Help, I need a shopping cart!

  • dancingbay
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I just introduced myself in the Introductions forum.

So, here's the deal. I have an embroidery business. I have a URL and hosting. My URL is dancingbayembroidery . com and my hosting is through HostGator. The next step I need to take is to have an online store where I can reach a larger audience for my items.

Currently, I have a tenth way done website which uses WordPress, Cart66, and Gravity Forms. I can find no documentation to tell me how to marry these 3 together, especially Cart66 and Gravity Forms. I work on it a while and then get frustrated and quit for a few weeks or month. It's been going on for over 6 months now and I just have to get something up and running and looking good. This looks pretty terrible.

Each items I sell needs theses questions answered:

- Quantity
- Item Color
- Thread Color
- Font
- Type of Monogram or other text
- Additional Embellishment & thread color for additional embellishments.
- and a text box for special orders like custom made logos and such

Then on some of the products I need to know if the customer wants
- rhinestones (and how many)
- feathers (and feather color)
- ribbon (and ribbon color)

Additionally for apparel, I need to know size.

So, lots of product variations.

One of my wholesalers has a website with a csv file that I believe is created dynamically from their database. The main thing I'm interested in from this csv file is the inventory. A lot of times, when something is sold out, it's sold out for the season, or possible not restocked at all. I don't want to offer for sale, accept money, etc... for an item in December that I cannot get until September, for example. So, I'd like to have the option of extracting that info from the csv file. The csv file actually contains everything I would need to display the page for each item. There's a short and long description, wholesale and suggested retail prices, link to the image, SKU, weight and inventory totals. I have written a little script that reads that file and dumps the information into an array which runs great at localhost, but have not uploaded it to my server. I don't see any reason it won't work live.

Payment gateways. I'm not interested in a merchant account like Authorize . net. I ran numbers and I don't come anywhere near having enough sales period, much less cc sales to make it worth my while. I have a PayPal Standard account and a Square cc reader for my phone. I also have a Stripe account and a Mijireh account that I have not used yet, but plan to when I get my site going. There is a break even point, however, and if I ever get there, then it will make more since to have a merchant account than to use PayPal.

I've struggled to figure out if I can use the information in the csv file with Wordpress or Cart66, but cannot get straight answers, especially from Cart66. I've been on their forums numerous times asking for help, even offering to pay, but all I get is comments over my head, or Cart66 can't do that, or condesionion. Gravity Forms documentation is also pretty criptic for someone who doesn't know the termonology. For instance, I don't really understand hooks, but they keep tell me that I need to use a hook. Could you give me an example of a hook? So I get one, but no information on where to put it or how to use it ect... At this point, I'm ready to throw WP/Cart66/GravityForms out the window and start over. It can't be any worse than it is now, right?

Can you tell I'm frustrated? This past week, I started looking a stand alone shopping carts like TomatoCart and AgoraCart. I know what I want and what I need, but what I really need is for someone who has experience with a shopping cart that will meet my needs to give me some advice.

So, can anyone please give me some advice on what shopping carts I need to consider?

Thank you,
Alisa
Dancing Bay Embroidery
  • Zealous
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Post 3+ Months Ago

throw at least $1000-2000 at a developer that knows what they are doing, depending on the work may need a little more. Give it a few weeks. Shopping cart software is all the same really the only difference is that they are built different and look different but do the same job so you just need someone to rewrite all the code into what you need. there is no documentation on this because it is all custom work. Hire a developer that is trust worthy and knows what they are doing, don't cheap out on it either and invest into your company not cut corners otherwise you just get messy crap that does not work or gain sales. Make sure SSL is on every page too and secure checkout linked to paypal also so you have trust worthy payment system.
  • dancingbay
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Wish I had that much to spend, but I spent most of my money on the embroidery machine. To pay someone to do the site, I will have to wait until I can save it up. I would love to have something that looks decent and will at least boost my sales some so that I can save the money for a decent site faster. If I can't pay for something without a loan, I don't buy it.

I've been looking at ZenCart today. It looks pretty good and is open source, so I think I'll give it a try. Doing more research though on templates and such.

Thanks,
Alisa
  • dancingbay
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I have decided to go with WP/Cart 66/Gravity Forms. I did find a developer who will get it all meshed together properly for a reasonable amount of money that I can afford. Since I do have a strong background in web development, I am able to do most of the tedious work myself, like create the girlfriend forms, load products, etc... Once I get this all done or at least the forms done, I will turn it back over to my developer to have him finish it all up. I have stints that I can work on the site, but darn if embroidery orders don't keep getting in the way. Hopefully, I will be back to working on my site, but when I'm working on my site, I'm not making money. But if I don't get my site finished, then I won't make as much money.

Thanks,
Alisa
  • demonmaestro
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Post 3+ Months Ago

paypal does carts if you are wanting to go cheap
  • dancingbay
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I need a whole lot more product variation than PayPal shopping carts offers. My forms use a lot of logic and most carts just allow for straight selections, like size and color for instance. My site is for embroidery, so if the customer selects a specific type of embroidery, like 3 letter monogram, they would be shown all monogram appropriate font as opposed to a name which allows for fewer fonts, so the customer would only be show text appropriate font.

The only solution I've found is to use Gravity Forms. I think there are a few more form builders out there, but Gravity Forms seems to fit my needs the best. I checked the different shopping carts that work with Gravity Forms and have selected Cart66 because, again, it seems to meet my needs the best.

Since my background and education is in programming, I can do most of the heavy lifting myself. I just need someone to put it all together once I get a few products added and a forms created for those products.

Thanks,
Alisa
  • this213
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Post 3+ Months Ago

You should take a look at ZenCart, it can do all of that and it's free.
  • dancingbay
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I did look at ZenCart and I really tried to get it to work for me. I just could not get the product variations to work. This is what I need;

1. Choose color
2. Do you want it personalize? No, 1 Side, Both Sides.
If No, then you're done. show Add to Cart Button
3. Choose type of personalization: 3 letter monogram, 1 letter initial, Text/Name, Single Initial behind name.

If 3 letter monogram selecte:
4. Choose font (monogram appropriate fonts shown in drop down, includes monogram only fonts, upper case only fonts, and upper/lower case fonts)
5. Show Monogram rules for a 3 letter monogram
6. 3 Text boxes for letters making the middle text box larger to indicate that that letter will be larger than the 2 on either side. Max for each text box is 1 character
7. Choose thread color

If 1 letter initial selected:
4. Choose font (upper case only fonts and upper/lower case fonts)
5. 1 Text box for the initial. Max for text box is 1 character
6. Choose thread color

If Name/Text selected:
4. Choose font (upper/lower case fonts)
5. 2 Text boxes for text or name (max for each text box is 12 characters
6. Choose thread color

If Single Initial behind name selected:
4. Choose font for single inital(upper case only fonts and upper/lower case fonts)
5. 1 Text box for the initial. Max for text box is 1 character
6. Choose thread color for single initial
7. Choose font for name (upper/lower case fonts)
8. 2 Text boxes for text or name (max for each text box is 8 characters
9. Choose thread color for name

So, as you can see, the form logic is pretty involved. This is my simple form for bags and totes. I have another, way more involved form for saddle pads that also include breed logo and other embroidery designs in addition to what is above.

If you know how to get Zen-Cart product variations to work like this, let me know. I spent about 3 weeks trying and could not get it to work and believe me, I did tons of google searches on form logic and on tutorials for Zen-Cart. Just couldn't find anything like this. There my be an add-on or plug in, but if there is then I didn't know the right keywords to use in my search to find it.
  • this213
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Post 3+ Months Ago

It'd take some customization of the checkout process, but that's going to be a lot easier than trying to modify 2 proprietary systems and making them talk to each other.

  • Choose color (The product color itself can be set up as an option using Zen Cart's own system.)
  • Do you want it personalize?
    • No => just add the product to the cart
    • Yes => reroute user to custom options page
      • 1 Side, Both Sides.
      • Choose type of personalization: 3 letter monogram, 1 letter initial, Text/Name, Single Initial behind name.
        This is a select. onchange make an ajax call to change other fields or, if you want to keep it simple, put type-specific options on a new page that loads when this sumbits. If you're not using ajax, submit here to go to the next step.

      • font select - should be a div with images of each font embroidered into something so people can see what it really looks like. Put a radio next to each one. You'll need a different one for each instance where a different font could be selected - such as having a letter behind the name if that can be a different font than the name.
      • text entry - self explanitory, maxlength of the text field should be the max for the desired type. Since you're actually showing the user what the final product will look like, there's no reason to make 3 separate fields for a 3-letter embroidery, they already know one of them will be larger. The only other text field should be if they choose one of the name options
      • choose thread colors

      • submit => write to custom db table to hold new info and submit back to the normal add to cart function. The new db table should associate on the order and product id and have fields for each of these. When you pull the order to fill it, it's just a matter of pulling this information with the already-stored zen cart data.

So, a database table and two forms. It's going to be a lot less hassle than the nightmare you're about to get into (if you haven't already gotten into it). Note: Any time I say "custom", it means you have to write it.
  • dancingbay
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I was a PHP/MySQL developer from 2000 to 2008, so yes, I know. I wouldn't exactly call it a nightmare, but I would call it frustrating. All my development was surveys and reports. I've never developed a shopping cart. I actually know in my head exactly how this form would/should look & function if I were developing it. Because of who I worked for, AJAX was not used very much, and my customer, in particular, didn't like all that "fancy" stuff, so I was never given an opportunity for any schools to learn this. My JavaScript is fairly weak also for the same reason. I can take someone else's JavaScript and tweak it to work for me, but have never been successful writing it from scratch.

With the handling of credit card information etc... I think WP/Cart66 Pro/Gravity Forms/Mijireh/PayPal Standard is a lot safer. It's still costing me some $$ but is within my current web budget. Like I said, I played around with Zen-Cart for a few weeks and though there were lots of features that I liked about it, just could not get it to do what I wanted it to. I think that's due to my weak background in JavaScript and my almost nonexistent background in AJAX.

I have never been a big fan of any WYSIWYG, but I also don't have very deep pockets right now to spend a couple thousand on someone to develop a shopping cart for me. And then, can I trust that person that I don't know not to put a backdoor in for some nefarious purpose.

Actually, Gravity Forms is pretty easy to use. It IS extremely tedious, and changing the CSS to make the form look somewhat the way I want it to is also a pain. That's the trade-off, I guess, for not having the confidence to write the shopping cart. For one thing, I would have designed for a more efficient use of the screen space, but none of these packages can be everything to everybody.

All that being said, I've wasted a lot of time trying to find the "easy" way to a functioning website that if I'd just gone ahead and developed it myself would have had it working by now. All comes down to a confidence thing. :?

Thanks for the advice,
Alisa

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