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Practical Ecommerce : Cart of the Week, ShopVisible
By Marketing
1/30/2009 12:00:00 AM

Practical Ecommerce Cart of the Week: ShopVisible

January 30, 2009

Practical eCommerce counts over 300 different shopping cart systems. In this ongoing "Cart of the Week" feature, we profile a specific cart, asking the cart's owners and users about its strengths and weaknesses.

Here we profile ShopVisible, an Atlanta-based hosted cart solution that specializes in highly customized carts for specific ecommerce business needs. ShopVisible bundles start as low as $750 per month after implementation. Other packages can be significantly more expensive, because of extensive customization and enhanced functionality. The cart was launched in 2001.

We asked Sean Cook, CEO of ShopVisible, to explain the benefits of his company’s cart. We then asked Rob Satran, a ShopVisible user, for his evaluation of the cart. Satran is the vice president of operations for Leiberts.com, an online retailer of kitchen and household appliances.

PeC: Please provide some general background on the cart.

Cook: “The ShopVisible solution, version 2009.1.1, is a total ecommerce solution that includes a complete suite of tools to enable businesses to grow and thrive online. We have developed a robust platform that combines marketing, merchandising, content management, channel management and all of the back-office integrations required to run a business. The ShopVisible SaaS (software as a service) offering has helped businesses experience dramatic growth consistently since 2001. We have always kept a keen eye on how search engines will consume content presented on the ShopVisible platform, and as a result, ShopVisible client sites have a heightened propensity for elevated natural search positions, often eliminating the need for costly pay-per-click campaigns. Our clients are typically mid-sized businesses expecting to do between $500,000 and $50 million per year in online revenue.

PeC: What are the cart's biggest strengths?

Cook: “First, it is the most search friendly platform available. ShopVisible clients consistently shine in natural search positions. ShopVisible has fully automated integrations with major shopping and marketing channels online (Amazon, eBay, Overstock, Google and all major shopping comparison engines). Included in a ShopVisible license are content management, order management, email campaign tools, a promotions engine, subscriptions and continuity programs, complete shipping management, inventory controls, in-site search, channel management, all controlled and managed in one single user console. Presentation, merchandising, transactions, order management, inventory and all back office tools are built right in.

PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?

Cook: “We are not meant to be the first ‘shopping cart only’ solution for a business. For most companies, we represent a significant upgrade in quality and quantity of features.”

PeC: What plans do you have for future cart development?

Cook: “We add features and functions continuously. We have just added exciting new social network commerce features and integrations with external systems such as X12 EDI for companies like Target.”

PeC: How specifically would using ShopVisible improve a merchant's business?

Cook: “Getting your products seen everywhere online is the first job. Because of our high natural search positions and channel feeds across the web, our clients’ products are seen, and then they can sell. Our clients find that once they have moved their business to ShopVisible, they spend less time and money wrestling with technology and more time on the strategy and execution of growing their business.”

The View of a Customer: Rob Satran, VP of operations for Leiberts.com, shares his thoughts on ShopVisible.

PeC: What are ShopVisible's biggest strengths?

Sartran: “In one word: flexibility. From the very start of our process almost one year ago, we knew a standard shopping cart and ecommerce solution would not work for our company. Leiberts.com is an extension of The Leiberts Royal Green Appliance Center, the country’s 55th largest appliance dealer. Our price point per item averages about $750, and we recognized early that we needed a lot of customization and a partner that would understand that nothing in life can be static. We also understood that there were many talented companies out there who could build a website and shopping cart, but we were looking for one who could build the cart and the solution with an equal emphasis on SEO.”

“Building the site was one thing, getting people there was another. We interviewed eight different potential vendors and found a partner in ShopVisible that was able to meet all of our needs. Not only were they flexible in terms of the design and structure of the site, but also have given us an SEO platform that is truly remarkable. Within three weeks of going live, we already started seeing our links to keywords and more importantly, model numbers appearing on the first and second pages of Google, MSN and Yahoo!. Our traffic has been increasing exponentially everyday, and the analytic tools they put at your disposal are vast and very easy to use. Finally, they understood that at even though we were a large company, we were very budget conscious and worked with us on creating a pay structure that worked for everyone involved. In this market, we found that to be very unique.”

PeC: What are some things it could improve?

Satran: “When you choose a customizable cart, you can tinker with it and change placement of key indicators like descriptions, shipping calculators, and up sell and cross sell sections. We are constantly adding features and changing placement to increase our cart conversion, to make the experience easier and more conducive to closing the sale. This customization can be rewarding but it’s hard work, and it’s not so much a weakness of ShopVisible as it is a weakness of the platform you choose.”

PeC: How specifically would using ShopVisible improve a merchant's business?

Satran: “ShopVisible is much more than an ecommerce solution. They have become virtual business partners of ours. They’re constantly encouraging us, and challenging us at every turn to do what we are doing better. They are up to date on the latest technology and present it in a way that is easy to understand and fun. They root for our success and get down in the dirt to help us when we need a hand. In short, we have received much more than we bargained for and anytime you can say that about someone in business, they must be doing something right.”

PeC: Do you plan to continue using ShopVisible? Why or why not?

Satran: “Definitely. We could not see ourselves being serviced by any other ecommerce provider.”

PeC: Any other thoughts on shopping carts for our readers?

Satran: “Make sure that you have someone on the other end of the line when it comes servicing your site and your cart. I cannot begin to stress the importance of personal contact, involvement, and knowing that when you have a problem there will be someone. Choose your business partners carefully because if you find the right provider like we did, you will never look back.”

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