View Full Version : E-Commerce Solution Help Needed
02-05-2010, 10:30 AM
I am in the beginning stages of forming a start-up, so budget is tight.
I "think" I understand some of my choices, but need to clarify.
1) I could use a "webstore" which is hosted such as Amazon checkout. Design is cookie-cutter, but costs are small. Merchant account is included so wouldn't have to worry about that.
2) I could have a developer design the site with OS Commerce or similar and then include a shopping cart solution (little vague on this). What shopping cart solutions should I check out?
3) This I am less clear on - could use something like XCart or 3D Cart or Pinnacle which is a hosted solution, but appears from their web sites that can be customized a bit? Then could add a cart solution such as Amazon checkout or similar?
I have a short list of solutions if anyone can comment - Amazon Checkout, Core Commerce, Pinnacle, Big Commerce, Nexternal, XCart, Network Solutions.
Of course I would like a great site starting out, but is it better to start with something like Amazon checkout and then grow later on to something else? Is that even possible?
I am working with a web designer, as I do not know how to code/design, but ultimately want a product that allows me to change my products/prices, etc.
Any help anyone can provide would be much appreciated.
02-06-2010, 01:54 AM
ok the best to use is Ebay, yahoo stores or zencart. yahoo will take care of everything but u have to pay them, the more u sell the more u pay. starts at like 39.95 per month i think. with zencart u gonna have to do everything, including getting ur own merchant account. go with a big bank, dont go with any small merchant acct providers...
oh and LEARN HOW TO PROGRAM its pretty much a requirement when running an e-business, u cannot depend on other ppl for it especially in the beginning
02-08-2010, 06:42 AM
What about Amazon webstores?
02-08-2010, 08:29 AM
As an aside, I don't want to go with E-bay.
I am looking for something higher level. I have seen stores done with Zen Cart also, and to me they look amateurish.
Other hosted solutions that aren't bad? Or go with something the developer creates and host separately?
02-08-2010, 11:22 AM
Personally I use X-Cart for online stores as it gives a lot of flexability for the custom work that we needed done. Lots of 3rd party modules available too.
Amazon is nice if you're selling Amazon products or need your products drop shipped (they have a nice program for that) but beyond that, if you need to tweak anything outside of their normal box store, it's a next to impossible job.
If you need flexibility, I'd look toward a shopping cart you can put on a host. This will also help when you tweak it out for SEO. I've heard great things about Pinnacle Cart also, but I have zero experience with their product.
Why not try eBay, yahoo, prostores, networksolutions ? I have heard a lot about them but never tried so could 't suggest you however I am a license member of bit-cart they have been providing a great selling online experience to their ecommerce customers. It is one of the most flexible shopping cart software solution i ever came across.
02-09-2010, 09:40 AM
I want to integrate Amazon Checkout. So it's Amazon Webstores or one of their partners that allows the integration - CoreCommerce, OS Commerce, Miva Merchant, Magento.
02-10-2010, 06:48 AM
Why don't you check 24SevenCart?
02-11-2010, 05:03 PM
I've also been searching for a cart within similar parameters as you are. Unfortunately, when you post a request such as you did on this (or any) forum, you inevitably get the cart companies firing off unoriginal, unresearched, "Hey! Look at me!" posts.
I had a look at the Amazon Checkout partners page and it looks like they have quite a few options. I wouldn't recommend any of the open source options they list. I've looked pretty extensively at open source alternatives, including osCommerce and variants, ZenCart, and Magento. I was initially very excited about the capability of paying $0 for a cart, but after you look more deeply into the actual scope of administering those zero cost stores, they can actually be quite costly, especially if you want a really good looking, fast, reliable store. The only open source store I would recommend at this time is PrestaShop, but be aware that even though the core store is freely downloadable, critical components must be either purchased from their plugin store or downloaded from the PrestaShop community. The Authorize.net connector alone is almost $500.
That leaves either the commercially licensed carts or the hosted carts. I personally have been leaning toward the hosted carts because then I don't have to worry about managing infrastructure, passing PCI evaluations, or dealing with hosting, upgrades, etc. You also have to be cautious here as well, because hosted options advertise the sun, the moon, and the stars, but don't always deliver. Search for Volusion down to see what I'm talking about.
Based on the options given at Amazon, I'd lean toward 3DCart, although when I tested out an automotive site they showcased, the search function didn't work right, and I'm not a huge fan of their backend.
I've found that picking a cart is extremely difficult. The cart sites are great at self-promotion, it's tough to find objective and fair reviews or comparisons, blog posts turn into flame wars, etc. My recommendation is to build a list of requirements and preferences, build a short list of possibilities, look at backend demos, browse store forums and help areas, do searches for "cart x vs cart y" and so on.
This will not be an easy task and the ecommerce software world is moving very quickly. Some shops move up, others down, and customer requirements are constantly moving. You may want to check out Shopify. I can't tell if they offer the Amazon integration you need, but they do mention that they work with Amazon. Their primary drawback is they take a % of your sales until you sign up for a large plan. Another drawback is that it appears that, rather than continue to expand store functionality within the core feature set, they instead have set up an application pool/store, where plug ins are available for a fee. This may drive the total cost of ownership up quite a bit.
Sorry I can't be more definitive, there are simply too many options out there...
02-11-2010, 05:21 PM
Thanks Chris. Very helpful.
I can honestly say I've learned a ton this week. I had no idea going into this what I was looking for.
Now I know I do not want an open source solution for the reasons you mention and am leaning toward a hosted solution also for the reasons you mention.
One thing I have to have - not sure if it was in the post you read - is extremely good and efficient drop ship order management, as my whole business is drop ship.
I liked Nexternal alot, but it is extremely expensive compared to the other options. I did look at 3D Cart as I like some of their sites, but have not heard good things about their customer service, and being a "newbie" that is critical for me.
I've glanced at Shopify. It seems pretty basic and I am not sure how good their drop shipping is. Some of their sites are not bad, though.
I looked at Core Commerce, and didn't lilke their templates, nor did I like Network Solutions templates.
Considering Pinnacle maybe. Need more info. Intensive process....
Initially I was set on using the interface with Amazon, now I just want a good platform that does what I need it to do!
Thanks again for responding. Let me know what you choose.
02-12-2010, 01:22 AM
Macdebbie & Chris:
You both are extremely logical and reasonable.
It's good for us (the service providers) to know what the store owners think about the market leaders and their services.
However, a request to both of you - have a look at those emerging players too!
ZenCart or MAgento or OcCommerce are there in the market since eternity! But, when it comes to customization, you go back to a PHP developer; and take my words, no two two developers will customize a feature in the same way!
So, what you get? Of course, no standardized methodologies to build something that you and your customers may need.
On the other hand, people like us always think from online shoppers perspectives just because of a simple reason - we want people to know what we can offer!
We may not have thousands of thousands of 'clone' installations worldwide like zencart or OSC. But, we know our customers are happy to use our shopping cart solution as they get 100% customization, flexibility to use any or ALL modules and a true-value for the money spent to setup the web store.
I hope you will understand my point and at least, check what we have at our disposal for online retailers.
To know about us, you may always visit our website (I cannot place our website's link as I do not have enough posts on this forum).
Please type "24SevenCart" on Google and check the very first link (its - www_dot_24sevencart_dot_com). To schedule a demo, type "24sevencart demo" on Google or go to any inner page on our website and click the "Live Demo" link.
02-12-2010, 02:08 AM
I strongly recommend you stay away from some of those large environments (Yahoo Store, eBay, etc) as some have recommended! Have you ever been able to get anyone at Yahoo on the phone or have them answer a technical question within 3 days? Pls....
Consider a hosting company that offers eCommerce support I used to host with WebHost4Life is not bad all building and you have full control – I am currently using a VPS at IX Webhosting and they have a similar package. I have never used it since we have our own custom solution but one thing you can count on – they answer the phone 24/7!
02-12-2010, 08:00 AM
No intention of using Yahoo Stores, or Ebay - not professional enough for what I want. This is not a sideline for me. This is a full time business and I will be selling high-end product, so presentation is 1/2 of everything. Now that I know more, I also am not interested in Amazon Webstore.
Please explain your comment about using a hosting company. From what I understand (and it is not that much), I have a choice of either a "hosted" solution - like a Nexternal and Core Commerce, which is hosted at the vendor, or some of these "developed" solutions like Pinnacle and XCart allow you to buy a license to the software and host elsewhere.
Alternatively, I can have my developer develop a completely customized solution with an Open Source solution like OS Commerce, Zen, Magento, Miva that also needs an outside hosting company. I do not want to go this route, as I don't have the ability presently or inclination to learn coding - my focus needs to be on marketing and running the business - and I don't want to have to go to my developer to make changes each time. I see $$$$ and potential problems with response time if the developer is busy.
I think from an "ease" point of view, a hosted solution makes the most sense to me, although I know I lose control and have to rely on the vendor, can't move the store, etc., etc. That's a trade-off for most of the security being addressed by someone else, no?
Again, being new at this, and wanting to be able to make minor changes (catalog adds/edits) can anyone advise which would be easiest for me, as a newbie to do this with (below). This is my short list after a long and intensive search....
My top considerations are:
Best solution for drop-shipping
Best customer service
East of product for me to work with
Ease of navigation for customer
Possibly, but second choice:
XCart - think this is too complex for me
3D Cart - think the customer service is not "there"
Network Solutions - iffy - don't like the templates, ? customer service
Any thoughts welcome.
02-12-2010, 09:22 AM
I'm still confused a bit about the "custom" solution. I don't think I want this, I just want to completely understand it -
If I go with something like Pinnacle/Nexternal, they come with templates for the front end which can be customized - somewhat - correct? Presumably this saves money, and provides some uniformity?
If the solution is "custom" it is programmed completely from scratch (using what language?) and then linked to some shopping cart?
I was under the impression OS Commerce was both the front end and the shopping cart - am I wrong - is it just the shopping cart?
02-12-2010, 06:45 PM
Typically, when someone says they have a custom shopping cart, it was written specifically from them, but many (most?) times even custom solutions start from some existing core, such as Magento or osCommerce. As a matter of fact, many (most?) of the shopping carts available actually began as pet or custom projects.
So, as to your question, "custom" would mean a "from scratch" cart built expressly for you, whether it starts from a known core or not. "Custom" would not mean simply a unique to you appearance. As far as programming language, that would be up for discussion and dependent on the developer's skillset.
Most up to date commerce "engines" allow for customization of the appearance, either through "skinning" or administrative changes/inputs, or both.
You are correct that osCommerce serves as both the front and back end of the cart.
02-12-2010, 06:58 PM
OK, so when I see sites like these 2 - both from the same vendor (3DCart) why do they look so different?
Oopsy Daisy Baby: Beautiful pettiskirts and vintage chenille clothing (http://www.oopsydaisybaby.com/)
Welcome to Eden Organix: Organic Beauty Products, Eco-Essentials & Luxury Spa (http://www.edenorganix.com/)
Is it because there is a different front end used for each, or because the software allows that sort of customization with a template?
02-12-2010, 07:20 PM
Hey macdebbie as chrison said I wrote “actually modify” a core engine way back out frustration with php… I am 100% asp / asp.net programmer I could not find an asp solution to meet my needs so I started studying the behavior of some of the php carts and translated them to asp. I actually used I core from a PayPal app a customer brought to me – I took the login, my account, check out etc and modified to what I needed. I have been modifying this thing for so long that none of the original code still exists.
The reason I recommended a plug-in from a hosting provider is because of the SEO aspect of it. I personally like to do my own front-end (with static url's) as a regular site and when the customer is ready to purchase send them to the eCatalog and from there they can check out!
This can be complicated and teddies and up to your programming skill… as to drop-shipping etc this are things you have to negotiate with your providers…Lots of variables and choices to make – I truly advice you to chat online with some of the names I mentioned before and you need to feel comfortable with how much you can do yourself and how much you need to rely on a turnkey solution…!
I don’t know of any 100% perfect solution…for what you are trying to do. They all offer a starting point but there is no getting around some % of custom coding unless u are willing to sacrifice on features....
From my past failures I would argue to deploy something that will do the job and as moneys starts coming in set aside a budget to customize the features you need
02-12-2010, 07:55 PM
Well, when you say "front end" and "template" you're describing the same things. Front end simply refers to what the customer's interact with. Template is a bit more "techy" but still refers to the artwork and layout that comprise the front end.
Think of it like a car's dashboard. If it were possible for you to move around the speedometer, the fuel gauge, and the radio, you could put them wherever you like, as long as the wiring isn't changed the systems that make the gauges show the right information wouldn't change. So you can have a custom dashboard "front end" but don't ever have to mess with all the technical stuff that makes the front end work.
02-14-2010, 12:05 AM
Go for a hosted solution, something that will work well. I would recommend BigCommerce of OScommerce.
02-14-2010, 11:19 AM
osCommerce is not a "hosted" solution in my opinion. In my vernacular, a "hosted" solution is specifically marketed and designed to be administered without ever actually having to run an installation, an upgrade, or touch code, e.g. BigCommerce. You can install osC from scripts offered on many hosting accounts, but beyond that you are responsible for administration of the code, installation of updates, implementation of SSL, etc.
02-23-2010, 03:08 AM
eBay is so strict in its policies that starting a new store will always remain at high risk all the time. No one knows when one breaches their policies accidentally.
Regarding Amazon, they are also very particular about their policies. Their policies have been mainly in the favor of customers rather than Sellers. I have heard that sometimes the customer insert the wrong/incomplete address and when the product doesn’t reaches him on time, he gives negative feedback that directly hits the Sellers ratings.
I mean, in nutshell, although eBay and Amazon are big names and well known platforms by which one can earn huge revenues, UNTIL his stores are blocked. One small mistake closes all the doors of your revenue generation.
Hence, I won’t rely 100% on third party tools. I would rather prefer to use them as supportive hands only.
Thus, I am always in favor to start with our own shopping website first. We can sign up for Amazon any time; that won’t be an issue.
But being a Store owner DOES matter. No restrictions, no boundaries; Sky is the limit. We can sell any product at our own price. No one can compel us. We just need to do price research, keep an eye on the market and promote our website in search engines.
Having our own store will allow you to:
· List unlimited number of products with Images, Descriptions (Short/Long) and Stock
· Create unlimited number of categories
· Create multiple categories for single product and vice versa
· List Featured products, Most Selling Products and Related products on home page
· Larger view of Product Images
· Add Retail and wholesale price (Selling Price, Cost Price, List Price)
· Calculate real-time shipping cost OR Add flat rate shipping
· Add state specific taxes
· Integrate with Payment Gateways like- Authorize.net, Paypal, etc.
· Be able to optimize all web pages for search engines
· Generate different reports pertaining to Sales (Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly), most selling products, visitors statistics, profitability, etc.