Shopping Cart Solutions for Websites

A Beginners Guide to Understanding E-commerce Options


It is essential to have a shopping cart on your site if you will be selling anything. The days of it being acceptable to have something like a printable order form or a phone number only to order are gone. I am working with a past client right now that had simple payPal ‘buyNow’ button on each product page, as they grow she is feeling the need to upgrade to an actual cart, to be able to add new products and options as needed.

We have been looking at various shopping cart solutions, each having their own pro’s and cons. As this client is not a web designer, we want to find a option that will allow her to easily change things, from pricing, taxes, and shipping, to even adding products. There are so many options available right now that is is a bit difficult to come to a decision.

The three main carts we are looking at right now are OSCommerce(free), Mal’s e-commerce(free), and Avactis Ecommerce(paid).

Of the three, Mal’s is my favorite, although it is the only one where you cant add a product on the back-end, visually it is the most appealing for the money. And from my past experience it is very simple to add products, options, etc. I would easily be able to walk her through the process. The cart itself it wonderful, customizable and organized. And the back-end admin area is very easy to navigate.

Of course, Avactis would be my first choice if it were not for the cost. It has all of the features of Mals, and allows for adding of products in the back-end as well as changing of options. She would never have to touch the code in the website. But that is only if she wants to pay 199.00 to buy the software. It is well worth it, but not everyone is willing or able to do this. By taking away the price, you have a perfect system, allowing you to accept paypal payments, checks, credit cards, etc (if you have a merchant account) easily and securely.

The third option is OsCommerce, this is my least favorite, however very popular, the options are limited and at the same time, expansive, visually this is the worst option, the organization of the shopping cart is very poor and very time consuming to get to look decent. Even though this one is free, and you can add products to the back end fairly simple, I feel this cart is not a good solution for someone that has any ability to edit a website. You can get much better results using a cart like Mal’s for free; even though you will have to add your own products. The site that your visitors will see will be much better looking and easier to navigate without it. Simply browsing through the ‘live shops’ at osCommerce shows you the limited and not visually appealing shops they have, most look the same, just with different colors and text.

When I mentioned ‘back-end’ options, I was speaking of being able log into the shopping cart software and fill out a form to add a product, instead of using something like Dreamweaver ( HTML editor) or notepad. While this option makes it very easy to add products, the ‘look is limited. I would much rather use something like mal’s and add a product using Dreamweaver. And in using Mal’s you can get free ‘extensions’ to add to dreamweaver to easily add a product. All of which will be added seamlessly to the site.

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