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Volusion Review 2017

Volusion Review 2017 – Nutshell

It is not surprising why Volusion is one of the most popular solutions around. The solution is so simple to use and it’s loaded with useful features which makes it good value for money.

Sure, it’s not perfect. But no solution is. There were a couple of glitches during my few days journey with it but nothing major. This solution would fit the needs of small/medium sized business nicely.

O, Yeah! Easy-to-use interface, useful dashboard, useful features like Deal Of The Day, decent looking free templates, paid templates are reasonably priced, Fraud Score.

O, No! Some of the features and tools doesn’t always work the way they should. High overage charges, SSL cert charges, SSL installation charges, monthly PCI fee charges.

TEDN Overall Volusion Review 2017 Score: 7.75/10

Pricing & Features

Volusion used to offer 5 different pricing plans but have since streamlined it to 4 different pricing plans which ranges from $15 – $135 per month to suit different budgets.

Merchants who wish to pay annually will get to enjoy more savings which is a good incentive for them.

However, it’s good to see what is being offered on each plan as Volusion does not offer all their features on every plan. Some I would agree on as you certainly don’t need to import/export if you have less than 100 products since you can set up your store manually.

If you have more than 100 products, you’ll need the import/export feature.

Feature wise, you get everything the solution has to offer from the Pro Plan onwards @ $75/month.

Suggestion : Features like Abandoned Cart Reports, Ratings & Reviews, eBay integration, Amazon integration and Deal of the Day would benefit the Mini Plan folks since they are starting out. Being able to promote one’s product in marketplaces like eBay and Amazon would help give them more product exposure.

Volusion PCI Fee

Volusion charges PCI fee of $1.83/month (for the Mini and Plus Plan) and $3.74/month (Pro and Premium Plan). The PCI fee is in addition to the monthly subscription fee. This fee is to help Volusion offset the huge amount they are spending monthly to ensure they can maintain their high security standards.

Volusion SSL Certificates

Merchants who wish to use Volusion will notice they offer their Volusion SSL (1 year) at $89 OR merchants can pick the SSL + Fraud Score + $50 Service Credit for $99.

Since all ecommerce websites must have an SSL certificate to ensure safe credit card transactions through their sites, merchants have the option to buy the SSL certificate from Volusion and have it installed on their site for free OR they could buy their own SSL from other third party SSL.

WARNING : Volusion charges $99 for SSL installation if you’re going to buy and use your own third party SSL. Merchants can’t install the SSL on their own.

Tips for improvement : It would be good if Volusion can inform new merchants of this when they are signing up as some may have AND want to use their own SSL without getting a SHOCK that it will cost them $99 just to install it on their site.

Watch Out – Bandwidth : Volusion charges $0.007/1MB/month for additional bandwidth. This basically works out to $7/1GB/month. Please keep an eye out on your bandwidth usage or you’ll have to pay the additional bandwidth charges monthly.

Volusion Mailbox

All plans do not come with email accounts. If you want Volusion to set up email accounts for you, you’ll have to pay them to set up the mailbox for you. Prices start at $2 for 1 mailbox and goes all the way to $200 for 100 mailboxes.

Volusion Dashboard

The dashboard is nice and clean with the basic quick steps located prominently to guide merchants to complete their store and get it live. New merchants can choose to watch the short video which shows how to pick a template, upload your logo and add your products. Nice!

The dashboard displays graphs that displays sample data until merchants make their first sale. What’s good about it is the use of graphs to deliver information which makes it very easy to digest.

There are also lots of tutorial videos on how to build, manage and expand your store to help with store setup.

Hot Feature 1: Deal Of the Day. This feature allows you to easily create a dedicated page for your best discounts.

Hot Feature 2: Volusion has something called Fraud Score which identifies behavior associated with fraudulent orders before processing them. The feature isn’t free but it may well be worth the cost. It’s currently on bundle offer with their SSL at $99.

Setting up store is fairly simple and is a standard affair. The layout and colors used makes the interface easy on the eyes. Volusion has done a good job at removing all the clunk from the process of setting up a store so newbies would not find it overwhelming.

Volusion Templates

There are loads of ecommerce templates to choose from and you can narrow them down by price, colors, category and industry. Some are free but the really nice ones can set you back as much as $180. To me this is a fair price as template designs can cost a few grand.

Of course if none of their templates caught your attention and you have plenty of moolah to splash around, you can always check out their design package.

Volusion Support

For the most part, support is pretty adequate. If the support you need is not urgent, the ticket system should suffice.

However, there have been complaints about Volusion support tickets going unanswered for days. There’s even a YouTube video from a disgruntled longtime Volusion merchant who suggests the company calls its support LOS – Lack Of Support. That said, he didn’t sound too angry and I think he did it to get Volusion’s attention as his Customer ID and Ticket IDs could be seen clearly.

Social Talk

Generally speaking, it’s mostly positive talk about Volusion ecommerce on social networks and forums. They get the same complaints as other ecommerce solutions providers do, which does not make it okay, mind you. They were also mentioned on a couple of ‘consumer complaint’ sites, again, just like a couple of their competitors.

However, a quick background check revealed the sneaky modus operandi of such sites which target bigger companies and charge a fee to get a company of their list. Some of the ‘comments’ on these sites seem to have been posted by fake people.

Update: Volusion seemed to have edited their Facebook and Twitter accounts. So you’ll only see good things there now. No more complaints about server downtime, bad customer support and other Volusion problems. I’m hoping it’s not because complaints about Volusion have been over flowing, what with the PCI security fee being passed on to merchants and the recent price increase in their subscription plans. Well, so much for being open and transparent. Fortunately, you can read more comments about Volusion here.

Volusion Review – End Say

Volusion has done a very good job with it’s software. But as with all ecommerce software, it’s best you take it for a spin before you sign up for a plan and see if it suits you.

Volusion offers a 14-day free trial. For people with day jobs, that might not be sufficient. You could try asking for an extension if you need it. I did the same with a competitor of theirs and they happily obliged; gave me 10 extra days, they did.

>>>Give Volusion a go today with their 14 day free trial<<<

About Volusion

Volusion is a popular ecommerce software service provider. The company was founded by Kevin Sproles in 1999 and has offices in Austin and London. Among the famous names that utilize the companies ecommerce solution are National Geographic, 3M and Nalgene.

Thumbs Up! Volusion powers over 450 non-profit stores as part of it’s Giving Back initiative.

View a 2 minute Volusion vs Shopify review video here.

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BigCommerce Review 2017

BigCommerce Review 2017 – Nutshell

BigCommerce regularly makes the top 10 list of many ecommerce review sites because it is an amazing solution which is user friendly, feature rich and highly customizable. It allows merchants to set a local pick up or in-store pickup option, which is a growing trend. They didn’t get everything perfect but most people should find setting up a store with BigCommerce not much of a fuss.

BigCommerce recently updated their entire site look which has a cleaner interface. They’ve also changed their company logo to reflect the direction that they are heading which in this case is helping online businesses grow more.

They claim to be the best ecommerce platform for growing sales by offering more traffic, higher conversion and unmatched performance for those using their online solution.

O,Yeah! Highly customizable. Very user friendly. No setup fees. No termination fees. No transaction fees. Lots of features.

O, No! Abandoned Cart Saver is a fantastic tool. Too bad the people who need it most are the ones who can only afford the lower plan which do not come with this feature.

TEDN Overall BigCommerce Review Score: 7.78/10

Pricing & Features

BigCommerce’s price structure has been simplified. They used to offer 5 different plans which would appeal to a wide range of pocket depths. Currently they have streamlined it to 3 different plans.

The Abandoned Cart saver feature is only available for those who are on the $79.95/month Plus Plan. The Abandoned Cart Saver feature is important since it can actually help salvage a chunk of abandoned carts.

InstanteStore includes this feature in all their plans which I think is a good thing as the people who need the most help are the ones just starting out in ecommerce.

Signing up is pretty standard. My store was created pretty fast.

I like that BigCommerce takes the effort to make users, especially first-timers, feel comfortable using their solution. First time users will land in the Dashboard where they have a choice of going through the tour or not.

Standard stuff, which is a good thing.

Features & Apps

BigCommerce is loaded with features – both built in and in the form of apps which you can add to your store.

Just like Shopify, some apps are completely free, some are free for a trial period, some come with a one-time fee and some require monthly fees.

It’s a shame that the Daily Deal Bar is at $9.99. If I’m not mistaken, Volusion is offering a similar feature for free.

BigCommerce Payment Processors

They’ve got over 32 payment processors to choose from so you should not have a problem finding a processor to suit your needs. Unless it’s not on the list..

Moreover, first time merchants will notice that by default, BigCommerce automatically chooses a template and set the payment gateway as PayPal.

They’ve also integrated Apple Pay which can be found under Digital Wallets.

Another good point is that BigCommerce has all the basic steps which merchants need to complete all listed out on the main dashboard. This acts as a guide and reminder to first time merchants on what is needed before they can take their store live.

BigCommerce Shipping

While configuring shipping should be easy with the clean interface, merchants who want more control or wish to ship from various locations instead of only one origin may need to use additional shipping apps.

There’s ShipHQ which they could consider as it’s located in the shipping section but merchants will need to install it and it costs a whopping $50/month! Personally, I think that’s way too much and will eat into the merchants’ monthly budget.

We asked the folks at InstanteStore whether their solution could allow merchants to ship out from various origins to domestic and international destinations and they said they could help configure the shipping for merchants if requested. It sure doesn’t cost $50/month!

BigCommerce Templates

The free templates that BigCommerce has to offer are acceptable. Fortunately, you can opt for paid themes which cost anywhere from $145 to $235 if you see any that you would like to use for your store.

Free themes are limited to only 7 choices so if you don’t like any of them, you’ll have to purchase your own theme.

Adding Products

Adding products and creating categories is a no brainer here. Everything is well laid out and they’ve gone and pre-populated your store for you. Nice.

Although I don’t see why they couldn’t make it so I could add product images and set options all in one page.

One nice little detail I noticed is there will be a prompt to add in the product dimensions if you’re planning to use real time carrier rates. This helps to ensure shipping rates are calculated as accurately as possible.

You can also select which images you would like to use as thumbnail. It’s also easy to add in Youtube videos of your product.

BigCommerce makes it easy for merchants to add their products to Google Shopping as well giving merchants a wider target market reach which is a tremendous help.

Note : By the way, if you want to view your store, you’ll need to copy and paste the preview code which is located in the Review & Test Your Store section.

Personally I think this is just a waste of time. Merchants want to quickly build and see their store without the hassle of having to copy and paste preview codes. Please note that you’ll have to keep doing this as it’s not a one time thing.

BigCommerce Theme Editor 

Even when you want to make changes using their Style Editor, you’ll notice a yellow box stating that only administrators and guests who have the preview code can view the store.

Other than the annoying preview code, I like the style editor as merchants can see the changes being displayed immediately without having to leave the page.

For instance, if you change the style of the theme, you’ll get to see changes on the page itself without having to go to another page. Changing the color of the buttons was also easy and almost instant.

Once you’re done, remember to Save and Apply the Theme to your store front.

BigCommerce Carousel

I really like BigCommerce’s carousel setup page. It’s really easy for merchants to use when wanting to add sliders to their front page.

Changing the order of the slides was also easy as you just drag and drop them in the sequence that you want them to appear.

That aside, you can do everything on one page – customize text, adjust timing, add link, add Alt Text to slides –  and it can all be done within the first fold. Lovely.

BigCommerce Support

BigCommerce has got pretty good support on the whole – knowledge base, support ticket system, live chat, etc . Their knowledge base is up-to-date and the instructions are pretty clear.

Social Talk

BigCommerce powers a whole lot of stores so their Facebook page is quite active. The complaints outweigh the pats on the back on their Facebook page and ecommerce forums but that does not really reflect the companies service.

The bottom line is that the company, via its Support Ninjas and SysAdmins, although at time may not have dealt with certain issues in the best possible way,  they none-the-less didn’t try to sweep everything under the carpet unlike certain other solutions.

Issues are always solved, as what I have observed, although the route taken may not have been the most efficient.

BigCommerce Review – End Say

When I first reviewed BigCommerce a few years back, I read in their copy that their solution was easy enough to be used by grandmothers. Tried as I may, my 96 year old grandmother could not make head or tail of it. Jokes aside, BigCommerce has done a good job with their ecommerce solution in making it user friendly.

Of course there can always be room for improvement and judging by what BigCommerce has done so far, I’m sure they’ve already got a few tricks up their sleeves.

As usual, I would recommend utilizing their free trial period to see if the solution suits you.

How did BigCommerce Vs Shopify template head to head turn out?

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Shopify Review 2017

Shopify Review 2017 – Nutshell

Shopify happens to be one of the most popular hosted shopping cart software in the market. This ecommerce solution is so simple to use with its clean and clear interface. The solution’s step by step guide from beginning to end helps to lead new merchants to set up their online store in an easy to understand manner.

O, Yeah! So easy to understand and use, our Shopify review shows that new beginners do not have to worry about getting lost in the process of setting up their online store. Templates offered are beautiful and professionally done. Pixel sizes for banners are clearly stated. Offers domain registration service. Great selection of apps for merchants to pick.

O, No! While there were a few glitches when it came to changing template, this is nothing serious. However, please note that free templates offered by Shopify are very limited. Subscription pricing is reasonable although the solution takes a cut in terms of transaction fees. Be ready to pay for the apps that you need for your business as some do not come cheap and those offered for free may not be what you are needing for your online business. So merchants may end up paying quite a bundle for the apps that they need.

TEDN Overall Shopify Review 2017 Score: 7.8

Shopify Price

Shopify’s price are pretty competitive. However, merchants need to be aware that important features such as gift cards, professional reports and abandoned cart recovery are only available for those on the $79/month plan and the Advanced Plan @ $299/month.

Features such as the advanced report builder and real time carrier shipping are only available for Advanced Plan merchants @ $299/month.

Plus Point : All of Shopify’s plans come with unlimited bandwidth and unlimited products (except for the Shopify Lite Plan @ $9/month which only allows you to sell on Facebook and add your products on other sites and blogs). Serious sellers won’t go for the Starter Plan.

Shopify charges transaction fees ranging from 0.5% – 2.0% depending on the package that you pick. More about this under Shopify Payments below.

Signing up with Shopify for a free trial store was pretty easy. The ecommerce solution generates a trial store within seconds for new merchants. New merchants or sellers are guided each step of the way on what they need to do to get the store running with Shopify outlining the steps on the main dashboard.

Shopify Ecommerce – Start your FREE trial now!

Shopify has also revamped their solution. The navigation bar used to be at the top of the page. They have since moved it to the left side of the dashboard for easier navigation.

Adding Products

The process was easy as the Add Products page was clean and not complicated.

The default template that comes with the free trial store makes any product that is uploaded look good. New merchants could add a few products to see how they look in their new store.

Shopify Theme Set Up

Changing to a different theme in Shopify is easy. If you can’t find a theme that you like, just click on the Visit the Theme Store button on the top right side of the screen which will take you to Shopify’s Theme Store. Here, you can choose to purchase a theme that you like for your store.

Customizing the theme is pretty straightforward and easy. One can see the theme displayed on the theme mobile screen which helps saves time than to load it on your mobile.

Shopify Theme Store

Useful Tip For Designers : Designers could design their own special and unique theme to sell on Shopify’s Theme Store. Lots of designers do that and it’s quite refreshing to see different styles of themes being showcased there.

They even show what are the themes that are currently trending.

Merchants who prefer to use free templates may be limited by the selection of free themes available. So if you want a better template, you’d have to pay for one or have one custom designed.

You could look for the themes based on the industry that you’re in or sort by price, most popular or most recent.

Anyway, you could pick a few free Shopify themes for your store without publishing them as you may want to see a comparison on what your store looks like. Once you’ve decided which theme suits your online business best, then you could just click on ‘Publish This Theme’.

Good design : I like the fact that you could see the theme that you’ve chosen along with the mobile version of it.

Shopify Customize Theme

Not happy with the current theme? Just click on Customize Theme and you’ll see how easy it is to make the necessary changes.

Shopify’s customize theme settings are easy to understand and merchants will be happy to see the changes they make on the right side reflected within a few seconds on their template. The left section lists down the different segments that allow for customization clearly.

You could also see what your store looks like in desktop, tablet or mobile view as you work on customizing your theme.

Shopify Blog Post

Shopify also makes it easy for merchants to blog about their store’s products, add company news or just let people know about their store updates. What I like about it is the fact that everything is integrated well and easy to use.

Adding Pages

Adding content or editing your main website pages is quite convenient.

Or, you could choose to add more pages to it. Enough said.

Shopify Apps

Shopify has a tonne of apps for merchants to pick from. Merchants can have a look at the trending apps and popular sales app which will at least give them an idea on what other merchants are using. These apps have their own reviews. While some are free, others are chargeable on a monthly basis.

This is basically where all the additional features, tools and software are located but they are broken into small chunks adding as a plug in. So if you need it, you buy or subscribe to it. Kind of like using Apple’s App Store.

Pros : Pay for what you need to use. Find it first and see whether it fits your business needs. Some apps come with a free trial period. Others may not. Some of the apps are offered FREE but these are usually limited.

Cons : You need to pay for what you need. It could be on a monthly basis or a one time payment. Check your budget and get the ones you need for your business. Some apps are PAY PER USE (so watch out!). You may discover that it’ll be quite a bundle which you need to pay after selecting really good apps for your online business.

Shopify Payments

Previously, Shopify set their payment default to use PayPal Express Checkout. That has changed.

So here’s the scoop about Shopify Payments. Remember those pesky transaction fees that Shopify charges that ranges from 0.5 % – 2.0%? Well the deal is that if you use Shopify Payments (which is powered by Stripe) to accept payment from customers, Shopify will waive those transaction fees. Please note that this is currently only available for merchants in USA and Canada. They’ll be rolling it out to the rest of the world soon (hopefully!).

This is probably because Stripe is not available globally (yet) since they are powering the payment gateway for Shopify.

If you’re using other payment gateways like PayPal, you’ll still have to pay those transaction fees.

Shopify Checkout

Shopify allows merchants to configure how they would like their customers to checkout. I think this is good as it offers more flexibility to both merchants and customers. Buyers these days do not want to waste a lot of time filling up unnecessary information as they just want to complete the checkout process as fast as possible.

Customer accounts are disabled by default – saves time. If you want customers to create an account with your store before they checkout, you’ll need to change the checkout options.

Shopify Shipping

Shopify’s shipping seems to be pre-configured so that merchants just need to make some basic tweaks to it. However, for merchants who wish to use USPS, UPS, FedEx or other carrier that uses real-time shipping rates are required to sign up for Shopify’s pricing plan, which in this case is available for those who pick the $299/month plan.

For those who do not wish to use any real time shipping rates, you could configure your own shipping rates based on your product weight or product pricing rate. Since the solution comes pre-populated with sample shipping rates for both local and international destinations, all you have to do is to amend the rates accordingly.

Good stuff : I like the fact that you could print your own shipping labels by selecting the printer of your choice OR you could even choose to buy your own printer to print your shipping labels.

The shipping section is also where you connect dropshipping and fulfillment services if you’re planning to use ShipWire, Rakuten or Fulfillment by Amazon. You could even add your own custom order fulfillment.

Setting Up Tax Rates

It’s easy to configure based on the state that you are planning to ship to. You could choose to add taxes to your shipping or even include taxes to your product prices.

If you need to add additional taxes to different countries, you first need to make sure that the country is added under your Shipping configuration.

Shopify Notifications

This is where you can find all the email templates and order notifications that are usually sent out to customers. Having them amended is very easy as you can just click the respective template to see what it looks like.

Shopify Sales Channel

There are alternate places where one can sell other than having your own Shopify website. The Shopify Sales Channel section shows that you can add your Shopify account to social media sites such as Facebook, Point of Sale, Pinterest etc.

Please note that the Twitter Buy Now button are only available for merchants within the States right now. We hope that Twitter will roll out the Buy Now button globally soon. Stripe was working with Twitter when the social media giant launched their Twitter Buy Now button earlier.

You could even sell in person with the Shopify POS (Point of Sale) with an iPhone or iPad. Shopify merchants can choose to embed their products with a Buy button on WordPress, SquareSpace, Tumblr, etc to get wider coverage.

Configuring Domain Name

The last step in setting up your online store would be to add in your domain name.  Don’t have a domain? No worries. Just buy one through Shopify. You could check whether the domain name that you’re interested in is available or not. The solution will also offer several alternate domain name suggestions if the initial domain name that you want is no longer available.

Conclusion

Shopify is an excellent shopping cart for new merchants who are starting their own online business due to its easy to use features and clean interface. It is ideal for those who do not know much about programming as the steps provided are easy to understand. I like the fact that this ecommerce software guides the user in a step by step manner in helping them to set up their online store.

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InstanteStore Review 2017

InstanteStore Review 2017 

Highlights

  • Value for money as merchants have full access to ALL ecommerce features irregardless of whichever plan without having to pay extra for apps or access to certain features.
  • NO transaction fees
  • NO SSL Cert fees
  • NO monthly app fees
  • Free templates are customizable with access to CSS and HTML
  • Free Template Split Test feature helps merchants measure visitors, orders and order value per visitor to decide which template converts best
  • Free InstanteStore App allow merchants to add products, manage orders and reach tech support on their mobile or tablet
  • Free access to real time carrier shipping rates UPS, USPS, Fedex, Australia Post, easyParcel
  • Ability to customize for merchants to meet their business needs in terms of design, coding
  • NEW Integrated Smart POS for merchants with single and multiple stores

TEDN Overall InstanteStore Review 2017 Score: 7.76

Overview

InstanteStore is a full featured ecommerce store solution. It’s fully web based so you don’t have to worry about finding a host or downloading any new updates that are released as it’s all done for you automatically!

There’s a 15 day free trial available, and it takes just a few minutes to get signed up for that.

InstanteStore allows you to select the template of your choice, customize your store and brand it, upload your products easily, manage your orders, manage your sales and comes with tools for you to easily market your store.

Apart from the MANY standard features that comes with the store, InstanteStore also does custom modules that is specifically just for your store. They pride themselves in growing with your needs.

I was told that they have a merchant with a warehouse team and they customize a packing module for the packers that allows them to easily search and pack the orders!

InstanteStore is based out of Penang, Malaysia. It’s been around since 2001 and they are the first Malaysian ecommerce store provider. It’s started by Charles Tang, who started selling online way back during his university days in 1998.

InstanteStore came about because Charles wanted to help small and medium size store owners to easily set up their store online without burning a hole in their pocket. Their clientele includes those who are just starting out selling online to those who processes millions in sales per month.

Pricing

All InstanteStore plans come with a 15 day free trial. No credit card is required to sign up for the free trial and neither is there any setup or cancellation fees.

Payment is on a monthly basis while those who wish to pay annually will get 2 months FREE.

InstanteStore currently has 5 different plans to cater to merchants’ needs. Their Startup Plan is an affordable $19.97/month which is great for those planning to start their own online store with less than 100 products.

InstanteStore does not charge ANY transaction fees as they believe that whatever a merchant makes should be theirs completely. Other shopping cart providers like Shopify charges a transaction fee ranging from 0.5% – 2.0% per transaction which will eat into merchants’ profit.

All InstanteStore plans come with full ecommerce features so no matter which plan you choose, you’ll be able to use ALL the features without worrying about having to pay more for apps or additional charges that will eat into your bottom line.

Merchants just need to pay the monthly subscription fee and nothing else.

If you need more bandwidth or have specific customization needs for your business, you can contact InstanteStore for special pricing and customization request.

Features

Unlike other shopping cart software out there that will charge merchants who want access to certain ecommerce features that are vital to run their online business, InstanteStore makes all those practical ecommerce features available to ALL their merchants regardless of the plan they are on.

These are some of the practical ecommerce features that one would need to use and subscribe to on higher plans if using other shopping cart solutions but they are all readily available by InstanteStore at no extra charge.

You also don’t need to download any apps or pay additional monthly fee to use these features as they’re all built-in to the solution :

  • Abandoned Cart for merchants to reach lost customers for better conversion
  • Real Time Carrier Shipping Rates with UPS, USPS, Fedex, Australia Post, easyParcel
  • Discount Coupons
  • Gift Certificates
  • Ratings & Reviews
  • Newsletters
  • Import / Export Feature
  • eBay Integration to post store products to eBay
  • Customer Loyalty Point System
  • Ability To Accept & Process Phone Orders
  • Shared SSL Certificate
  • Comprehensive Sales Reports
  • Personal Wholesale Pricing up to 9 different price levels per product
  • Google Trusted Stores Integration for eligible merchants
  • Enhanced Payment Fraud Prevention for better protection

On top of all these features, InstanteStore is also integrated with 3rd party plugins which merchants can make use of to help them run their online store :

  • Endicia
  • UPS WorldShip
  • Stone Edge Order Manager
  • DOBA Drop Shipper
  • Google Analytics with ecommerce tracking enabled to track visitors, sales, conversions

Merchants can download their store products in formats that can be uploaded to shopping comparison sites such as Windows Live Products, BizRate and Shop.com.

Sign up for a 15-Day Free Trial here

Design :

Free Customizable And Responsive Templates

Merchants who wish to make changes to the free template could use the InstanteStore Template Editor.

When they launched their new dashboard, it also came with brand new responsive templates that are mobile friendly.

InstanteStore also allow merchants access to CSS and HTML codes if they wish to customize the look of their store on their own.

InstanteStore is able to custom design templates specific to merchant requirements as well. Custom designed templates start at $797 in which their web designers will design and built a template that is suited to your business brand.

There’s also a Mobile Commerce feature which merchants could switch on that will simplify their site so that it displays better on mobile. No one wants to spend a lot of time looking at unnecessary information when they want to shop online.

InstanteStore Template Split Test Feature

Built to help merchants convert better. For merchants who are getting traffic to their site, this feature allow merchants to split test different templates to see which one converts better.

Merchants will be able to see the number of visitors, orders and value per visitor based on the different template used. They can then decide which best ecommerce template to use for their site as the results speak for themselves.

It’s a good initiative by InstanteStore to help merchants who are already getting traffic to their site.

Merchants just need to ensure that the templates used are configured properly to show their store well and to switch those templates to live mode.

New InstanteStore V8 Admin Panel

Most of the controls are located on the left side panel which is expandable.

Merchants will notice that the new V8 dashboard shows the main tasks that sellers usually need to work with on with their store.

Did I mention that the dashboard is customizable? Arrange the widget sequence and close off any of them that you don’t want to focus on. Neat!

Merchants can easily see how their online store looks like by clicking on View Store. No need any passwords to see your store online. One less thing to worry about.

Ease Of Use :

Setting Up An Online Store

The process is easy and straightforward.

For new merchants, there’s a setup guide when they sign up for the free trial which will give them an idea on what they need to do to complete setting up their online store.

I like the fact that the setup guide does not force users to go through it but gives them the option on whether they would like to be guided or they could straight away jump into creating their store by adding in products.

One just needs to add products, select the category or add your products to the current category, decide which payment gateway to use, configure shipping and sign up proper once your store set up is completed.

They’ve also included a QR code for merchants to scan to download the InstanteStore Mobile App on their phones.

New Add Products Page Look

The last time I reviewed InstanteStore, their Add Products page was far longer with a lot of information that merchants need to look through to fill in.

This time, I was rather pleased that they’ve simplified the look of their Add Products page making it cleaner, simpler and faster for merchants to add in relevant product info.

Those who want to fill in more product info could expand the drop down list further :

  • Inventory Control
  • Product Variants
  • Product Personalization
  • Digital / Downloadable Products

If you want access to more advanced product fields, just click on the Advanced Product Settings link and select the fields that you need to use for your products. These are what’s available which is pretty comprehensive :

Faster Product Image Adding

Adding images are also faster and simpler as you only need to Click or Drop Images to upload them. Merchants can add up to 4 product images and easily arrange their display sequence by dragging the images within the box.

Apparently if you want to add more than 4 product images, you can contact InstanteStore to make a request.

These improvements show that InstanteStore is working towards making their ecommerce solution simpler and faster to improve user experience.

InstanteStore App

New merchants just need to register for a free trial account and download the InstanteStore App from either Google Play or App Store (it’s FREE).

Adding products with the app is easy. Just take a few shots of your product from different angles and add in the images, product name, price, description.

It’s so easy for merchants to add products to their store by using their mobile or tablets.

Merchants will also be notified of new orders and can see who the customer is all from the convenience of their mobile.

Those who are constantly on the go will find this helpful as they can monitor and manage their online store with the app.

However, setting up payment and shipping will still require one to log in to their online store.

Those who encounter problems setting up their online store and who wish to contact technical support can do so via the app itself. Good initiative to provide another communication avenue for merchants to reach technical support.

Payment

InstanteStore is integrated with more than 80 international payment gateways around the world.

Merchants who plan on offering more than one payment gateway to process their payment could also arrange the sequence on how they want their payment gateway displayed at checkout.

It’s basically a drag and drop feature which is pretty neat.

They also have different offline payment methods for merchants who prefer to accept payment via checks, purchase order, cash on delivery, money transfer, etc.

If there’s a payment gateway that a merchant is interested in which InstanteStore is not integrated with, they could write in and request for it.

Taxes

Configuring taxes is easy as merchants can decide whether to include or exclude the tax from the order value.

Taxes can also be configured to charge by Country, State or Town to customers.

Shipping

Merchants could choose to charge real time carrier shipping rates to customers as InstanteStore is integrated with UPS, USPS, Fedex and Australia Post.

InstanteStore’s shipping module allow merchants to configure multiple shipping methods including real time shipping rates and manual shipping rates.

Those who have a more complicated shipping requirement could contact the ecommerce software provider for help to configure shipping on their behalf.

For instance, if you have a few warehouses with different product range to ship out to customers and you require shipping configuration for manual and real time rates shipping both domestically and internationally, InstanteStore could configure it all for you without you having to break a sweat.

InstanteStore is also integrated with easyParcel, a Malaysian parcel delivery comparison website which will benefit both Malaysian merchants and Malaysian customers. The feature allows Malaysian customers to see the best rate for shipping while Malaysian merchants get to save time from filling up unnecessary courier documents.

A good initiative to help both sellers and buyers save time and money when it comes to shipping parcels around Malaysia.

Checkout

Their one page checkout makes it easier for customers to complete the check out process without having to go through different pages thereby minimizing abandoned cart rates.

Guest checkout or easy checkout is also an available feature for customers who do not want to create an account.

Customer account creation for normal checkout process allow merchants to capture customers’ details in order to send follow up offers, newsletters, discount codes, etc.

The Abandoned Cart or Aborted Orders section in Manage Orders is able to show merchants orders that were not completed by their customers whereby merchants have the option to email these customers separately to encourage them to complete their orders.

Email Templates

Merchants can completely customize all the email templates that are sent to customers or those that are automatically sent out by the system.

These include packing lists, aborted order emails, discount coupons, gift certificates, order confirmation emails, etc.

Web

Plans are based on number of products that merchants sell on their store. Product count are not based on product options as in 1 product could have different sizes and colors but is still considered 1 product.

Social Media integration. Merchants can set up a Facebook Social Store by selling some of their best sellers on Facebook. Customers can make the purchase within Facebook as the checkout will be similar to the store checkout.

Gift Certificates and Discount Coupons can be generated by batch to be shared on social media or emailed out to existing customers. Discounts can be in the form of normal discount or by product or even free shipping.

Ratings and Reviews can be shown on the product page once approved by the merchant.

InstanteStore POS (Point-of-Sale)

Merchants who own a brick and mortar store will be delighted with the new InstanteStore POS system which is integrated with their powerful ecommerce solution.

With the ability to share stock between physical store and online stores, this helps to prevent overstocking while giving merchants a better grip on inventory management.

It comes with these useful and practical features to complement physical store owners :

  • Able to work without connection, automatically synch when connection detected
  • Complete visibility on sales, orders, staff and stock regardless of how many physical stores they have
  • Easy to add products, customers, offer discount to customers
  • Allow customers to split payments with cash, card and gift vouchers
  • Staff Clock In and Clock Out
  • Easy to add staff and create PIN for them via the Instantetore Admin Panel
  • Add in cash float and close at the end of the day to reconcile funds
  • Completely portable when you need to travel to markets, expos, conferences
  • Able to work as a standalone POS or integrated with your online store

All you need is just an iPad 2 while other hardware like printers, cash drawers and barcode scanners are completely optional. Contact InstanteStore to find out more.

Customer Service & Technical Support

The ecommerce software provider offers technical support in the form of email, live chat and phone on top of access to their Knowledge Base (for merchants).

Merchants can even send in a support ticket via the Instantetore App by including a snapshot of the problem they’re facing or even by recording it with voice, taking a video or explaining it in text.

Talk about going the extra mile to service your customers! The app will even notify you via mobile when the ticket is answered.

Their range of service is quite wide and flexible as they offer customization in terms of design and feature to helping merchants migrate or set up their online store to helping them improve conversion.

To contact InstanteStore, here’s their Contact Us (http://www.instantestore.com/contact.cfm).

Negative Reviews & Complaints :

  • Lack of new updated templates that are mobile friendly and responsive
  • Shipping instructions is long and the process needs to be simplified
  • Too many steps required to get something done (ie. Configure & Send Abandon Cart Email)
  • Template Editor not easy to use

When contacted, InstanteStore informed me that they have rolled out fresh new mobile friendly and responsive templates for their merchants recently.

In regards to shipping being complicated, they said that merchants could contact them and they’d be happy to help merchants configure their shipping.

Their team of developers are currently working stage by stage to revamp their ecommerce solutions and one of their main focus is to simplify the process further so that merchants do not need to go through so many steps with their ecommerce features to get tasks done.

Those who are having difficulty with the Template Editor could contact their tech support team and they’ll help walk them through on how to use the Template Editor.

Positive Reviews & Feedback :

  • Value for money as don’t need to pay for important ecommerce features
  • Ability to customize for customers in terms of setup, design, features
  • Access to CSS and HTML
  • Customer service that’s reachable and who will get back to you with solutions

Security :

InstanteStore offers free shared SSL Cert which their merchants do not need to pay for which is additional cost savings for them.

Merchants who wish to use their own SSL Cert could ask InstanteStore to purchase and upload it to their site or provide their own SSL cert to them to upload.

Final Verdict :

While InstanteStore may not look as shiny as some of their competitors, their ecommerce solutions wins hands down in terms of providing value to merchants who are looking for a competitive priced solution that won’t burden them with additional charges for apps or transaction fees.

As seen that they are constantly working to improve their solution, it’s a matter of time before they catch up with the other ecommerce providers in terms of looks.

Functionality wise, they have quite a range of ecommerce features that merchants have full access to which work as well if not more powerful and are able to handle complicated requests.

By being flexible and able to offer customization to merchants, this ecommerce solution is meeting the needs of their merchants in different yet creative ways to help them sell more and grow better.

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Spark Pay Review 2017

UPDATE : Americommerce is now Spark Pay by Capital One since 2014

Spark Pay Review 2017 – Nutshell

Winner of the 2010 Codiee award, this ecommerce solution is pretty comprehensive. The company is also listed in the top 5000 fastest growing companies in the US according to Inc. Pretty impressive figures and features that were listed and offered on their website. Since 2014, Americommerce was acquired by Spark Pay by Capital One. The entire ecommerce solution was re-designed with a completely brand new website look and additional features.

O, Yeah! Impressive line of packages and features to help merchants save time. Themes come in a set and can be customized. Merchants can have greater control of their online store as there is an impressive range of customization that they could do. Admin panel shows clearly what is available for merchants to use. Offers custom shopping cart package to meet the requirements of customers.

O, No! Slow lag time. Uploading individual images or product details may drive new merchants nuts as it’s too time consuming. Only 26 pre-designed themes to choose from. Not really user-friendly especially if you are not a very technical person.

TEDN Overall Spark Pay Review 2017 Score: 6.43

Spark Pay Pricing Plans

The solution does not cost much and is rather reasonable in terms of pricing. Good to know that they do not charge any transaction fees. However, I do wonder whether 250MB is enough disk space for those who take the Steel Plan which offers up to 100 products. Spark Pay also does not charge any setup fee.

Note : Merchants who want an additional store front just need to pay $39 each which according to Spark Pay is scalable and all controlled within one admin panel.

Suggestion :  Please check the size of your total product images in case you do not have enough disk space for the plan that you’re taking.

While the packages offer free shared SSL for merchants to use, those who wish to purchase their own SSL certificate could do so as well.

Spark Pay Themes

Spark Pay came up with brand new themes which is refreshing. Please bear in mind that not all the themes are free. The free themes have a blog like feel. The nicer looking themes cost $95. If you still can’t find any theme that you like, you can request for a customized theme of which they will take an existing theme and customized it for you.

Spark Pay Website Design Services – Full Site Design

Just to give you an idea on how much Spark Pay charges for their website design services. The above is for a complete full site design. Merchants have a choice of choosing between responsive or non-responsive design.

Spark Pay Theme Customization Service 

For merchants who do not want to spend the time to customize their own store theme, they can opt for Spark Pay’s Theme Customization Service.

Spark Pay Dashboard

Merchants who sign up for the free trial will land on the dashboard and be guided to pick their store theme first. Once a theme is picked, merchants can customize it themselves or if they don’t have the time, they can go for the Spark Pay Theme Customization Service and pay for it.

Spark Pay Customizable Theme

Customizing the theme didn’t look too difficult. Merchants get to see what their selected theme looks like in desktop, tablet and mobile view. Spark Pay’s theme editor seems to need tweaking as I tried modifying the theme and it went around in a loop with lines of code showing up at the top of the page.

Adding Product 

Anyway, adding products on Spark Pay was easy. The interface was clean and not complicated to use. once you’ve added your first product, you have a choice to continue adding more products or to move on to the next step. The ecommerce software provider basically wants merchants to add their first product before showing them the dashboard.

It was commendable that they had a simple overlay just to show merchants where important stuff was located on the dashboard.

Bear in mind that the dashboard shows pre-populated stats and information. While this makes it look real, merchants may end up confused? Don’t worry as you can always remove or edit the widgets on your dashboard as you may not need certain widgets depending on how you want you want your dashboard to function.

Tip : Keep only what’s useful to your store’s business in your Admin Dashboard.

Spark Pay Launch List

Just in case you need some guidance, just click on Spark Pay’s Launch List which will act as a guide on what are the most basic tasks that you need to do to complete setting up your store. They include tasks like setting up Shipping, Taxes, Payment and picking the plan of your choice.

Spark Pay Payment Gateway 

I was a bit puzzled when I wanted to check what types of payment gateways were offered to merchants. The payment gateway section was blank.

Anyway, to see the entire list of payment gateways supported by them, you’ll need to click Add and select from the drop down list.

Spark Pay Shipping 

Merchants have a choice of choosing UPS, USPS, Fedex, DHL or UPSFreight as these come integrated with Spark Pay’s shipping. However, please note that there must be an account with the respective shipping provider before the shipping provider could be used.

Spark Pay App Store 

Spark Pay has their own apps which merchants could use for their store. These are basically somewhat like plugins or apps which you could choose to add to your store. The good thing about this is that you pay for what you need to use. Some are free while others are chargeable. For those who do not need any of these apps or plugins, you don’t have to worry about paying for stuff that you are not using.

Feedback For Improvement

Even after I had my store name changed, there seems to be some glitch with their system which keeps showing error. I tried logging out and logging back in but it seems to be going round in a loop.

Summary 

Spark Pay just needs to improve on their theme template as there seems to be a few coding glitches when one wants to make changes to the theme. And it would really help if they got rid of the sliding window prompt asking merchants to update their store details which resulted in so many oops and system errors which I could not seem to comprehend – all I wanted to do was to change the store name!

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