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Should I use a Canned Shopping Cart routine? Or write my own?

Posted on 2005-04-21
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-29
I already have good tips and research topics on using online payments like credit cards, PayPal, merchant accounts, etc. So this question is more for the actual programming of a web site/page order form.

I want to sell music cd's and artwork online. I want the programming to be straight, not convoluted, and want the transaction to be secure or safe for the surfer. Should I try to incorporate some "canned" shopping cart routine provided by a third party? If so, please recommend 2 or 3 that I can look into.....

OR.... (my gut feeling tells me this is a possibility, even for a slightly-above-average programmer like me! LOL!)

Should I write my own? I'm using standard xhtml, javascript, and actionscript right now, toss in some Swish, and soon to learn ASP. If this is the better way to go, then what are the main tips and pointers I need to know in order to create a reliable and secure "transaction form" for surfers to use to buy cd's?? A pertinent outline with good links will do, but the more information you can volunteer in the post the better we all like it.....and the more points I can add later. Not trying to tease or tempt you people, but me thinks the more effort put into a reply should get more points!

I will even read a small book on the subject if it looks good off the shelf in Brains & Noble! LOL!! Or maybe the web programming books already have chapters on doing web page sales?? I have several I shoudl probably start looking! LOL!!

Thanks for all the info you can share and point me to! Thanks in advance! - Vitix
Question by:VITIX
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 13838776
I have never dealt with ecommerce, but my thought is why try to reinvent the wheel?

if there is already a package out there that does what you need, no need to redo all the work yourself.

my other comment is that you might want to think about a different server side language than ASP....while support for it certainly won't go away, MS is doing their best to kill it in favor of .NET.

I've recently become quite a fan of PHP myself.


Author Comment

ID: 13839026
Sorry, I was referring to learning ASP.Net, and my host does not support PHP on Windows. I dont know enough about Linux to sign up for a Linux host account. - V
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 13839877
Ok no problem :-)
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Author Comment

ID: 13842987
Well, on second reading today, it sounds like part 1 of this question is too much like my previous question, which was answered by coreybryant. So.......

Please feel free to assume that part 2 of this question is the only part that needs answering. Please feel free to ignore part 1 and concentrate answers on the actual programming of a shopping cart type feature on a web page. I hope this is not too broad, it's hard to explain what I'm looking for. I'm not expecting exact code, but more like a general "make sure you do this or cover that" and "make sure you avoid doing this and dont do that" and maybe a good solid reason why you would use the language you recommend (ASP? C#? some type of script? etc.)

Hope this helps pin it down some...... Thanks! - Vitix
LVL 12

Assisted Solution

pigmentarts earned 800 total points
ID: 13843623
If you know what you’re doing then customizing a cart yourself is a good option. But many times you’re not doing anything that has not been done before.

I am a developer and we integrate most of our online stores carts with mals (http://www.mals-e.com/) its free for the basic basket, this way you can use a language like cold fusion that easy to use and build a powerful database system and let mals take care off all the risky stuff like payment gateways and cookies.

Don’t for get there is rally 3 thing to building an ecommerse store – database – basket and gateway to payment merchant. Take a look a http://www.gloversaquatics.co.uk this one I did with mal and cold fusion which is one of the easiest thing to do this stuff in.      

Author Comment

ID: 13844253
Thank you, 'arts...... I'll give it a look. I'm doubtful about obtaining access to ColdFusion, I may be stuck with the development tools that are already purchsed (mostly VS.Net). Last time I looked ColdFusion was a little out of my price range. But I will do some looking...... Vitix

Author Comment

ID: 13845827
Thanks again, 'arts! Mals e-commerce site has some really helpful info and ideas. I especially like the way he explains things with a "you can choose for yourself" attitude!

I also found out today that there are API's built in to a lot of these sites, something else I'm researching now. Even UPS and FedEx have web api's..... V
LVL 29

Accepted Solution

coreybryant earned 800 total points
ID: 13866251
Building a cart is very difficult.  Buying one to suit your fancy is even more difficult. And then integrating it into your pre-designed template.  We finally just went out to develop our own to be able to tweak it as needed.  That is what you need to review.  Do you want to be able to change things in the future?  Also make sure you are able to always get a copy of your database.  Keep that data on your local computer.  You never know when / if something might happen.

As far as the shippers - pick one or two.  Each one, USPS, UPS, Fed-Ex - they are all different and have their own rules.  Some, a bit of a pain to say the least.  


Expert Comment

ID: 13869586
I agree...why re-invent when there are some GREAT carts available for a very reasonable cost?


Author Comment

ID: 13872196
I got a ton of useful info from Mals web site, and also got the most important tips from coreybryant. For example, I had completely overlooked the need to be able to acquire a "snapshot" of my data.

So, I would like to split the points. I am upping the total to 400. I will come back in a few minutes and split it for you. Thanks to all who gave info. Next time my questiuons may be more specific, as I am probably going to end up writing my own cart mechanism. I dont want to reinvent the whell, but I do, ultimately, need to have complete and total control over the cart function and code. I need to integrate it with my own online database, and though it may be tedious and have a steep first time learning curve, it is not over my head. I will end up knowing how to do it and I will do it well. And I'm sure I will get more great help from everyone here!

Thanks Again!  -  VITIX!

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