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Shopping cart recommendation needed

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I have a client who wants a shopping cart on her site. I know nothing about them (except how to make a purchase :whistlin: ).

 

What do you all recommend and what is the cost of what you recommend? I am going to give her the recommendations to do her due dilligence herself, so as much info as possible would be great.

 

This client is not techy. She can check her email and not much else. She sells products, several different types. Her business is start up, so she will have very little business at first. I did tell her to go with what she will need once she grows so she won't have to change later.

 

She's on a low budget since she's a start up. She does have a merchant account already. I told her to check with her merchant account to see if they have a shopping cart.

 

I really appreciate your opinions.

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I don't really have any recommendations on which software your client should use for this, but I have listed some shopping carts below that may be of interest.

 

FREE

 

AgoraCart

Mal's Ecommerce

osCommerce

 

These carts are open source software and will require your client to install it on their web server. These are a little more difficult to setup.

 

Vstore

 

Vstore is kind of my favorite for an option that is free. It is a completely free store and very easy to setup; however, they require you to have a yourstore.vstore.ca, yourstore.mywebhome.ca or yourstore.weblodge.net FREE sub-domain storefront internet address.

 

 

PAID

 

1shoppingcart

 

The cheapest option for a package through 1shoppingcart is $29 per month; however, it doesn't give you the option of an autoresponder.

 

 

I hope some of this information will help you and your client. If you have any further questions feel free to contact me. I will be glad to offer assistance.

 

Thanks,

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Guest TerryGreen

My recommendation for Shopping carts for ease of use, flexibility, # of features and cost is always 1ShoppingCart. I use 1SC or one of its private labels for all but of my clients with shopping carts.

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Becky's right: Before choosing a shopping cart, you need to start with the client and their needs.

 

1. Do they sell soft (downloadable) or hard goods?

2. Do they need real time payment authorization? If so, what payment gateway do they use (this may be at least partially determined by an existing merchant account) and which carts is it compatible with?

3. Will they require real time shipping calculations? What shipping service do they use? Do they want a free shipping option?

4. Do they plan to offer an affiliate program?

5. Do they want to offer coupons/discounts/etc?

6. Do they want the ability to set up price groups? (i.e. general customer pays regular price, person in Group A gets 10% discount, Group B gets 15% discount, etc)

7. Do they want to offer gift certificates?

8. Do they need the ability to track inventory?

9. Order fulfillment -- will they ship from their warehouse, or will they be dropshipping? Does the dropshipper have special formatting requirements for fulfilling orders?

10. What payment methods will they offer?

11. Will they have their own security certificate, or will they rely on a shared or hosted certificate?

12. Do they want a free, purchased or licensed service?

13. Do they want the ability to add multiple items to the cart at once (i.e. buying dishware, they want to add 4 plates, 4 bowls and 4 coffee cups to the cart with one click)?

14. Do they want to offer customer accounts?

15. Do they want to offer customer order history, online order tracking, etc?

16. Do they want dynamic features such as best seller lists, sale items, featured items, etc?

17. Do they want to offer multiple product images/enlarged views?

18. Do their products have attributes (i.e. a T-shirt may be small, medium or large, red, yellow or blue)? Do the attributes affect the product cost?

19. How many products do they have? How frequently will they add products?

20. What is their budget?

 

 

I'll stop there, but there are lots of other issues to consider as well. You and your client need to think very carefully first and foremost about what features the client wants, and what technical constraints (shipping/payment/currency/order fulfillment) the site will have before choosing a cart.

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These are great questions that I'd never have thought to ask. As I said, I am not a shopping cart expert. I don't think she can afford to pay someone to add it, either. I offered to build her a website for free so I can practice. I had no idea until we got into talking that she needed a shopping cart. So, she's not a real client, she's a practice client. I'm learning the questions to ask people who want a website :) I may end up telling her I can build the site but she needs to find someone to add the cart if it's too much for me.

 

1. Do they sell soft (downloadable) or hard goods?

 

Hard goods, she sells clothing, jewelry, stuff like that.

 

2. Do they need real time payment authorization? If so, what payment gateway do they use (this may be at least partially determined by an existing merchant account) and which carts is it compatible with?

 

I don't know who her merchant account is, she calls them with the credit card number. I don't think she'd be in a rush to get payment authorization since she needs to ship the items.

 

3. Will they require real time shipping calculations? What shipping service do they use? Do they want a free shipping option?

 

Shipping calculations will be nice.

 

4. Do they plan to offer an affiliate program?

 

No affilate program.

 

5. Do they want to offer coupons/discounts/etc?

 

I don't know. I suppose the option would be nice.

 

6. Do they want the ability to set up price groups? (i.e. general customer pays regular price, person in Group A gets 10% discount, Group B gets 15% discount, etc)

 

Ewww, now you're getting deep.

 

7. Do they want to offer gift certificates?

 

I don't know.

 

8. Do they need the ability to track inventory?

 

That would be a good feature.

 

9. Order fulfillment -- will they ship from their warehouse, or will they be dropshipping? Does the dropshipper have special formatting requirements for fulfilling orders?

 

Hmm, I think drop shipping.

 

10. What payment methods will they offer?

 

All.

 

11. Will they have their own security certificate, or will they rely on a shared or hosted certificate?

 

Shared or hosted certificate.

 

12. Do they want a free, purchased or licensed service?

 

She wants the cheapest that does the job correctly. She's a start up.

 

13. Do they want the ability to add multiple items to the cart at once (i.e. buying dishware, they want to add 4 plates, 4 bowls and 4 coffee cups to the cart with one click)?

 

Yes.

 

14. Do they want to offer customer accounts?

 

I don't think so.

 

15. Do they want to offer customer order history, online order tracking, etc?

 

I'm not sure if this is necessary since she's selling clothing.

 

16. Do they want dynamic features such as best seller lists, sale items, featured items, etc?

 

If it's not too much to add.

 

17. Do they want to offer multiple product images/enlarged views?

 

Yes.

 

18. Do their products have attributes (i.e. a T-shirt may be small, medium or large, red, yellow or blue)? Do the attributes affect the product cost?

 

Yes.

 

19. How many products do they have? How frequently will they add products?

 

She's starting out with a few and will be adding products to her line.

 

20. What is their budget?

 

Very low. She's a start up.

 

 

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Any time you get into webdesign, but especially when you get into ecommerce, it's critical to lay the groundwork and thoroughly understand your client's wants and needs before diving into the project :)

 

Because of your client's limited budget, you might consider a shopping cart option like Mal's Ecommerce. There are some limitations on the free service, but even the free service has a great deal to offer a small startup company. The paid version is only $8/month, and may not be necessary for your client at this time.

 

Pros

1. Mal's only gets involved in the process at the actual checkout phase, so your client's shopping pages can be completely customized, including multiple product views, page layout, options, etc, etc. AND you have full control over meta tags and seo.

2. Attributes (size, color, etc) are available.

3. Multiple-product purchase (the dishes example) is available.

4. All private transactions take place on Mal's secure server -- no certificate purchase required.

5. Can be configured to calculate sales tax.

6. Offers a variety of shipping options, although real time shipping calculations are only available in the paid version.

7. Discount coupons are available.

8. An order management system is available (there's a free and a paid version -- paid is $95 one-time cost and well worth the investment)

 

Cons

1. Because Mal's is not a dynamic database driven system, adding products will require handcoding the form required. Mal's provides easy to follow examples, but your client may not be comfortable having to make her own site edits. This can be alleviated somewhat by creating templates for her.

2. Although Mal's "integrates" with the look of your store, the integration is not full scale. Some shoppers may be turned off by this.

3. Dynamic features (best sellers, etc) are not available unless you personally have the ability to set up a database and do the scripting. This can be "faked" however by just hardcoding it, and changing the display out regularly.

4. Data can't be left in Mal's indefinitely. Servers are cleaned out every eight weeks or so, so your client will need to be diligent about downloading her information from the admin site.

 

 

A couple of tips for you and your client. Start now with getting organized. Think carefully about how you want to categorize the products, whether any of them should be "related items" to another product, etc. Set up a database (Excel would work fine) and fill in information about each product such as sku, categories, name, price, cost, description, taxable, image url, thumbnail url, enlarged image url, its thumbnail url, manufacturer, related items, etc. At some point if she outgrows a free shopping cart option, having this data organized and ready to go (most "real" carts offer a product import feature) will have a huge impact on how easily and successfully she migrates.

 

When naming product images, name them using the product sku. Use a consistent naming convention so that images are easily identifiable. (eg Main product: GH-33417.jpg, Thumbnail: GH-33417-thumb.jpg) Again, if she migrates to a database driven cart system, using the product sku for the image name opens up some coding options that are not otherwise available.

 

Don't even start on the website until you have the product architecture down. How you build and organize the site will be very much dependant on this information, and the organization process is extremely useful in forcing you to think through the proper flow for the site. Not to mention that often as this process gets underway, new ideas or methods pop up that will impact the site as well.

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