Shopping Carts

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.

Modular Merchant Shopping Cart Feature Chart

Modular Merchant offers a scalable hosted shopping cart solution and a flexible approach to serve merchant’s needs.

Here is a listing of some of Modular Merchant’s features:

Modular Merchant's Feature Chart (PDF)

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.

Hosted Cart Customer Forums

A number of the top e-commerce hosted shopping cart solutions have customer forums where you can pop in and checkout what’s going on with the solution. These are invaluable tools when researching a move or opening to new store. By digging through these forums you can gauge the cart's customer service abilities, customer sentiment and even ask pre-sales questions. There’s nothing like getting honest feedback about a cart before opening a store.

Of course you can always visit our forum for up to date info on the major hosted shopping carts by visiting: eCartReviews Forums

eWish Gift Registry Service Integration with MonsterCommerce & Yahoo Stores

eWish has partnered with Monster and Yahoo to allow their merchants tools to integrate their gift registry system. For a one- time setup fee of $599.00 and an ongoing 5% commission fee, merchants can add eWish’s to their stores. This allows merchants to have “add to registry” buttons on their product pages. eWish has a pretty robust gift registry solution that includes a customizable e-notifciation, guestbook, RSVP system, and on-line photo album.

If you have a store that caters to gift market, this add-on is worth a look. A few hosted shopping cart solution offer a Wish List feature (InstanteStore and Volusion) but they are geared more toward the individual doing the shopping. Conversely, gift registries can be distributed to a group of people (gift givers) directing them to purchase the desired items that have been preselected by the gift receiver.

Search Engine Optimization and Online Stores

Search Engine Optimization 101– Marketing Keywords on the Internet

Build it and they will come. This famous line might apply to ball fields but not to web sites. Getting people to visit a web site takes a lot of work. Getting people to visit a site via a search engine when they are looking for something specific is even harder.

This paper will review the process for basic search engine optimization (SEO henceforth). Covered are the basic components of marketing a site to attract specific traffic. These components include keywords, directories, back links and content.

The first step in SEO is to define your keywords. For instance, Amazon.com’s keywords could include; books, online bookstore, etc. Careful thought should be placed in your keyword selection. This phase is the foundation to support all other SEO efforts. Fredrick Marckini in Keyword Selection - The Most Overlooked Element of Success, August 2002, Market Postion had this to say about keyword selection:

How to Switch Shopping Cart Solutions

Switching Shopping Cart Solutions Checklist

Are you considering moving from one e-commerce shopping cart solution to another? Below you will find a checklist that lays out the step-by-step instructions for making the move. Switching website shopping cart solutions isn't as hard as you may think.

Switching Shopping Cart Solutions Checklist

1. Research and select the shopping cart solution that best serves your business’ needs. This is a very important decision. Take your time and choose wisely. Questions to ask include:

A. Does your shopping cart solution integrate with my gateway?

MonsterCommerce’s SEO Catalog

Years ago ASP carts were notorious for having long garbled URLs and bloated code. Both no-no’s when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Some for the more forward thinking shopping cart solutions added a mod_rewrite to their product that translated the ASP garbled URLs and code into clean easy to read html. The result was unmistakable. The stores using these solutions rankings improved once the product pages were re-indexed by the major search engines.

MonsterCommerce took a different approach. They allowed their clients the ability to generate a separate copy of their product catalog in html. MonsterCommerce called the feature the SEO catalog. The only problem is that the SEO catalog doesn’t rewrite/convert the asp page into html; rather it makes a copy of them in html. This is a dangerous thing to do in terms of SEO as the search engines frown upon duplicate content. A few merchants reported in our forum that they were penalized for using SEO catalog when some of their pages started to be deemed supplemental by Google. Not good.

3dCart's Free Store Design

One thing that set 3dCart apart from the other asp hosted shopping cart solutions is their free store design for all new customers.

Most other solutions will either offer new stores a selection of canned templates to choose from or charge an extra fee to work up a custom design (typically a hefty fee). Not so for 3dCart.

3dCart will assign you a graphic designer to work with you in developing a customized storefront. The quality of the designs rival that of any other paid service – scan 3dCart.com for yourself and take a look. This offering alone can save a new storeowner $1,000 – $5,000 off the initial startup costs.