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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Man... ever have one of those days where you spent the whole day working on your website, only to find out that all of your work turned out to be useless or that it didn't work? Today was definitely one of those days. And despite the urge to smash my computer to bits or set it on fire right now, it led to a question that I'm hoping can be answered. And it made me wonder if I'm expecting too much out of something...

I'm in the middle programming/coding my website by hand (meaning I'm not using templates or anything), and I'm trying to get it as close to ready as possible to be up and running quickly for when my inventory shows up on my doorstep in a couple of weeks. So at this point, most of the layout of the site is coded... I still need to write all of the content, but the overall general design and look I'm going for exists with only a new things that need to be fixed... except for one massively integral part of everything... the shopping cart... *DUN DUN DUN* (that's dramatic music in the background).

I'm trying to integrate a shopping cart/inventory management system into my site. Didn't seem like it would be that big of a deal, but after today I'm starting to wonder if there is nothing out there that meets my needs completely.

I'm aware of the major free or cheap shopping cart solutions that are mentioned so often around here... ZenCart, CubeCart, osCommerce, CRELoaded, E-Junkie, BigCartel, Magento, etc. I realize that they are all customizable to different extents, but the ones that are the most customizable (which is what I need, I think) require customers to create an account, which I don't want. Personally, I won't buy something off of most independent sites if I have to arbitrarily create an account. I find it annoying and sometimes suspicious, but I'll save that for another post :D And after looking into all of the above cart solutions, to say that I'm a bit discouraged at the moment would be an understatement. This is what I'm looking for...

-Completely 100% customizable in terms of how it looks (which rules out BigCartel and similar carts).

-It has to be safe/trusted (which, to me, rules out some of the really little guys out there... something about being responsible for the safety of people's credit card info is a bit scary).

-Preferably free or at least inexpensive (though perhaps this is one of those things where you get what you pay for? Though my budget is quite stretched at the moment...)

-Able to process Paypal Web Payments Standard (I know, I know... Believe me, Paypal is not my preferred option... It's at the top of my list to get a real merchant account once business gets even remotely steady.)

-Is able to integrate into MY site, and not the other way around. I want the shopping cart to actually integrate into my site, and not have to just skin the shopping cart to try to closely resemble the rest of my site. My site is laid out a bit differently than traditional templates, so it's important to be able to fit the cart into my site (for those of you with the Web Developer add-on for Firefox or something similar, click on "About Us" and then look at the Element Information on my page... I want the cart to fit into my Content class). I have my site's CSS files and HTML files, obviously. I want to be able to fit the shopping cart files and scripts into those, or something along those lines.

-I want a shopping cart where there's no obligation for a customer to create an account (it seems to be a common requirement among many of the free carts out there).

Is accomplishing all of that even possible? I've also been toying with the idea that I could just program an overall inventory catalogue page, each product page as a separate HTML page, and then just add custom PayPal buttons to each page... but that seems like an awful lot of work for something that doesn't seem like it should be so difficult. It would also make managing inventory and eventually adding more products absolutely ridiculous and inefficient.

So, given the above paragraph, I'm thinking that I need something that is based on a database of some sort to make things a bit easier and information a bit more consolidated... I assume MySql or php or something... but I am in no position to try and tackle programming those myself.

Am I expecting too much out of a free or cheap cart solution? Am I misguided? Are my thoughts about integrating it into my site off base?

You can check out the temporary work-in-progress site in my signature to see what I'm working on. If you click on "About Us", that's more or less where I want the cart - or whatever I end up doing - to go. I think. For now. Until I change it. Which, knowing me, may happen...

Thanks for reading this and for your patience. Feel free to give yourself a pat on the back for making it through The Longest. Post. Ever. :D
 

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I actually like your design. It's simple, yet classy and I dig the colors. Keep going. No matter how many of those days you feel like throwing it all away, and I've had plenty, there's always something to learn and that means it's never useless.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I believe cubecart can do most, of not all of what you need. Rodney uses it as his cart on this forum and he has been able to integrate it into the look and feel of the forum.

Hmm... I know it seems to be the most customizable and is apparently easier to customize than ZenCart. I've seen our forum's store. It's nice, but still seems a bit too much like a template for what my needs are. Plus, you have to register at checkout, which is something I want to avoid right now. (I do realize the potential benefits of it as well, but right now it's not the best option for me).

My apprehension is that the version where customers don't have to create an account is $179... which is not much money in the long run, but at the moment, given the fact that I just bought inventory, I feel broke. So I'm looking for something free at the moment...

But maybe I should just buck up and find a way to pay for it.

I think one of the main issues is that I have a specific place in my web design that I want to place just some of the cart's features.

Hmmm... thinking about this is going to keep me up tonight... :)
 

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You should take a look at bigcartel again.

You can make it use your own domain name for the site and there is a lot of customization that can be done.

I have a couple sites I have on my portfolio site and I'm starting to do even more customized sites for new clients. The skys the limit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You should take a look at bigcartel again.

You can make it use your own domain name for the site and there is a lot of customization that can be done.

I have a couple sites I have on my portfolio site and I'm starting to do even more customized sites for new clients. The skys the limit.
You're right... I've been playing around with their CSS this week and have it pretty much completely integrated into my site... I find their CSS/HTML API combination a bit annoying to use due to lack of directions, and I find their help forums a bit lacking, but overall, I'm pretty happy with what I've discovered about them. Now I just wish they'd let users use Paypal Pro instead of just Standard...

The grass is always greener, isn't it? :)
 

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You're right... I've been playing around with their CSS this week and have it pretty much completely integrated into my site... I find their CSS/HTML API combination a bit annoying to use due to lack of directions, and I find their help forums a bit lacking, but overall, I'm pretty happy with what I've discovered about them. Now I just wish they'd let users use Paypal Pro instead of just Standard...

The grass is always greener, isn't it? :)
Agreed, the lack of paypal pro is a major obstacle to what is otherwise an easy, attractive alternative.
 
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