Nicasio’s 2008 E-Commerce Reviews

 About the Reviewer: Nicasio Design and Development is a provider of web solutions to a worldwide customer base. In addition to providing E-Commerce solutions, Nicasio Design and Development specializes in custom website design, development and maintenance. Nicasio also specializes in the design, development, maintenance, and repair of WordPress website. Nicasio’s team possesses over 20 years of combined experience. Nicasio uses the NicE-Comm E-Commerce Solution for E-Commerce websites.

With literally thousands of E-Commerce solutions floating around the internet, how do you know which solution is right for you? The answer is that there is no right answer. Every E-Commerce solution out there is going to offer you different pros and cons. Understanding what you want to accomplish with your online business is the first step in properly determining your E-Commerce needs.

What Do You Want to Accomplish?

First off you need to ask yourself a few questions that you should keep in mind as you consider different solutions:

1. What is the main purpose of your E-Commerce site?
This may seem like a pointless question, but it is very important in determining your E-Commerce needs.
Make sure to keep the following questions in mind as you assess different E-Commerce solutions.
Is your E-Commerce site going to be the main source of your income?
Is the main purpose of your site to supplement a traditional brick and mortar store?

2. How much time can you dedicate to managing your E-Commerce site?
This is an important question.
How much time do you currently plan on managing your business and focusing on your customers? If you are like most small business owners you are hard pressed for time. This can be a good thing because as a small business owner you should be focusing on your core business proficiencies. It has been proven time and time again that companies who spend most of their time focusing on their core business objectives are far more effective than companies that spend large amounts of time focusing on issues not central to their core business ojectives.

If running an E-Commerce website cannot be the main focus of your attention you may want to consider a hosted solution that is setup by an E-Commerce professional.

3. What are you going to be selling?
In order to effectively determine your E-Commerce site choice you need to carefully think about what you will be selling.
Will you be selling a physical item such as books or computers?
Or will you be selling a digital item such as e-books or digital music?
Do your items require you to assess any special taxes, or take any special considerations when selling online?
You need to make sure your E-Commerce site is going to allow you to sell and distribute your product in an effective way.

4. Who are your customers?
Are your customers going to typically be experienced online shoppers, or will you be marketing to the less than tech savvy crowd?
You need to make sure your E-Commerce site’s interface and checkout process matches your customer’s expectations.

5. What is your technical knowledge?
Are you a computer guru that picks up new technologies the first time you use them?
If you are very tech savvy you may be able to learn the skills needed to construct part or all of your E-Commerce website. But be warned, this is no small task and many people that have ventured down this path have literally spent months at this task and still not ended up with a product that was satisfying or profitable.

Or do you not know your PHP from your ASP?
If you are not comfortable with acquiring and configuring web hosting, editing HTML and PHP files, and creating your own graphics and design then you will want to leave the setup and design of your E-Commerce website to seasoned professionals. While getting a professional E-Commerce site may require a greater investment initially, it will almost always pay for itself in the long run. This is due to greater profitability as well as saved time and effort.

6. What is your budget?
Are you looking to make something out of nothing?
Are you looking to start a new online business venture and have capital to move your idea forward?
Are you trying to expand your current brick and mortar operation to an online store front by reinvesting in your current business?

These questions will greatly limit what solution might be right for you.

The E-Commerce Solution Reviews

O.K. Now that we’ve made you think about your business goals lets move onto reviews of some of the most popular E-Commerce Website solutions out there right now.

 Joomla VirtueMart

At a Glance
License: Open Source
Price: Free
Setup Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Time to Setup: Extensive
Maintenance Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Ease of Use for Customer: Medium
Who should use it: Someone that has nothing but time to invest in their new online venture or someone who is already highly familiar with the Joomla CMS.

VirtueMart is an extension for the popular Content Management System (CMS) Joomla. If you are already running your website on the Joomla platform and you are very familiar with the inner workings of the system then the VirtueMart solution may be for you.

VirtueMart does require some HTML and CSS knowledge to get your site up and running. Strong knowledge of the Joomla CMS is also a plus if not a necessity. On the plus side this is a free, open source solution.

OSCommerce Family (OSCommerce, Zen Cart, CRE Loaded)

At a Glance
License: Open Source
Price: Free, Training material provided at additional cost
Setup Difficulty: Hard
Time to Setup: Extensive
Maintenance Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Ease of Use for Customer: Dependent on quality of setup and checkout method used
Who should use it: Someone with no money to invest upfront and extensive amount of time to learn the required skills and the OSCommerce interface. You will also need to be somewhat tech savvy to employ this solution.

OSCommerce is one of the older E-Commerce website solutions available. This is both a good thing and bad thing. On one hand, this solution is packed full of features. On the downside many of these features have been added as the solution was developed over many years. This can make it hard for all the integrated features to play nice together. One other thing to consider with this solution is that the finished E-Commerce website quality can vary greatly based on how well the site is setup. The best OSCommerce websites usually take extensive time and effort to build and deploy.

One thing to note is that while OSCommerce is the original of these three, no new versions are currently scheduled to be released. If you are interested in pursuing this E-Commerce solution you should pursue either Zen Cart or CRE-Loaded. Also note that training, some setup assistance, and corporate licenses are available at additional costs with each of these solutions.


At a Glance
Website: (Basic Demo Store)
License: Hosted Solution, Month to Month License
Price: Dependent on site design and features. A custom quote can be provided.
Setup Difficulty: Easy – Setup is handled by Nicasio’s E-Commerce Team
Time to Setup: Minimal – A basic store can be setup in a matter of hours
Maintenance Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Ease of Use for Customer: Easy
Who should use it: Someone that would like to make an initial investment in their E-Commerce Website to ensure it is done right the first time. Also someone that would like to spend more time focusing on their business and less time focusing on setting up and managing an E-Commerce Website.

NicE-Comm is a proprietary E-Commerce Website Solution that is being offered by Nicasio Design.
Nicasio’s E-Commerce experts will carefully assess your business objectives and processes to ensure that any custom business logic or functionality is included in your new online store. Nicasio’s in-house designers will also work with you to ensure that your new E-Commerce Website is both aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.

One of NicE-Comm’s strong points is its easy to use admin interface. It is easy for you as the business owner to quickly and effectively create your product categories, products, as well as additional content pages.

How to Choose and E-Commer Website Solution

After really thinking about what your business objectives are and getting an overview of some of the E-Commerce alternatives you should have a pretty good idea of what step you want to take next. Whatever solution you choose make sure you choose a solution that will help you achieve your business goals, and allow you, the business owner to focus on your business.

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