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Web Site Services

A Guide To Selecting The Right Shopping Cart For Your Site.

Jumping into the internet world takes a lot of pre-planning.  Where do I go, what do I research, what do I need to look for, what do I need to watch out for.... All of these are questions that we can answer.  We've compiled a list of shopping carts out there and are putting out the blunt facts about each.  It's not a biased opinion and it's not intended to put a negative light on any cart out there.  This is valuable information from those who have years of experience in the web design and web hosting field.  We've seen a lot in the past 12 years in this field - good and bad.  We're passing along our experience in hopes to save you a lot of money, time and frustration.  (Coupon code info below)

Agora Cart:  This cart is written in cgi.  It's a good cart, but not for the novice.  It's very basic and is simple for the site visitor to process through.  This cart does look nice and clean on a site when created by an experienced designer.  You would need a designer with cgi experience to create a custom template and setup the cart which is all edited through the code.  There is no admin interface with this cart.

DIY Shoppes:  This cart is like several others online using the Mals-e processor.  It has an admin interface where you can add all your products, create sales, coupons, turn items to out of stock and so on.  It is search engine friendly.  The template itself is easy to setup with code inserts and duplicates itself throughout the site for you.  So you only need a one-page design!  The best part is this cart is only sold by license at a one-time fee of 49.99.  The license fee is sold to you and not rented out to you.  Those companies that rent this cart, buy the license up front at 49.99 and charge you 12.95+ per month making up their license fee and a whole lot more.  We install this cart for free for our hosting clients who are also Mom Pack Members - just ask.

DIY Shoppes Deluxe: Newly released with all of the features listed above with some exciting additions.  This cart offers added bonuses such as a built in sitebuilder that comes with 32 pre-installed web templates that you can use.  Many added features such as a gift registry, affiliate capabilities, wholesale options, global updates and much, much more.  This cart is a one-time license fee of $99.99 and even has a monthly payment option for twelve months to cut down on the out of pockets.  You can check out the demo for yourself at

Zen Cart: Awesome cart!  It is written in php, but don't let that scare you.  The admin interface is extensive and can look overwhelming at first, but this is a very stable shopping cart and highly recommended for those that want something good, capable and best of all... it's free.  You would need a designer with php experience to create a custom layout for you.  The included layout is very generic, but is useable.  The features are fantastic and is everything you'd need for ecommerce online.  The Zen cart developers are very good at releasing the security updates that you need.  This cart is a one-click install from your hosting control panel if you choose to host with us.

Wahm Shoppes:  There are many people online using this option, but even more that are unhappy and those are the ones that beg to get out of the trap.  This cart uses host-owned processor to run the cart (restricting you from leaving) and is promoted with fluff words like "easy, simple, instant, online tonight, for the wahm" and so on.  The url strings that you have to deal with are a search engine dead-end nightmare.  No one ever mentions that during signup and you end up spending hours getting everything just right only to find out you cannot make a backup copy of your site at all.  Everything that you pay for is simply rented and you are completely dependent on one guy not losing all your data.  We have found that the only ones promoting this cart option online are those that are given free hosting strictly to refer others or want you to click through their link to signup so they earn a buck and certainly are not thinking about your success online or they wouldn't do this.  This cart is also promoted under the name DIYestores with even more fluff words to bait you.

OsCommerce:  Another very good cart written in php.  It does have great capabilities and also a featured packed add-on called CreLoaded.  The admin interface is extensive and may seem overwhelming, but well worth looking at.  The main concern would be the difficulty in editing the included design and would require hiring a designer with php experience to create a design you would like.  This cart is not as stable as the Zen cart and is a little buggy at times especially when you start adding some of the add-ons that are out there.  This cart is a one-click install from your hosting control panel if you choose to host with us.

Yahoo Stores:  A template driven shopping cart.  It's easy to create and easy to maintain.  But, that comes with a price.  For 10 items in a store, it will cost you a $50 setup fee and $19.99 per month and also a 2% transaction fee on all your sales.  They will process everything for you, but why?  You can do all of that yourself.  You cannot make a copy of your site - yahoo owns what you create.

Mals-e:  You can create your site design by yourself and use Mals-e as your processor.  If you have html knowledge or are using a sitebuilder, you can do this!  You would setup your free account with Mals, enter your information, add your products and copy/paste the codes into your web site. 

Paypal Cart:  This is a quick and easy option for those that want to do it all themselves as well.  You can use a sitebuilder online or any html editor that you may have.  You would login to paypal, enter your product details and basically copy/paste each item over into your site.  Remember, this cart is manual.  So every time you have a product out of stock, you have to remember to remove it.  You do not have a sale-maker, coupon options, etc.  That costs additional at another site as an add-on.  We do not recommend using their Virtual Terminal.  It's quite pricey especially when you can get the same for a lot cheaper.  We show you how under "Merchant Account" if you choose to have your own.

In a nutshell:  There are many shopping carts available online.  The costs can be anywhere from free to $10,000 and we didn't even evaluate the expensive ones for you.  Most important is to find out if you own the cart or not.  If you cannot download a FULL backup of your cart and web site, look at another option.  It is VERY important to own your cart and not be surprised one morning when you logon to your site and find that the company that owns your cart or both - is gone.  It's happened  many times before from even places that have been online for years. 

From the search engine ranking aspect, unless you plan to only self promote your site and skip the search engines altogether, you'll want to stay away from a wahm shoppe.  We know how exciting it is to 'open shop' online.  Don't let that excitement distract you from getting trapped into something you'll later regret. 

It is also very important to make your site a portion of your site and not the entire site.  Meaning, if you are using the zen cart or oscommerce, be sure to install it in a subdirectory or folder on your site called something like /cart/ or /shop/.  This way you can optimize your site accordingly.  This way, you can have your site and then your shopping area.  You can match your zen cart's design to your site or your zen cart to your site so they both look very similar.  If you do this, you'll thank yourself later. 

If you do plan to use a sitebuilder built into your web host and use one of the cart options from above that allows you to copy/paste products into it, make sure that you own what you create.  We've seen some real horror stories happen when people use a sitebuilder only to find out that the web host shut down business and their entire site is gone.  Or their web host starts having a lot of server issues and they cannot take anything to another host.  If you pay for a sitebuilder and shopping cart all-in-one and did not buy a license, without even looking I can tell you that you do not own your web site.  To run your business you must stay with that host.  Any good business person knows it's not a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket! Protect yourself!

We're always available to answer any of your questions.  If you are looking for a web designer, we have a long list of many talented designers that would be happy to give you a quote!

Best of luck to you and your business.
The Mom Pack & The Design Shoppe Staff


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