StoreFront.net Review

As of early 2011 I worked daily managing an online store with several thousand products on the StoreFront.net platform and here is my review.

From the moment I took the position back in 2008 I was made aware that the shopping cart was “hard to deal with, not very user-friendly”, and that most of the staff didn’t like dealing with it.

The store owner literally told me “maybe one day we will be able to switch to a different shopping cart”. So it was my job to make the most out of it while at the same time look for other options.

StoreFront.net is a Licensed version Shopping Cart Platform; which means that you need to pay for the software upfront and install it on your own server. They don’t provide a base price on their website right now, but last time I checked in mid 2010 it was around $1,800 USD. They used to be ranked on the Top 10 but disappeared from the rankings this year.

Web Design: Stuck

The design that I inherited was old, functional, but old. Nobody knew how to edit images, change text, backgrounds, add links, or anything. This software does not provide a Layout Design control panel. If you need to edit the template you need to download the files via FTP to your computer and edit them using Dreamweaver or similar software. It is VERY touchy so you better not mess up the code or your site goes down. All products inside a Category get displayed all the time; so if you have 300 products inside 3 subcategories, it would display all 300 at once when in the main category with no way to sort them out or narrow the options.

Marketing: Non-Existent

This shopping cart platform did not provide fields for META information to optimize for Search Engines. Your Product Name is your Page Title. It does not provide tools to generate a feed to upload to search engines or anything remotely similar. The system does keep record of customers who signed up for your Newsletter communication but there is no “export” button to retrieve them. We had to contact customer support and then they installed a file on the server and gave us the URL to “see” all the email addresses, then we had to export to Excel to generate a CSV file that then we could work with.

Admin Control Panel: Slow

The response times to go from one page to the other inside the Admin area were incredible slow, even on a broadband business connection. Editing one product was terrible as you would need to find the product by the “Exact name” or “exact code”, then it would open multiple tabs but each tab would render a new page meaning that it would need to Reload the whole page when changing tabs within the same product. Products only take HTML and you do not have a WYSIWYG editor, so unless you know your HTML codes you are stuck. Managing this cart was terrible, time consuming, and frustrating most of the time. Adding product categories you would need to load 35 or 40 pages to get to the right spot so you could add a subcategory. Product variations are very limited and you need to create every possible combination from scratch.

Customer Support: Poor

After StoreFront.net went bankrupt and then bought by Dydacomp they dropped their support staff to 1 person. You can imagine what it is like to wait for one person to answer all the support calls plus he sounded pretty burned-out by the time he would answer our calls. Email support was non-existent.

Integration: Terrible

Dydacomp also sells a software called MOM (Mail Order Manager) which is a great tool to manage inventory and all of your orders, but we spent months trying to get both, the shopping cart and the MOM system, to communicate with each other. Several months (and hundreds of dollars) later we decided to let it go.

Summary:

Most of the time we found ourselves trying to “cheat” the software or trying to find ways to patch things and find work-arounds to the cart. 20% to 25% of the time was wasted dealing with slow loading times. At some point StoreFront.net sent a letter to all clients letting them know about them being bought by Dydacomp, well someone decided to add all email addresses to the CC field instead of the BCC, this opened a Pandora Box for the company as all angry (dissatisfied) customers were able to get in touch with one another. Not Recommended by ShoppingCartsForWebsites.com

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