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Posted 14 March 2007 - 01:03 AM
I have been reading the great posts about shopping carts. I am interested to use Mal'e e-commerce.
Any one has experience with using it? It seems very comfortable since everything is done outside the site.
I am worried that having shopping cart outside the site will scare the users, what do you think?
Posted 14 March 2007 - 02:49 AM
Posted 14 March 2007 - 07:00 AM
Posted 14 March 2007 - 08:25 AM
There is no real problem w/ off-site cart solutions, and they are a decent affordable way to get started on a budget. However you'll find they are very limiting and as you get to the point that you want to refine your checkout process, they fall short and you'll want another solution. That's not to discourage you from using it ... do so, but expect to upgrade later and use the experience to learn what you want and don't want in a self-hosted paid solution down the road.
Posted 14 March 2007 - 08:56 AM
We're using Mal's for a "side project" here at my Ye Olde Day Jobbe company. We have a fairly robust on-site shopping cart for our main store, but we had a smaller specialty store selling only supplies to support a single licensed product. We weren't sure what the sales were going to be, and didn't want to set ourselves up for permanent negative ROI by investing a huge pile of dollars up front in setting up another on-site shopping cart.
Mal's perfectly satisfied our (admittedly) modest requirements at a very affordable price (and, as it turned out, so far we haven't needed anything more "robust," so better than a year later we're still with Mal's for this one project and likely will be for the foreseeable future).
It takes a little bit of work to get it set up the way you like, but when I was getting it going, I found they had a fairly active support forum that was very helpful.
Posted 14 March 2007 - 09:56 AM
Posted 14 March 2007 - 11:26 AM
I realized that It is hard to customize the cart pages a lot. Is this the limitation that you guys are taking about? Is there any limitations.
If I try the free account, which payment processing should I use to charge people money?
Advice is really appreciated..
Posted 14 March 2007 - 12:38 PM
You can customise it enough to suit most smallish businesses.
If you run PPC campaigns (Adwords/YSM/Adcentre etc) the shopping cart can be set up to return conversion data.
The only problem I've had is getting it to return data to Google analytics - but I believe this is a common problem with third-party shopping carts - not just Mals.
If you need support there are forums and Mal will respond to emails.
I'd go for the Premium Account rather than the free account. It's very cheap, doesn't tie you in and gives you more options for personalising the cart to your business.
Posted 14 March 2007 - 02:21 PM
That's basically it ... all hosted solutions are set up to cover the basics for a broad range of needs. They are what they are, they do what they do, that's it ... which ain't all bad. But if you want to change anything other than the header and footer, maybe colors, they aren't typically set up for that.
For instance, adding additional graphics 'may' be a problem (at least it has been w/ both my current and another I test ran) because of their need to 'double-fetch' the images from your server in order to show the site as secure (little lock in your browser). Mal's may not do this, but just adding credit card graphics, secure server graphics, testimonial text, and a few other very minor items to my cart page slowed it to a crawl. Some have a solution for that ... double what you pay them and they will host the images for you ... bah. Again, maybe not applicable to Mal's, but has been with others I've looked at.
Another issue is coupons. Again, haven't looked at Mal's closely for a few years, but most hosted off-site solutions come up short on managing those. Another might be shipping options, usually very limited. Another issue is your confirmation page. Most affordable hosted solutions don't do a good job of summarizing an order, and instead rely on an e-mail confirmation. If I remember correctly, that's how Mal's worked, as does mine currently. That works, but is FAR from ideal. Also, the confirmation page is perfect for followup with your customer, and unless you can make significant mods, that's just not possible w/ low-priced hosted carts.
But hosted carts do fill a need, and understanding the inner workings of and customizing a self-hosted cart product is far more complex than using a hosted solution on a basic html site. When you get to the point you want more, you really have to learn a lot more, but the benefits are significant. Off-site hosted carts are typically only the cart & payment collection, whereas self-hosted carts tend to include product management, product tracking, content management, and lots of other automated stuff. From a site-management point-of-view, the self-hosted solution brings efficiency to the mix as they are mostly template-based and database driven, which becomes pretty important after a point. (A simple example ... if I run out of something, w/ my off-site cart I have to edit my html to note something is out of stock. With a self-hosted package, I have several choices as to how I want it handled and once set, I can largely forget about it because it will happen the same every time ... regularly deal with lots of little things like this, and your day is eaten up quickly AND you can more easily make mistakes).
Concerning payment methods, if at all possible accept credit cards directly, and offer paypal as an option. Which gateway I can't say, I use a merchant account tied to my accounting software.
Posted 14 March 2007 - 07:40 PM
I was discussing using off site shopping cart with one of my friends, and he recommended using paypal instead of anything else since users trust it. I kinds agreed but the problem paypal charges too much money .
Do you guys the use of paypal going to make positive difference?
Posted 15 March 2007 - 08:05 AM
In the old days people wanting to purchase something from you would be required to create a Paypal account in order to pay you. This is obviously bad and introduces a good bit of friction into the buying process for many, many folks.
Nowadays you can get a Paypal account and get things set up that are far more along the lines of what happens if you had your own merchant account. Meaning it's all basically transparent to the user and doesn't require them to jump through any additional hoops.
The best option in my (probably biased) opinion is to have your own merchant account where it all takes place transparently. This however can be an expensive process to set up. You tend to make it back over time because the per transaction and ongoing costs are less, so if you can manage the intial setup costs --for the merchant account itself, the SSL certificate and getting your site SSL enabled and for creating the code to handle the transactions-- it's just the best way to go in the long run. Plus it gives you total control over which transactions go thorugh and which will fail. (Think Address Verification and such.) Of course you then also have the responsibility of making sure your process is 100% secure.
The second best option and one lots of people use when starting out is to choose one of the third party processors. There are limits to what you can do with these, the start up fees are less but the ongoing costs are higher. And have a lot less control over whether some charges can be allowed to go through or not. Of course a plus is that you don't have to concern yourself nearly as much with the security of the system since that's out of your hands.
In my mind it always comes down to the individual situation. There just isn't a stock answer that fits everyone's needs across the spectrum of possibilities. I started out using a 3rd party processor. For my first several sites. This worked quite well for me for the first year or so. Eventually it just made more sense for me to move towards getting my own merchant account. As my site portfolio expanded so did the number of merchant accounts I have. Today if one merchant provider ran into problems (hey, it happens!) it would take me literally 15 minutes to change any site's code so that it uses another of my merchant accounts.
I guess what I'm saying is that you need to make the best choice for you Now, given your current needs and desires. But the decision you make now certainly doesn't mean you have to stick with it forever if the situation or your needs change. So make sure you keep an open mind.
Posted 15 March 2007 - 11:22 AM
Errrmm, I'd have to disagree with your friend. It is true "some" users trust PayPal, others hate it. My customers prefer paying directly over using PayPal by about a 8:1 ratio. But I wouldn't get rid of PayPal, as you could lose those customers who do prefer it ... why turn my back on that 1 customer out of every 9 or 10 customers? PayPal also lets me accept cards I don't accept as a part of my Merchant Account agreement ... i.e. Discover & Amex cost more to process and require different agreements than Visa or MC, so I offer those payment options via PayPal w/o the additional expense of maintaining additional Merchant agreements. In time I'll offer those directly when I feel they'll pay for the extra expense.
I think this is a great option, and wish I'd known about it when I started out. If you don't want to pay for your own Merchant Account, 3rd party processors like 2CO (2checkout) and others are a great option ... in combination w/ PayPal .
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