Well it's been a long week. New ventures meant I needed a more suitable web shop solution than the manual input Wysiwyg web builder I have used for the last three years. I have had 'proper' shopping carts in the past, but the web has moved on a lot in recent times with far more people using mobile devices to access content nowadays. The Wysiwyg web builder meant I had to design different layouts for different screen sizes by hand, which was a total drag.
I have lost count of how many shopping cart solutions I have looked at over the last couple of weeks, but found many that no longer had viable download links (never a good start) and discovered many obsolete programs still out there, that are no longer developed and with subsequently no support network. During my forays I found out that my XAMPP server that allows me to test websites locally on my own computer was utter crud after recent 'upgrades', so moved to a WampServer which is wonderful in comparison.
Anyway I eventually drew up a list of potential shopping carts. The one feature I wanted above all others, was an easy checkout process. Hesitation, confusion or complexity is no good for quick cash flow. Those in business will tell you, there is no business till you have the customers cash in your hand. The offerings I looked at included Woocommerce, Zen Cart, Opencart, Abantecart and of course Cubecart. All had their plus and minus points and some features which will appeal some some people, but not others. What did surprise me though is the flaws I found with some of the bigger players out there. Woocommerce I just found weird and confusing, Zen Cart still looked very dated and out of touch with its customer base, with many of the free community shared plugins conflicting with each. Most surprisingly of all Opencart seems to have created endless problems with its 'twig' modules in version three. Even the 'fix patch' didn't work and I couldn't even get one compatible skin (theme) to install without a plethora of error messages. Would I really want that on a live server? Answers on a postcard to..... That left it as a direct shoot out between AbanteCart and Cubecart, both of which are good programs with similar features and to their credit neither of them 'fell over' during testing. Looking at the programs on my offline server setup though, AbanteCart had nearly three times the number of operating files to Cubecart and more importantly a footprint of nearly 80mB, compared to Cubecart's sprightly 27.6mB. Where that becomes important, is if like myself you have more than one site on the same server space.
Anyway before this turns into a saga, I had to do a lot of research and had a few long computer chained sessions often going beyond midnight these last few days. Making a bad choice with ecommerce software has the potential to make or break a business. I decided to go with Cubecart over everything else, as I found it very easy to work with. I didn't find it a stressful experience as unlike many others, it just worked flawlessly and did what it was supposed to do. I particularly like the fact you get a core program and just add the bits you want instead of being burdened with a pile of stuff you'll never use. From the front end view, the customer has a layout that is easy on the eyes, is straightforward to navigate and the checkout process is trauma free (and quick). That's the whole point with shopping carts though (or should be).
Cubecart won't tick everyone's boxes, but having done the endless research, there are a lot of products out there that simply aren't fit for purpose. Been a long week, but time for a cold beer and unwind session....