As a technology firm, much of our time is spent learning, re-learning, and researching. Actually designing and developing things is great, but if it’s on an outdated platform, or is not in line with trends and overall web technology direction then you could be building something that has a very short useful life, or is incredibly expensive to grow and maintain.
We’ve built a number of ecommerce and shopping cart websites over the years working with everything from XCart to Shopify to Magento to total custom carts. For a number of recent projects we have in the queue that require large ecommerce functionality we re-reviewed the landscape of shopping carts out there. In these particular cases we’ll be utilizing nopCommerce. I figured we’d provide a quick overview of NOP and it’s capabilities.
nopCommerce like many carts out there is a piece of software you install and setup on a server. Unlike something like Shopify for example that’s a cloud-based solution where you setup your entire store on their existing platform.
- Microsoft .NET & MVC – This is the language the cart is based on. Being primarily a .NET shop this allows us the flexibility and speed we need. MVC is a framework that allows for rapid and large-scale development. Our lead developer put together a great breakdown of MVC here.
- Open Source – Most people associate the MS landscape with closed-source software, however with NOP you have a completely open source system allowing all to see and tweak the code, leading to faster updates, and a more secure platform.
- PCI DSS Compliant – PCI compliance (ensuring the software is secure from a credit card processing perspective) is incredibly important and in one case a lack of PCI compliance is the exact reason for the project. NOT BEING PCI COMPLIANT CAN COST YOU TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS/MONTH IN FINES.
The technology is sexy to a group like us, but beyond it’s core-code base, what can it do for our clients? What problems does NOP specifically solve? Well we noticed that NOP featured the following.
- Mobile – NOP Commerce allows both responsive design (responds to the size of a device) as well as dedicated mobile versions of sites. Particularly in the ecommerce world, where speed and ease-of-use is everything we actually don’t recommend a 100% responsive site. Based on our research and client performance we love the fact that NOP allows us the flexibility to provide both easily (mobile optimized versions, and responsive) depending on the project.
- Multi-Store – NOP allows our clients to run more than 1 store from a single install. This is great for clients who plan to expand into other markets and websites. In a few cases we see the ability for this functionality to easily allow us to create multiple sites segmented across various niches, but all similarly related – allowing our client to quickly expand their market share and business.
- Multi-Vendor – Not only does NOP control multiple stores (across multiple domains) but it also allows multiple vendors and drop shipping. We can quickly assign products to vendors and when an order is placed it notifies that vendor.
At the core of any ecommerce suite and shopping cart are products. How are they displayed? What features does the software allow or feature? NOP excels here with a laundry list that rivals some of the largest custom-shopping carts out there.
- Attributes – Multiple attributes account for variations like size, color, etc.
- Comparison – We’ve all seen/used this before. NOP allows you to quickly compare various like products to hone in on the one that suits your needs the most.
- Stock/Inventory Management – Although you’d think this would be standard, many shopping carts don’t account for inventory. With it’s customize-able code-base we can also link this to in-house inventory and ERP systems.
- Prices – Individual customers and customer groups, specifically allows for “call for price” out of the box so we can avoid messy use of the $ area of the cart.
- Downloadable Products – Typically you get one or the other, a cart that does physical products, or digital products. NOP handles both with NOP problems 🙂
- Product Reviews & Rating – From an Internet marketing perspective we find this to be very important and helpful as pages/products with ratings are ranking well and are an easy visual queue for users.
- Bundle (e.g. Build your own computer) and grouped products
- RMA (return management)
- Product specifications (e.g. processor, memory, graphic card)
- Related product and cross-sells
- Security. ACL (access control list) on products, categories, and manufacturers.
- Products can require that other products are added to the cart (Product X requires Product Y)
- Catalog mode (based on customer role)
- Real-time currency exchange rates (ECB)
- Configurable measure weights and dimensions
- Import and export – Allows for bulk editing. This is particularly helpful when converting from an old system or custom cart to something more standard like NOP.
There’s a lot more detail on the cart, particularly in how it handles products, but I figured I would spare you some of the tech talk. Overall we feel that NOP is one of the best carts out there today and with it’s very up-to-date code base and use of MVC is our go-to solution for shopping carts.