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I created a business website for a family business which is growing.

It's my family, and I'm a software developer, but I don't want to rebuild the wheels or be a shopping cart programmer. For this business, I need the web store to "just work", but... it gets complicated...

There are two parts of this business website. One of them is driven by Wordpress and I use the awesome Thesis theme. This is modern, flexible, and saves me a lot of time from doing custom coding and styling. I couldn't be more pleased with this arrangement.

The other part of the site is a Zen Cart store. It's administration and it's flexibility is frustrating and archaic Web 1.0. For the past few years, I keep hearing that the developers are working on a 2.0 version of Zen Cart, but they haven't communicated anything significant in the past few years other than to say, "When it's ready, we'll let you know."

What I'm looking for in a cart, I would need to install 6-10 additional mods, and would need to do a lot of custom coding.

I'm now willing to pay for a top-notch e-commerce solution for a small business that we can grow up into a larger business over time.

Requirements:

  • Extremely flexible shipping that let's us set up rules per product/category, tables of rates, calculated rates, max package weighs, etc. (flexibility like that available with CEON Advance Shipping Module for Zen Cart

  • Coupons and gift certificates

  • Manual order entry for phone orders

  • Multi-channel support (We also sell on Amazon, eBay, use Google Base and we want to maintain one set of inventory and have it kept current)

  • Decent SEO features

  • Reviews and star-ratings on products

  • Easy social networking features for sharing, following, liking, etc)

  • Easy integration with AdWords and analytics tracking

  • Modern and very usable product and store administration (Like I was saying, I'm spoiled by Wordpress and Thesis)

At the end of the day, I don't care if it's a hosted solution or if I have to host it myself. I just want something that is going to stay up-to-date, regularly be maintained and improved, and if I have to update it, things like the one-click update present in Wordpress is something it has to have.

Professional Webmasters, if you had to run a store / website, but you had to spend your time focusing on your sales and marketing efforts rather than diffing php files and copying and tweaking them to change even the slightest details of your site, what would you choose?

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1 Answer

I have developed, modified and replaced a host of zc and oscommerce websites in time.

I would wholehartedly recommend moving the Magento. The community edition is feature packed and widely used. It is by no means 'perfect' but is continuously improving and was most recently acquired by eBay.

The major issues for ecommerce sites are related to navigation and shopping cart abandonement. An average, 67% of users whom begin a checkout process will fail to complete it for a multitude of reasons.

To be competitive in online retail these days a site needs to be able to offer multiple pathways to products. The days of strict categories are over thanks to faceted search.

Magento has a strong plugins community so you should be able to find any mods you need.

Good luck with your decision.

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Thanks for the suggestions. I'm looking at Magento. Open source, self-hosted is fine, but I don't mind paying for a great solution at a reasonable price so that I can be hands off. While I'm a developer myself, I only a student of PHP/Javascript at the moment and right now, honestly, I want to focus on getting this business going by spending more time on marketing, adding products, promoting products, and improving the copy/design of the site. Maybe Magento Developer Edition at $3000/yr? Or pay a freelancer the $3000 and stick with the community edition? –  MarkS Aug 13 '11 at 16:17
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