EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 341 - August 25, 2013 - ISSN 1528-6703     2 of 6

Sellers Choice Awards: Online Shopping Carts 2013

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Two vendors have tied for first place in the EcommerceBytes Sellers Choice Awards in the "Storefronts & Shopping Carts" category. Amazon Webstore was the most popular ecommerce solution among EcommerceBytes readers who rated it 8 out of 10, tying for first place with BigCommerce, another popular platform. Other services rounding out the top six were Shopify; PrestaShop; Mal's ecommerce; and Zen Cart.

EcommerceBytes asked readers to rate 22 storefront and shopping cart solutions in the 2013 Sellers Choice Awards. Over 3,000 merchants rated the services they used on five criteria, and each was then given an overall score.

Online sellers have a vast choice in where they host their stores, ranging from simple shopping carts to free storefront services to turnkey hosted solutions. Each of the vendors in the chart above vary widely in terms of what features they offer, so sellers should determine their needs and map them to the solutions as part of their vetting process when evaluating storefronts solutions and shopping carts.

Note that the 2013 Sellers Choice survey included a related category, "Inventory Listing and Management Tools," and some respondents noted that they used those services to also power their ecommerce websites. The Sellers Choice results for that category will be published in a future issue.

Amazon Webstore
Amazon Webstore had the most number of users responding to the Sellers Choice survey, proving it is popular among EcommmerceBytes readers. It received high marks for performance (a very high 8.6), and its lowest rating was for fees - but even that came in at a fairly healthy 7.2, showing sellers are willing to pay for what they get.

Ease of Use: 8.0
Performance: 8.6
SEO Features: 8.5
Customer Service: 7.9
Fees: 7.2

Reader Comments - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Amazon is the next thing to the perfect e-shopping for ME - even when things have gone wrong they own the mistake and make it right - no dragging me over the coals like some other venues do.

Very easy to use although would like a better display of seller when there is more than one seller for the item esp for used items.

Very reliable.

Very good - even when I have had a few problems - some of my own making and one or two of a sellers making - Amazon has gone out of their way to make it right with no hassle.

Great company.

Amazon acts looks and feels like it is concerned about your purchase from start to end and after.

Customer Service is an 11. 11 is one more than 10.

Always unfailingly POLITE well spoken easy to understand my issues and able to come up ON THEIR OWN with solutions to FIX the problem.

Sorry I am not the best shopper here as the only venue on this survey I have used is Amazon - but I would place them against ANY selling venue.

It's not easy to please people when it comes to customer service, but BigCommerce got one of the highest scores we've ever seen in the years of conducting Sellers Choice Awards in any category, earning an 8.9 in customer service. Its lowest score was for fees at 7.2.

Ease of Use: 7.3
Performance: 8.3
SEO Features: 8.1
Customer Service: 8.9
Fees: 7.4

Reader Comments - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Reasonable fee for 1st 500 products - just wish the next level was not double the price.

I think the fees are reasonable but a little on the high side.

Big commerce has made my ecommerce store easy to maintain and more visable than ever. Great support and easy to use.

For the most part setting up my store was not difficult but there are a lot of areas that need customization that are more difficult to figure out.

I have had no problems with performance.

Great performance. The site is rarely ever down.

I am getting more orders once switching to Big Commerce.

I love that there are a lot of SEO features built right into the templates. This is a major bonus for those of us without any knowledge on editing the templates.

Every time I have had to call customer service they have been great. They are very courteous and do whatever it takes to get the problem solved.

I am completely happy with my choice for my storefront. I have used others in the past that just did not measure up to what I get from BIG Commerce.

Bigcommerce is fine but lacks some important functionalities.

Shopify came in at number 3 in the Sellers Choice Awards. It earned highest marks for performance (8.6), and lowest marks for fees (7.1).

Ease of Use: 8.2
Performance: 8.6
SEO Features: 7.3
Customer Service: 7.3
Fees: 7.1

Reader Comments - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

High Fee's!!

Have used their service for a couple of years, and although they are a bit pricey, I'm satisfied. Customer support is good, and the setup is easy.

Never have had an issue with Shopify. Good documentation for setup too.

Self Explanatory to set up.

Great customer service.

Incredibly flexible and the add-on applications make it powerful.

Fees high considering you have to pay for payments as well.

They are just designed to work well.

PrestaShop came in 4th place, earning its highest score in SEO features (which was second behind Amazon Webstore for that criterion). PrestaShop earned its lowest marks for Ease of Use with a 6.7. However, a number of sellers said they found the site was easy to use and set up.

Ease of Use: 6.7
Performance: 7.5
SEO Features: 8.3
Customer Service: 8.0
Fees: 7.2

Reader Comments - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Easy to use.

Good explanation of what's needed.

Has user forums, Q&A, SEO white paper available, I rated this factor a 9 because you might have to translate the support page from French as I had to.

As a novice, I found Presta Shop the easiest to set up and use from among several other store front/shopping carts.

Mal's e-Commerce
Mal's e-Commerce came in 5th place in the Sellers Choice Awards with its highest rating for Performance and a high score for Fees. Of the top 6 services, it earned the lowest numerical score in the "SEO Features" criterion, an important consideration for merchants looking to drive traffic to their listings.

Ease of Use: 7.3
Performance: 8.6
SEO Features: 3.4
Customer Service: 7.9
Fees: 8.3

Reader Comments - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Mal's e is free unless you need extras.

Reasonable fees.

Can't beat FREE!

Mal's is free to use.

Even after using Mal's e for years, I still have problems understanding how to do some settings, especially shipping.

Simple set-up.

Way too complicated.

Mal's e is easy for me because of my cms. I'm not sure it would be easy if I used Mal's e alone.

At the time I was setting up and using Mals cart, there was quite a bit of learning curve (don't know if it's improved since then). For someone who can understand a bit of coding, it should be pretty easy to set up. As far as the checkout part goes, that was fine ... and awesome!

Love that when you have a serious problem Mal himself will respond to an SOS and fix things.

Never a problem.

In 7 years I've had a problem only twice and Mal solved it within 24 hours - I call that excellent.

SEO feature - None available with Mal's e as far as I know

Good user forum, plus Mal himself is available for assistance.

Zen Cart
Everyone loves free, and Zen Cart, a popular service among EcommerceBytes readers, scored its highest marks for fees (8.5). Its lowest score came in at 4.3 for customer service. As one reader put it, "Since Zen Cart is community serviced, there is no customer service. This means you must either rely upon the community to know the answer or figure it out yourself."

Ease of Use: 6.0
Performance: 7.6
SEO Features: 6.7
Customer Service: 4.3
Fees: 8.5

Reader Comments - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

There are no fees with Zen Cart, this is a good thing.

I have used it for almost 2 years - its FREE!

Took awhile to learn, but good performance over all.

Not that easy to figure out, Ok when you have the book.

Confusing and buggy.

You have to know what you are doing to customize it.

Way too complicated.

Once it was up and running it was very good.

No problem at all with my Zen cart - my hosting service is a whole 'nother ballgame

Zen was just average.

Integration was a bit sketchy at the start.

Okay but not great.

I think Zen cart is behind times in SEO and mobile.

Always got help quickly. And clearly explained. Very friendly.

Had to pay someone to fix things. Never found a zen forum or anything.

I like ZenCart very much. My IT person wants to change to Magneto - I really don't know why!

Now that I know HOW to set it up, won't use anything else.

I have been happy with ZenCart but it could use some improvement.

Zencart was way too complicated to learn AND there was an upgrade that HAD to happen several times a year.

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About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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