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.

Adding images files is either done in 1-5 images at a time or by zipping up multiple images and using an upload tool. The process to uploading the files was easy but we would have preferred direct FTP access and more robust file management tool for tending to images already uploaded.

Configuring shipping and payment methods was breeze. We liked the ability to authorize payment at sale and capture during shipping. Also, if you sell products worldwide, this is the solution for you. InstanteStore caters to a worldwide market with currency conversion tools and both standard and metric store preferences.

InstanteStore offers a wide selection of ready-made store design template or they can implement a custom design for $97.00 (at the time of this review). We opted for the custom design and the designer implemented a layout from a psd file in no time.

Getting a store off the ground is slightly easier with InstanteStore than the other solutions we’ve reviewed. However, the real power of InstanteStore’s shopping cart solution is evident during the next phase of marketing and order processing. InstanteStore offers just about every Product and Inventory Management and Marketing tool under the sun. The same can be said for Gifting and SEO tools. InstanteStore clearly sets the standard e-commerce storefront features.

InstanteStore has a responsive and knowledgeable support team. Granted that are located in Indonesia but you would never know it unless someone told you before hand. The only drawback is that support is currently only offered via email.

Overall, we were impressed with power underneath InstanteStore’s hood. InstanteStore is one of the most feature rich solutions we have encountered so far. A merchant could not go wrong selecting InstanteStore as their shopping cart solution.

Where InstanteStore Excels:

1. Features, Features and More Features

InstanteStore offer more features than you can shake a stick at. Want to automatically email a customer when an out of stock item is back in stock? No problem.

Need a wish list, coupons, gift certificates or product reviews? InstanteStore’s got it. Cleary, InstanteStore is ahead of the industry curve in terms of features.

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

InstanteStore’s shopping cart solution really takes SEO or Search Engine Optimization seriously. InstanteStore’s solution offers:

• Dynamic Static HTML page creation
• Unique title/description/keywords tags
• URLs rewritten with keywords
• Keywords in page titles
• Keywords in breadcrumb navigation
• Site map generation
• Auto Google sitemap in XML format

3. Marketing Channel Feeds

InstanteStore has a wide selection of integrated marketing channel feeds to help merchant promote their products. The following are feeds included in InstanteStore’s shopping cart solution:

• Froogle
• Shopping.com
• BizRate
• Dealtime
• Epinions
• Yahoo Shopping
• PriceGrabber

Where InstanteStore Needs Improvement:

1. Design Customization

Changing some aspects of your store design are locked and can only be changed via a support ticket. Also, the Product Layout is not customizable. This too requires a support ticket in order to change.

2. Support and Documentation

Phone support would be huge help for newbie merchant trying to learn the InstanteStore solution. Sometimes 100% email support just doesn’t cut it. We would have liked to see the documentation updated and perhaps expanded to encompass the girth of the solution and it's many features.

3. Lack of FTP and File Management Tools

We would have liked to have the ability to upload and directly manage files on the web server.

InstanteStore Conclusion:

InstanteStore’s solution is clearly ahead of most of its competition. The future looks bright for this solution as it grows and adds more features and support options. We think any merchant shopping for a hosted shopping cart solution should demo InstanteStore and take it for test drive. The power underneath the hood is sure to impress.