Over the last couple of years, we have had several clients come to us requesting some sort of ecommerce site. My response has consistently been to recommend one of the existing services like Shopify or amazon webstore. These guys have all been around for a while, and provide a decent service. Invariably, there would be a response that went something like this: “I’ve tried XYZ, but they paste their branding information all over the checkout page.” or “I can’t display all of my product options.” or “I can’t integrate it with this tool I use.” After some discussion, they would then pay us to build a custom site.
Now, I’m one of the first to admit that the ecommerce space is pretty busy, however it is not a “solved” problem, nor is there a clear winner in all of the solutions. Given that we’ve had several people come to us with requests to spend thousands of dollars building a custom solution, there are definitely still underserved needs in this area.
After looking at the various solutions available, we have found three “deal killers” that shopping systems tend to suffer from.
1. Brand ownership. Right or wrong, when someone sets up an online store, they want their brand to be the only one present. Paypal has made adding “buy now” buttons super easy, however when you are checking out, it is clear that you are checking out on paypal’s site, not the original store’s site. Large online stores don’t have this issue, therefore smaller stores don’t want to have this issue. Small stores all want the impression given that they are big stores. Having someone else’s brand all over your checkout process comes off as “cheap” and somehow less legitimate.
2. Monthly fees. Depending on the solution that you use for your online store, you may have significant monthly fees – this is before you even sell anything. Add up the fees you pay for web hosting, merchant account, credit card processing gateway, and shopping cart service, you are likely paying well over $100. For small volume stores that are just starting out, this can add up over the course of a few months to something that exceeds the annual gross revenue of the store. There are some store owners that are unwilling or unable to have those incremental fees consistently eating in to their revenue.
After searching for a solution to these three areas of weakness, we came to the conclusion that there was room in the market for yet another shopping cart system.
Cartshingle, our latest service, is designed to address each of the above weaknesses. It integrates in to your new or existing website, and provides you with a straightforward way to sell stuff online. Costs are transaction fee based. We use stripe.com for credit card processing. Their simple fee structure (2.9% + $0.30, no monthly fee, no merchant account required.) allows for accepting of all major credit cards. All you need is a bank account to deposit funds in to. Cartshingle then charges a 2.1% fee, for a total transaction fee of 5% + $0.30. Finally, cartshingle provides all the api hooks necessary to integrate order processing with a third-party system.
We are running an invitation only beta right now. This will allow us to scale our system up in a manageable way, and give each of our early customers some extra attention and assistance in getting set up. We are looking for a variety of businesses, and will issue invites as our capacity and capabilities allow. During this phase, there may be some stores that aren’t a great match. In these cases, we will let the store owners know and recommend some other options. The owners that do come in to the beta program will have a hand in helping us shape new features and capabilities.
Getting started with cartshingle is easy. Head over to cartshingle.com and request beta access. You will be asked a few questions about your expected volume, type of products, and current store if any. We will then review your beta request and send you an invite to sign up. Once you sign up for an account, you can create as many stores as you want. When you create a store, you then sign up for a stripe account (or select an existing stripe account) and then add products and shipping options. From that point, it is as simple as cutting and pasting HTML in to your site.
Head on over and get started selling things on your website today!