Ecommerce Platforms https://ecommerce-platforms.com unbiased reviews and comparisons of online shopping cart software Thu, 21 Jun 2018 18:17:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 SellerBooster Review: Dropshipping Without the Slow Shipping https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/sellerbooster-review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/sellerbooster-review#respond Thu, 21 Jun 2018 18:17:02 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=16039 Dropshipping has become all the rage in the ecommerce world, but dropshippers are often stuck with slow shipping speeds, higher pricing, poor return policies, and more. SellerBooster is working to change all of that. In this SellerBooster review, we'll talk about…

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Dropshipping has become all the rage in the ecommerce world, but dropshippers are often stuck with slow shipping speeds, higher pricing, poor return policies, and more. SellerBooster is working to change all of that. In this SellerBooster review, we'll talk about how this revolutionary dropshipping platform allows you to sell name-brand products without the poor delivery times and messy product descriptions.

SellerBooster Review: The Best Features

Multi-channel Product Uploads

Their service allows for multi-channel product uploads and is also compatible with eBay, Amazon.com and Amazon.ca, Walmart, Jet, Bonanza, and Wish.

One-click Product Uploads to Your Store

Upon finding a product that you want to sell on your website or marketplace, a button is shown to Upload the product to that site. For this example, I have my Shopify store linked to SellerBooster. Therefore, I can click on the Upload to Shopify button, then jump over to Shopify to see it as one of my products. This is a one-click process, and it works the same way for other marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Walmart and more.

A bulk-upload feature is currently available for sellers on every marketplace except Shopify and Bonanza:

Pre-Written Product Listings

Another problem with dropshipping is that the product descriptions are usually pulled directly from the manufacturer, and many times they are cluttered, poorly written, or downright don't make sense.

SellerBooster does a wonderful job of providing well-written product descriptions and feature lists. You'll probably want to spice them up a bit for your own branding purposes, but these descriptions are great for getting started and giving your customers the information they need.

SellerBooster also provides some excellent product images and feature graphics for some of the products. For example, the following hiking backpack page is filled with images to show what the bag can be used for, how big it is, and how it's designed to help your back.

Automatic Order Imports

Once you receive an order from a customer, these order details are sent directly to SellerBooster for processing. Therefore, you don't have to send or type in any of the order details in any way. It's all done for you, making the dropshipping process as streamlined as possible. The only requirement is to pay the SellerBoost wholesale price to begin the process. So, technically there is that wholesale fee after an order is made, but since you've made a sale, that money covers it (and hopefully you made a profit).

Auto-syncing for Marketplaces

A strong advantage of the SellerBooster platform is how it automatically syncs your listings with popular marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, and Jet. This way, all you have to do is create your own storefronts for those marketplaces and not worry about uploading new product listings to every one of them. This saves time for a wide variety of reasons, but it's also helpful for keeping your product selections the same across all marketplaces and eCommerce stores.

Fast Shipping (Rare for Dropshippers)

One of the biggest problems I've had with dropshipping is the fact that your products take weeks or months to get delivered to customers. Not only that, but you often can't provide shipping details, so the customer is stuck waiting for a product without any information at all.

SellerBooster, on the other hand, has warehouses and shipping centers in Los Angeles, Denver, and Newark, New Jersey. SellerBooster partners with FedEx, UPS, and USPS, along with quality brands for the products.

This means that you're not waiting around for some random Chinese manufacturer to package and ship your products. Each product you decide to sell has a list of shipping options, many of which are free and fast. For instance, let's say I plan on selling a two-person tent and I want to make sure that customers have multiple, and reasonable, shipping options.

On the SellerBooster product page, it tells me that free economy shipping is available, and that the product gets delivered within 2-9 business days. Several other shipping options are shown as well for people who are willing to pay a little more for faster delivery.

SellerBooster Review: Pricing (And How You Make Money)

With SellerBooster, you don't have to pay any monthly or signup fees. It's completely free, so the website doesn't even have any information about it. You signup for SellerBooster, link to your website or marketplace, then start uploading products to the website or marketplace. The only fees you'll have to worry about are any credit card transaction fees and the monthly rates for Shopify if you have a Shopify website.

As for making money, a wholesale price is listed for each of the products in SellerBooster. This is listed under Your Price. A recommended List Price is shown, along with the profit you would receive after selling one of the items. You do have the option to change that List Price to whatever you want, so you can increase or decrease your profit willingly.

Return Requests

Another huge problem with dropshipping is what happens when a customer wants to return the product. Some suppliers don't take any responsibility, so you're stuck accepting the item back and basically losing money on the transaction.

SellerBooster takes a different approach, with a Return Request tab included in the dashboard. All you have to do is find the order to be returned and create a return request. The customer can then send the item back and receive a refund without you having to touch the item or take a loss.

Who Should Consider SellerBooster?

I like SellerBooster for those dropshippers who are frsutrated with a few things:

  • Slow shipping speeds.
  • Low quality products.
  • Difficulty with returns.
  • Junky product descriptions.

If you're interested in dropshipping, I definitely recommend looking into SellerBooster. I did some pricing comparisons to places like Amazon, and you'll have trouble competing with some products. However, after you complete a little research for reasonably priced items, and if you're able to provide some extra value (like a great blog) you could absolutely turn this into a great money maker.

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The Ultimate Guide to Cloudflare CDN – Complete Review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/cloudflare-cdn-review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/cloudflare-cdn-review#respond Wed, 20 Jun 2018 08:00:06 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=16592 Is it as good as it claims? This Cloudflare CDN review covers it’s most critical features, pricing strategy, usability, customer support, and overall functionality. We’ve all watched numerous action films. So here’s something I assume you’ve been asked before… Ever…

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Is it as good as it claims? This Cloudflare CDN review covers it’s most critical features, pricing strategy, usability, customer support, and overall functionality.

We’ve all watched numerous action films. So here’s something I assume you’ve been asked before…

Ever wondered where you’d hide a dead body to avoid getting caught?

No. I’m not talking about destroying it. Of course, there are countless options if you decided to proceed with that.

But let’s say you only have a few minutes to think fast. What would be your best idea?

Rivers are too cliché by now. Besides, that body will flow downstream with the current, then end up in a fishing net.

Well, alternatively, digging a grave wouldn’t be such a far-fetched idea. But you’d only manage to excavate shallow one, maybe a foot or two deep, within the short time. And that will be picked up by dogs faster than they can sniff out possible mates around.

We could explore numerous additional possibilities. But here’s something I’m sure you’ve never heard before. An idea that is so unique and creative that it’s yet to be explored in any movie or book. Including fictional works.

Now, before I drop the secret, I need your word. That this won’t leak out to an actual serial killer. Because otherwise, investigation departments would have a much harder time closing homicide cases.

That said, here’s the big reveal….

There’s nowhere more secretive and unexplored than the second page of Google’s results. Yes, move that body and place it in the middle of that page. No one will ever find it.

Doubt it? Well, sites that frequently rank there can tell you how lonely it gets.

Admittedly, this might be hard to digest at first, especially considering the fact Google hosts more than 67,000 searches per second.

But, consider this. When was the last time you even thought of peeking into the second page of the search results?

Thought so. Not really surprised either. Because more than 75% of the search engine’s users have that same tendency.

Even when the results come in millions of pages, users still don’t advance past the first one. That’s where all the action is.

Yes, it’s true. That’s how bad it gets in page two. Now, imagine the echo you’d hear in say page ten?

Certainly explains why the SEO war is increasingly fierce. Both small and large enterprises are engaging in a brutal battle for a spot on the first page of their primary keywords search results.

Consequently, 61% of marketers now consider SEO and expanding organic reach their most critical inbound marketing priority.

That’s why they are spending money unsparingly. The average firm is now directing 41% of their marketing budget to this.

Quite a lump sum, to say the least. Because the stakes are exceedingly high, considering search engines generally supply 93% of a website’s traffic.

For what it’s worth, let that sink in for a minute. Particularly that part about funding.

Money is a deadly marketing ammunition against your competitors, I’ll admit. But only when you’re exceptionally skillful in SEO, and backed by a solid strategy.

And you what? This is, by far, the most crucial factor in search engine optimization.

What makes it particularly interesting is the fact that much of Google’s ranking algorithm is a mystery. And right when you deliberate assessing it comprehensively, you learn that Google actually changes it about 500-600 times a year.

Astonishing, isn’t it?

Well, of course, we know all that hullaballoo about keywords, content, link-building, and other commonly recognized tactics for influencing the algorithm.

And you know what ultimately makes the difference at the finish line? Those little-known strategies that are only leveraged by the gurus.

Like tweaking web pages to improve their loading speed.

In 2010, Google decided that it wasn’t going to sit and watch snails crawling around the web. It then started integrating webpage loading speed into its ranking algorithms. And it hasn’t looked back since.

google ranking update

Some slow websites, however, have still managed to hold on for dear life. Because fortunately for them, Google only implemented this on PC search.

So, they survived mostly on mobile search, which, as a matter of fact, has grown exponentially in recent times. It had even surpassed PC search by volume in more than 10 countries (including the US) by 2015.

page load time metrics

Fair enough. But here’s one thing you should always expect from Google.

google announcement

It might take time. But they eventually respond.

Well, they finally did, and quite decisively for that matter.

It turns out that from July 2018, mobile search will follow suit. Your mobile page load speed will now contribute immensely to search rankings on mobile.

But that’s not all. If you thought you could simply eliminate content to make your site much faster, you might need to sit down to hear this…

That Google further cautions you not to sacrifice webpage relevance for speed. That would be immensely detrimental to your overall ranking.

Simply put. There’s nowhere to hide anymore.

I tell you what though…

There’s this thing they call CDN. An increasingly effective tool for improving page load speed.

More precisely, ever heard of Cloudflare CDN?

Cloudflare CDN Review: Overview

The web has managed to combine information into a single global village. But that’s only the façade. The theoretical side of it all.

Supporting it are servers positioned everywhere on earth. They are interconnected to facilitate seamless transmission of data. They are the real deal.

But there’s one problem. Unless you can invent a way of bending time into space, transmission from one server to another will never be instant. It has to take some time, depending on the connection speed and distance.

So, what does it all mean?

Quite simple and straightforward. That you can increase page load time by moving your website’s server closer to the traffic source.

Unfortunately, such an option is practically impossible.

But, hold it right there.

Now, let’s try again, with slightly different parameters this time. We can essentially opt for numerous servers, placed on standby at different locations.

And that is the fundamental approach to content delivery networks, otherwise commonly referred to as CDN.

A CDN will not move the entire server. At least not literally. The system only shifts requests to alternative servers positioned relatively closer to the traffic source.

What about the content? No pressure there. Simply copy it to multiple servers scattered around the globe.

That’s how services Cloudflare CDN came into existence.

Surprisingly, Cloudflare CDN didn’t start out as a CDN. Michelle Zatlyn, Lee Holloway, and Matthew Prince founded it as a security tool.

The prototype was so impressive that it won the Harvard Business Plan competition back in 2009. That’s the year they eventually set up base in California and launched their service in 2010.

The team was particularly concerned that their security service would experience latency problems. However, and rather interestingly, the results were the opposite.

In addition to security, the beta testers excitedly reported that their websites were loading about 30% faster. Then voila! Cloudflare became a thing.

Years later, the service now boasts that of user websites that are not only secure, but utilize 60% less bandwidth and load twice as fast.

cloudflare cdn time

Partly explains why it has grown to secure its position, top of the CDN food chain, with millions of users globally.

You’re dead right it’s one of the most prominent CDN services. But is it as good as it claims?

This Cloudflare CDN review covers it’s most critical features, pricing strategy, usability, customer support, and overall functionality.

So, let’s see how it performs…

Cloudflare CDN Review: Top Features

One of the principal things that stand out on Cloudflare is the extensive network of numerous servers. In total, it has 151 datacenters, all placed strategically around the globe in seven continents.

Cloudflare CDN locations

Europe and North America are notably predominant, holding the bulk of the datacenters. And it makes sense when you come to think of all the internet traffic originating from these two areas alone.

Cloudflare CDN continents

Quite a reasonable set of resources, to be frank. So, of course, I was pretty excited to try it out. Ensuring that all the stats were recorded accordingly over a period of two weeks.

The result?

Although I suspected that Cloudflare’s claims might only be marketing mumbo jumbo, I expected the actual site numbers to be within range.

Sadly, the service could only manage to save 37% of the bandwidth. Undeniably a far cry from the 65% Cloudflare promises.

Very disappointing. But, to be fair, I was on the free package. I’m assuming the service only optimizes speed and bandwidth for paid users.

Thankfully, that’s not all there is to Cloudflare CDN. For adequate website optimization, the service also comes with browser caching, cache header optimization, minification, JavaScript bundling, asynchronous resource loading, and gzipping pages.

Good enough. How about security?

Guess what? Cloudflare never dropped its security venture to focus entirely on CDN provision. It adequately protects websites against a wide range of potential vulnerabilities, including spam, SQL injections, malicious bots, and DDoS Attacks.

And get this. These features have been tried and tested before. And not by an ordinary hack. But by a record-breaking DDoS attack back in 2004. Unquestionably the largest in the history of the internet

And you know what? Cloudflare was able to handle it all.

That said, here are other notable features:

  • Monitoring of Google Analytics.
  • HTTP headers with IP geolocation.
  • Preloading of 200 of the most accessed content.
  • Caching with or without query string parameters.
  • Extensive analytics.
  • Integration with Kubernates, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, Acquia, Magento, Google Cloud, WordPress, and IBM Cloud

Cloudflare CDN Review: Ease of Use

The simple and straightforward setup process is arguably one of the most outstanding features on Cloudflare CDN. It will only take you about five minutes to get everything up and running.

After signing up to create an account, enter domain names, scan DNS record, review records, and save.

If you face any difficulty, take advantage of the Help link, which comes alongside each feature. It explains all the elements accordingly, to help you set up everything as fast as possible.

The overall interface, on the other hand, is pleasantly smooth and simple. All the functions are displayed clearly, and it shouldn’t take you long to learn your way around.

Cloudflare CDN interface

Cloudflare CDN Review: Pricing

Cloudflare comes in four distinct plans- Free, Pro, Business, and Enterprise.

Cloudflare CDN pricing

Free is the most popular for obvious reasons. In addition to unlimited bandwidth for cached files, it provides SSL support, data analytics, and website security.

Unfortunately, it’s considerably limited. Data analytics can only be updated after 24 hours, and the whole setup is not compatible with some browsers.

The Pro Plan is optimized for professional websites and blogs, at $20 per month for every site. Upgrading to this unlocks image optimization, mobile optimization features, and 15-minute updates for the traffic stats, among other functionalities.

Small and mid-sized businesses are better off with the Business plan, at $200 per month for every website. Apart from prioritized email support, it offers PCI compliance, plus advanced security and performance.

Finally, the Enterprise plan is built for large businesses with advanced security and performance needs.

Cloudflare CDN Review: Customer Support

A solid knowledge base, by now, has become pretty standard in the CDN space. And Cloudflare is no different. It’s sufficiently informative and well-categorized to help you navigate with ease.

If you need additional help, you are free to email the technical support team. Unfortunately, this is where it ends for Free and Pro plan users.

Prioritized email support is only available to Business plan users.

24/7 phone support, on the other hand, is exclusive to the Enterprise plan built for large businesses.

Bottom Line

Want to know the best part? Well, it has to be the fact that Cloudflare is not just a CDN solution. Its packages additionally come with optimized security features.

And, of course, we all love the fact that there’s a permanent free plan. It might have nothing outstanding to sneeze at, but it’s pretty commendable. Especially considering how rare such plans are when it comes to CDN solutions.

Overall, Cloudflare CDN is pretty decent for individuals, small businesses, and large enterprises. Who wouldn’t want to try out those 151 datacenters?

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The Ultimate Webflow Ecommerce Review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/webflow-ecommerce-review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/webflow-ecommerce-review#respond Mon, 18 Jun 2018 08:00:34 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=16506 “We see ecommerce as something that hasn’t had a lot of innovation” Stated Webflow’s chief technology officer, Bryant Chou. Now hold it right there! Why would he make such a claim? Hasn’t ecommerce been growing astronomically of late? I mean,…

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We see ecommerce as something that hasn’t had a lot of innovation”

Stated Webflow’s chief technology officer, Bryant Chou.

Now hold it right there!

Why would he make such a claim? Hasn’t ecommerce been growing astronomically of late? I mean, last time we checked the global retail ecommerce sales were expected to hit $4.5 trillion by 2021.

So what’s going on here?

One thing’s for sure. Developing tech continues to drive ecommerce growth. Quite exponentially, to say the least. With ecommerce platforms taking the center stage.

Of course, the numbers are impressive. But, have you ever felt that the industry could do a little bit better?  That we’re actually yet to achieve optimal growth?

Well, that’s what the team at Webflow believes. While many players in the industry continue praising developing tech, Bryant Chou says that we haven’t seen anything yet.

According to him, the bulk of online enterprises are built on old platforms that are progressively redundant in the mobile age.

As a result, here’s how they chose to respond…

They are diving right into the deep end. Webflow is dealing with the problem head-on. That’s right, they are now running their own ecommerce platform.

Now, make no mistake.  This is not an average Joe making a debut in an industry already experiencing cut-throat competition. They’ve already tested the shallow waters through general website building.

Webflow has been around the block since 2013, when it was launched by Chou along with Sergie Magdalin and Vlad Magdalin. It has been a prominent brand marketing itself as a visual CMS merging professional, code-free design functionalities with the user-friendliness of typical website builders.

This is the space that we’ve seen dominated by the likes of Wix and Weebly. But, Webflow continues to capitalize on a rather thoughtful strategy to discern itself from them. It essentially offers users a Photoshop-centric design environment for building their website.

And guess what? That has subsequently worked quite well, considering Webflow’s current user base of over half a million website owners.

So, of course, it makes all the sense in the world to use the same approach in yet another field- ecommerce.

They have even attracted quite a handful of proponents to their bandwagon. Fluid’s co-founder and chief experience officer Andrew Sirotnik, for instance, believes that Webflow is the answer to some of the small business needs that are yet to be met. He particularly emphasized that the age of one-size-fits-all ecommerce stores is long gone.

It turns out that I actually agree with him. At least to some extent.

So, of course, I was excited about Webflow’s launch of their ecommerce platform in March 2018. Sadly, we only have the Beta version. We are yet to get our hands on a full version.

But come to think of it, this systematic phase approach is the most feasible option for the ecommerce market. Because current needs are exceedingly diverse and seemingly evolving progressively.

That said, let’s address the elephant in the room.

Webflow ecommerce Beta version has indeed come with a plethora of notable functionalities. But are they any good?

I’ll help with the answer. By telling it all as it is- its features, elements, functions and overall usability.

So let’s fire away…

Webflow Review: The Best Ecommerce Features

Core Functionalities

For starters, Webflow might be using the term “ecommerce” quite often going forward, but don’t take it too literally. It is an ecommerce platform alright, but it’s also something more.

And everything has been broken down into six core functionalities:

  • Ecommerce is all about managing and growing online stores.
  • Editor deals with site editing features
  • CMS powers the whole content management framework.
  • Interactions provides a wide range of graphical features for animations.
  • Designer makes you an actual web designer without complex coding.
  • Hosting deals with domains and overall web hosting.

Quick Ecommerce Design

Webflow Ecommerce doesn’t keep you around navigating through the design grid. Setting up a custom and interactive online store is just as straightforward as working on typical websites.

Part of the reason is the fact that the platform isn’t embedded into a complicated coding engine or API. Consequently, you can pretty much rip any of your products from the catalog. Then bind it directly to any part of the site, including blog posts.

And the best thing about this is? Well, you don’t need a team of developers. Not even one.

Webflow becomes your principal developer, handling both complex and simple code lines in the background. Including auto-optimizing your ecommerce site for mobile.

Beta Version Primary Features

As the baby, I presumed that the Beta version would possibly come with very limited features. However, and rather astonishingly, it feels more complete and holistic than some of its elder competitors.

Its primary features include:

  • In-domain checkout
  • Comprehensive CMS for landing pages and blogs
  • Automatic fraud prevention
  • Third party invitation to inventory and fulfillment management.
  • Customizable receipts
  • Secure hosting with SSL
  • CMS-powered product listings
  • Automatic customs rules assessment and calculation of tax
  • Multi-currency support. More than 10 to be precise.
  • Customizable shipping rates and options

Features In The Pipeline

Well, you’d assume that that’s all there is for now. But Webflow is seemingly just getting warmed up.

Here are some more features in the pipeline, which should be rolling out pretty soon:

  • Integration with Amazon
  • Uploading of products through CSV
  • Digital products support
  • PayPal checkout
  • Additional checkout payment options
  • POS, marketing, shipping and tax integrations
  • Multi-language support
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Mobile inventory and order management.

Webflow Review: Pricing

It’s obvious, by now, that Webflow is an extensive platform serving a wide range of users at multiple levels.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This is a great thing overall. But, as we’ve seen with other platforms, it comes with one substantial downside- a rather complex pricing strategy.

However, here’s the interesting thing. Webflow’s pricing strategy is actually one of the simplest, most organized I’ve come across. There’s nothing confusing about it.

When you get to the pricing page, you’re greeted by three primary categories. All with refreshingly straightforward guidelines.

Hosting Only is meant for individuals seeking a single personal site:

  • Basic Hosting at $12 per month
  • CMS Hosting at $16 per month
  • Business Hosting at $36 per month

Then we have a category for designers and freelancers expecting to work on multiple projects:

  • Starter for free forever
  • Lite at $16 per month
  • Pro at $35 per month

And finally, they’ve also considered agencies and teams that are collaborating to design websites. A standard team should cost you $35 per month for every team member. But negotiable when you’re dealing with a large team.

webflow team pricing

Unfortunately, there’s nothing on the ecommerce side yet. However, going by these existing plans and their offerings, it’s undeniable that Webflow is competitively priced.

So expect a very interesting pricing schedule in the near future. For now, we can only guess.

Webflow Review: Customer Support

All things considered, Webflow comes with a rather simple set of tools. Needless to say, you might need some help before you finally learn the ropes.

Thankfully, there’s a comprehensive knowledge base with adequate guidelines on pretty much all the functionalities. There is also a decent collection of video tutorials on some of the rather complex elements.

So far, Webflow has been doing a good job at introducing its users to the new ecommerce platform. There’s an entire section of the site dedicated to neat animations explaining the whole concept.

If you feel a little chatty, you could check out its active community forum. Admittedly, a good place to share ideas and reach out to other like-minded individuals.

Then there are those serious glitches that might need additional assistance. Sadly, regular users can only get in touch with the customer support team through a web contact form. Webflow claims that their agents are available 6AM-6PM PST.

Subscribed users, on the other hand, qualify for priority support. 

Who Should Consider Webflow as an Ecommerce Platform?

So far, Webflow ecommerce is seemingly optimized for small businesses. Its tools are not advanced enough to handle mid-sized and large enterprises. Unlike its other side of general website building, which can comfortably serve large teams.

To be fair, however, it’s still too early to make a conclusive verdict. The baby is not even fully out of the womb yet.

We can only wait till it gains traction to make a more accurate conclusion. Anything is possible in the near future. It might even morph into something else altogether.

For now, we just sit, watch and test it out.

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IXOPAY Review: A Powerhouse White Label Payment Gateway https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/ixopay-review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/ixopay-review#respond Thu, 14 Jun 2018 08:00:48 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=16369 If you've ever wondered whether or not you're leaving money on the table with your current payment gateway, the answer is probably yes. The world of online payments is rather cluttered and filled with complicated information that makes it difficult…

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If you've ever wondered whether or not you're leaving money on the table with your current payment gateway, the answer is probably yes. The world of online payments is rather cluttered and filled with complicated information that makes it difficult for you to understand which rates are best for your company.

Sometimes you might be better off accepting through one payment processor when the customer is from India. On the other hand, a completely different processor might have lower rates for customers in the United States. In this IXOPAY review, we'll talk about how this revolutionary payment engine and enterprise gateway is designed to help you configure different payment routing strategies.

This way, you don't have to rely on one payment gateway like Stripe or PayPal. Instead, it routes different transactions through the most cost-effective options, cutting down on your transaction fees and keeping money in your pocket.

IXOPAY does quite a bit more than routing payments, as well. From beautiful, dynamic payment pages, to settlement handling and risk management, IXOPAY packs a considerable number of features into your payment structure, bringing you complete control and a full white-label solution for your business.

IXOPAY Review: The Best Features

We'll cover what IXOPAY calls “adapters” in the more detailed section below, since it's important to understand exactly what they do. In short, the adapters are crucial when it comes to saving money for your business, since they allow you to route transactions through different payment gateways. If you're interested in learning about this, adapters are outlined in-depth in the following section. For now, let's talk about the other IXOPAY features:

The Transaction Monitor

When working with IXOPAY, you'll be connecting to multiple acquirers and payment methods. This collection of adapters would make things rather complicated if it weren't for the IXOPAY transaction monitor. Every single transaction is logged here, so when a successful charge has gone through, it's shown on the dashboard, along with the amount and currency.

It also provides an in-depth view of the transaction and all of its metadata. The communications between merchants and payments providers are also revealed, along with stats for measuring transaction counts and volumes.

The Fee Management Engine

Let's say you have five adapters set up on your dashboard. That can be quite a bit to keep track of, so the fee management engine tracks the fees and costs for you. Every type of fee structure possible is calculated in real-time, making things less complicated with multiple fee structures like percentages, tier-based, or minimums.

PCI Compliant Storage

With IXOPAY, the merchant doesn't have to mess with PCI compliance, since it's all routed through the IXOPAY infrastructure.

Not only that, but IXOPAY adheres to the highest security standards when storing the most important data from your customers. What's great about the IXOPAY setup is that you're bound to improve your conversions and customer loyalty. The reason for this is because the secure data storage is much faster during the checkout process.

Risk Management

The IXOPAY dashboard has options for you to create your own merchant with default risk profiles for each one.

Risk checks are completed on all transactions, and you can see which risk checks are processed and if any questionable results come from each test.

Basic fraud checks are done, along with manual fraud detection parameters going above and beyond the usual refund, chargeback and money laundering checks.

Customizable Payment Pages

The dynamic payment pages from IXOPAY are completely white label and ready for your customizations. Change the language for all payment pages and forms. Style and code your payment page to match the branding you desire. Some beautiful templates are provided, and you can edit all of them with HTML.

Reconciliation

IXOPAY also offers some reconciliation settings. So, if a customer completes a chargeback and the refund has already been submitted, you're able to go in and get the chargeback returned. This is extremely important, since sometimes the customer gets two refunds, making it costlier for you.

How Do The Adapters Work?

With IXOPAY, you're able to route all payments through the payment provider of your choice using theirsmart routing engine. IXOPAY calls these payment providers “adapters.” In addition, other payment methods are included in the adapter category, such as acquirers and wallets.

Overall, IXOPAY offers several filters when configuring your payment processes. So, you would have the opportunity to decide which adapter the payment would go through if, say, a transaction was made from Europe, with a certain currency and with a specific type of credit card. All of these elements change how much in transaction fees your company would have to pay.

Therefore, IXOPAY assists in locating the best payment provider to route that transaction through, delivering the least costly option for your business.

So, let's say I'm selling shoes on my online store. A customer from Brazil orders a pair with an American Express credit card. Furthermore, the currency used is the Brazilian real. The location, credit card, and currency all play parts in how much your company's transaction fees are going to be.

So, IXOPAY decides which of your adapters (payment providers) has the best rates for that unique combination. For example, it might run through payment providers like Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, and AmazonPayments, eventually deciding that Authorize.net has the lowest transaction fee.

Therefore, you might decide that purchases made in certain regions should only go through one payment processor. The filters and adapters from IXOPAY let you go through and configure everything to make the most of your money.

Who Should Consider IXOPAY?

IXOPAY has products and services for PSPs and enterprise organizations. For the enterprise merchant, IXOPAY is best for when you'd like to consolidate all payments into one platform. The reason for this is because you're able to set your payment routing and minimize the transaction fees based on things like credit cards, currencies, and locations.

Smaller ecommerce stores won't find much need for IXOPAY, but enterprise companies can save thousands, if not millions of dollars, in fees per year. With the combination of risk management, payment routing, and security tools, IXOPAY is a must-have for enterprise ecommerce.

If you have any questions about this IXOPAY review, let us know in the comments below.

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Foxy Review: Simplifying eCommerce for Everyone https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/foxy-review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/foxy-review#respond Wed, 13 Jun 2018 08:00:53 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=16580 There are many eCommerce solutions and tools out there. Depending on your needs, you can choose to opt for a hosted or self-hosted platform. For some users, a hosted solution is a good idea. On the other hand, others might…

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There are many eCommerce solutions and tools out there. Depending on your needs, you can choose to opt for a hosted or self-hosted platform. For some users, a hosted solution is a good idea. On the other hand, others might need a self-hosted installable script. Foxy is one such eCommerce platform that allows you to quickly setup an eCommerce store and start selling online.

In this review, we will be taking a closer look at Foxy. Formerly known as FoxyCart, this particular eCommerce platform has been around for quite some time by now. But just how good is it? Read on to learn more about Foxy. 

Before going any further, let us first look at what Foxy has to offer and what makes it different from the other eCommerce platforms in its league.

Foxy: An eCommerce Solution That Just Works

Initially, Foxy began as a hosted eCommerce solution that went by the name of FoxyCart. With a range of premium plans, FoxyCart was fairly like Shopify and other hosted eCommerce platforms.

Foxy, however, is different. Instead of being a hosted solution, Foxy attempts to integrate with your existing Content Management System. In essence, Foxy lets your Content Management System handle your website and focuses solely on the eCommerce workflow.

Foxy Review: Simplifying eCommerce for Everyone

Here is how it works:

Understanding the Mode of Operation

Let us say, you have an existing website. You are currently hosting with a web hosting provider of your choice. Alternatively, you have built it using a hosted solution like SquareSpace or Wix. irrespective of the platform that your website is based on, Foxy can integrate with it.

Now, you already have existing content in the form of blog posts and pages, etc. furthermore, you have also integrated a range of production and marketing tools, such as MailChimp, Google Analytics, an affiliate management program, etc. But what if you wish to add an eCommerce store?

Foxy Review: Simplifying eCommerce for Everyone

This is where Foxy steps in. it leaves your current website data untouched — be it your blog or other content. Instead, it relies purely on the eCommerce aspect of things. Need to manage inventory? Got coupons for discounts? Recurring payments, checkout, shopping cart management, taxes, checking for fraudulent orders, etc. can be handled by Foxy with ease. This leaves you worry-free and you can focus purely on developing your content and promoting your eCommerce store.

Here are some of the external services that Foxy can integrate with:

  • Campaign Monitor
  • Drupal
  • WordPress
  • Wix
  • SquareSpace
  • AWeber
  • Amazon Web Services
  • QuickBooks
  • Mad Mimi
  • And more!

Beyond that, Foxy can also integrate with various payment gateways so that orders can be placed and processed seamlessly. This includes PayPal, Amazon Pay, 2Checkout, Apple Pay, BrainTree, Authorize.net, World Pay, Stripe, etc. Furthermore, Foxy also supports various cryptocurrency payment options. So if you wish to accept Bitcoin payments with ease on your eCommerce store, Foxy is the ideal pick!

Now that we have seen what Foxy can do, it is clear it does fit in the definition of a hosted eCommerce platform anymore. It is no longer a “do it all” solution. But what does that make Foxy for us?

Digging Deeper and Doing More with Foxy

For people running eCommerce websites and online merchants, Foxy serves the purpose of simplification. You would have come across various solutions that work seamlessly for a wide variety of tasks. For example, there are blogging platforms that can be used to create an eCommerce store, and vice versa. But intermingling the two does not always serve the desired purpose, does it?

Foxy Review: Simplifying eCommerce for Everyone

Let us take up an example. Say, you have a blog hosted on a shared hosting solution. Now, technically you can run an eCommerce store by adding a few plugins and extensions to your blogging platform, such as WordPress. But will your hosting be scalable enough to cope up with eCommerce? Considering the fact that more and more countries are now imposing compliance requirements on eCommerce stores, simply creating an eCommerce store is not enough.

But there is nothing to worry, because Foxy can do just that for you. You can still run your blog on the hosting structure and platform of your choice. However, your eCommerce pages such as shopping cart and checkout can be served via Foxy’s infrastructure. This means you do not have to overburden your blog with additional plugins for payment gateways, worry about fraudulent orders, security compliance for eCommerce, etc. Here is a brief summary of things are expected to work with Foxy:

You keep running your website or blog or even the store using the platform of your choice. This platform can be WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, anything that you prefer.

Once you have integrated Foxy into your website or blog, you can “outsource” the eCommerce features to Foxy. Checkout pages (including one page checkout methods), user management, product and inventory management, discounts, taxes, shipping rates and currency exchange rates — everything can be taken care of by Foxy.

In this manner, you can simplify your life by not worrying about various compliance measures and requirements that come associated with eCommerce management solutions. You will still be responsible for your own data and products, but you do not have to deal with the way online commerce works. Foxy handles that for you.

Pricing Structure

Foxy offers multiple pricing models that can suit everyone’s needs.

  • The Standard Plan is priced at $20 per month (or $15 per month, if paid annually). It includes the first 100 transactions per month, but charges 15 cents per transaction thereafter. Further, this plan may just not suffice for most eCommerce users — there is no custom SSL included. You will have to pay an additional $100 per year for custom SSL certificate. Naturally, this is an overkill as similar SSL certificates can be had for a lot lesser from other providers.
  • The Advanced Plan costs $300 per month (or $250 per month if billed annually). It offers first 100 transactions for free every month, and 5 cents per transaction thereafter. The better part is that a custom SSL certificate is included for no additional charge. Note that this plan comes with priority support, unlike the Standard plan.
  • For higher end users, there is an Enterprise plan option. This starts at $2000 per month. Features included are custom TOS, high volume processing, and more.

By the looks of it, Foxy does not seem like the cheapest option out there. However, considering the fact that the target audience includes users who wish to save their time by letting Foxy take care of eCommerce for their site, the pricing can be justified. With Foxy, you are paying for peace of mind and ease of use.

With that said, is Foxy worth the trouble?

Assessment of Foxy: The Good and Bad Parts

Foxy has a lot of potential in its own right. Considering the fact that it can integrate with various other Content Management Systems, Foxy can serve the needs of many people who might otherwise be relying on an existing software for managing their site. For instance, you may have built your website with Wix, but do not wish to use it to sell products online. Foxy is the apt solution in this case.

Another praiseworthy aspect of Foxy is that all the plans come with unlimited products and sales. In other words, you can add unlimited products, subscriptions, discount coupons, tax rates, even unlimited store managers or admins! There is no limit on the number of sales that you can generate or items you can sell. Unlike many other eCommerce solutions that limit the number of products or transaction on their lower tier plans, Foxy grants you complete freedom of growth.

Foxy Review: Simplifying eCommerce for Everyone

On the downside, however, the charges per transaction are not something everyone would like. In fact, the 100 or 1000 free transactions limit per month (based on the plan you opt for) is just not doable for many bigger eCommerce stores. While for smaller stores such limit will probably not be hit too often, most bigger online sellers will find that they are losing a part of their revenue per sale, even after paying a monthly subscription fee! This gives the impression that Foxy is eyeing only the smaller sellers who do not generate more than a few sales per month.

If you are bigger store owner and have thousands of transactions every month, Foxy may not suffice for your needs — unless you are comfortable paying a small fee per transaction.

Another noticeable downside for Foxy is that its developer documentation is not as good as that of other eCommerce solutions. It could have been more detailed, possibly with real word code solutions and examples.

Verdict: Is Foxy Meant For You?

Thus, it can be said that Foxy is, in essence, an eCommerce management tool rather than an eCommerce platform. It lets you manage and curate your online store. It takes the boring tasks of payment gateway management, order validity and authenticity checks, product validation, etc. away from you. Instead, you can safely focus on running and promoting your online store.

Foxy also offers PCI compliance. This makes it even more secure and provides an additional boost for online store owners and buyers that are looking for that added bit of security.

Now, should you consider using Foxy? Or will you be better off avoiding it?

Foxy can suit your needs if:

  • You need an eCommerce solution that plays well with most other third party software.
  • Or, you already have a website or blog in place along with a marketing strategy. You are only looking for an eCommerce management tool that works well with payment gateways, online transactions, etc.
  • You do not need to host your eCommerce tool on your own servers.

On the other hand, Foxy may not be suitable for you if:

  • You are looking for a solution that can be hosted by you.
  • Alternatively, you do not need to integrate with other solutions.
  • You have numerous transactions on your store every month and you would rather not pay the small transaction fee.

All said and done, an eCommerce platform is only as good as you make it. Foxy tags along well with your existing setup. It can be moulded to suit your needs. For folks looking for an ultimate eCommerce mechanism, Foxy should not be considered. But if you are in need of a tool that lets you sell online quickly and easily, Foxy is a commendable and reliable option.

Have you given Foxy a spin yet? Note that for developers, testing and developing sites to work with Foxy is free of cost. You need to pay only when you take your store live. So go ahead, give Foxy a try! Plus, if you need more help deciding which eCommerce platform is best for you, check out other reviews here.

And if you already are a Foxy user, how has your experience been? Share your views and thoughts with us in the comments below!

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MaxCDN Review: The Best CDN Solution for WordPress? https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/maxcdn-review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/maxcdn-review#respond Mon, 11 Jun 2018 08:00:31 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=16534 This MaxCDN review covers every little thing about the service- features, customer support, ease of use, pricing, and overall functionalities. It will not kill you. Or hurt you in any way. But waiting has got to be one of the…

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This MaxCDN review covers every little thing about the service- features, customer support, ease of use, pricing, and overall functionalities.

It will not kill you. Or hurt you in any way.

But waiting has got to be one of the most annoying things in today’s fast-paced world. No one wants to be kept waiting for anything.

Doubt it? Well, try being late to your next meeting. Each additional minute they’ll wait for you will probably feel like five minutes. You’ll be lucky if the meeting subsequently proceeds smoothly.

This phenomenon is so interesting that it blows your mind away when you come to think of it critically. Like, for instance, we’d rather accept a not-so-hot pizza than wait for ages to have a hot one delivered.

Maybe we’re just naturally impatient. Or it possibly has something to do with the fact that time is, by far, one of the most precious resources. You can never recover lost time. Once you spend it, it’s gone forever.

And you know what? The online community isn’t left out either.

Image credits: 

We acknowledge that internet speeds are not perfect everywhere. But still, people are not patient enough to sit through slow page load times.

You’ll spend loads of money on Google Ads. Then blow a couple more on cold prospecting. And invest quite a lot of time building a solid social media following. Only to lose the bulk of all that traffic right at your website’s doorstep.

All because it fails to load fast enough.

Your leads are simply not patient enough to hang around for ages, waiting for the main meal. You know, that juicy conversion funnel you have waiting right by the buffet table.

But hang on a minute. What amount of time are we talking about here? To be fair, everyone can afford to wait for a couple of seconds, right?

On paper, a couple of seconds seems negligible. But wait until you’re forced to stare at a blank screen for even five seconds. It feels like the whole world has suddenly stopped. And your fingers start itching to shift the pointer to another tab.

With that in mind, here’s a rather interesting fact…

The web is far from perfect when it comes to this. According to a research report published by Google earlier this year, it takes 22 seconds on average for a landing page to load.

Now, let that sink in for 22 seconds. Imagine waiting all that time as you stare blankly at a blank screen.

Chances are, you’ve rarely experienced this on websites. Because you’ve never been patient enough to wait through it all.

Certainly explains why Google also established that 53% of the traffic leaves if the page loading time is more than 3 seconds.

Well, I know what you’re possibly thinking at this point. That such disappointing statistics could have been generated after adding up websites based in slow internet zones.

In all fairness, that could be true. So why don’t we switch it up a little, and look at the areas with the McLarens, Ferrari’s, Lamborghinis, and Bugattis of internet traffic?

Here are four of the world’s greatest, factoring the average page load times in all the industries:

average page load times

Astonishing, right?

Essentially, you lose about a minute for every six to seven travel sites you access. Now, consider an entire day of scrolling the web, exploring multiple industries.

Yes. You’re dead right. This doesn’t just slide without consequences.

Aberdeen Group further extrapolated such figures and established a notable trend. Basically, every additional second of page load time loses you 7% of potential conversions, and 11% of the page views. Plus it drops the overall customer satisfaction rate by 16%.

load time impact

The result?

Extremely poor conversion rates, to say the least. By the fourth quarter of 2017, ecommerce sites globally were only converting 3.26% of their principal traffic.

average conversion rate

So, what can we do to reverse this?

Well, we could gang up and raise funds to boost internet speeds worldwide. But such a campaign would only get so far.

Or, you could simply minimize the size of your web pages. Overcompressing, however, could lead to a much poorer graphical interface. Besides, an average size of 2MB for web pages is already small enough.

average web page size

And that brings us to the third option. One that’s predominantly catching up with both online stores and personal websites.

The use of CDN.

MaxCDN Review: Overview

They say that the shortest distance between two points is always a straight line. Similarly, at a constant speed, the closest an object is to the destination, the less the travel time.

Now, let’s bring that concept closer to home.

The web is fundamentally a system of interconnected networks. Websites are held in servers all over the world. And fortunately, data pretty much moves in a straight line.

Delivery time, on the other hand, depends on speed and distance traveled. Unfortunately, you have limited control over the former. But the good news is that you can adjust the latter using the distance-time principle we’ve mentioned.

All things considered, that’s essentially the whole concept behind CDNs, otherwise known as Content Delivery Networks in full.

Instead of relying on one server, your website’s content is replicated and stored in multiple servers positioned at different locations. That way, your web traffic only accesses content from respective servers located closest to them.

The result? Well, much faster page load times. It really is that simple.

That part is easy. But where do you get the financial muscle and logistical capabilities of building and placing all those servers?

The secret is…

You don’t. There are multiple cloud-based CDN services that do this at a fee.

And one of the popular ones is MaxCDN.

Now, MaxCDN is not one of these new age CDN services that are seemingly sprouting up almost on a regular basis. It has been around since 2009, when it was founded in Los Angeles California.

Back then, CDN was a strategy mostly reserved for large enterprises. But MaxCDN came with a different approach. Of extending its services to even the smallest businesses.

This has subsequently driven its growth through the years in different parts of the world. It’s also a notable player in the U.S market, which is currently experiencing accelerated adoption of CDNs.

The overall efficacy of CDNs is especially fuelling the growth of that North American market, which is expected to hit $15.73 billion is 2020. Up from $4.95 billion in 2015.

But, is MaxCDN a part of this revolution? Is it any good to begin with?

I will help you establish that. This MaxCDN review covers every little thing about the service- features, customer support, ease of use, pricing, and overall functionalities.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

MaxCDN Review: Top Features

First things first.

MaxCDN operates more than 18 server locations, strategically placed in all the core traffic sources in the world. Americans love it because it has eight datacenters spread across multiple states, while Europe gets four, Asia six, and South America comes last with just one server.

MaxCDN servers

These servers usually hold static resources like JavaScript, CSS, video, and image files, among other data types.

For efficient content delivery, the service also comes with additional tools to optimize these elements. If your site is heavy on videos, for example, you’ll be pleased by its Video-On-Demand-Zone (VODZone) service.

Other critical features are fundamentally optimized to offer analytics, real-time control, and data security. This, among other things, makes asset purging instant regardless of the request source- your own custom app or the control panel.

SSL integration, on the other hand, is also delivered in real time. Including all corresponding functionalities.

Well, of course, you’ll still need to access your content logs after all that. Thankfully, MaxCDN’s log viewer allows you to do this through the command line interface, Control Panel, or API.

Then there’s this feature they call Raw Log to S3 bucket. It basically crawls through the system, compiling all the server responses from all your locations, then avails the results. Quite handy for overall analysis.

This is the part where you realize that hackers could also infiltrate and do the same thing. Because multiple server locations mean a wider data footprint. Pretty much translates to additional attack nodes.

Fortunately, MaxCDN knows this all-too-well. Consequently, the service comes with multiple security functionalities like HTTP Referrer, IP Whitelisting, OAuth, Secure Tokens, and Two-Step Authentications.

Collectively, they enable management of users and bots, plus control of access permissions when it comes to the control panel and overall content.

If these prove to be insufficient for your site’s needs, you can still proceed to advanced features. They provide additional security layers and boost integration of MaxCDN applications.

Other notable functionalities include:

  • Seamless WordPress integration with SuperCache plugins and W3 Total Cache.
  • All-inclusive, user-friendly Control Panel.
  • Compatibility with numerous CMSs, including OpenCart, PrestaShop, Magento, Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, etc)

maxcdn features

MaxCDN Review: Ease of Use

I’ll admit it. MaxCDN might seem complex at first. Especially to a first-time user. But everything becomes super simple and straightforward once you learn the ropes.

It operates by creating Zones, which are basically different content caches. A Pull Zone, for example, automatically pulls content you’ve chosen on the initial file request.

If you’re dealing with considerably large static files, a thoughtful way of uploading them to the CDN would be creating a Push Zone first.

Seems confusing? Well, worry not. Because the main dashboard further explains the whole idea behind every zone type.

And creating them shouldn’t be a problem at all. Because the process is actually as simple as typing a name and a corresponding URL.

Overall, zone creation should take less than a minute.

maxcdn interface

MaxCDN Review: Pricing

Let’s start with the negative point.

The bad news is that MaxCDN had a free-trial offer, which was eventually scrapped off. Instead, the service now comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. Quite unfortunate, to say the least.

The good news is that MaxCDN is reasonably priced, and everyone has been considered- small businesses, mid-sized enterprises, and large corporations.

It comes with three principal plans. Each with varying bandwidth allocations.

The Entrepreneur option is just ideal for startups and bloggers. It starts at $9 per month for 100GB of bandwidth for that period, then $39 per month for 500GB/month bandwidth, and finally $79 per month for 1TB of bandwidth.

The Professional plan, on the other hand, offers the cheapest package at $299 per month for 5TB bandwidth. The allocations subsequently increase systematically with higher corresponding prices, up to 25TB at $1149 per month.

Beyond that is the zone for advanced users, which is suited for large websites with significantly large traffic. This is where you get a negotiable Custom plan.

maxcdn pricing

MaxCDN Review: Customer Support

Admit it. We rarely come across services that have implemented a comprehensive customer support strategy. There’s always one channel missing from the list.

Well, MaxCDN has proven to be an exception. You can reach out to the technical team through email, phone, and live chat.

And you know what? They are available 24/7. Refreshingly pleasant, to say the least.

But you don’t have to take that route. You could alternatively take advantage of its extensive knowledge base. It’s composed of well-laid out setup guides, FAQs and developer resources.

Bottom Line

From what I’ve seen around the web, competition is increasingly stiff between CDN services. But MaxCDN is seemingly handling it quite well.

The bottom line is that it continues to optimize its services for all market levels- individual users, small businesses, and large enterprises.

Most importantly, it has a vast network of datacenters. Undeniably the most critical factor for CDN services.

If you’ve tried it out, feel free to post your opinion in the comments section.

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The Ultimate Guide to Magento Hosting https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-resources/magento-hosting-guide https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-resources/magento-hosting-guide#respond Thu, 07 Jun 2018 08:00:10 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=16315 Magento is a robust solution in the world of eCommerce. Many developers and store owners rely on Magento for selling their products online. If you are among such users, you might have spent some time figuring out the best possible…

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Magento is a robust solution in the world of eCommerce. Many developers and store owners rely on Magento for selling their products online. If you are among such users, you might have spent some time figuring out the best possible Magento hosting solution for your business.

While Magento’s requirements are not something extraordinary, not every web hosting provider can run a Magento installation equally well. As such, you need to bear certain special considerations in mind when selecting a Magento hosting provider for your website. 

In this article, we will be discussing such factors, tips and ideas that you must be aware of in relation to Magento hosting.

Getting Started with Magento Hosting

First, let us focus on the obvious and basic things. Irrespective of the size of your Magento store, your web hosting provider should offer the following features.

Security

Make sure your Magento hosting plan comes with security features of its own. Yes, you should make every attempt to harden and secure your website from hackers. But in terms of server security, the responsibility lies with your Magento hosting provider.

Essentially, your hosting provider should ensure that the server is running the latest software (say, operating system and control panels). Plus, there should also be DDoS protection in place, along with a decent firewall and anti-malware strategy. For a start, you can ask the following questions to your web hosting provider to assess their security attempts:

  • Do you run a server-side virus scanner?
  • Do you offer DDoS protection mechanism? If yes, is it at the hardware level or software level?
  • Do you have firewalls and Magento hosting related security features? The best one that you should look for is the ability to turn off or on specific PHP modules (most decent web hosts offer it at no extra charge).

Speed

Beyond that, speed is of utmost importance. No one likes a slow website. Plus, Magento websites in themselves can run slightly slower if they are not properly optimized. However, it is easy to pass on the blame to website configuration. What if the hosting server that you are on is overcrowded? It is a good idea to opt for web hosting providers that take extra care to run state of the art infrastructure so that their hardware is never overloaded or slow to respond.

It might be a good idea to ping the server IP in question or perform a traceroute to it. This will help you check for any latency issues that might affect page load times. Also, you should ask your Magento hosting provider about any server-side caching mechanism they are using. For Magento hosting environments, memCache or xCache are fairly popular. Note that this out of the box server-side caching applies primarily to shared or semi-dedicated hosting environments. It is often your own responsibility to setup a caching solution on self-managed servers (though your web host can guide you about which methodology to follow in this case).

Compatibility

Be sure to look at Magento hosting requirements and compare the same with the specifications offered by your web hosting provider. Before going any further, check for PCI compliance so as to ensure that your Magento store does not face any unwanted compliance issues.

Also, it is a wiser choice to look towards the future. PHP 5.x is already falling out of favor with more and more users making the shift towards PHP 7.x In fact, Magento 2.0 and higher recommends PHP 7.0 or higher anyway. Thus, check with your Magento hosting provider if they meet the latest compatibility guidelines.

Ideally, you should look for MySQL 5.6 or higher, Apache 2.x and PHP 7.0 or higher. Note that for servers that do not run Apache, but instead rely on NGINX or LiteSpeed, the requirements will need to be adjusted accordingly.

Technical Support

And what about support? The internet does not go on holidays. Neither should technical support, because things often tend to go wrong when you least expect them to. What if your website goes offline on a Saturday night? Or Christmas Eve? You would expect to find some decent quality of technical support from your Magento hosting provider, wouldn’t you? Thus, while sales and billing support can wait, technical support should be accessible even at odd hours.

Now, it might seem a little too much to ask for round the clock support if you are paying barely a few dollars per month for Magento hosting. This is where the saying “you get what you pay for” comes into play. It is a very smart investment to pay a little extra in order to receive quality support anytime of day that you might need it. Also, you do not have to insist on live chat and phone support — while these things are good to have, higher-end technical support is generally best served via email or tickets where you can share screenshots and describe your problem at length.

The Ultimate Guide to Magento Hosting

What Type of Magento Hosting Do You Need?

The options are plenty when it comes to Magento hosting. You can opt for a simple shared hosting package, or go for a full dedicated server. Alternatively, you can pick from something in between.

Based on your Magento store’s requirements, you will have to pick a Magento hosting plan accordingly.

Shared Hosting

In terms of Magento hosting, shared hosting rarely tends to do well. This is because unlike WordPress that can work seamlessly well in a shared environment, Magento stores can often outgrow shared memory allocations within a short span of time.

If you are just starting out, a shared package can do the trick for you. However, as the number of products on your Magento site grows, you will find shared hosting to be too restrictive to suit your needs. In that case, it will be a good idea to upgrade to a bigger and more powerful hosting plan.

Some Magento hosting providers offer a semi-dedicated hosting solution. Such plans are not really dedicated — instead, they are shared hosting plans but with bigger server resources. For example, if your shared hosting plan is offering 1 GB of RAM, and a dedicated server or VPS will come with minimum of 4 GB of RAM, your options are pretty straightforward. But what if your store is consuming only 1.5 GB of RAM? Neither will the shared hosting plan suffice, nor do you need a really dedicated server.

In such cases, a semi-dedicated or higher-end shared plan that offers 2 GB of RAM (and likewise higher allocation of other resources) can do the trick for your Magento website.

Dedicated Servers

A dedicated hosting server, as the name suggests, offers all the resources to your account. In other words, you get access to the entire server and can allocate resources as per your needs. Such hosting solutions are often used only by very busy or higher-end Magento websites.

For all practical purposes, a small or medium-sized Magento installation will not need to use a dedicated server. While such servers do give you a lot of resources and memory allocations, you also need to be wary of things such as server security and updates. Many people opt for web hosting providers that take care of server-side management for them, albeit for a special fee.

If you feel that a dedicated server is an overkill for your needs, and a shared hosting package is too little, a VPS is what you might be looking at.

Virtual Private Servers (VPS)

A Virtual Private Server is not an entire dedicated server in its own right. Instead, it is a hosting setup that comes with a virtualization layer that allows sysadmins to separate one user’s resources from that of another. In other words, by creating virtual servers within a server, the web hosting provider can provide you with better resources than a shared hosting environment. At the same time, you do not have to pay the high price of a dedicated server since you are only using a virtual part of the server, not the full thing.

Most Magento hosting solutions tend to land somewhere in the VPS bracket. This is due to the fact that if your store has more than a few products, shared hosting cannot do justice to it. On the other hand, a dedicated server is not really needed and can be a huge financial strain. In such cases, a VPS can simply be the perfect Magento hosting solution. You can choose the exact amount of disk space, bandwidth and memory that you need. Plus, as your Magento store grows, your VPS can also be scaled up easily.

However, the concepts of server security and software updates apply to VPS as well. This is where you need to ask your yourself another vital question: managed or unmanaged?

Managed Hosting or Unmanaged Magento Hosting

The word “management” here, to be clear, does not refer to management of your Magento installation or store in itself. Instead, it refers to the actual software that is being run on the given web hosting setup. Say, you are running a VPS with CloudLinux and cPanel for your Magento hosting needs. Now, management of server would refer to ensuring that CloudLinux and cPanel as well as the overall server are in good health. The Magento site in itself will still be your responsibility.

Your Magento hosting provider should be able to offer you server management services for a monthly fee. Alternatively, you can higher any server management agency for the same task.

On the other hand, if you are technically capable, or do not have the required level of funds to pay for management services, and you have the required amount of time for the job, you can manage your server yourself. However, it is worth noting that while the hosting industry uses the term “unmanaged”, it is basically and practically a self-managed server. If you fail to take server management seriously and pay less attention to it, your website might be at risk of getting compromised as outdated software can pose a security threat to your data.

Conclusion

Thus, we now have learned a fair deal about Magento hosting. Basically, we need to bear the following in mind when opting for a Magento hosting package:

  • Server speed
  • Security methodology
  • System software and compatibility with Magento
  • Availability and quality of technical support

Once we have considered everything, we also need to look at the nature of hosting plan that we need. Depending on the size of our Magento store and the amount of traffic that it receives, we can opt for either shared, or semi-dedicated, or dedicated hosting. A VPS can be a good choice if we do not wish to invest in a dedicated server (or do not need one) but have outgrown shared hosting.

Now that we have learned what to look for in Magento hosting, we just need to find the perfect hosting provider. BlueHost is a popular name in this field.

Which web host do you use for your Magento hosting needs? Share your views in the comments below!

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OpenCart Review: Close to Free Open Source Platform for Experienced Developers https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/opencart-review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/opencart-review#respond Mon, 04 Jun 2018 08:00:03 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=16251 In an age of subscription-based ecommerce platforms and website builders, sometimes it's nice to have a solution that's free. When you look at an open source option like OpenCart, that's exactly what you receive. It's open for free download, you're able…

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In an age of subscription-based ecommerce platforms and website builders, sometimes it's nice to have a solution that's free. When you look at an open source option like OpenCart, that's exactly what you receive. It's open for free download, you're able to find your own hosting, and upgrade without any payments. The reason we like that so much is because many open source platforms try to get you with yearly upgrades.

On the other hand, you have “packaged” solutions like Shopify and Bigcommerce, where you're paying a monthly fee without any real ownership of your website. Well, OpenCart is far from perfect, but it's a nice online store builder if you truly want to keep your costs low and boost your customization options. In this OpenCart review, we'll talk about the best features, along with those we don't like that much. In addition, we can dive into things like any additional fees and the customer support.

If you're interested in trying out OpenCart, I highly recommend you check it out. It's completely free to download. However, you will find that development skills are almost always required.

It also works similar to WordPress, where you receive the core OpenCart product, then typically expand upon it with the help of extensions. Many people enjoy this model, because you're able to pick and choose which extensions you utilize. However, you might also end up spending a decent amount of money depending on how many extensions you require.

That said, keep reading this OpenCart review to figure out if it's the right ecommerce platform for you.

OpenCart Review: What We Like Most About It

OpenCart delivers quite well when talking about its collection of extensions. Since so many developers are working on making these extensions, you have a wide range of add-ons to integrate with your store. The marketplace is filled with thousands of themes and extensions for things like product feeds, reports, shipping methods, and payment gateways. The greatest part of the marketplace is that the majority of extensions are made for ecommerce, as opposed to a platform like WordPress where you find plugins for regular websites as well.

Combine the extensions with the powerful code access and you have a solid package for customizing your site. In short, developers will find OpenCart incredible to work with, seeing as how they can construct any type of site they want without many limitations. In addition to that, business people are able to scale up their businesses quicker, as opposed to sticking with a platform with only some themes, add-ons and coding options.

We also enjoy the fact that the dashboard is simple enough to understand for most users. It certainly helps to have development knowledge when making a site with OpenCart, but at least anyone can move around the dashboard and learn about its capabilities without much training.

Finally, the best part of OpenCart is the price. As mentioned before, it's a completely free, open source ecommerce platform, with a download button right on the website. You're not asked to submit your email address or anything. Furthermore, OpenCart doesn't require you to spend any monthly or yearly fees for upgrades or maintenance. Paid extensions are a different thing, but for the base product, there's not much of an investment required.

OpenCart Review: What We Don't Like

Although many see this as a benefit, the extensions might be annoying to some. The main reason this would be the case is if you're more interested in a full package right out of the box. OpenCart isn't that package. It's actually rather lightweight, which means you'll either have to code in your own customizations or figure out combinations or extensions to make your site run to its full potential. Therefore, you may have to pay for several extensions along the way.

Another cause for concern is the fact that you typically need development knowledge to make OpenCart work for you. The good news is that there's plenty of information scattered around the internet to learn about OpenCart yourself. You're also able to find many easy-to-use extensions, blog posts, documentation, and webinars guiding you through the OpenCart world. However, the average OpenCart user is going to be skilled in PHP and other programming languages. Therefore, a beginner, or even intermediate developer may have a tough time when trying to configure a website and scale it up quickly.

Finally, this is an open source, self-hosted platform. Although this provides more control over your site, you have to complete many tasks yourself. For example, you're required to go out and find your own hosting and manage your website as the years pass. In addition, there isn't much direct customer support from OpenCart, so you're left completing your own research, sifting through documentation, and chatting with other users in the forums.

OpenCart Review: The Best Features

While going through the admin area, storefront, and design module, it's easy to pick out some of the best features from OpenCart. The core software is lightweight, so we're not talking about a gigantic list of features. However, that extension marketplace is where you'll really find the good stuff.

For now, let's explore some of the top features from OpenCart:

  • Web design options from third-party vendors – You're able to grab templates from places like Theme Forest. There are also plenty of themes and templates in the OpenCart marketplace.
  • Support for multiple languages and currencies.
  • An unlimited number of products.
  • Options for running multiple stores from one admin.
  • Backup and restore options.
  • Support for digital product selling.
  • Filters to guide your customers.
  • A shipping calculator and guest checkout.
  • Recurring payments for memberships.
  • Reviews and ratings for your products.
  • A system that allows for coupons and discounts.
  • Powerful search engine optimization.
  • Reports that show you everything from sales to customers.
  • Support for over 1,000 payment gateways. A few dozen are included with the software, but thousands of other extensions are available.

OpenCart Review: Pricing

In my opinion, the pricing for OpenCart is pretty solid. It's easy to get tricked into thinking that an opensource software is free, but there are always some extra fees you have to consider. In terms of OpenCart, it does a good job of cutting out any download or upgrade fees. You're also not required to pay for customer support (even though there isn't much of it).

Since you're self-hosting your online store, this means you have to find hosting, an SSL certificate, and a domain name yourself. These cost money and are required to run OpenCart.

Some of the OpenCart extensions are listed for free, but many of them have price tags. For instance, the Stripe Payment Gateway extension is currently listed at about $60.

Side Note: OpenCart does have a newer cloud-based ecommerce solution (similar to Shopify or Bigcommerce). Therefore, you have the option to pay a monthly fee and get similar features as you would with the local download. The cloud version includes a free trial for 14 days, access to direct support, themes, extensions, and included hosting. However, the monthly pricing starts at around $33 and goes up to $200. These prices may fluctuate, since they're listed in British Pounds.

OpenCart Review: Customer Support

If you're considering the cloud version of OpenCart, the direct customer support is pretty solid. However, customer service for the standard OpenCart download is far from that. Don't get me wrong, the internet is filled with information about OpenCart. The OpenCart website also has tons of documentation, video tutorials, a forum, and a blog.

The OpenCart forums are incredibly active, so you're able to chat with people who know what they're doing. The only problem is that a newer user might have trouble fitting in since they're probably learning more than contributing.

Since OpenCart is still a somewhat small company (and you get the software for free,) it doesn't have a huge direct support team. However, the company does list a phone number and a web ticket module for trying to get answers to your problems.

If you'd like to guarantee dedicated support, a monthly fee of $99 per month is available. You can also opt for a $99 one-time fix if it's something that you only need once. The $99 per month package sounds a little pricey to me, but the $99 one-time fee isn't bad if you don't plan on having too many problems.

Who Should Consider OpenCart as Their Ecommerce Platform?

OpenCart does lots of things right. It has an intuitive interface, the dashboard is clean, and users don't have to pay much to get started. Furthermore, the customization options are plentiful.

However, I can't imagine recommending OpenCart to anyone besides an experienced developer. The cloud version should be easier to understand than the local software, but that's not a guarantee.

Otherwise, if you're a developer with experience in PHP, OpenCart looks like a wonderful platform for you. You're able to discuss topics with other developers in the forums, and you have full access to customization tools not found anywhere else.

If you have any questions about this OpenCart review, let us know in the comments section below.

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Ucraft Review: A Wonderful Mix of Creativity and Ecommerce https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/ucraft-review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/ucraft-review#comments Wed, 30 May 2018 08:42:20 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=16228 Sometimes you want more than the standard eCommerce website look. Imagine if every website had the same layout as Amazon. That wouldn't be that intriguing, now would it? Luckily, some ecommere platforms are trying to move past the standard eCommerce…

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Sometimes you want more than the standard eCommerce website look. Imagine if every website had the same layout as Amazon. That wouldn't be that intriguing, now would it? Luckily, some ecommere platforms are trying to move past the standard eCommerce build and allow for you to get far more creative than what we've seen in the past.

For instance, Ucraft is an excellent solution if you're more interested in making a visual eCommerce site, with artsy portfolios, beautiful templates, and ecommerce tools made for all skill levels. In this Ucraft review, we'll talk about how Ucraft has some excellent pricing plans, along with unique features for designing an online store with more visual appeal.

In addition, you'll learn why Ucraft is one of the best options if you're selling creative items like photographs, music, eBooks, or art. The portfolio module from Ucraft does a great job of bringing together all of your products in one gallery.

We also enjoy Ucraft for regular online businesses, since there's no better way to tell your story than by making it fun and artsy for the visitor.

If this sounds interesting to you, keep reading the Ucraft review to learn more about its features and the pricing involved.

Ucraft Review: The Best Ecommerce Features

Options for Selling in Several Places

The online store is not the only place to sell your products through Ucraft. In fact, the platform has powerful social integrations, which allow for selling on Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and more.

Amazing Ecommerce Templates

The ecommerce templates get the ball rolling when starting your website. Quite a few elements are already included, and you can filter down to make sure you're only choosing ecommerce templates. I like the selection, since it many of them cater to creative companies and niche markets like musicians and artists.

Free Landing Pages

The landing pages are free, and you receive several landing page templates to choose from. This is a huge advantage, since all online stores need landing pages. This helps you configure some beautiful pages to link to from your advertisements. Therefore, you don't have to spend any extra money on a completely separate landing page program.

A Secure, Simple Site With Great SEO

Each block in the drag and drop builder is editable and easy to understand. You can change around colors, fonts, and other elements. It's easy to integrate with services like PayPal and Eventbrite, while also adding effects that would typically require CSS knowledge.

Ucraft Review: Pricing

What's interesting about Ucraft is that quite a few products and services are offered for free. For instance, the first pricing plan is free, and it gets you a landing page for selling a product or service. In order to build a complete website you need to sign up for one of the full pricing plans, but they're still quite affordable. Some of the other free options include a logo maker, which is great for getting your branding under control without having to pay a designer. The blog and designer tools are also free, along with SEO features and some amazing templates for launching your landing page/storefront.

Since you're most likely running a full online store, I'm assuming you'll also want to sign up for that. A standard website goes for $6 per month, but there's not any ecommerce support. However, the pricing is still solid once we get into the ecommerce-supported plans:

  • Ecommerce – $13 per month for a custom domain name, 50 products, 0% transaction fee, over 70 payment and shipping methods, multi-currency support, SEO for products, payment and order management, real-time tracking, and unlimited storage.
  • Pro – $31 per month for everything in the previous plan, support for 1,000 products, a max product size of 1GB, unlimited storage, discount coupons, volume discounts, invoices, a store management app, wishlists, favorites, tax exemptions, and reverse VAT charging.
  • Unlimited – $60 for everything in the previous plans, unlimited products, a max product size of 10GB, and support for selling on eBay.

Keep in mind that these are the monthly rates after you pay for a year in advance. You also have the opportunity to pay on a monthly basis, but the long-term costs are higher.

As you can see, the pricing for ecommerce is rather competitive compared to many other platforms we've reviewed. I also like the 0% transaction fees, which mean you don't have to worry about extra expenses after already paying the monthly fee to Ucraft.

Ucraft Review: The Customer Support

Ucraft seems to cover most of the bases when it comes to customer support. Simply starting off on its website, I noticed you can chat with a customer support rep through the live chat module.

The main way you get support from Ucraft is through its support team email address. There doesn't seem to be a phone line, but the ticketing system from Ucraft works well.

Ucraft also has an impressive blog where you learn from tutorials and other articles. Some of the topics include how to boost your SEO, making your website memorable, and increasing sales on a tight budget.

Finally, the Ucraft Help Center is the knowledge base for finding solutions to all of your problems. The articles are broken down by product, so you can find detailed information about the logo maker, elements, the dashboard, and more. Needless to say, Ucraft does a nice job with support.

Who Should Consider Ucraft as an Ecommerce Platform?

Ucraft offers a free landing page and logo maker. It also has an ecommerce website builder for $13 per month. After that, you have several packages to upgrade to.

Considering Ucraft also provides some beautiful templates and the coveted portfolio layout, it's an easy recommendation to more creative people and businesses that want to sell items like photos and art.

I also like it for small to mid-sized businesses, since you're able to make your brand look more unique, and you don't have to break the bank to do so. It's also nice since you don't have to be a coding expert, since the drag and drop builder is there to help you out.

If you have any further questions about this Ucraft review, let us know in the comments below!

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CS-Cart Review: A Solid Self-hosted Platform with Tricky Pricing https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/cs-cart-review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/cs-cart-review#comments Mon, 28 May 2018 09:00:12 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=16062 With CS-Cart, you receive a self-hosted ecommerce platform with marketplace functionality, excellent design tools, and a wide variety of marketing features. Started in 2005, CS-Cart is part of the Simtech conglomerate, and it's been known as a solid solution for those…

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With CS-Cart, you receive a self-hosted ecommerce platform with marketplace functionality, excellent design tools, and a wide variety of marketing features. Started in 2005, CS-Cart is part of the Simtech conglomerate, and it's been known as a solid solution for those who want to sell on a self-hosted platform.

CS-Cart is great for designing, and you may have the opportunity to keep your costs low (since you only pay once for the downloadable software). However, there are some add-ons, upgrades, and customer support fees that you may end up paying for. Keep reading our CS-Cart review to learn more.

CS-Cart Review: The Pricing

The CS-Cart pricing is a double-edged sword. Since it is a downloadable ecommerce software, you're only paying a one-time fee to gain access to the software. We like this model compared to Shopify or Bigcommerce, since you're not getting looped into a monthly payment plan. However, this one-time fee doesn't include expenses like hosting, SSL certificates, and any web design assistance you require. This is no different than working with WordPress, but there are some additional yearly payments needed for upgrading your software on a consistent basis.

These payments aren't required, but I would assume that most serious businesses would at least want to receive the most recent updates every once-in-awhile.

The upgrade pricing is a little confusing, since CS-Cart actually gives you free updates for the first year. However, you need to extend that upgrade subscription plan before the first year passes in order to keep your rates a little lower. Here's how it works:

  • CS-Cart – $110 per year if you extend the subscription before the year ends. $160 per year if you extend after that.
  • CS-Cart Ultimate – $110 per year if you extend the subscription before the year ends. $160 per year if you extend after that.
  • Multi-Vendor – $245 per year if you extend the subscription before the year ends. $385 per year if you extend after that.
  • EBay Add-on – $45 per year if you extend the subscription before the year ends. $65 per year if you extend after that.

Service packs and security patches are all free throughout your subscription.

The only time you'll have to pay a monthly fee for a cloud-based solution is if you opt for the Enterprise version. The plan requires you to contact CS-Cart, so there's not much to say about the pricing.

The Software Pricing

Now that we've gotten past the upgrade fees, you probably want to know what the actual software is going to cost you. This part of the equation is pretty straightforward:

  • CS-Cart – $385
  • CS-Cart Ultimate – $865
  • Multi-Vendor – $1450

You can learn more about how each plan varies here.

CS-Cart Review: The Best Features

Support for Over 70 Payment and Eight Shipping Options

From PayPal to 2Checkout, the payment gateway solutions are reputable and expansive. This compares well to ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce and Shopify, so you're able to choose the payment gateway that works best for your company and not get restricted to one or two.

In addition, eight shipping methods are provided, so you have the choice to go with ones like DHL, FedEx, UPS, and USPS. The reason we like these partnerships so much is because you want to ensure that your transactions are secure and that products get to your customers without any hassles. With reputable partnerships like these, you shouldn't have any problems.

A Nice Drag and Drop Editor

Several pre-installed themes are already provided to you when starting with CS-Cart. However, you also have the option to find another theme in the CS-Cart Marketplace. Yes, you'll end up spending more money when getting a new theme, but most of them look really nice, and it's no different than grabbing a paid theme for WordPress or Shopify.

After that, the design comes easy for most people, even if you're a beginner. CS-Cart has many tools for customizing your website, but the most impressive is the drag and drop editor. This means that you don't have to mess with any coding. There's also a standard, visual content editor, which is great for making quick adjustments to logos, fonts, and colors.

Finally, you do have access to the HTML and CSS, so if you have experience, or you'd like to hire a developer, you can customize your website however you desire.

A Clean, and Intuitive Admin Panel

If you're familiar with WordPress dashboard, you should be just fine working with CS-Cart. The same goes for Shopify familiarity. I might even argue that the CS-Cart dashboard has less of a learning curve than some of the others I just mentioned. It's a beautiful control panel where you're able to manage your store from one place. It has a content management system for adding information to your blog, along with SEO tools for boosting your pages. I also enjoy the fact that you can edit every element of your website right from the dashboard. There's nothing confusing about it. If you do run into some problems, the CS-Cart documentation is there to help.

A Site That You Actually Own

Many people enjoy the idea of self-hosting with a SaaS solution like WordPress. It basically means that you own the entirety of your website, instead of renting the platform with a solution like Shopify. You don't have to worry about the monthly fees going up, since you're paying for one software and that's it. Now, CS-Cart isn't exactly like WordPress, because you still might be paying for upgrades and customer support. However, some companies might opt to skip out on these payments to save money.

Some other reasons it's nice to own your entire site is because you have full control over the code, you know the security is going to be top-notch, and you're also able to speed up your website and improve SEO without any problems.

Powerful Product Selling

The product options from CS-Cart are plentiful and flexible. You have the option to list images, weight, and prices for all products. You can also track your product inventory based on the product variants. Selling digital items is no problem, and you can combine both digital and physical products in one store.

Along with bulk imports, a tax calculator, and a single page checkout, CS-Cart looks good in the product department.

Marketing and Conversion Prowess

It's tough to cover all of the marketing features in one article, but you can look forward to all of the following:

  • Integrations with email marketing tools like MailChimp.
  • Bundling features.
  • Abandoned cart functionality.
  • Promos and discounts.
  • On-sale listings.
  • Best Seller listings.
  • Product ratings and reviews.

CS-Cart Review: Downsides

We'll talk about the quality of customer service in the Customer Support section below. For now, we want to outline how that customer support works, and why it's considered a downside. Most of the time when you pay for a software or service the customer service is included for free. That's not entirely the case with CS-Cart.

CS-Cart customer service runs on a points system. You receive 50 credits for free, which can be used to contact the customer support team and get assistance. CS-Cart states that the number of credits used each time depends on the amount of time and how difficult the process is. You can see some examples here. In my opinion, it's a little ridiculous that you have to worry about spending credits to speak with a representative. Not only that, but sometimes you contact customer support and you could end up spending the majority of your credits.

After that, you have the option to purchase more credits. Here's the payment setup for that:

  • 25 credits – $45
  • 50 credits – $85
  • 100 credits – $165
  • 200 credits – $295

So, access to customer support is definitely a downside.

Another reason you might consider avoiding CS-Cart is because of the yearly update fee. These aren't exactly hidden charges, but you end up spending more money than you would initially expect from a downloadable, self-hosted software. The interface is solid, and you can make a wonderful website from the platform, but I wouldn't see it as the least expensive ecommerce platform.

CS-Cart Review: Customer Support

As mentioned in the Downsides section, customer support is only provided when you pay a certain number of credits from your account. 50 free credits are provided to you, but you need to purchase more once they run out. Furthermore, not every interaction with customer support costs the same number of credits.

Besides the cost, CS-Cart customer support is quite impressive. They'll help with development, answer questions about code modifications, and offer assistance in getting your site launched. You can read the blog for ideas on design and go to the customer forums to see what other users are talking about.

CS-Cart provides an email address and phone line for chatting with representatives. You can also find all sorts of documentation, user guides, developer guides, and a full help desk with articles on support materials. CS-Cart also has social media pages where you can follow along and learn about updates and new resources.

Who Should Consider CS-Cart?

I like CS-Cart best for those who would like a self-hosted ecommerce platform. There are plenty of benefits to this setup, since you're able to maintain full control of your site and the costs can be kept lower as long as you're not paying for constant updates or customer support.

Therefore, it seems like a great product for those who are willing to complete their own research instead of reaching out to customer support all of the time. CS-Cart is a solid choice for experienced developers, but it's still not bad for beginners.

If you have any questions about this CS-Cart review, let us know in the comments.

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