A New Shopping Cart Option?

In the micro-ISV space – and even within the PHP community, one of the questions I see over and over again is:

Which shopping cart is best?

Everyone has heard of osCommerce, its long-ago forked child ZenCart, the commercial XCart, and a few of us – like CaseySoftware – use Drupal's E-Commerce module. But almost none of them ever fit everybody's needs… sometimes you can modify and extend them to meet your needs, but not everyone has the time, ability, or patience to do that.

A friend of mine has been fighting this battle for upwards of a year. All of the above shopping carts work well enough for a handful of items. Some are great for dozens and even up to hundreds of items. But they all collapse once you reach thousands of items. Admittedly, not many stores have to deal with that sort of problem. In addition, theming some of the above is a nightmare… separation of display and logic is an old concept, but some projects are only now starting to understand it. Then he found Yahoo Stores.

I have to admit that I was more than a little doubtful with his idea… Sure, he wouldn't have to worry about the server. Sure, he wouldn't have to figure out how to cut the code and configure permissions, etc. But at the same time, those are the things that make Open Source Software useful and powerful… I can't imagine giving up the power. But then he passed me a link to the new site.


Battery Fuel.comThen a friend of mine passed along a link to his new site: BatteryFuel.com. This is a Yahoo Store!? I didn't believe it at first but then poked around and confirmed it quite easily.

The first thing that struck me was the overall design. Overall, it's a shopping cart, but the more interesting fact is that it doesn't look anything like any of the other Yahoo Stores I've seen. I don't have a full list of what aspects can be customized, but it looks like basically everything… so the ability to integrate your main site's look and feel into the store seems quite possible.

Next, yes, those are static url's. I confirmed it with him and found that was the case. Yahoo Stores allow users to import their product list as needed and then republish the site in one fell swoop or by individual items. This seems backwards to just about every software developer I've ever met, but it resolved his previous problem of database load – have you ever queried for 10k items along with their categories, attributes, etc?

Next, all the SEO is handled automagically. While there are often modules to support clean/SEO-friendly url's – for Drupal I use pathauto – but for many systems, it requires a bit of black magic with your .htaccess file… which can be difficult at best, and server-crippling at worst. I don't know what the configurability is for Yahoo Stores is in general but for BatteryFuel, it's based on the category, brand, and even product.

Finally, what about integrating this with other payment, shipping, whatever options as part of the shopping flow? Well, they seem to have that one covered too. During the checkout process, there are a number of places you can have the cart POST to your site, do your custom logic/integration, and then POST back. For example, BatteryFuel has an SMS fired to a cell phone whenever an order is completed.

So will Yahoo Stores fit all your requirements? Not a clue. 😉 But I have to admit that I'm impressed about the options and configurability of the entire system. It's still feels odd for an Open Source guy to give up that much control, but when you have a problem to solve, you need to choose the best option. In BatteryFuel's case, that appears to be Yahoo Stores.

Neither CaseySoftware, LLC nor Keith Casey have a vested interested in Yahoo or BatteryFuel.com, but BatteryFuel is owned and run by a long-time friend.