Date: July 26, 2013

Author: JT

Tags: , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

Cart66–An Ecommerce Implementation Review

The past two weeks have seen me doing a lot of work launching the ecommerce functionality for my wife’s jewelry boutique. If you might be interested in jewelry for yourself, or as a gift for someone, I encourage you to visit www.frogeyebeads.com.

The platform itself is WordPress.  A well proven content management system, WordPress is also very effective for a range of small business applications including ecommerce.  After reviewing a number of plugins and some referrals I elected to move forward with Cart66 (www.cart66.com).

At a high level, here’s what I found:

imageEven though it’s been around a while (under a different name, originally), it is ‘essentially’ there with the core functionality in place.  Yet it clearly needs further development.

In my distant past, I was involved in implementing, managing, and living with, commerce systems. Cart 66 strikes me as having been developed by a team that ‘studied’ requirements for a retail sales system, but never has actually used such a system.

For instance, on the Product page, where you ‘create’ an inventory item, you can search on SKU, part, or item #.  Yet, when you go to the Inventory page to populate each product, you can only search on description. SKU, part, or item # doesn’t exist.  Anyone who has spent much time dealing with inventory systems knows that the part or SKU# is sacrosanct and that the ‘description’ is typically little more than a helpful label.

image

Customer-facing example of the shopping experience.

Other examples involve tabular listings.  For instance, on one page (e.g. Product), only 5 items are listed at a time.  Yet on other cosmetically identical pages (e.g. Inventory pages) 30 items may be listed by default.  Frustratingly, when working on the Inventory page, each time a change is committed to the database, the entire page refreshes and returns the user to the (default) first 5 items of Page 1. Every. Time.  That’s cute if you have 7 items in inventory. If you routinely have to page forward back to item 238 (because you cannot search by item ID), it becomes very irritating and non-productive, in short order.  There are other inconsistencies sprinkled through the interface as well.

For a product, “…powering thousands of WordPress e-commerce stores since 2008…” I am somewhat skeptical.

To their credit, the Cart66 support team is responsive to online support requests.  They need to be. They don’t take phone calls and don’t do email submissions.  You only get support if you bought the $99 Pro package (can’t speak to their Cloud version), and by logging formal support requests on their site.  Plan to wait until the next morning though for initial responses. They ‘seem’ to do support primarily in the morning.  That said, of the ~8-10 issues I logged, they provided useful help for most in short order, 2 or 3 evolving into future ‘features’ requests.

Perhaps my biggest complaint with Cart66, and the primary reason I cannot outright recommend its use, is that there is ZERO documentation.  And, I do mean zero. The FAQs they may refer you to are about a dozen superficial questions on the website.  Of the ~10 issues logged (some with multiple items within), about 6 would have be unnecessary had there been even rudimentary documentation.

In the end, I am happy with the implementation. And, I have a comfortable grasp of their solution with plans to employ it elsewhere again.  But if you’re not prepared to sleuth things out yourself, or wait 24-48 hrs for support responses (M-F only), this isn’t the package for you.  A solid product, but in need of UI refinement and some adjustments to some underlying logic.

Note: I should mention that the Cart66-specific implementation was a part of the two weeks. Implementing Cart66 did not itself take two weeks:).

2 Responses to “Cart66–An Ecommerce Implementation Review”

  • Lee July 26, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Hi JT. Thanks for the review and I am glad you are happy with the product :)

    I noticed that you mentioned a lack of documentation for Cart66 Pro. We have recently updated our site and have been working on consolidating the documentation on the new site. In the meantime, we have two sources for Cart66 Pro docs.

    http://cart66.com/docs
    http://docs.cart66.com

    Always working to make a better product and customers like you providing reviews and feedback is the main way we do it. So, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience!

    -Lee

    • JT July 27, 2013 at 4:46 pm

      Hello Lee,

      Thank you for taking a moment to comment on your product.  I appreciate it as will other readers.

      I did go through a lot of the documentation and many (if not all) of the videos provided.  The challenge is that much of it really qualifies as pre-sales content.  High-level, ‘does it do this’ type of info you want to know before purchase, type content.  As soon as it came time to actually implement, I felt it lacked meaningful technical depth.

      For instance, Cart66 has a configuration check box requiring the Ship-To form to always be displayed. But it didn’t work. Why? Because if PayPal Standard is the selected payment gateway that part of the process is left to them.  Documentation for this page, including this level of detail, discussing exactly what metadata is transferred to different gateways, would be useful.  For me, it would have saved 48 hours (working on a weekend) waiting for a response, as well as time spent by your team for what is likely a common question.

      It may be a nit. To be fair, it may also be ‘me.’ I do think the product has legs and support your ongoing efforts to develop effective documentation.

      Cheers!

      JT…

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