02 March 2008

E-Commerce Options: CandyPress

CandyPress is an online shopping cart system. It's ASP/VBScript based software designed to be used on Microsoft Internet Information System (IIS) web servers with an Access or MSSQL server database. If you didn't understand any of that chances are you're not a web programmer. I am, so I'll walk you through this e-commerce option.

In order to use the CandyPress e-commerce system, you must have a site hosted on a Windows based server capable of running ASP applications and have ability to connect to an Access or MSSQL database. If you don't have such web hosting, I recommend Hostexcellence.com (which I use to host all my web sites) or CrystalTech.com (which JLSMedia [my day job] recommends).

You can visit the CandyPress website it will detail everything that the software does for you. This is the software that I use for my store and for me it came down to the following features:

Payment Methods and Gateway Integration
A payment gateway is based how you receive payment from your customer. The Candy Press system ships with integration with all the major online methods including PayPal, 2Checkout.com and Authorize.net. This means all you need is to add your account information to the Candy Press system and BAM! you're ready to accept payments online via any of the available gateways. If one of the many gateways is not for you, then you can also add custom programming to integrate another payment option.

Inventory Tracking
Candy Press allows you to enter the inventory for any product that you place in the store. If you enable the inventory tracking feature, Candy Press will update your inventory as items sells and even send you emails when inventory levels start to run low. This is very useful if you are a self-publisher using Print on Demand.

Live Shipping Rate Quotes
Candy Press ships with the ability to allow your to calculate shipping by any method you wish. You can do it by price, by weight, offer free shipping etc. You can also enable live rate quotes from UPS, FedEx, Canada Post and the United States Postal Service (USPS). Enabling live quotes requires you note the weight of each item and then totals the weight for each item in the cart. It then fetches the correct shipping rate for each one of the services you have available.

In my store, I use USPS and my cart returns shipping quotes for Express Mail, Priority Mail, First Class Mail, Parcel Post and Media Mail. This coupled with PayPal allows me to quote rates based upon weight AND print postage without leaving the house.

Easy Modifications

Anyone with a little experience with ASP and VBScript, can easily modify the CandyPress cart to do almost anything you desire and wholly integrate it into any site. In fact, that's pretty much what I spend 40 hours a week doing at JLSMedia. This can be simple modifications such as changing the way that products are displayed to more complex modifications like adding a buy back program.

My buddy, Mike Hawthorne, has a web site that includes modifications that allow him to have a weekly updated feature (Dirty Girls) and weekday comic (Hysteria) and even a daily feature (Monster a Day). There is also his blog which is completed integrated with his Blogger.com blog and, of course, the fully featured shopping cart.

I've been involved in e-commerce since 1997 and have built e-commerce systems that have handled 300-400 orders a day. Candy Press is the most versatile and easily modified ASP shopping cart that I've come across.

If you're in need of an e-commerce consultation, contact JLSMedia and tell them that Jámal sent you.

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