Any one can pay little more for the name like yahoo but per transaction fee is the constraint in my case. Please can you tell me that monstercommerce or b2bparadise is also charging as per the per transaction basis.

Thnx

11:37 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Monster does not charge a percent.
However modifications cost more using a Monster in comparision to a Yahoo store.
There are a number of programmers outside of yahoo that can customize a Yahoo store.
Many modifications to a Monster store can only be done by Monster staff adnd these mods can get quite expensive.

Yahoo has one of the worst support/admin systems.
Don't change the credit card you are using for a Yahoo store. It may not get updated in their records, even though you submit the change. Once your payment is late your store is deleted. Sure you can try to call them and update the card before or after the fact, but many have tried and were not successful.

12:36 pm on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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MonsterCommerce does seem to charge a lot for updates. We have had two customers come over from them. Both actually came over because when they requested updates, Monster wanted quite a bit of money from them. One of them complained also that the server was too slow. MC asked for $750 to move it.

When we designed our cart, we made sure that we could easily go in & tweak it for our customers. I would have thought MC did the same thing because no two customers are alike.

-Corey

6:34 pm on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I am new here, but found some of your discussion pretty interesting.

I have set up a website with Yahoo! All I needed was just some simple html to get my business going. It took us about 2 months to get everything setup and going. Yahoo! works just fine for us since we do not have any budget for developer.

The only thing I disliked about Yahoo! is the shopping cart checkout. I was unable to customize it to look like the rest of our website. Though, I do know of some websites where I have seen some customization. Search for RTML on google, you will see some developers offering service to customize certain aspect of Yahoo! features.

Hope this helps!

5:25 am on Dec 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thanks beautykat,

Yahoo was an option, but it is charging on the basis of per sales too.
Do you have any idea about the solutions provided by b2bparadise.

EstoreSeeker

5:33 am on Dec 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The worst thing you could possibly do is setup a cart hosted on a domain you do not own. I think it would be a big mistake to do this. There is no reason you can't get a quality solution hosted on your site for less than $1000.
12:48 am on Jan 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

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EstoreSeeker,

Happy New Year! I have not tried b2bparadise. Yahoo! was a natural choice for us given the scale of our operation. We needed a total package solution, ie, hostings, shopping cart, merchant tools.... from one provider. Helps to save time and hassle.

It is true that Yahoo! charges a percentage fee per order. It is something you have to decide if you are comfortable with. Given the scale of our sales, we concluded that the extra charges to be neglibible to our business.

7:19 am on Jan 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hello dvduval,

I think, you have a list of negatives about hosted shopping cart solutions. Please can you elaborate these negatives and share with us.

After your comment, I am bit confused, because I have created my mindset either go for b2bparadise.com or monstercommerce.

Thanks

EstoreSeeker

3:10 pm on Jan 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Well, if the site is hosted on a domain you do not own, you are allowing them much more control of the cost structure, and they can charge you whatever they wish for customization in the future. I found monstercommerce to be very expensive compared to other solutions available. They are probably good as far as providing a full service solution, but I cannot speak for this because I have not used their service.

Other problems with the solutions you mentioned are they are proprietary software (right?), so you are very limited in what you can do to customize the software without depending on them. Almost all big stores eventually end up becoming very customized to the customer. By using one of the above mentioned, I believe customization will be more limited and more expensive.

I always recommend using OSCommerce, because it is free, and because there are more developers for OSC than any other cart, so you are guaranteed of getting support and custom work at a reasonable price.

7:33 am on Jan 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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EstoreSeeker if you are set up to accept credit cards already, and your volume of online sales is relatively small, another option, which may be considerably cheaper, is to process your orders by hand. You can do this with several premade shopping carts that are highly configuable. I have been doing this for years with no problem. Design of HTML layout, quality of look and feel, website security for money transaction are all addressed in a competent premade shopping cart.
10:33 pm on Feb 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

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ES isn't b2bparadise your own product?
10:59 am on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Not really. I have been looking around for solutions for a while. Came across these guys in a tradeshow. Their offering is impressive for $399.99. It is a shopping cart system with support for wholesale and retail business which is impoartant for my business. Supports credit card merchant gateway, UPS shipping calculation. Has several templates that I can change at any point of time and I can use my own domain name. I am quite impressed with the offering. Wondering if someone else has an experience with them.

[edited by: lorax at 1:16 pm (utc) on Feb. 10, 2005]
[edit reason] removed URL [/edit]

9:09 pm on Feb 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It is my humble opinion that shoppers prefer to use a secure cart that is hosted on YOUR own site, rather than redirecting to a third party shopping cart with a different URL. Plus you will save monthly fees and uncessary commissions. There are countless easy to use shopping cart solutions. avi wilensky
10:00 pm on Feb 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Theoretically it is remarkably easy to throw a third party shopping cart on one of your own servers and hook it up to a DSL line...but is that the solution for you?

Consider the complex cryptography requirements of Visa.

Consider security concerns to protect your website, your data, your customer information. That's not just server security, but network security.

Consider availability, whether you are clustering though the os, or a network device, it takes skill.

Consider disaster recovery.

Consider future growth, the scalability of your solution (not simply software & hardware, but staff).

Consider what you solution needs to look like in 2, 3, 4, years out, when your eCommerce site needs to integrate to your email marketing solution, CRM packages, order management solution, inventory control, and marketing solutions…all in real time. It’s what today’s modern merchant is starting to demand.

Look, a self hosted model is a great path for a business that has the infrastructure in place to support and (more importantly) justify such a solution. You do have more control over features and functionality, but you also have to look beyond "software costs". Salary and G&A for even smaller websites float right around $160,000/year…a business that is doing it “right” will be double that. I usually see this in smaller merchants who listened to their IT staff verses their CFO/CMO. Their developers or IT team electing for job stability over their employer's best interest…problem is their employers ALWAYS find out.

I have taken more than my fair share of business away from home grown solutions...the reason...it's not the cost of a shopping cart, but all of the ancillaries that start adding up. I have never failed to illustrate superior ROI on self hosted solution for small/mid market merchants.

Just some thoughts on a Rainy Sunday here in the heartland.

10:15 pm on Feb 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It is my humble opinion that shoppers prefer to use a secure cart that is hosted on YOUR own site, rather than redirecting to a third party shopping cart with a different URL.

If that were the case Paypal wouldn't exist.

12:10 am on Feb 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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PAYPAL! The minute you divert a shopper away from your website, you lose control and visibility of the transaction...which is unacceptable to many merchants!

That is why PAYPAL had to partner with a real payment processor (Paymentech - major launch this spring, but available now) to get a footing in the traditional internet retail space...I recognize that fact and and I'm a Paypal proponent!

1:59 am on Feb 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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moperyman,

I agree on not diverting shoppers, never done it never will.

You're preaching to the choir. :)