The Shopping Cart Report eBook Review  
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The Shopping Cart Report - Merchant Accounts

eBook Review
The Shopping Cart Report
by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
213 pages (PDF file 1537k)

eShopping Carts: Comparing Apples, Oranges and Tuna Fish! or Make a Grocery List Cause You're Gonna Need One! or All That Food and I'm Still Not Satisfied!

by Mike Banks Valentine

Have you ever bought a book, then plopped down on a pillow on the couch with a cup of coffee and some snacks ready to devour that books' contents, sip some French Roast and munch biscotti? Maybe it's Folgers and Doritos at the computer screen in this case as you open up Adobe Acrobat reader and Dr. Ralph Wilson's ebook "The Shopping Cart Report".

Either way you've gone shopping and when you put that bag of rich, fresh and aromatic French Roast whole-bean coffee in your empty shopping cart, you've put a physical object into another before moving down the bakery isle to the fresh dark-chocolate coated Biscotti and put another physical object into a cart.

Online, both of your products are simply bits and bytes and the shopping cart is complex software hosted on a remote web server somewhere off in cyberspace. So whether you'll be buying that shopping cart software and having it installed on your own web server or simply using an existing cart hosted on some other secure server, you will be using shopping cart software to sell your products or services online.

Hence, the need for small business owners everywhere to know about shopping cart software and the reason Dr. Wilson wrote the ebook. I was excited to read the definitive work, just released by Wilson this year as I was about to recommend the purchase of shopping cart software to a client, then install it for him. I had my opinions of what was available and was prepared to make some recommendations based on past experience.

Then I saw "The Shopping Cart Report" and, knowing that things change at-internet-speed online, I thought I'd review the NEW recommendations of others before committing my client to any one software or hosted service. Both my client and I are very glad that I made that choice!

It's certainly not scintillating reading, in fact, far from that, as you trudge through reviews of software entirely inappropriate to your needs, services unlikely to make sense to non-geeks and interviews with a shopping cart software company president that will leave you wondering why it helps you to hear from her. All of it leaves you kind of lost and bewildered, especially if you know little of CGI scripts and secure server certificates.

So why read the ebook? Because if you DO know the basics of shopping cart software, paymemt gateways and online merchant accounts, the ebook is a revelation! That revelation for me came while I sat scowling and scratching my forhead in confusion wondering, "When ya gonna get to the one that's right for my client?" I was reading about Miva Merchant, a well respected software based on a database language that comes with open- source code, allowing customization and tweaking to your needs.

That revelation was simply this: No single shopping cart soft- ware is a one-size-fits-all solution. There are carts ranging from FREE to hundreds of thousands of dollars and they are all designed for very specific purposes, none of those purposes are likely to fit your needs precisely and none of them could or ever will. Shopping for a shopping cart is going to take you time, research, patience, more research and more time. Give in to that unhappy requirement and put in the time and energy.

Or explain your needs to your developer and trust them to solve them effectively for you. I don't recommend that unless you have money to burn -- unlikely for small business webmasters.

So get the ebook -- and don't expect it to answer your questions, solve your problem or provide an answer to your shopping cart questions. It won't do that, especially with the good Doctors' aged articles, one of them dated 1990! Yes I said 1990!

Dr. Ralph Wilson became an internet guru by being there before almost anyone else cared about the web, then tirelessly staying up-to-date and in-the-know since the beginning of internet time. He knows what he is talking about. He is also known as Dr. Ebiz and I say trust the good Doctor, he's a specialist and a well regarded master of web marketing.

But I must say that I have an awful time getting over the fact that nearly half the ebook is made up of his collected articles on (or even peripherally near) shopping cart software. The majority of those articles are more than a year old. The balance of the book is made up of one paragraph summaries with web links to articles online by others that are three and four years old and he acknowledges in his forward introduction that some of the links may not work . . . and that simply doesn't work for me.

Wilsons' articles are informative, if a bit scattered due to the fact that they weren't written specifically as a book, but as separate articles over time with no focus or theme other than the topic of shopping carts to tie them together. Not enough. Why would I recommend the book? Because after you read Wilsons' articles, you'll go to the list of article summaries with web links and you'll click through to those articles and read them.

By the time you've read all those articles, you'll understand the complexities involved in shopping cart software and you may get a few things about merchant accounts and secure servers and online payment gateways along the way. If not, you could always buy A Merchant's Guide to E-Commerce Payment Gateways by Dr. Ralph Wilson.

What it comes down to for this reporter is that you've got to do the research and you may as well start here. What I found out (to the delight of my own client) was that there is a hosted cart that cost just $6 monthly that will link up with the payment gateway and securely transmit necessary information to them and back with a cart that suits his needs, saves him hundreds of dollars in the process and makes me look great.

I found that resource somewhere in the list of article links provided by Wilson in the second half of the ebook. Essentially it came down to the clear fact that my client is currently able to securely sell products online with real-time approval of credit cards and move his business online for far less investment than would have been required with the recommendation I would have made before reading The Shopping Cart Report.

Now we can both sit back and enjoy our French Roast coffee and chocolate dipped biscotti. And he doesn't need to buy that really expensive shopping cart, just rent one very inexpensively until his business grows enough to justify buying that shiny new cart.

Wilson offers aged cheese and a fine aged wine but I was after French Roast and Biscotti. If you are seeking Folgers and Doritos you STILL have to go to the research store so read the ebook, put it in Wilsons' ecart and read The Shopping Cart Report.

While you're in the store you can compare Apples and Oranges.

Mike Valentine does Search Engine Placement for the Small Business WebSite101 "Reading List" Weekly Netrepreneur Tip Sheet Weekly Ezine emphasizing small business on the Internet ---
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