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Simple Shopping Cart


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23 replies to this topic

#1 siringo

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 03:46 PM

Hi,

I'm looking for a simple, quick to setup easy to understand shopping cart. I've looked at Zen and osCommerce, they have lots of functions but seem to have too much and I found them confusing in the end. I've spent more time looking at Cubecart, it's not as confusing but the user interface is not intuitive enough.

What I mean is, I believe it is too hard for non web savvy people to figure out how to purchase an item, place it in their cart and then go to the checkout. The check out procedure needs to be alot clearer. Also I couldn't find out if it was possible to download the store stats out of the database easily either.

The biggest problem I had with Zen and osComm. was in trying to add attributes to products. Wow what a hassle that is. I sell items that the customer can specify height, width and colour and trying to work out how to add those attributes to a product is a nightmare.

Thanks in advance.

#2 Randy

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 08:24 AM

You're right that attributes are a major hassle. Even more of a hassle with many carts if you have hundreds or thousands of products where each has multiple possible attributes. And not just on the entering data side of things. Most carts handle the Attributes in a way that makes them very UNfriendly on the server side of things. Some, like x-cart for example, can bring a server to its knees because of the attributes if you have a few hundred products in your store and a fair amount of traffic.

The best cart I've found on the performance side of things when you're dealing with lots of products is CartKeeper. I had to work with that one a few years ago because a client was going to use it on a rather large site with lots of attributes. During that process I was able to identify some problems they had in how attributes were handled and when I explained it to CK's developers they actually applied some changes that better optimized their database structure to fix the performance problem. First and only time any of these cart manufacturers have ever done that. And they've carried through to apply the database optimization to later versions for everyone who uses their cart. Good on them! Which is why I recommend CK these days as the best option for sites that have a lot of items with multiple attributes.

That said, I've still never found a cart that is really intuitive. Not on the data entry side of things (though CK and some others aren't bad since you can add some common attributes to the system and then apply them to any product with a click or two. But the checkout process on all of them could definitely use some work.

The open source carts, like OSCommerce and Zen, tend to have a lot of user contributions. Some of those help to streamline the checkout process. Which is better. But still not perfect.

#3 nethy

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 02:29 AM

Sringo,

I'm not sure if you meant confusing on your end or on your just on your customers' end.

If your want to simplify on your end, have a look at some hosted carts. They seem to often be easier to get a handle on fast so you can evaluate them more quickly. I'm sort of getting this feeling that this category is getting better faster then the DIY one. You may also want to look at some proprietary carts, particularly if you aren't happy with the 'does everything' of the OS ones.

ProductCart (asp) has a reasonable nice checkout process. It's a good tool for a 'normal' shopping site (home page with featured items + on sale, categories listed in a panel, products under categories, related products etc.). The attributes functionality is reasonable & users select from a drop down. To handle more advanced functionality of this kind, you'll need an add-on. Either build to order (which I've never looked at) or apparel (lets you create 'sub products' with their own pricing/inventory/images/etc. that are selected when a customer chooses an attribute combination) this latter is OK but not perfect.

Goodbarry/Business Catalyst (hosted) is one that I like. It's especially good when you want ecommerce with a bunch of non ecommerce functionality thrown in like blogs, forums, photo galleries & things like that but still relatively easy to set up. It's hosted, so you can't do anything you like with it. But it's very customisable with a bit of html/CSS/JS. You can just edit the checkout with the WYSIWYG, html & form building tools yourself so you can make it however you think is best. If you can live with hosted, I suggest you go straight to checking out if the attribute functionality gives you what you need (it's basic, but it may fit), then see if it has any of your other must/haves (the cart has nowhere near as many features as the carts you mention).

http://www.earlyimpact.com/
http://goodbarry.com/

#4 Katy

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 06:26 AM

If you can use an ASP-based solution, have a look at CactuShop.

It has the facility to allow you to add an manage "Option Groups" so for example you could have an Option Group called height, one called width and one for depth with varying options that the user can select. We use it extensively and find it very easy to get on with

#5 siringo

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 04:59 PM

Thanks for the replies, I will certainly take a look at all those options. When you say asp, is that the Microsoft asp or something different??? Do I need Windows hosting???

At the moment I'm looking at SpriteStore. It has a pretty easy to use admin GUI. So far it's the easiest cart I've found to add attributes to products, it's fairly intuitive and the customer checkout process is easier/quicker/less confusing than others I've looked at. Opencart is another I'm going to look at but I need PHP5 and my reseller account is on a PHP4 server.

I've also looked at javascript carts. They look quite simple to setup and use. Is there anything against using a js cart? Are they prone to 'attacks'??

I reckon if I had the skills I'd write my own cart. It's hard to believe that something that appears to be so conceptually simple is so darn hard to setup. Also, I can't believe how bad the checkout processes are on most of the carts I've looked at, it's no surprise that so many people just give up before they get to the checkout, with some carts you just can't find the checkout button.

#6 nethy

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 07:43 PM

Hi Sringo,

I'm the wrong person to be explaining, so I hope that I'll be corrected if I'm wrong.

asp/asp.net are Microsoft programming languages. I'm not 100%, but I think you need windows hosting necessarily to run asp sites. If you can run on linux, it's not very common.

You may need to know the language to do certain things with your cart. Maybe even to 'skin' it. Definitely if you want major changes. So most people choose a cart in a language they can program in.

If you are not going to be modifying the software at all- ever. Then (IMO) your biggest downside to a hosted cart is eliminated. It'll be a question of comparing the product itself 'as is' & pricing. Without touching server code, you probably have more flexibility with a hosted cart. It tends to be a little more expenses (but less upfront). You get the upside of continuous updates & new features.

I recommend you look at the second link above. If it does what you need on the product options front & whatever else you have on your checklist, you may like it.

Edited by nethy, 10 November 2008 - 08:11 PM.


#7 Randy

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 08:00 PM

I'll make a minor correction nethy.

QUOTE
asp/asp.net are Microsoft programming languages. I'm not 100%, but I think you need windows hosting necessarily to run asp sites. If you can run on linux, it's not very common.


There is an ASP module made for Linux servers that runs just fine. The problem is that it's not MS ASP. So while it's similar, not everything is available. Making it basically useless IMHO.

So even with the minor correction you're right. If someone wants to run an ASP application, especially a shopping cart that'll have tons of ASP functions in play, they really need to be on Windows IIS hosting.

QUOTE
I've also looked at javascript carts. They look quite simple to setup and use. Is there anything against using a js cart? Are they prone to 'attacks'??


The answer to the question is a big It Depends.

First, you have to be sensitive to the fact that not everybody has a Javascript enabled browser. So those that come to a Javascript (only) based store will not be able to complete their order. This includes search engine spiders, who do not typically process Javascript.

On the other side of that coin are the Javascript Enabled carts out there that are actually a well thought out version of Ajax or Hijax, where there is a back end built into the system so that non-Javascript users can still go through an ordering and checkout procedure. In this case, though the Javascript Enabled users might get a different (and hopefully better) user experience, all users would still be able to use the cart to get what they want.

When you're assessing Javascript based carts the best thing you can do is turn off your Javascript in your browser and see what happens. If you can still do everything, the cart should be okay for both spiders and non-JS users.

#8 nethy

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 08:10 PM

QUOTE
On the other side of that coin are the Javascript Enabled carts out there that are actually a well thought out version of Ajax or Hijax, where there is a back end built into the system so that non-Javascript users can still go through an ordering and checkout procedure. In this case, though the Javascript Enabled users might get a different (and hopefully better) user experience, all users would still be able to use the cart to get what they want.


Wouldn't a lot of asp/php based carts be dependant on js anyway?

#9 Randy

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 08:24 PM

They usually have some JS elements, but they're not dependent upon it.

The way I read the question was a cart that's built upon and dependent upon Javascript, of which there are a few dozen out there. You have to be just as careful with those as you do with Flash carts.

Some people and spiders simply can't view them.

#10 siringo

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 01:06 AM

Thanks for the replies once again. Thanks for pointing out the shortcomings of the js carts Randy, I had completely not even thought about the browser issue you raised. I may now move them to the back of the evaluation queue I think.

Thanks everyone.

#11 agalllagher

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 09:42 AM

I really like Roman Cart, it's really simple to use


#12 nethy

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 08:52 PM

Anyone know of an (unbiased) list of top carts? Doesn't have to be brilliant, but would be interesting to see.

#13 siringo

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 05:18 AM

Well it's been another week of looking and not finding what I'm after. At least over he past week , I've worked out exactly what I'm looking for.

As I am only using Paypal as my only online payment method, I'm going to use a Paypal shopping cart. The other methods of payment are all offline methods and all I need for people paying this way is a simple cart that keeps track of what has been ordered and the quantities of same.

So with that in mind I started looking at some of the nifty looking AJAX form builders that are around, but again, some functionality is missing.

All I want to do with the cart is:

- let the user select the height, width and colour from dropdown boxes
- let the user select the quantity from a dropdown box
- have a sub total price for each item selected
- have a total price calculated from each sub total
- have a flat fee for shipping to different locations based on the users postal address
- be able to download stats on items sold and item configuration (eg: how any red, how many in a certain length etc etc)

I reckon I've looked at about 8 carts and none of them have given me a one stop shop yet. They have all either been too complicated, too hard to install, too hard to configure, not well enough supported, poor admin UI, bad checkout process etc etc.

I wont be adding products every day, it could be months inbetween so the 'how to use it' factor needs to be very simple, I don't want to have to learn it all over again just to be able to change the price.

There is one cart I'd like to mention. Storespite. It is very easy to get going, but having said that, I'm having trouble setting up the shipping rates.

I'm still looking for something simple to get going, use, isn't expensive and does what I'm after. Gee I wish I could code!!


#14 nethy

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 07:07 PM

Thanks for sharing Sringo.

I had a look at Shopsprite. Actually I'm kind of surprised you singled it out. Looks perfectly ok, but just very standard. It does what most other shopping carts do. I would have thought that if this was what you need, pretty much any OS Commerce or like minded cart would do.

What was the 'killer feature' for you? Ease of installing? Does it do something about customisable products that I haven't seen?

#15 siringo

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 08:04 PM

I found Shopsprite very easy to setup and use, I jumped straight in and had most of it going in one day. It is basic, but it does enough. The downside of it is, is that there appears to be no way to download your stats, but I may be wrong. Also, I'm having trouble with the shipping options at present.




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