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Best eCommerce software

A list of the best eCommerce shopping carts and a Comparison Chart of the best shopping cart software.


by Bernard Kohan

There are so many important technical elements in running a successful online business; to name a few:

  • Having the right shopping cart technology
  • Developing a good brand that your customers can remember and talk about
  • Creating a nice and user friendly design, so your customers can enjoy their shopping experience and easily find your products
  • Implement the best possible search engine optimizations, search engine marketing, and social networking marketing
  • Implement the best security (PCI Compliance) to protect yourself and your customers
  • Find a good company with dedication and integrity that can help you carry out all of the above necessary items

There are a lot of details and time that goes into creating a complete successful eCommerce site — I am dismayed when I receive a call from a prospective client who only has a budget of $500 to develop an eCommerce site and $10 per month and wants to become rich and successful with that type of investment. That is not realistic.

Small-sized online businesses that are successful spend on average $13,000 on the initial design and development and on average $2,000 per month on managed hosting, support and maintenance, search engine and social media marketing.

Medium-sized online businesses that are successful spend on average $25,000 on the initial design and development and on average $7,500 per month on managed hosting, support and maintenance, search engine and social media marketing.

Large-sized online businesses that are successful spend on average $250,000 on the initial design and development and on average $75,000 per month on managed hosting, support and maintenance, search engine and social media marketing.

There are two types of shopping cart software in regards to licensing:

Licensed with full access to the source code - With this type of license, you have full access to the source code to customize the design or functionality.

This type of eCommerce software is generally divided into three types: Open Source, Commercial, and Enterprise. There are a lot of items to consider and pros and cons on each category that this subject is outside the scope of this article, I'll write another article with the analysis and comparison between Open Source, Commercial, and Enterprise shopping cart software.

The most important consideration in selecting the right licensed shopping cart is:

  • Having full access to the source code and being able to hire your own developer or hire another development firm to work on the source code or customize it
  • Flexibility and ease of customization and maintenance
  • Good search engine optimizations and marketing built into the software
  • Optimal source code so it is easy to maintain and provide the best performance
  • Best security (PCI Compliance) to protect yourself and your customers from data breaches
  • Good support, so you can get help in emergencies and when you need to make changes

Hosted by the provider without access to the source code - with hosted-type software, you do not have access to the source code or would not be able to download it, so you have a limited ability to customize the design or functionalities. Hosted shopping cart software companies (also referred to as Application Service Providers (ASPs)) will provide a few design templates or themes to choose from and will charge a monthly or yearly fee (and/or a percentage of the sales) for the usage of the software.

The most important consideration in selecting the right hosted shopping cart is:

  • Is the company experienced and can handle and support your business growth?
  • Good search engine optimizations and marketing are included
  • Best security (PCI Compliance) to protect yourself and your customers from data breaches
  • Good support, so you can get help in emergencies and when you need to make changes

These are several issues with hosted shopping cart solutions:

  • You would be stuck to one company and would not be able to take the source code or design elsewhere if you're unhappy with the service
  • You will have a "template" website which will not be unique and branded to you, and there will be other websites (perhaps including your competitors) who are selecting similar templates which can confuse your visitors and degrade your brand name
  • If you decide to move and start over, it will be very difficult or may not even be possible to keep the same URLs, so, you will loose all of the search engine ranking for your pages when you move
  • You most likely won't be able to take the design themes with you because those are just licensed to you as long as you use the hosted shopping cart service, so you will loose the brand that you've worked so hard to build
  • You will have limited control over the design and functionality

I have outlined a comparison list of the best shopping cart software in order of the following advantages and features: Security, Search Engine Optimization Features, Design Customization, Reliability, Performance, Maintenance and Support.

In my opinion, below is the list of best shopping cart software and features available:

  • Comentum eCommerce
  • Magento
  • Zen Cart
  • OScommerce
  • CRE Loaded

The below table provides a comparison and pros and cons of the above five popular shopping cart softwares:

Security
PCI Compliance
SEO / SEM / SEF Design Customizations Functionality Customizations Optimal Source Code Performance Enterprise Support Backup / Export Maintenance and Support Marketing Tools Product Showcase Cart and Checkout CMS Administration
Comentum eCommerce yes yes yes yes yes Optimal yes yes yes yes Optimal Optimal yes Optimal
Magento Module Vulnerability yes yes Complicated, Time-consuming, Costly yes Bloated yes yes yes yes Optimal Optimal yes Optimal
Zen Cart Plug-in Vulnerability yes yes Tedious yes Okay yes yes yes Limited Optimal Optimal Limited Optimal
OScommerce Plug-in Vulnerability yes yes Tedious yes Slow yes yes yes Limited Optimal Optimal yes Optimal
CRE Loaded Plug-in Vulnerability yes yes Tedious yes Okay Limited yes yes Limited Optimal Optimal Limited Optimal

Research for this article was completed February 1, 2011; information may change.


Bernard Kohan

Bernard Kohan is a mobile app and web application development and technology analyst expert. He is available to discuss any issues or questions you have about web development and the best choices for your company or project.

Bernard can be reached at
858-410-1500


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