If you're around my age, you remember the days when bank patrons stored their valuables in safe deposit boxes at their local financial institution. Banks still have the aura of safety and security. That's the reason why Maxanne Durkee of Heavyweight Collections decided to sign up with Chase Instant Storefront when it came time to redesign and rename her Heavy T-Shirts ecommerce website.
It wasn't that Durkee had experienced a hacker attack or security breach. But as a responsible businessperson who (at the time) hosted her own website, she naturally wanted to protect her customers' account information and found she was spending lots of time maintaining the server.
"Since we hosted our own site, we were always on alert," she says. "Then the requirements for passing security standards changed and we had to re-configure our server which made it a little more difficult to access it remotely."
Since Chase Instant Storefront is based directly on the popular Miva Merchant ecommerce platform, Durkee felt her site would be extra secure, and easier to maintain than the open source ecommerce program she was also considering.
According to Miva Software Marketing Manager Jesse Ness, Chase Instant Storefront is really just Miva Merchant 5.5 software white labeled for Chase. He says the Chase offering is primarily targeted to small online sellers who don't have an ecommerce enabled website as yet and who want to apply for a merchant account that enables them to process credit card payments as part of the process of creating their site.
But the Miva platform is robust enough that large retailers can either use it from the start, or small sellers can start out with the software "and grow without having to upgrade to a new platform," Ness says.
Chase Instant Storefront includes the usual website templates that storefront operators can customize to their own business needs. "The software is an all-in-one ecommerce solution and includes all the pages you would need for an online store."
One thing that sets the Chase offering apart from Miva or other storefront programs is the inclusion of the merchant accounts. The rates charged for processing payments are standard, says Ness, and are determined by the bank's underwriting department. But a typical transaction would be $.30 plus a 2.39% fee. Chase also charges $100 to set up the merchant account, but that fee is sometimes waived during promotions.
Once your store is online, you get hosting and 24/7 support for $39.95 per month for the smallest plan, which enables a seller to offer 100 products for sale. Other plans run at $59.99 per month for 1,000 products, $89.95 for 5,000 and $129.95 for 100,000. These aren't hard numbers, however; the number of products is based on storage space, so in the unlikely event you have no product images you could post many more products online.
It was Maxanne Durkee's banker who suggested she check out Chase Instant Storefront, and Durkee found Miva's customer support and user forms excellent for getting started up and then customizing her site.
"Once we got the site up and running, it was pretty vanilla but sales started to roll in on day one," she says. "I had joined the forum discussions at that point and found that I could easily customize my site to have some pretty cool bells and whistles. The folks in the forum are like gold, sharing all their experiences and how-to's."
While Chase Instant Storefront is user-friendly for beginners, Ness points out that sellers who already have storefronts up and running and who are already familiar with ecommerce can investigate Miva Merchant directly for more sophisticated solutions.