Shopping Cart Reviews

CubeCart Shopping Cart Review

CubeCart – Modular PHP e-Commerce Solution

Are you considering hosting your own PHP store but need a solution with commercial backing and some sort of support? Then CubeCart deserves a look. This UK based company offers their solution for $69.95. You find the hosting and install the solution. The process is very similar to setting up Zen Cart or X-cart. It modular structure reminds me of setting up this blog with Drupal (I can’t say enough good things about Drupal by the way). You install the core platform and then can pick and choose add-on modules to increase the available features.

Shopping Carts and Store Portability

Have store. Will Travel.

Changing hosts is a pain in the neck for any website. This hassle is quickly compounded when you have a online store. Finding a new shopping cart solution is the easy part, moving product and customer data is a whole ‘nother story. Each hosted shopping cart solution organizes their databases differently. So your exported data from your old store isn’t likely to slide into the new database without some finagling (read: a lot of finagling). Typically, you’ll have to map each data field to match the destination field. Fun stuff, especially if you maintain a large store with an extensive amount of data to move.

Shopping Cart Upgrades. Pushed or Pulled?

We are so many hosted cart solutions so pushy when it comes to upgrades?

Have you had issues with your store after your solution released an upgrade? I have. Many, many, many times. It got to the point that I cringed when a new release was announced. I felt like Tokyo upon hearing Godzilla just booked passage for a short stay. I would clear my schedule in anticipation of lengthy tech support calls and lost sales. It was a monster of a headache. Eventually it got so bad, I just moved my stores to new solutions.

One of the new solutions I moved to promised to never put in fear of the forced (pushed) upgrade. It was Volusion and they take a very unique approach eith their upgrades. They allow me to upgrade the software for the my stores whenever I feel like (queue singing angels..). All I have to do is push a button and begin (pull) the upgrade process. This means I can do in the early morning hours when the large percentage of my customers are sound asleep. Viola. No lost sales. To top it off, Volusion does a great job during the QA process so post-upgrade bugs are very uncommon.

Google Sitemaps Made Easy by Hosted Carts

Creating and maintaining a xml or txt Google sitemap for your store can be a huge time drain. Sure it’s worth it. Adding one will ensure that Google will have a detailed road map to crawl your site and make sure all your product pages are indexed . This is hugely important for newly launched stores.

Two hosted cart solutions I use make it real easy to create and maintain a Google sitemap. Volusion and 3DCart automatically generate an asp page called (or something like) googlesitemap.asp. Its updated whenever you add a page or product to your store. You can then easily point Google to this page of regular downloading. Talk about easy. No more searching for third party tools or site to crawl your store in order to generate a site map.

3DCart Leads the Hosted Cart Market with Ajax

The recent release of 3DCart brought with it some pleasant surprises. Foremost is the inclusion of Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) into the cart’s backend. Merchants can hover over Order, Customer and Product links and have the information displayed without the need to click and load pages. This seemingly small feature improvement can drastically improve the efficiency of day-to-day store operation. It effectively brings an entire database of store and customer information to one page – ready to be displayed in a hover window. Hats off to 3DCart for the addition of Ajax as they the first of the shopping cart on our radar screen to make use of this cutting edge technology. One must assume that the next logical step for 3DCart is sprinkle in some Ajax on their front end.

MonsterCommerce Shopping Cart Review

MonsterCommerce Review
Software Version Reviewed: 4.2

MonsterCommerce is a leading provider in the ASP hosted shopping cart arena. Boasting a clientele of 5,000 store owners, they offer highly available 24x7 support, rich product documentation and a lively customer forum. Support is what separates MonsterCommerce from its competition and appears to be the cornerstone of their business model. This high level of customer support goes a long way to entice fledgling online merchants to select their shopping cart solution.

Where MonsterCommerce Excels

1. Support, Support and Support.

As stated above, MonsterCommerce offers 24x7 phone support, excellent documentation and a lively customer forum that when combined; provide an industry leading support system.

InstanteStore Shopping Cart Review

InstanteStore Overview:

At last, a solution based on something other than ASP. InstanteStore separates itself firstly by their ColdFusion platform and secondly for vast array of features provided. At first log in, we were impressed with the slick and easy to navigate admin or control panel. The admin panel only takes a few minutes of clicking around to get the hang of it. I must say, this was a breath of fresh air after working with some more cumbersome shopping cart solution admin panels. Most everything was easy to find and laid out in a cohesive and well thought out manner.

Setting up the store was easy and a splash page on the admin panel offers a step-by-step checklist for the merchant to follow. First was adding categories, which was easy and straight forward. Next was adding products. There were a few way to accomplish this as the merchant is given the choice between adding product one-by-one or via a .csv or .txt file in bulk upload mode. The bulk upload tool is robust but not forgiving in terms of formatting. The files for upload MUST follow InstanteStore format to the letter or the merchant will receive error messages at upload. We found this process not that easy to master and a potential source of frustration for a merchant that didn’t review the formatting guidelines. Save yourself time and review these standards before attempting any product bulk uploads.

Volusion Shopping Cart Review

Volusion Review
Software Version Reviewed: 3.1

There is a company making a big splash in the shopping cart market. That company is Volusion. Founded by former Dell employees back in 1999, Volusion is proving to be a leader of ASP based e-commerce solutions. After reviewing Volusion’s rich features and search engine friendly stores, this solution is proof that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.