Brian's blog

Calling All Shopping Cart Solutions!

Would you like to have your cart reviewed here? All I ask is that you fill out our eCartReviews RFP and email it back to me. I open a discussion of your cart on merchant forum and begin writting a review.

Use the Contact Info page (link is in the footer) for more info.

3dCart Importing Tools. Switching carts has never been easier.

Moving to a new cart can be a real pain in the neck. I’ve done it enough not to want to do it again. That said, if I were looking to move to a new solution - I’d make sure that the new carts has the importing tools to make the process as easy as possible.

I moved stores from MonsterCommerce to InstanteStore, Volusion and 3dCart. Of the three, 3dCart offered the easiest importing of my existing data. Volusion came in second but I had to reformat all my product images to get them to work with Volusion’s naming convention. Once that was done, everything else was a breeze.

3dCart was a walk in the park comparatively. The importing tool is powerful yet surprisingly easy to use. Order data was the hardest thing to move because of the different formatting of product data. 3dCart has since made this process a whole lot easier, especially when moving from MonsterCommerce. 3dCart can now import all your orders, customers, categories and products right from your dataport file right into a 3dCart store. This makes your move much easier and saves you hours of time.

Abandoned Shopping Carts and Sales Conversion

Abandoned Shopping Carts and Sales Conversion

Tracking sales conversion and head problems off at the pass.

One of the key objectives when selling online is increasing and maintaining a high conversion rate. This is second only to driving traffic to your site. Why? Because once the traffic is there, you want to convert it to sales. This converting traffic to sales is called a conversion rate.

The average conversion rate for a store is 2%. This can vary greatly depending on your industry and cost points but it’s a good number for most online sellers. To get this rate, you take the number of sales over a certain period and divide it by the amount of site visitors over this same time period. The higher the percentage the better.

Hosted Shopping Cart or DIY Cart?

Hosted Cart Solutions vs. Do-It- Yourself (DIY) Shopping Carts

If you planning on launching an online store, you’ll need a shopping cart. When it comes to shopping cart solutions, you basically have two choices; a hosted shopping cart solution or using a do-it-yourself solution. How do you decide which type of solution to use for your online store? Here’s some pointers.

Hosted cart solutions provided you with everything you need to open an online store (minus a merchant account). This includes hosting, software, updated and security. Examples of hosted shopping carts include the following:

Volusion Update Coming Soon?

Word has it that Volusion will soon be releasing a new update. The date and feature included in update have not been disclosed. A Volusion admin on their support forum said, "we are planning to release very soon.”

We can only guess at what features will be included in the update. Considering that Volusion already has one of the most robust hosted shopping cart solutions, this update (and additional features) will only strengthen their position as one of the top carts out there.

We will update our Volusion Feature Chart as soon as the update information is made public.

eCommerce and Trust

Building Trust Online
Trust - Build it and they will buy. Lack it and they will leave.

Trust is one of the most important (and overlooked) components of building a successful online store. Customers are inherently weary of shopping online and its incumbent upon the merchant and their storefront to build a level trust with the shopper.

What is trust in terms of online shopping? Nielson (2001) defines this form of trust in the following manner:

Trust means the person’s willingness to invest time, money, and personal data in an e-commerce site in return for goods and services that meet certain expectations. The more a person trusts a website, the larger the risk he or she is willing to take when dealing with the website. If a shopper doesn’t trust a website, a “sale catastrophe” occurs. A sales catastrophe in an issue that is sufficiently important to either prevent a sale, or to discourage the person from returning to the site.

E-Commerce and Small Business

E-Commerce 101
Interested in entering the online business world? Here are some benefits of adding an E-Commerce sales channel to an existing business.

Small businesses can benefit from adding an ecommerce sales channel in following ways:

1. Allows small businesses to compete with other companies both locally and nationally (promotional tool);

2. Creates the possibility and opportunity for more diverse people to start a business;

3. Convenient and easy way of doing business transactions (not restricted to certain hours of operation, virtually open 24 hours a day, seven days a week);

E-Commerce and the Law

E-Commerce and the Law

Currently, there are not any consumer protection laws focused specifically on ecommerce. Online shopping is covered by the same consumer protection laws that cover tradition brick and mortar stores.

There are two classifications of B2C E-Commerce. They are as follows:

1. Direct Sellers
These are companies that provide products or services directly to customers are called direct sellers. These types of B2C companies are the most well-known. There are two types of direct sellers: e-tailers and manufacturers. An example of an e-tailer would be Amazon.com.

Zen Cart Review

Zen Cart Review

Zen Cart is an open source PHP based on osCommerce. It can be tied into a MySQL database and offers modular expansion if you desire to build upon the base features. I took a look at Zen Cart version 1.3.7 and must say, this is an impressive ecommerce solution. Anyone looking for a full featured Do-It-Yourself ecommerce solution should at least download Zen Cart and see what it has to offer.

Out of the box you get everything needed to setup an online store and get it off the ground, including a sample store. Without too much tweaking you can have a pretty professional looking store. If you want to kick it up a notch, the solution is based on css templates. This allows for easy editing or you can just purchases a canned template from a third party. The design possibilities are endless.

Preventing Hotlinking

HotLinking and Bandwidth Theft

Does your hosting company charge you for bandwidth overages? If so, do you review your traffic stats to make sure your images aren’t getting hotlinked? You should. Here’s why.

Hotlinking (or hot linking) is when someone references an images (or any other type of media) from your store without permission. The product image you worked so hard to take and format could end up as someone’s avatar in an online forum. To make matter worse, you are paying for the bandwidth to have that image appear in that forum. If it’s a popular forum that has a lot of traffic, your store’s load times could be diminished and you'll be flipping the bill for the extra bandwidth.