While we can help develop and provide custom designs for a number of shopping carts, we would definitely recommend Magento as the best solution for developing your ecommerce site.
Magento is a remarkably flexible ecommerce platform that is trusted by world leading brands and while there is an Enterprise Edition available, aimed at large corporations; it has an open source version, the community edition that is probably the most popular shopping cart on the internet.
The community edition is generally all that is needed for most SME’s as it has enough power and versatility to get the job done form most online sales requirements straight out of the box.
Even better – as it is open source, many features that the community edition does not come with have been covered by independent developers and are available as free downloads or at a reasonable price. Localisation for the UK in the form of postcode finders and Royal Mail delivery matrices are all freely available, as are preferred UK payment gateway options such as Sage pay.
The main issues with many free open source and indeed retail shopping carts are generally similar, Magento has far too many great features to list here and it’s definitely worth checking out their site.
However here were the features we liked most:
Product Attributes and Variations
Product variations such as colour, size often pose a problem, even more so when price differences come into play with attributes such as weight and material. Many shopping carts simply don’t address this.
Let’s take the relatively simple example of t-shirt sales; with many carts you need to enter your product multiple times for each combination of colour and size. This is not ideal and wastes time for the shop keeper and also the customer, as they need to scroll through the many combinations to find the right size and colour they want.
With Magento, you can assign attributes and variations to a product with ease, adding a price increase or decrease if needed. The customer will see a dropdown menu for the attribute on the product page and the final price will update automatically with the customers selection.
Product Groups, Cross Sell and Upsell
You may want to sell PC components, but you may also want to have a “build your PC” option where you can group combinations of components together in certain ways; prevent or warn against the purchase of incompatible products, recommend complimentary products, or offer a discount with a specific group of products. This is all possible using magento community edition.
Price Matrices and Shipping
Often where shopping carts fall down is the area of shipping. When weight and size need to govern the shipping cost and when bulk order discounts and shipping distance come into play, the solution is often costly and in need of bespoke programming taking time to develop.
Using Magento can go a long way to solving many of these issues as modules for popular logistics companies such as Royal Mail, UPS and FedEx already exist to calculate shipping costs based on weight and distance. It is also possible to set pricing tiers for the value of the customer’s order.
Many small businesses don’t realise the complexities and potential cost that setting up online transactions involve. Security has become a very serious issue after many news stories of hacked databases with customers financial details stolen have been in the press there are many issues to consider.
The easiest way to sell online currently is with Paypal and also Google Checkout – these come integrated with Magento out of the box, as do many other great google apps such as analytics. You can set these up very quickly as long as you have Paypal and google accounts and you can be selling online on the day of publishing your site.
Many SME’s however feel the need to have a more professional checkout service and take credit cards directly on their site – there are many payment gateway providers providing this service such as Sagepay (Protx) Worldpay and Nochex. As Magento has a large community of developers, its often the case that the most popular gateways have modules to integrate them available for free or at cost effective price.
We connected a shopping site we had built to Sagepay – the module was freely available online. Many gateways require a lot of test transactions and verification before they can be deployed, often taking a week or two before going live. Sage pay can be set up in a matter of days with only one test transaction before going live. It worked like a charm and sage customer support were supportive friendly and helpful along the way.
How we can help
We can provide you with a unique design for your website and shopping cart to give your ecommerce site the professional look. We can design a look for even your administration section so your brand is continually reinforced even for staff.
As with other open source CMS, the software may be free, but technical knowledge of HTML, CSS JQuery and PHP are needed to extend and develop the software to tailor it to you needs. We have experience in modifying Magento to tailor the software to your exact needs.