The Search For A Good Shopping Cart System

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. 🙂

Why Hosted?

e-commerceCertainly, 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

Picture 4 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).

InfusionSoft

Picture 3 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

Picture 2 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

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.

Picture 1 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.

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Responses

  1. Hi David – What Cart Software are you using now? I would like to know if anyone has tried SamCart or the new ThriveCart. What do you think?

    1. I’m using MemberMouse for everything now. I have tried SamCart. It is nice, however I thought it was pricey and oversold during it’s launch. Have not tried ThriveCart, but heard good things.

  2. David, great post, and now that it’s 3-years later, what are you using now?

    I’ve used Nanacast (good, very internet-marketing-savvy, but complicated and I really disliked their merchant account recommendation) — and switched simply to paypal for years (with five figures a month revenues) — now I’m on Office Autopilot (OAP) and frankly, I regret it. They have so many bugs, innovate extremely slowly, but they have tons of social proof these days…it sucks that they are getting people to switch over by their great marketing, but the product & service has been very disappointing.

    I’m looking for an alternative solution, one that also has a 2-tier affiliate system.

  3. Run do not walk away from 1ShoppingCart (imo of course). When I called them to decrease the level of my service (which I could not do in a timely manner while logged in, but had to call), I was told by a service rep that that could be accomplished immediately, but I would have to call the next day to talk to someone in accounts. When I called, they were happy to decrease the level of service but then had the audacity to say that they were decreasing the charge also – but not by reducing the charge, but by giving a “credit” to future payments. There are no refunds. A credit is not a refund. A credit is ransom of my money. Which was counter to what I was first told, and not on their website. They insist on saying that they have reduced the fee when in fact they are really taking two months of front payment instead of two. Headquarter literally laughed when I called wanting to talk to someone about a complaint. I do not need to do business with companies like this as there are increasingly more options out there.

  4. Hi David,

    Add my social proof for Nanacast. I punched six figures through it in just a few months after struggling with a few of the other systems you mentioned here.

    I have it hooked up to paypal, aweber, Amazon S3 and V Bulletin. If the thing goes down (I doubt it will) I still have all of my data. I keep the aweber list, S3 files and forum (my dedicated server).

    Josh is very helpful and the support is second to none. We un-installed Amember to switch over to it. We bailed on Infusionsoft too since it was complex and useless for paypal / v bulletin integration.

    Within months I built more than 1600 affiliates, have loaded several products into it it has handled everything with ease. I was also able to convert my free blog into a CPA traffic machine for affiliates. ( http://www.internetmarketingspeed.com )

    Note I also agree the sales page is ugly – hey it's a best kept secret.

    Regards,

    James

  5. Hi David,

    Add my social proof for Nanacast. I punched six figures through it in just a few months after struggling with a few of the other systems you mentioned here.

    I have it hooked up to paypal, aweber, Amazon S3 and V Bulletin. If the thing goes down (I doubt it will) I still have all of my data. I keep the aweber list, S3 files and forum (my dedicated server).

    Josh is very helpful and the support is second to none. We un-installed Amember to switch over to it. We bailed on Infusionsoft too since it was complex and useless for paypal / v bulletin integration.

    Within months I built more than 1600 affiliates, have loaded several products into it it has handled everything with ease. I was also able to convert my free blog into a CPA traffic machine for affiliates. ( http://www.internetmarketingspeed.com )

    Note I also agree the sales page is ugly – hey it's a best kept secret.

    Regards,

    James

  6. Hi David

    I've been using Nanacast for a few months now and it is flat out AWESOME.

    Better than Infusionsoft, 1SC, Amember, RAP, DLGuard etc… by far.

    I too was looking for an Amember/Nanacast link — because I'm lazy and didn't want to migrate one of my bigger sites over — but when I couldn't find one I bit the bullet…

    … took about 3 hours to figure out how to make the transition, test it, and make the switch.

    And ever since, thanks to the better affiliate system (with it's existing affiliate base and viral nature), that site is up about 30% in sales. I haven't even started to play with one-click upsells and all the creative pricing strategies you can use.

    (By the way, when Josh saw my post on the Amember forum, he called me up to get more details about what I wanted to see how he could help out. Not many companies go out of their way to support their customers like that.)

    The Wordpress plugin works great, 5 minute setup and you're good to go. Then all your content is stored in private Wordpress posts, and most of the stuff “hosted” on Nanacast is actually on Amazon S3. Plus emails still go out using Aweber, so I don't feel too dependent on Nanacast at all.

    I also paid a programmer about $500 to hookup VBulletin and Nanacast, to sync members etc, that's been my only expense.

    Once you get your head around the system (it IS very powerful) you begin to realize just how powerful it is. I wrote a post about why I made the switch here: http://www.fourhourentrepreneur.com/blog/the-so

    Yeah their site is pretty bad, and they haven't reached a critical mass where you'll find 100's of affiliates pimping them all over the place, but there are a LOT of happy customers out there if you look around.

    Cheers
    Kyle

  7. Like you said, 1SC isn't perfect, but I think it's the best option available. Their affiliate management is good and I haven't had any issues with the AR to date (I sign up for the lists to test).

  8. 1ShoppingCart users are leaving it at quick rate. On “the Jim Boat” (the internet marketing cruise for membership sites) they all recommended staying away from 1sc because 1sc's ip addresses are blacklisted on most big email carriers. So, you can be virtually guaranteed that 80% of your emails and auto-responders will not be making it through. The reason I'm finally dumping it after 6 years is that they have refused to enhance their system to work better with FireFox browsers. Sometimes a person can place and order thru the cart and other times they can't. Just never know and I can't live with that. 1sc admits the problem and that they're never going to fix it. Plus, now that they charge more for their phone support, they've just eliminated the one thing that made 1sc tolerable.

  9. I know the pain of not wanting to move. I think the key is to make the right decision the first time no matter what a company selects as their choice. No one wants to move… but some companies must to reach their full potential.

    Recently one company moved their entire client base including a paid subscriber based of 2000 active members from Infusionsoft to us. It was successful and they are now more prosperous and happy than ever. They currently use Nanacast + Office Auto Pilot.

    Another company with over 400,000 active clients recently began integration with us through our API in order to use our sales funnel, recurring billing, and upsell systems. This company has had the experience of building their own ecommerce systems and viral marketing systems online since the 1990's and has previously built and then sold off another 8 figure operation with millions of subscribers.

    No doubt those companies did not want to move… they came to use because they had to move. The systems they were in could not meet their needs and no amount of development or hacking could provide for the needs those companies had to continue to grow and engage in the advanced marketing strategies they had planned.

    Our goal is not just to win clients but to have happy clients. What I find in speaking with prospects and clients is that many just do not know what solution will fit their needs and it is hard to predict if they have not experienced the challenge of finding themselves in a solution that limits their growth potential or fails to track accurately for their affiliates or has other limiting factors of automation and growth potential.

    One of the major benefits of Nanacast that people can create unlimited membership sites with our system without having to hire a programmer or install a single script. Plus updates happen in real time without any action on your part so you never have to worry about whether your script is up to date. We also have one of the best affiliate management systems in the industry and all that is built in for every offer you manage in the system.

    The biggest benefit though is the marketing potential your company will have with a solution like ours… our sales marketing funnel and unlimited upsell/downsell systems are in place for you to use with every membership, product, podcast, rss feed, and physical on demand product you market in our system.

    We also have order page/sales funnel/upsell split testing and if someone already has an offer you upsell our system can swap that offer for an alternative if you choose. You can see the per click $ value and per client $ value of every sales funnel and sales funnel split test. You will know how profitable and effective your sales funnels are and be able to test and improve your profitability constantly.

    Turning any site into a membership site is as simple as pasting an order button and a login link on your site.

    For those who want more control we do offer the API but with our Wordpress Plugin you can host your own content and given the simplicity of a WP membership site with say a plugin like http://www.simplepressforum.org combined with our Nanacast Wordpress Member Lock plugin you then have a lot of power in your hands.

    With that kind of setup you can post the content direct in the blog or you can optionally use our content system to push the content into the blog as a drip feed based on how long a member has been subscribed. You can even use our system to broadcast content to individual subscribers or demographic groups.

    We recently put up our latest “main” features list which grows weekly here:

    http://nanacast.com/docs/features

    Let me know if I can be of any assistance to you or your clients and feel free to post any questions you may have to our support desk.

  10. Thanks, Josh. Yeah, it sounds pretty good… the thing is I have already-established sites using Amember and I really don't want to have to rebuild them. Plus, as you can see in my post, having all of it hosted on another service isn't really ideal for me.

    Your systems looks great, though, and I might have some use for Nanacast with some other projects when the time comes.

  11. If you are selling only few products pay pal very very very good, it is a brand name, every one knows, takes credit cards, is easy and flexible, and if you are selling digital goods there are plugins around for that.

  12. Well, if none of it would translate into something I can do with 1SC, there isn't much point. I don't really want to get a custom-built thing. I do appreciate the offer.

    BTW, hit me up if you come back to Tampa for anything. I think you said you were in Austin now? I'm not going to make SXSW this year, but perhaps next year I'll make it and we can hook up while I'm there.

  13. Thanks for laying out your opinion on all of these… I'm right in line with what you think about these companies. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a solution that meets all of my criteria, so I'm having a custom shopping cart built for me. If you're interested, I'll show you how mine is set up. Maybe that could give you some ideas.

    Later,

    Chris

  14. I never really thought about shopping carts and how many thoughts go into consideration.

    In the past I remember doing a research on shopping carts but didn’t really come to find a best solution.

    This post has really opened my eyes. Thanks for the detailed information.

  15. A partner and I tried Plimus because they could handle banking worldwide. By worldwide, I mean they weren't frightened of that partner's Cayman banking account. (He was a Cayman resident at the time).

    Unfortunately, their customer service was really bad.

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