I am setting up an online store which will begin with around 150 products, and hopefully will eventually expand. I would also like it to be a source for various resources. I am looking for a cart that has the following features: (the integrated blog is really important to me)
Loyalty points when purchasing products
Product reviews (loyalty points for product reviews? Or could these be given to clients manually?), for referring friends, for shopping
Ability to accept paypal and credit cards
What basic stats are you given e.g. what sells best, inventory count etc.
Filter or browse all
% off products
Ability to set up Newsletters
Ability for people to create accounts to get 5% off store wide
Ability for people to comment on blog
A box which includes ‘quote of the week’
Filter products e.g. ‘browse all’ or ‘t-shirts only’ through picture icons up the top, e.g. default to ‘all clothing’, but up the top has a thumbnail pic of a t-shirt where users can click and narrow their search easily
Any suggestions on various carts will be very much appreciated
Based on your requirements i would recommend Viart as it has all the features you require and much much more. It is a commercial cart though. You could also take a look at Magento but im not sure whether it has the integrated blog. Magento is probably the most powerful ‘free’ shopping cart available but take some getting used to! Alternatively you could go with Joomla and use one of the shopping cart addons available.
As for Magento, you are right that it can be too complicated for a simple store, also it really can be slow on shared hostings. Also, it is rather difficult to get support service for magento, you need to hire a developer.
Yeah, don’t run Magento on a shared hosting account. Use a VPS or similar, and optimize it. Otherwise the performance can be really horrible. Doesn’t have to be expensive though, there are many alternatives for VPS hosting you can look at.
A good thing about Magento is that there are loads of extensions to choose from when you want to add new features. There’s the WordPress extension mentioned above, and there are also blog extensions for editing from within Magento admin panel.
It also has a good community with nice discussion boards. That said, even though it’s fantastic and feature-filled it can be quite a hassle to work with sometimes depending on what it is you want to achieve. If you’re a developer, you can probably learn to deal with it but if you’re not, you may need one if you have any issues that cannot be resolved by searching the forums etc.
Again, I emphasize not using a shared hosting account for Magento. Based on my experience, while it may work, it will more likely give you problems.
I would say go with Magento, as far as hosting is concerned in most cases you don’t even have to go dedicated/V.P.S keeping in mind that the site is new and not consuming too much of server’s critical resources also, after a few months have been passed, you can ask your host to put you on a high load server (by paying few extra bucks)
this is what i did with my very own magento powered store & so far its working fine with a shared hosting (i am paying a little extra every month because, they recently suspended my account stating that i am using too much off their server resources and then they put me on some high load server by adjusting a little in the monthly fees)
I have a client that is using BigCommerce, the hosted option. I set it up for them and have been working on integrating and modifying as I can. I would say it is definitely a step up from what they had originally and a very robust option that would match much of what most e-commerce sites need.
However, saying that, the hosted option is quite limiting. They do allow you to modify the templates and some of the code, but they do not give you a lot of control for customizing functionality. For example, on certain templates they only call specific variables for you to utilize (which is frustrating when you want to include thumbnails of the products in the confirmation email but cannot reference it, only the name/price/etc). They have toyed with the idea of purchasing the Shopping Cart code from BigCommerce and hosting it themselves so they can make these modifications, but haven’t decided yet.
So I’d say BigCommerce is a good solution for many people with some great features … but if you want a lot of customizing, I would opt for someone with open source.
Are you going to be increasing your SKUs? The only thing about the SaaS offerings (BigCommerce, Magento Go, Shopify) is that as your catalog gets bigger so will your costs.
I can tell you about experience with Shopify and Magento Go, as I’ve used both.
Shopify is very simple and intuitive. It is a nice platform to get started, but I felt like their costs were too steep to justify the features and product. I never had server downtime or any issues (granted I used it for ~ 8 months).
Magento Go strikes me as robust and “full featured.” I signed up for their 30-day free trial and have been using it for the last few weeks. I can’t say more than this, but they are a PayPal/eBay backed company that looks like they’re serious about the eCommerce industry. I think their product will be improving/stabilizing more than the competition simply based on this .
They both offer frameworks. Shopify seems to give you more control as a developer. Magento Go feels like more of the technical stuff is taken care of for you, so you can focus on your actual business. Magento Go also offers a lot of promotion and product features.
We have used BigCommerce since the last year. Overall I am happy. However it looks to me their SEO support is not as good as they advertise. My site depends hugely on Google organic traffic which makes SEO is the key thing.
Anyone with a good experience on a shopping cart that supports SEO, please share. At least we need to be able to control meta tags, canonical URL, 301 redirect, robots.txt, good site layout.
Thanks everyone. I am considering BigCommerce, but now I am a bit worried about how much it can be customised.
Does anyone know if I would be able to have picture thumbnails to narrow searches? E.g. with clothing, it will show all clothing by default, but have thumbnails up the top to narrow by t-shirts, shorts etc.
I am also wondering how easy it is to integrate loyalty points into it?
Hoping to get some questions answered so I can finally move forward with this - it has taken months of research!