I have been spending some time looking into different hosted shopping carts. This is something every internet entrepreneur will need to do eventually.
I wouldn’t say that my evaluations are over, however I will discuss where I am now for the benefit of you guys. Plus, perhaps by writing this post, I’ll have some others with good experience with any of these carts chime in. 🙂
Certainly, there are a lot of decent cart solutions out there which I could host locally. In fact, I already own a license to X-Cart.
I’m at a point in my business, however, where I would rather pay somebody to deal with stuff for me than have to worry about it myself. For this reason, hosted solutions work best for me.
Plus, most shopping cart solutions which are self-hosted seem to be your classic catalog-style carts. This isn’t what I need. I tend to sell via sales pages, not catalogs.
Scoping Out Options
There are a lot of different solutions out there. There are equally as many opinions. It makes evaluating all the options pretty frustrating.
All of this is a move away from Clickbank, too. The last 2 products I’ve launched, I ran them through Clickbank. The problem is that Clickbank exerts too much control over me (price caps for one). Plus, they take an average of 8% of every order. I have had a merchant account for years. I use it already for my other website. For my 2010 plans, I need something far more robust than Clickbank – something I have control over.
The features I need most are:
- Ability to integrate with Aweber
- Ability to integrate with the software I wish to use. (Amember, Wishlist Member, etc.)
- Ability to do upsells, downsells, 1-click
- Built in affiliate program
The ones I looked closest at were:
Let me discuss my view on each of these…
1ShoppingCart (often abbreviated 1SC) looks to be a good all-around system. The Pro account integrates email, affiliates, ecommerce all into a single package.
The ecommerce system seems pretty robust. The affiliate system, too, seems to be good. I read about some issues in the past with regard to the affiliate system, but all indications are that it seems to be pretty solid now. Their email system is pretty basic when compared to Aweber. Plus, their delivery rates are not up to Aweber. So, I’m really not all that interested in their email, however I can integrate it with Aweber (sorta).
One of the things I like about 1SC is the tremendous amount of social proof around it. A LOT of people use 1SC, which means I have a large pool of experience to draw from when I need it. This was a problem with some of the other carts.
Some of the biggest limitations I’ve found so far:
- I can only specify one set of out-going emails for the entire cart. This means that notification emails of new orders are sent to certain email addresses. The problem is that it is this feature which is used to integrate with Aweber. The drawback is that all of my customers would need to be added to a single list in Aweber. That’s a problem seeing as I have different products to different markets.
- No support for recurring payments via Paypal. I find this an oddity. Seems to me a simple Paypal IPN would get the job done here, but perhaps there’s something I don’t know.
- There doesn’t appear to be any way to stack continuity programs as upsell offers.
On the plus side, it integrates with almost everything (seeing as 1SC is pretty popular).
I have not set up an account with Infusion. I have seen some fairly big players use Infusion. Plus, their company understands marketing pretty well.
Infusion is expensive. The account I would need runs $299/month. Now, I’m willing to pay that if the software rocks my world, but in reading reviews of Infusion, I find as many people complaining about it as I see who like it. In fact, it almost seems as if more people complain about it. A few have even recommended using 1SC integrated with something like Office Auto Pilot as an alternative to Infusion.
This could be due to it’s complexity. Either way, it wasn’t enough of a convincer to sign up. Perhaps some day I will change my mind.
Ultracart looks to be fantastic. It does pretty much everything 1ShoppingCart does and then some. It is also cheaper.
The problem with Ultracart (At least for me) was the lack of social proof and community around it. Not as many systems out there integrate with Ultracart out of the box. It isn’t bad, but 1SC has more social proof around it.
Also, when I asked some of my contacts who’ve used it about it, their reaction is best summed up as “powerful, but complicated”.
I also know that Ultracart does not integrate with Wishlist Member, something I do plan to use soon.
Nanacast, for me, is a bit of an enigma. It looks powerful as hell, but there is almost zero social proof surrounding it. On top of that, their website and sales page is simply atrocious. It has the appearance of being a small, 2-man show and that isn’t exactly a confidence booster.
On top of that, the lack of social proof means that Nanacast doesn’t really integrate with ANYTHING (in terms of membership sites). They do have their own Wordpress plug-in to integrate with Wordpress, but it doesn’t seem to integrate with anything else. Nanacast works best as an island where you host your content with them. This makes me nervous as I don’t want to be that dependent on any one company, much less one with such a seemingly small footprint.
If Amember integrated with Nanacast, I’d be sold. At least then, I could keep my content on my own server in my own control. Nanacast does have APIs, but then I’d have to hire my own programmer to integrate. Seriously, an Amember/Nanacast out-of-box integration would ROCK.
Aside from those issues, though, Nanacast looks VERY powerful. The different pricing strategies it supports are awesome and a definite leg up over the likes of 1SC. The only problem I have, again, is that it looks as if I’d be overly dependent on Nanacast for content delivery for a membership site (which happens to be what most of my products are now).
So, What Am I Doing?
For now, I have signed up with 1SC. Their system isn’t perfect, but it seems to be the best all-around option out there right now.
I’m not married to 1SC, though, and would be open to looking at other solutions if they look like they’d fill my needs.
If you have experience with any of these systems, I’d really love to hear from you.