Sell online with storefront shopping carts for b2b, b2c.

It’s been a long journey from creating my first shopping cart on VirtueMart using a multi-vendor hack that was pretty much half-baked when consumed by me in 2008.

Well, I’ve invested hundreds of hours on my store, and now must walk away from it, since no one is developing the multivendor module now, and it’s not even compatible with the current version of VM.

So, in September 2010 I began the process of evaluating different shopping cart software solutions. I won’t write a book about that process here. But, I will say that ultimately I decided a simple drop ship addon to a solid, feature-rich cart was all that was necessary. I did not need for each vendor to manage their own mini-store, which can bring headaches. My last cart on VM allowed for that, and sometimes vendors would screw up their own product pages that I had to fix on my clock.

So here it is: my analysis. It’s 32 pages long and compares 22 shopping carts, listing about 68 features. And, you get it FREE right here. What a deal. In return, would you do me a small favor and click a Share button at the bottom of the page? Thanks, from one cartmaster to another.
Best wishes,
Leafgreen

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2 Comments

  • leafgreen says:

    Have you noticed in technology, in general, that there is a tradeoff between simplicity and power? In other words, the more powerful a technology is, the more variables and complexity it has. Of course, there are exceptions, and those exceptions are usually genius and paradigm shifting, e.g. when the Macintosh was introduced in a time when MS-DOS was the default PC OS and Windows 2 was a piece of cr&p.

    For a couple of years I was running my webstore at http://GadgetsGo.com on VirtueMart. The development of VM is not at all robust at this point, and to remain competitive I would have needed to custom code everything. Well, my job is to run a store, not develp a cart. That's the point of buying a cart: to leverage someone else's expertise.

    So I began an analysis of available carts. My analysis was detailed and comprehensive enough to publish it in my ecommerce blog at http://shoppingcart-program.com. The URL for the comparison is here: http://www.shoppingcart-program.com/2010/11/shopp
    The page shows just about every major cart, with a special emphasis on multivendor or drop ship features.

    After perhaps 60 hours of study, I thought that X-Cart was the best for my needs. So I bought and installed it.

    In my exploration of carts, I found no "paradigm shifting" cart that offered power without complexity. X-Cart is on the more complex end of the spectrum, and offered me the flexibility to configure many variables. So if you are looking for something which you install, set a few parameters, and forget about, maybe you should go to Yahoo! Stores or similar.

    In my analysis, I wanted to know how each cart real-world, but complex scenarios. Example: VendorX is in California and drop ships ItemX. VendorY is in Florida and drop ships ItemY. If the customer adds to the cart ItemX and ItemY, does the cart properly calculate and total the different shipping charges?
    X-Cart: yes. Pinnaclecart: no.
    Just one of the hundreds of features X-Cart includes.

    One of the things that impressed me about X-Cart is that

    Features are the "positive aspects". Bugs are the "negative aspects". After going through the VirtueMart grinder, my expectations were quite realistic about fully configurable carts. X-Cart is far from perfect. It has bugs. **So does every powerful, feature rich cart.** So does every software application under active dev. The key "negative aspect" questions are:
    1. How many bugs exist?
    2. What are the level of bug severity? In other words, how stable is the cart?
    3. How quickly to the devs fix the worst bugs?

    In the case of X-Cart, every user has the ability to post bugs. I've posted a couple. One was already fixed, just not included in the version I installed. The other was just posted two days ago, and it's the day after Christmas. I'll give them a few more days ;)

    I do have had installation problems that I'm still working through.

    On the fairly active forum, I sometimes see complaints about X-Cart devs. charging for support. This kinda pisses me off. At a price of $149 for feature-rich cart that compares to other carts that are 5x more, clearly the devs have decided to split out support from the price of the code. Which would you rather have:
    A) X-Cart for $1000 with free support for a year, or
    B) X-Cart for $149 and pay-as-you-go support for $35 per hour?
    Well, I'd rather pay less up front, and have freedom to choose (meaning option B). Maybe you are a capable coder, or you have your own freelancer or staff coder, and therefore can fix things on your end. Power to the people! Right? No brainer.

    There's no doubt in my mind that the long-term cost of ownership of X-Cart is less than comparable carts.

  • coco says:

    Hi Leafgreen, I would love to see the comparison you did but am not able to see the document you refer to. Am I missing something? Thanks!

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