Packages for Shop Building
Still in Beta, not for production sites yet: http://www.magentocommerce.com/ has specific installation requirements not met by some hosts.
Clunky, nasty code output, feels a little thrown together and over-complicated. http://www.oscommerce.com/
Nasty output code, but the latest version, 4.x is very good. Plenty of Payment Interfaces and lively community which produces a load of interesting add-ons. Clear separation between display and backend, nice css skinning possible. http://www.cubecart.com/site/home/
Nasty output code, but it’s easy to work with, provides lots practical business functions (coupons, mailing list, special offers etc.) out of the box and there are plenty of free con-tributed modules to extend its core functions – including a host of plug-and-play payment gateways. As it’s open source PHP, writing new functionality is also easy if the core and modules don’t do everything you need. http://www.zencart.com/
VirtueMart with Joomla
it’s not ideal but ok. http://virtuemart.net/
Some open source CMS options with Drupal. The two main modules are e-Commerce (http://www.drupalecommerce.org/) and Ubercart (http://www.ubercart.org/). Here is a link to a comparison between both of them (http://alligatorsneeze.com/diving-drupal-e-commerce-ubercart-vs-e-commerce-comparison), note that eCommerce 3.4 was released after this comparison was made.
e-Commerce seems to be the option for developers since it’s endlessly extensible and customizable. Some of the drawbacks is that the interface might be confusing for some people, and you need a lot of theming to make it look good. They have a lot of documentation about their API, and also have an IRC channel for support. I don’t know if this was fixed in the latest release, but e-Commerce doesn’t have a good one page checkout system.
Ubercart is very easy to setup, and looks nice straight out of the box. It has some jQuery built in that gives it some nice interface effects, although some people might argue that this makes the system slower. Ubercart has a very active community, it’s quite easy to get help in their forums and they have a lot of documentation. Some of the weak points of Ubercart is that its still in beta release and is not as customizable or has as many sub-modules as e-Commerce. Ubercart, unlike e-Commerce, has a very nice one page check-out system.
Another option with Drupal, is to integrate it with Zen Cart, if integrated seamlessly it gives you a very powerful option. Here is a link to a studio that this combination successfully (http://www.gortonstudios.com/portfolio/gertens).
Most respondents indicated this was best approach, long term.
Payment Gateways / Payment Processors
very expensive, nightmare to set up and run
Fairly easy to configure, but not that cheap
Suffers from perception that you need a paypal account to buy, which you don’t, but inter-face directs you that way.
Website Payments Pro (PayPal) is a seamless backend integration from your client site through to them. The customer doesn’t leave your site to go to paypal (except for express checkout) No need for merchant account as it’s rolled into one and no-setup fee, no can-cellation fee, £20 per month but commission fees are expensive and all revenue collected needs to manually removed from PayPal to the clients account (min 7 days). Obviously you get Express Checkout for PayPal users too (for what that worth)
“very good, top marks from me, good price, low set up cost, very helpful support, easy to integrate. they also have the new 3DSecure visa tools for free (something datacash charge tons for)“
“nice API, nice documentation – nice testing systems,”
Better than PayPal. does the whole commerce bit for you with very little effort, as long you don’t mind that it will say ‘Google’ whenever someone buys something for you. Naturally the real value comes when you link it to your analytics and adwords, giving you everything you need for a small to medium shop.
Google Checkout also has the bonus (for new startups) that if you buy advertising from them, you get a certain amount of free processing too.
“Very good experiences with them, sample source for many languages, very friendly sup-port and reasonable rates, you need to have a merchant account already to use them for online transactions.”
Although they have a hefty setup fee (£200), the monthly fee is only £15 and the per transaction cost is 1.5% (and I know that they are happy to negotiate on that too). The nice part is that they pay a kickback to the developer for life on all transactions as part of the ST Together programme. I forget exactly how much it is but if you have a high turn-over client it can add up to a very nice cheque every month.
Remember that getting pictures and descriptions of your products on a website and linking up the buy button to your payment provider is very, very easy – the bit that’s hard is finan-cial reporting, stock control, pick+pack, etc. and we’ve always been let down by everyone (except Google) if we didn’t do it ourselves.
One thing that knarks me is the bank’s insistence that we have 2 merchant numbers, one for online sales and the other for phone orders. While this is fine for bigger sellers the combined minimum fee meant we didn’t get the volume of orders we needed to justify the costs. Also 2 lots of statements to trawl through each month.
We didn’t add PayPal, although I think we will for the future.
SEO was a big issue and when we first launched the site it was all query string driven. When we changed that using a URL rewrite module hits went up 10x. We also changed the Title tag to automatically include the part number of the product, again this increased hits. When we added the part description to the title (e.g. Kingston DataTraveler 4GB USB Drive) this also improved hit quality (not hits) as we got people landing on the right
page for the product they were searching for.