Shopping Carts

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.

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.

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.

Moving from Yahoo Stores

Moving from Yahoo Stores
Free Yourself for The Revenue Sharing Price Structure.

The revenue sharing pricing model for hosted ecommerce solutions is on the way out. Why should merchants have to pay a monthly fee and a percentage of all sales to both their hosting provider and merchant account? They don’t and shouldn’t. Yahoo Stores pioneered this payment structure (while they were pioneering the hosted shopping cart industry) and over 150,000 online merchants continue to share a percentage of their revenue with Yahoo Stores.

Years ago, there wasn’t a hosted shopping cart solution that could compare to Yahoo Stores. This solution offered a low barrier of web/tech skills of launch an online store and once opened, the feature set offered was robust. The markup language used was gobbled up my search engines and Yahoo Stores could rank well with little SEO effort (still true today). The payment system is integrated into the cart so the merchant can process refunds right through the Yahoo Store admin panel. Also integrated into the admin panel was UPS shipping tools. For many years, Yahoo Stores was without rival. That has since changed.

MonsterCommerce Losing Market Share?

Hosted Shopping Cart Solution Report (Feb. 2007)
MonsterCommerce Losing Market Share?
Every time MonsterCommerce releases an update to their shopping cart solution our forum sees an increase of merchants looking for a new solution. Why this happens is best saved for its own blog entry but most tend to be moving to 3dCart because of their easy to use user interface and more robust feature list. A few of their larger stores seem to prefer Volusion. Both are great solutions (in my opinion) and offer a better product (overall) than MonsterCommerce.

I’ve found this site to be interesting:

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.

Volusion Templates

Volusion gave me a Valentine’s Day present….25% off one of their paid templates. No, it’s not a steak dinner or a bouquet of roses. And they send the offer to all their customers. But saving $125 bucks is nothing to shake a stick at. The timing is good too being at the start of the new year. Maybe its time to give your Volusion online store a facelift?

Volusion offers their customers three options for selecting a design template. They are as follows:

1. Free templates of limited selection (8 of them) and update frequency.
2. Paid templates for a one-time $495 price. Volusion offers 80 of them and some are really impressive.

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.