ProStores Review

Prostores Review
An eBay Company...

A few years ago eBay bought ProStores in hopes of retaining business from merchants that outgrew their online auction product. ProStores was originally developed by Affinity Internet, Inc., the same company that developed the Bigstep e-commerce solution (last I heard this solution was circling the drain). The marketing money behind ProStores in impressive. The question is, does it live up to hype? Answer: no.

Prostores has two strong suits. They offer 24x7 support and a tight integration with eBay. This bodes well for the eBay merchant making their first step to a full-fledged online store. Highly available support can offer hand holding to get a new store off the ground and the eBay integration allows the merchant to continue sales on their auction channel without the need of a secondary product database.

Sadly, ProStores’ strengths end there and overall, their product pales in comparison to other hosted shopping cart solutions - namely Voluson, 3dCart, InstanteStore, Yahoo Stores and MonsterCommerce. A merchant would do their business as disservice by not evaluating ProStores against these carts before signing up. Why? Features, cost, design and SEO (search engine optimization). ProStores pales in comparison to the competition in all of these areas.

ProStores offers only a fraction of the features that are now common place in the hosted e-commerce market. It’s basic feature set can limit a merchant and setup a timeline where the merchant will quickly outgrow the solution.

While the monthly fees for Prostores seem reasonable, they charge a percent per successful-transaction fee. So they get a little taste of each your stores sales –like Yahoo Stores. It’s silly to pay a transaction fee at the e-commerce solution nowadays. Besides, isn’t it the transactions fees that drive eBay merchants into opening a stand-alone online store in the first place?

ProStores has a wizard-based setup for their stores. While this makes setting up so easy a child could do it, the out matches that of what a child could produce. Their 188 varied templates don’t stack up to 3dCart’s and InstanteStore’s free professional store design or even the canned templates offered by Volusion or MonsterCommerce.

Customers also report that Prostore’s sites have a hard time getting all of their product pages indexed by the search engines. This could be due to their primitive feature set including many SEO tools commonplace in other solutions.

The only lingering question is how to continue to sale on eBay AND have an online store. EBay’s API changes quickly they make it hard for non-ProStore’s e-commerce developers to tie-in to their system. Maybe this is by design or simply not a priority. The end result is that I can only recommend one hosted shopping cart that offers eBay integration: InstanteStore. If you moving from eBay to an online store, I highly recommend you take a test drive with InstanteStore.