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Basic shopping carts aren't complicated. My last one took about a week to build from scratch (mod_perl). The most tricky aspect of a self-build shopping cart is getting the design and functional requirements right. Its easy to skip sound design, resulting in a poor visitor experience later on.
I develop for and own a few e-com sites and the ability to work in custom features such as custom coupons, tying in with my fulfilment system's back-end, tying in with my custom administration applications, you simply can't beat it.
Of course re-inventing the wheel is silly, I have base-classes that I developed a few years ago that all my e-commerce projects inherit from (yay for OOP) but for custom business logic that is unique for every store, it's a huge advantage to develop code to specifically address these needs.
Now, one will say "Just use open-source and customize it", which is a valid point. I, however, have always been of the mindset that open-source projects are fantastic *learning tools*. I just won't use them for production, non-trivial applications. Not at all slamming anyone who does either, please do not misinterpret.
When all is said and done, the most important thing is to provide a easy to navigate, secure, user experience. How ever you accomplish this will widely vary from e-com site to e-com site...
I never found a toaster I needed to customize, but I have seen a lot of cookie-cutter shopping carts that I could never live with.
I have never used a cookie-cutter e-commerce system/cart. I tried to setup a Yahoo store as an alternate channel to see what additional traffic might come my way.
I wound up replacing my entire yahoo store web-site with a single 50 line php script that proxies all requests from one of my other sites and bypasses their cart, just to get it up and running, over a year ago..
I am a programmer and I also operate an ecommerce site that is not related to programming. In 2000 I headed a team of 5 programmers to develop a large, custom ecommerce site. The owner dropped around $200,000 on the development. (If they did the site today, it would be less expensive, but they would still need a custom solution)
When I started my own ecommerce site last year, I was on my own. No admin staff, no developers to help out, no buyers or bookkeepers, etc. So I spent about $50 for CandyPress (mod delete name if that's a no-no). I was up and running in a few days. It would have been foolish for me to waste my time doing a custom solution and thereby delay the start-up date.
The point is, if you have the resources to develop the custom solution while you attend to other business matters, then it will pay off in the end. But if you're a one-person or small shop, then it probably makes sense to start out with an off-the-shelf solution, even if it doesn't quite fit.