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.

Some cart solutions will offer to help you move. They might have a tailor-made script to map data fields from some the larger shopping carts (e.g., Yahoo Stores and MonsterCommerce). Others might have an application available for new clients to make the data move a bit more easy. You’ll want to inquire about how best to move data before signing up with a solution. This will allow you to gauge the effort needed to move and if outside help is available. Plus, you’ll likely get detailed instructions from the host on how best to do it. Trust me, this advice is gold. It can spare you many hours of hair pulling frustration.

Perhaps the time has come for the major hosted carts to gather together and work out a data standard for storing product and customer data. This standard would make cart-to-cart moves so much easier. In turn, it would make their client’s lives easier as they enter the front door and leave through the back door. To date, there isn’t a shopping cart solution that boasts portability in their feature list. Merchants need to start asking for it and then some enterprises solution will be quick to answer the call. Till then… Merchants Unite! Demand portable databases and direct FTP access! Your store will then be as though it is set on wheels – ready to move to next innovative and customer friendly solution in a moment’s notice.