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mythology
Premium
join:2002-10-16
Seneca, SC

1 edit

Ecommerce options for small business.

I posted a similar question about 5 months ago but we never acted on our intentions. We are now back at it again.

We run a ecommerce front end called CPOnline from Radiant Counterpoint. It has integrated functionallty with the point of sale system we use called Counterpoint SQL. We are looking to upgrade to a more up-to-date and functional system with better shipping options, Better layouts and up to date web standards. The current platform is extremly lacking. No doctype, No javascript, flash or web standards at all. Few shipping options, No online redeemable codes, sale options etc. Everything you do with it has to have some kind of work around or shady way of functioning.

We are approaching our bandwith limits of the platform with outrageous charges and unable to expand. Currently we have around 5000 (give or take) SKUs online.

Radiant was recently aquired by NCR and they updated their platform using the Magento community source and included integration with the Counterpoint POS system. To upgrade to the new platform requires giving up a percentage of sales which is a huge turn off.

»www.ncrretailonline.com/

I understand the NCR is based off Magento Community (open source). It has the basic functionallity of Magento and one theme. The normal community add-ons, themes and other Magento packages will not work on the platform. All customization has to be done with css or xml and even that functionality is dependent on my problem solving skills. Any other custimization NCR will want to charge you for as with their last cponline platform.

The good thing about the platform is the Counterpoint SQL integration and the ease of use that they claim migrating from our current site.

Whats the alternatives? Ive looked into Magento GO »go.magento.com/, BigCommerce »www.bigcommerce.com/, OScommerce »www.oscommerce.com/, Shopify »www.shopify.com/.

From looks, appeal and cost I personally lean towards Magento GO. The pricing is good and without the % of sale fees of NCR. Good bandwith and good storage capabilities.

The ability to add themes, plugins and addons. More shipping and cart options. Good SEO. I also like the large community. Adds just a little extra layer of helpful information if you get stuck. Its pretty much the "new" NCR platform without the % fee and is more open with what you can do with it.

The bad is the Counterpoint SQL Integration. Theres sites that claim to have products that integrate the two. The one below even claims to be a NCR resaler. Given this Im inclined to think integration wouldnt be to awful difficult.

»www.cpmagento.com/

Next on my list of likes is Shopify. It looks great and promising and shares many of the same features with Magento GO but I see no information online about integrating it with Counterpoint SQL. All but the highest pricing plan have a % based sales fee like NCR that my employer wants to stay clear of.

So out of all of these options and considering our current platform, What would you go with and why? We have two people on site (myself and the Owner/Manager - aka Boss!) that are pretty technically inclined and hopefully able to migrate, upkeep and work on the site. If we do get stuck on a major problem I would assume hiring outside help is also a possibility.

As with anything. We want to do it right the first time, this time. We dont want the problem of having to migrate again in 4 years because our platform just isnt up to date and competitive.

I understand there is going to be a learning curve with any new platform. We want to make the migration as streamlined and cost effective as possible with no hidden (expensive) surprises.

Any recommendations or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Just for reference. The competition is the likes of

»www.northridge4x4.com »www.4wheelparts.com »www.gowarn.com/


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
said by mythology:

To upgrade to the new platform requires giving up a percentage of sales which is a huge turn off.

But what do you get for that percentage? And does that include hosting? Are there any limitations on skus? or bandwidth? disk storage? Automatic updates? Complete PCI compliance instead of just a start?

It looks like the most that you pay is 2%, going down to 1% based on sales. With 5000 SKUs, that puts you at the $125/month package with Magento GO. That's the same as sales of $75,000 annually at the 2% rate.

I've used with OSCommerce before several years ago when I was at a different company. I know it's very popular, but I always felt that it was kludgy and dated. There are a ton of packages, adons, themes, whatnot but it was kind of a crapshoot whether they worked with your particular version or with each other. And if there was a update, good luck with keeping everything working if you made customizations. Maybe it was just the setup I inherited, but it was less than ideal and a turn off from a maintenance standpoint.

I looked at Magento for a bit when it first came out. It looked like a promising newcomer to the open source shopping cart scene. However when I looked at it the requirements for hosting were more than what the shared hosting plan it was going to be ran on could support. The CPU and memory requirements IIRC were significantly more then OScommerce or ZenCart so I didn't do much with it.

Are you looking to migrate both the online storefront and your B&M shop to the new system and run transactions from both? Or are you leaving the B&M still on the existing system and run the online store separately with integration?

I can't tell you what cart to use. I'd just recommend don't look at just the price tag. Look at support, maintenance, is someone there and responsible when stuff hits the fan, or are you stuck asking for help in a forum like this when bad things happen...

mythology
Premium
join:2002-10-16
Seneca, SC
We are just looking to upgrade the store front and integrate with CPSQL. At our current rate of sales I dont think the 2% is a big deal. If and when sales recover from this economic down turn the 2% of sales would be huge and not justify the cost of the platform.


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
said by mythology:

If and when sales recover from this economic down turn the 2% of sales would be huge and not justify the cost of the platform.

And how much is a solution that doesn't integrate with your backend worth? Or more specifically, how much is having to do all the work manually or some rube goldberg process because your front end and back ends don't integrate?

I'm not trying to convince you one way or another. Only you know what your sales volumes are, what your budget is, etc. But I've integrated several shopping carts with back ends. It can be a real PITA if there isn't compatibility between the different ends of the system. Even though it was economically in my best interest as the developer to do all the work integrating the two, I would have given anything to not have to jump through all the hoops I had to.

mythology
Premium
join:2002-10-16
Seneca, SC
Pretty sure we are going with MagentoGO. 3rd party apps exist to automate the importing/exporting. If we dont decide on one of them we can just modify the sql csv files manually or have a local come in and create a custom script.

Ive been watching alot of Magento videos. My boss is handling the server side of things. I'll be doing the front end, graphics, layout and what you actually see. Looks like I'll be paid to learn some php in the process. Getting a raise out of the ordeal and things are looking up. Got a opportunity to learn a wipespread platform and hopefully get my employer up to par with the competition. Going to look good on my resume.