eShopping Carts: Comparing Apples, Oranges and Tuna Fish!

Have you ever bought a book, then plopped down on a pillow on
the couch with a cup of coffee and some snacks ready to devour
that books’ contents, sip some French Roast and munch biscotti?
Maybe it’s Folgers and Doritos at the computer screen in this
case as you open up Adobe Acrobat reader and Dr. Ralph Wilson’s
ebook “The Shopping Cart Report”.

Either way you’ve gone shopping and when you put that bag of
rich, fresh and aromatic French Roast whole-bean coffee in your
empty shopping cart, you’ve put a physical object into another
before moving down the bakery isle to the fresh dark-chocolate
coated Biscotti and put another physical object into a cart.

Online, both of your products are simply bits and bytes and the
shopping cart is complex software hosted on a remote web server
somewhere off in cyberspace. So whether you’ll be buying that
shopping cart software and having it installed on your own web
server or simply using an existing cart hosted on some other
secure server, you will be using shopping cart software to sell
your products or services online.

Hence, the need for small business owners everywhere to know
about shopping cart software and the reason Dr. Wilson wrote
the ebook. I was excited to read the definitive work, just
released by Wilson this year as I was about to recommend the
purchase of shopping cart software to a client, then install
it for him. I had my opinions of what was available and was
prepared to make some recommendations based on past experience.

Then I saw “The Shopping Cart Report” and, knowing that things
change at-internet-speed online, I thought I’d review the NEW
recommendations of others before committing my client to any
one software or hosted service. Both my client and I are very
glad that I made that choice!

It’s certainly not scintillating reading, in fact, far from
that, as you trudge through reviews of software entirely
inappropriate to your needs, services unlikely to make sense
to non-geeks and interviews with a shopping cart software
company president that will leave you wondering why it
helps you to hear from her. All of it leaves you kind of
lost and bewildered, especially if you know little of CGI
scripts and secure server certificates.

So why read the ebook? Because if you DO know the basics of
shopping cart software, payment gateways and online merchant
accounts, the ebook is a revelation! That revelation for me
came while I sat scowling and scratching my forhead in confusion
wondering, “When ya gonna get to the one that’s right for my
client?” I was reading about Miva Merchant, a well respected
software based on a database language that comes with open-
source code, allowing customization and tweaking to your needs.

That revelation was simply this: No single shopping cart soft-
ware is a one-size-fits-all solution. There are carts ranging
from FREE to hundreds of thousands of dollars and they are all
designed for very specific purposes, none of those purposes are
likely to fit your needs precisely and none of them could or
ever will. Shopping for a shopping cart is going to take you
time, research, patience, more research and more time. Give in
to that unhappy requirement and put in the time and energy.

Or explain your needs to your developer and trust them to solve
them effectively for you. I don’t recommend that unless you have
money to burn — unlikely for small business webmasters.

So get the ebook — and don’t expect it to answer your questions,
solve your problem or provide an answer to your shopping cart
questions. It won’t do that, especially with the good Doctors’
aged articles, one of them dated 1990! Yes I said 1990!

Dr. Ralph Wilson became an internet guru by being there before
almost anyone else cared about the web, then tirelessly staying
up-to-date and in-the-know since the beginning of internet time.
He knows what he is talking about. He is also known as Dr. Ebiz
and I say trust the good Doctor, he’s a specialist and a well
regarded master of web marketing.

But I must say that I have an awful time getting over the fact
that nearly half the ebook is made up of his collected articles
on (or even peripherally near) shopping cart software. The
majority of those articles are more than a year old. The balance
of the book is made up of one paragraph summaries with web links
to articles online by others that are three and four years old
and he acknowledges in his forward introduction that some of the
links may not work . . . and that simply doesn’t work for me.

Wilsons’ articles are informative, if a bit scattered due to the
fact that they weren’t written specifically as a book, but as
separate articles over time with no focus or theme other than
the topic of shopping carts to tie them together. Not enough.
Why would I recommend the book? Because after you read Wilsons’
articles, you’ll go to the list of article summaries with web
links and you’ll click through to those articles and read them.

By the time you’ve read all those articles, you’ll understand
the complexities involved in shopping cart software and you may
get a few things about merchant accounts and secure servers
and online payment gateways along the way. If not, you could
always buy A Merchant’s Guide to E-Commerce Payment Gateways by
Dr. Ralph Wilson. http://www.wilsonweb.com/ebooks/gateway.htm

What it comes down to for this reporter is that you’ve got to
do the research and you may as well start here. What I found out
(to the delight of my own client) was that there is a hosted
cart that cost just $6 monthly that will link up with the payment
gateway and securely transmit necessary information to them and
back with a cart that suits his needs, saves him hundreds of
dollars in the process and makes me look great.

I found that resource somewhere in the list of article links
provided by Wilson in the second half of the ebook. Essentially
it came down to the clear fact that my client is currently able
to securely sell products online with real-time approval of
credit cards and move his business online for far less investment
than would have been required with the recommendation I would
have made before reading The Shopping Cart Report.

Now we can both sit back and enjoy our French Roast coffee and
chocolate dipped biscotti. And he doesn’t need to buy that really
expensive shopping cart, just rent one very inexpensively until
his business grows enough to justify buying that shiny new cart.

Wilson offers aged cheese and a fine aged wine but I was after
French Roast and Biscotti. If you are seeking Folgers and Doritos
you STILL have to go to the research store so read the ebook,
put it in Wilsons’ ecart and read The Shopping Cart Report.

While you’re in the store you can compare Apples and Oranges.

About the Author

Mike Valentine does Search Engine Placement for the Small
Business http://website101.com/Search_Engine_Positioning
WebSite101 “Reading List” Weekly Netrepreneur Tip Sheet
Weekly Ezine emphasizing small business on the Internet
http://website101.com/arch/

Written by: Mike Banks Valentine

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