Best Ecommerce Solution

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I need some help/advice for an ecommerce build I'm doing.

It is for a auto parts shop that deals with custom bike parts, mostly new and some used.
The add-ons I currently have to cover the store are ecommerce, discount-plus, ecommerce product slider, and most recently added the ecommerce importer.

It looks like we're going to end up having 100s of products and quite a lot of categories. With probable expansion to cover some other models of bikes and muscle cars. I haven't started working with the importer yet but that is going to be a key feature if I continue with the path I am on.

Due to the amount of products and categories I am considering scrapping the ecommerce plugin and integrating something like Shopify. The ecom add-on just seems a little clunky. And if I'm feeling that way the end user is going to be getting headaches running his shop day to day as he has quite a lot of purchases.

With an ecommerce site of this size I would love to hear from more experienced ecom developers who use C5 what they think is my best option. Should I stay with the C5 ecom add-on? Should I just push an online store and integrate it? If I stay with the ecom add-on what other add-ons are going to make life for the end user, and myself with the initial setup, really smooth sailing?

Thanks for the help!

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CMSDeveloper replied on at Permalink Reply

Pure Ecommerce?

Some nice mixed content: Ecommerce, blog, twitter.. Make any mix you want.... absolute Concrete5 + Ecommerce.
Eddie5 replied on at Permalink Reply
What about MagentoGo?
mesuva replied on at Permalink Reply
I've built maybe a dozen shops with concrete5's eCommerce, with nearly all of them being quite heavily customised. Some of the shops are on the larger side, but most of them are smaller, less 'traditional' shops.

I'm a really big fan of eCommerce, I think it's an amazing package to be able to integrate with a site and customise. I've developed a whole bunch of add-ons that work with it, from payment gateways, to little extra dashboard pages, to things that put restrictions on carts, and it all sort of fits into my concrete5 development workflow. I've set up shops to sell things like wedding photos, dog harnesses, electronics, wrestling video memberships, hand blown glassware, DRM encrypted PDFs and eTickets!

However, I personally see it more of a shop framework, something that is tightly integrated with concrete5 and can be extended by a developer, than a highly featured online shop for someone who wants more of an 'out-of-the-box' experience. Yes it can be used to do a shop with hundreds of products, but it's not really intended for that. (in fact I think the description for eCommerce in the marketplace has changed to reflect this).

eCommerce's strengths:
- tightly integrated with concrete5
- can add users to user groups on purchase of products
- the cart, product and product list blocks can be over-ridden, so you can pretty much do any kind of presentation you like, include scripts, etc
- The single pages of the checkout aren't too hard to override either
- You can freely add additional attributes for products and orders
- It's fairly simple in the backend, it's not intimidating for clients, especially when they are familiar with concrete5 itself
- It extends concrete5's events system. This is more of a development thing, and other systems have such hooks, but it allows you to do some extra programming awesome-sauce
- It has got discounts, which tie into concrete5's users and user groups
- It can handle digital downloads with the extra add-on
- It's pretty easy to write custom shipping calculators and plug them in
- eCommerce product pages are real pages in the sitemap

Aspects where eCommerce is perhaps lacking for bigger shops:
- Categorisation is a bit tricky and hard to set up for nested categories
- It only has plain text invoices
- Some parts take a lot of work to custom style, like the popup cart
- It doesn't have finer grained stock control (I've tried to create something to help with this, but it's not a complete solution - )
- It doesn't have SKUs
- You can't manually add orders from the backend, or handle returns (apart from marking orders as cancelled)
- It doesn't heavily validate address/billing details (like postal codes)
- It doesn't have front-end features to filter by manufacturer, price range, etc
- It doesn't have any 'compare' features
- It doesn't have detailed reporting functionality
- It doesn't have any data import facility (I know there are add-ons though)
- It simply doesn't have a huge number of add-ons that compliment it
- It doesn't really have any emailing beyond the invoice, such as to say that something is shipped, returned, etc

So my answer would be, if you have a lower number of items and you are wanting something quite customised (and you're happy to get into the code), then I'd say eCommerce is a nice fit.

If you are think you are going to have a large number of products, that require a lot of categories and stock control, I'd suggest using a more stand-alone ecommerce system.

There is a shopify plugin for concrete5 (for free I believe), but there are lots of fairly mature systems out there if you are still wanting to host your own solution.

Magento has been mentioned, but I'm personally weary of that system because of how complex I've heard it is to configure and style. OpenCart is another, but I'm currently re-investigating Prestashop. Version 1.6 of Prestashop has more recently come out and it seems to have a pretty rich set of features, it's trying to compete with Magento I believe. I'm yet to actually use it for a live site, but my demo setup is impressing me at the moment.

From what you've described, I think this might be a case of investigating other systems. Again, I'm a big fan of eCommerce, but the concrete5 guys don't hide the fact it's really intended for smaller shops - it's a modest system.
Eddie5 replied on at Permalink Reply
Thanks very much for the suggestions. Being a small operation I am more interested in an out of the box solution that I can mark up a bit and charge for setup. I think with this build I may be stuck with ecommerce however because of all the time and money already spent.

I have seen the shopify and wazala plugins as well. Can anyone chime in on builds they've used either of these for? Like shop size and integration feedback.

Is the C5 crew planning on maybe making core commerce more out of box? I wonder this since C5 is such a designers styled cms. i.e. those without heavy backend coding knowledge but some coding experience can fairly easily leverage it with great success. Pair that with the intuitive editing modes makes for quick site builds and great end user productivity.

I really love the CMS, but I definitely need to address the ecom end for my builds and what is going to be the best method per size of the storefronts.
Steevb replied on at Permalink Reply
Have you tried 'ecwid'?

So simple and easily integrated with a C5 website.
Eddie5 replied on at Permalink Reply
How does that one compare to Shopify, Wazala and others Steevb?
Steevb replied on at Permalink Reply
For the most part Ewcid will plug into C5, all the others are standalone with their own servers etc, so you will not be able to use C5.

The costs vary and can get scary if you're not careful or not making enough sales in a month to cover the fees.

As for making C5 commerce easier to manage, most things can be modified with CSS in your theme package.

Example of site currently in development and using the C5 commerce add-on:
Eddie5 replied on at Permalink Reply
Nice looking site. I guess the biggest problems I'm looking at with the ecommerce add-on is I have a ton of options on some of the products which is fairly tedious, and probably a bigger issue is the back end just doesn't seem very intuitive for the end user to manage.

I only use my own designs for themes and adjusting the layout of the ecommerce plugin is what I've been doing. I'm less concerned with the layout than end user ease of upkeep.

So now I'm weighing the options. 1) Keep going with ecommerce and get the uploader integrated (hopefully that will make it easier to manage the products) 2) Swap over to Ecwid and talk my customer into paying the monthly fees. or 3) Jump head-on into Magento and keep the shop separate from the C5 site.
Steevb replied on at Permalink Reply
Only you know the extent of your products and options, but one thing I will say is, no matter which route you take (even with Paypal buttons) there will be a certain amount of set up, user training and probably support thereafter.

All products and options/attributes need putting in place regardless, SKU numbers, prices, etc. That's why a decent ecommerce site costs a lot to set up.

Another thing I will mention is that once things are set within C5 they can used by default. i.e options, attributes, customer choices, etc.

I not sure how the other carts tackle this?
Eddie5 replied on at Permalink Reply
Thanks again for your insight Steevb. And thanks to all who have posted. It's helped a lot in trying to narrow down some of the best options for ecommerce with C5.

I had been through the marketplace and saw much of what was available, but even with ratings it doesn't really cover which might work better in specific situations.

If anyone else has had good experiences with some of the other cart options out there, either mentioned or not, I'd love to hear about them.
keeasti replied on at Permalink Reply
I trialled all the the usual suspects and went with Opencart. Prestashop is probably OK as well but I didn't want to mess with Smarty templating. I felt Magento was a bit overkill for a small to medium shop.

I love C5 but don't really like the eCommerce add-on.
Eddie5 replied on at Permalink Reply
Opencart looks pretty slick. How well does it integrate? Easy enough to apply the same theme as your main C5 site? If I'm using a menu add-on, like say mega-menu, is it easy enough to link the sub menus to the shop? Or is it going to have to be a link from the main menu like Shop which then takes you to a totally different site?
oaknshield replied on at Permalink Reply
I am curious .. .what did you finally decide ?
I too am in the same situation-- but not so many products
Steevb replied on at Permalink Reply
keeasti replied on at Permalink Reply
It's been a while ... but here goes.

It is actually not very easy to make them look the same but it is possible.
You have to get right under the bonnet though.

It is probably a lot easier to get an Opencart theme you like and base the C5 side on it rather than the other way around.

The site I built uses a custom design and fiddling with that to make it look seamless under Opencart took about forever and a day!

Final result was good though :)

Good luck.
manup replied on at Permalink Reply
I made a solution: Please watch this discussion
liasafinnell replied on at Permalink Reply
Great discussion. I would like to share that there are other prominent services as well that allow best ecommerce solutions for shopify