MonsterCommerce

The Importance of PCI Compliance

Accepting credit card payment online carries great responsibility. Merchants must take every step to protect the integrity of ALL the data collected from their customers. Why? You can lose your shirt if you don’t.

The credit card companies have banded together and created a standard for the use and storage of credit card data for ecommerce companies. This standard is called the Payment Cart Industry Data Security standard (or PCI for short). It applies to ALL ecommerce merchants both big and small. If you sell something online and accept credit card payment, you HAVE to be aware of the PCI standard. Why? If your store is found to be non-complaint, you can lose the ability to collect credit card payments, be targeted by a class action suit and face HEAVY fines. Believe me, it’s a whole lot easier being complaint.

3dCart Importing Tools. Switching carts has never been easier.

Moving to a new cart can be a real pain in the neck. I’ve done it enough not to want to do it again. That said, if I were looking to move to a new solution - I’d make sure that the new carts has the importing tools to make the process as easy as possible.

I moved stores from MonsterCommerce to InstanteStore, Volusion and 3dCart. Of the three, 3dCart offered the easiest importing of my existing data. Volusion came in second but I had to reformat all my product images to get them to work with Volusion’s naming convention. Once that was done, everything else was a breeze.

3dCart was a walk in the park comparatively. The importing tool is powerful yet surprisingly easy to use. Order data was the hardest thing to move because of the different formatting of product data. 3dCart has since made this process a whole lot easier, especially when moving from MonsterCommerce. 3dCart can now import all your orders, customers, categories and products right from your dataport file right into a 3dCart store. This makes your move much easier and saves you hours of time.

Hosted Shopping Cart or DIY Cart?

Hosted Cart Solutions vs. Do-It- Yourself (DIY) Shopping Carts

If you planning on launching an online store, you’ll need a shopping cart. When it comes to shopping cart solutions, you basically have two choices; a hosted shopping cart solution or using a do-it-yourself solution. How do you decide which type of solution to use for your online store? Here’s some pointers.

Hosted cart solutions provided you with everything you need to open an online store (minus a merchant account). This includes hosting, software, updated and security. Examples of hosted shopping carts include the following:

Moving from Yahoo Stores

Moving from Yahoo Stores
Free Yourself for The Revenue Sharing Price Structure.

The revenue sharing pricing model for hosted ecommerce solutions is on the way out. Why should merchants have to pay a monthly fee and a percentage of all sales to both their hosting provider and merchant account? They don’t and shouldn’t. Yahoo Stores pioneered this payment structure (while they were pioneering the hosted shopping cart industry) and over 150,000 online merchants continue to share a percentage of their revenue with Yahoo Stores.

Years ago, there wasn’t a hosted shopping cart solution that could compare to Yahoo Stores. This solution offered a low barrier of web/tech skills of launch an online store and once opened, the feature set offered was robust. The markup language used was gobbled up my search engines and Yahoo Stores could rank well with little SEO effort (still true today). The payment system is integrated into the cart so the merchant can process refunds right through the Yahoo Store admin panel. Also integrated into the admin panel was UPS shipping tools. For many years, Yahoo Stores was without rival. That has since changed.

MonsterCommerce Losing Market Share?

Hosted Shopping Cart Solution Report (Feb. 2007)
MonsterCommerce Losing Market Share?
Every time MonsterCommerce releases an update to their shopping cart solution our forum sees an increase of merchants looking for a new solution. Why this happens is best saved for its own blog entry but most tend to be moving to 3dCart because of their easy to use user interface and more robust feature list. A few of their larger stores seem to prefer Volusion. Both are great solutions (in my opinion) and offer a better product (overall) than MonsterCommerce.

I’ve found this site to be interesting:

Hosted Cart Customer Forums

A number of the top e-commerce hosted shopping cart solutions have customer forums where you can pop in and checkout what’s going on with the solution. These are invaluable tools when researching a move or opening to new store. By digging through these forums you can gauge the cart's customer service abilities, customer sentiment and even ask pre-sales questions. There’s nothing like getting honest feedback about a cart before opening a store.

Of course you can always visit our forum for up to date info on the major hosted shopping carts by visiting: eCartReviews Forums

eWish Gift Registry Service Integration with MonsterCommerce & Yahoo Stores

eWish has partnered with Monster and Yahoo to allow their merchants tools to integrate their gift registry system. For a one- time setup fee of $599.00 and an ongoing 5% commission fee, merchants can add eWish’s to their stores. This allows merchants to have “add to registry” buttons on their product pages. eWish has a pretty robust gift registry solution that includes a customizable e-notifciation, guestbook, RSVP system, and on-line photo album.

If you have a store that caters to gift market, this add-on is worth a look. A few hosted shopping cart solution offer a Wish List feature (InstanteStore and Volusion) but they are geared more toward the individual doing the shopping. Conversely, gift registries can be distributed to a group of people (gift givers) directing them to purchase the desired items that have been preselected by the gift receiver.

MonsterCommerce’s SEO Catalog

Years ago ASP carts were notorious for having long garbled URLs and bloated code. Both no-no’s when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Some for the more forward thinking shopping cart solutions added a mod_rewrite to their product that translated the ASP garbled URLs and code into clean easy to read html. The result was unmistakable. The stores using these solutions rankings improved once the product pages were re-indexed by the major search engines.

MonsterCommerce took a different approach. They allowed their clients the ability to generate a separate copy of their product catalog in html. MonsterCommerce called the feature the SEO catalog. The only problem is that the SEO catalog doesn’t rewrite/convert the asp page into html; rather it makes a copy of them in html. This is a dangerous thing to do in terms of SEO as the search engines frown upon duplicate content. A few merchants reported in our forum that they were penalized for using SEO catalog when some of their pages started to be deemed supplemental by Google. Not good.

MonsterCommerce Shopping Cart Review

MonsterCommerce Review
Software Version Reviewed: 4.2

MonsterCommerce is a leading provider in the ASP hosted shopping cart arena. Boasting a clientele of 5,000 store owners, they offer highly available 24x7 support, rich product documentation and a lively customer forum. Support is what separates MonsterCommerce from its competition and appears to be the cornerstone of their business model. This high level of customer support goes a long way to entice fledgling online merchants to select their shopping cart solution.

Where MonsterCommerce Excels

1. Support, Support and Support.

As stated above, MonsterCommerce offers 24x7 phone support, excellent documentation and a lively customer forum that when combined; provide an industry leading support system.

Search Engine Optimization Services

Search Engine Optimization Services

One of the reasons MonsterCommerce was snapped up by Network Solutions was reportedly for their SEO services. Network Solutions has been outsourcing this business function and it appears they thought it beneficial to add SEO services to their list of product offerings. The question I’d like to pose is this: What is the future of SEO services?

From what I can gather, SEO service firms will soon go the way of buggy whip. Google is already dinging paid links, link farms and soon many of the other “techniques” that SEO service firms employ will also be sniffed out and punished by the major search engines. I believe the future of SEO services is not bright. Getting high rankings is, and always will be, contingent upon having unique information and a content rich site. Given this forecast, what will SEO service firms have to offer their clients? Content writing? Clean coding techniques? How and where to use basic html tags? There is only way one can pay for this simple instruction and that is overpay.