8 Software Packages Every Online Retailer Needs to Know

Millennials are now making 54% of their purchases online while non-millennials are doing it at 49%. If you are part of this growing industry or in case you have just seen its potential profits and you want to join, there are various software packages which can assist you to run your online business successfully.

Featured image credit: MLM Business Software Central


This basic package can be extended to meet your requirements. OpenCart requires little effort to install as long as you have a Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP (LAMP) stacked on a server. The setup is basic for the majority of web servers, and it is highly likely you are ready for the software package. In case you are unsure, confirm with your service provider. Clients can go to OpenCart’s marketplace to look for add-ons that add to its functionality. This includes free primary integrations like Facebook plugins or Square payments. You can find Microsoft Dynamics integration for up to $2,000 in the marketplace. Other tools offered by the marketplace include Excel tie-ins or SEO insights for product management.


This software package applies the standard eCommerce solutions formula referred to as core-with-extensions. It comfortably fits into the majority of websites because it has been built on PHP which is a popular web development language. PrestaShop provides more than 1,500 templates. 500 of these are add-ons which allow integration with Amazon Marketplace, Google Merchant Center, and Stripe. The software package offers support to global stores and numerous stores within a single back-end. If you have separate storefronts in Canada and US, you can take care of all of them in one place. Prestashop has forecast ability, and Intelligent Merchant KPI features as reporting capabilities.


Being one of the earliest eCommerce software, osCommerce has numerous add-ons made for it. More than 7,000 integrations have been made for the program for free, and there is a big community offering support and working on it. Through its Apps Marketplace, osCommerce integrates with all kinds of third parties. It is possible to integrate Facebook and Sage Pay and present your website in numerous languages. It is not a sophisticated software, and in case you have some problems using it, you can consult the osCommerce Community. Hosted versions starting price is $8 per month.


This is an ecommerce plugin that seeks consensus from the inner circle of the buyer after checking out, before billing and shipping. It gives purchasers the confidence to shop, an incentive to maintain a product, and a reason for sharing. Pollcart assists to increase referrals and sales since the customers do the marketing for you.


Keyword research and SEO is important for any kind of sales, but Amazon doesn’t work the same as Google.  If you use Amazon to sell your products, you need to have Sonar to help you.  This keyword research tool is free and, unlike other tools, it only looks at Amazon data and actual customer searches, which allows you to tailor your Amazon SEO to be more accurate.


This is a WordPress shopping cart plugin which is open source and is not a full eCommerce solution. WordPress is the most famous content management solution and is not to be confused with WordPress.com. Businesses using WordPress can use the plugin to convert their websites into a store. If you are accustomed to WordPress, adding WooCommerce is easy. It has all the functions and needs little customization. One of its most famous features is the one-page process of checkout, which lets users pay for the items on sale easily.


Volusion’s monthly plans can help you in launching an online store. Volusion has customer support around the clock with video tutorials and thorough support pages. It has themes covering fashion, beverages, food, beauty, electronics, and more. The themes are customized to be usable on mobile devices. Hence, your customers will have a smooth shopping experience on any device they use. Volusion’s App Marketplace has over 60 apps that you can use to boost your store. Additionally, the software assists in integrating with eBay and Amazon, getting automatic tax rates, offering subscription billing, and adding products.


Podium can help online retailers by providing a way for potential customers to message the retailer with questions about the product, and more importantly, has a feature that makes leaving review very easy, increasing the likelihood that customers will leave reviews. Podium’s specialty is using texting to prompt customers to leave a review after purchasing your product.

If you are an online retailer, one or a combination of some of these eCommerce software packages will assist you to run your online business smoothly.

Uber of X: Is PollCart the Twitter of shopping?

Laura Entis recently wrote an Entrepreneur magazine article called ‘We’re the Uber of X!’ where she challenged the idea of simply creating a company to be the uber of lawn care or dry cleaning or whatever. It made me think about my “Going to the mall with you friends…” metaphor I frequently use when I describe PollCart’s power to make commerce social. I took it as a challenge to provide content for three new domains—uberofshopping.com, facebookofshopping.com and twitterofshopping.com—and create PollCart elevator pitches that answer the question: How is PollCart the X.com of shopping?


Uber is a tool used by professional drivers to find riders. The idea of a driver without Uber exists; he could sit at a corner in a black Mazda and approach pedestrians about perhaps climbing into his car. He could perhaps paint his Mazda yellow, get a taxi license and put a sign on his Mazda letting folks know that it would be safe to get in his car, dealing also with cash transactions and manual credit cards. Or, he can join the Uber force, drive to high-traffic areas and wait for Uber to send him the name and location of folks waiting to be picked up with linked accounts for secure payments.

I’m taking a business approach to Uber’s advantages because PollCart is a B2B product primarily. Just like riders ride with the Uber app, but drivers have the biggest opportunity to flourish with the platform. Buyers use PollCart, but the online retailers gain the greatest advantage from utilizing PollCart as a way to help buyers decide to go through with an otherwise-stalled transaction. Running an eCommerce site without PollCart—the Uber of Shopping—is like the Mazda driver hoping to court pedestrians when it comes to social buying dilemmas.


The common value that PollCart shares with Facebook is vision. It’s not a question of who uses PollCart, it’s a question of how YOU use PollCart. I like to think they’ll make movies about my cut-throat business skills and creative genius, but for now, I’d like to think there’s a PollCart for everyone, kind of like how pretty much everybody either has a Facebook, shares an account with a partner or hates/avoids it and everyone they wen to high school with thinks they’re dead.

Facebook, like e-commerce is a daily part of most people’s lives and we intend to inject our brand of social commerce into each online purchase a consumer is willing to give us the opportunity to convert. We know not every purchase is a PollCart purchase, but we believe we’re working on a real verb. “Hey Jeff, how’ve you been? Facebook me.” becomes “Hey Jeff, should I buy this? I’ll PollCart you when I check out!” PollCart is the Facebook of Shopping.


So why do I like Twitter? It’s instant, a timesaver. My followers can participate at any level they choose. If I share something cool, word gets around. I can share a product with a group of friends without feeling salesy. My friends can communicate with me about pretty much anything. Hmmm… those are many of the reasons I like PollCart.

But Twitter isn’t part of the e-commerce retail checkout, and PollCart is. So lookout out world, the Twitter of Shopping has arrived!


From Browse to Buy: PollCart Thoughts on Driving Customer Engagement

Various strategies for driving customer engagement – what’s old is new again

As the international band of technologists, business experts and people of mystery known as the PollCart team drives to the finish line of the development, we continue to discuss our solution with customer engagement experts in the online e-retailer world.  The puzzle is the same as it has ever been:  If a customer shows up, how do you get that customer to stay and purchase.

It is great when people show up and look around, browse, kick the tires and generally check things out.  How do you get from browse to buy?  In the buzzwords of our industry, how do you get the prospective customer to convert?

This brings me to the “6 Strategies to Drive Customer Engagement” article from Forbes by Erika Maguire from last year.  It makes the point that “[I]n order to survive today’s ever-changing landscape, businesses need to provide real-time, personalized experiences that reach customers just as they need them.”  It goes on to provide such examples as mobile push notifications or emails promoting sales.

The article promotes such strategies that we group in this way:

  1. Customer Experience.

The customer experience should be simple, easy to use and provide the customer with useful information to assist and encourage engagement with the company.

  1. Data, Big Data and More and Bigger Data.

Companies should take advantage of the data and analytics tools provided by customer engagement on social media.  This includes identifying trends for product development and for receiving and responding to customer feedback.  Most importantly, this includes using this information to anticipate and act on customer needs.

There was nothing groundbreaking in the article, as it was consistent with the research we had done while developing PollCart.  Our thought was not just how to engage with customers, but how to help customers engage with each other using the retailers products as the basis for the conversion.

This is Social Commerce!  This is customer engagement on steroids.  It is a truism in marketing that word of mouth advertising is the most effective advertising.  Would a push notice from OnlineStuff be more effective than a customer polling their friends about the awesome product form OnlineStuff that it is considering?  In this respect, PollCart’s Social Commerce strategy flips the paradigm, and the customer becomes the marketer.

Word of Mouth: What if Your Customers Are Your Customer Engagement Agents?

PollCart Thoughts on Driving Customer Engagement: Word of mouth is the ultimate advertising.  How do you get your customers to do your customer engagement bidding?

As the international band of technologists, business experts and people of mystery known as the PollCart team continues to read through its backlog of expert opinion articles, we come to the hospitality industry, where customer engagement and customer service are central to the business.

You may ask yourself, “as an online retailer (for example), how could this possibly apply to me?  After all, I typically do not engage with customers on a one-on-one, eye-to-eye basis.  It is all clicks and form-filling.  On occasion, someone may call for assistance.  But generally, customer nirvana means racking up sales without ever dealing with customers.”

Well, there are two flaws in this argument.  First, providing value for customers is generally how businesses make money.  However, this is not a General Biz 101 college-y course.

Second, customer experience is usually the difference between success and failure, even for online businesses.

According to a bigwig for a big-time hotel and resort, “Anyone who wants to get to the top 1% of customer satisfaction and loyalty needs to go beyond ‘service’ to the heart of creating a superior customer experience. And the way you get there is through customer engagement.”

He continues to say:  “But what we’re discussing, really, is engagement with the guests…did you find out how your guest was feeling and work on making a connection with them?”

What if you combine the customer engagement standards of The Ritz-Carlton with word-of-mouth advertising?  Sounds like a powerful combination.  This is Social Commerce!

At PollCart, we take the customer engagement and put it in the hands of actual customers!  These customers then engage with other potential customers, particularly friends and family.  This is in the form of a poll, but it is in the context of an actual customer asking about the purchase of an actual product with actual people providing actual guidance.

As we have discussed before, it is a truism in marketing that word of mouth advertising is the most effective advertising.  In this respect, PollCart’s Social Commerce strategy flips the paradigm, and the customer becomes your customer engagement director.

PollCart Users Buy, Share and Keep More Than Traditional E-Commerce Buyers

Investors, marketers and salesmen we’ve interviewed for PollCart have an important question for me: What problem does PollCart solve? We’ve identified a few, abandoned carts, customer referrals and purchase accountability, but my favorite part of PollCart is it’s novelty of surprise and delight.

So the question that follows is typically, “What problem does surprise and delight solve?”

Which is a difficult question to answer. Our last app, 12Bar took a musical task typically performed with a sharpie and paper onto the iPad, allowing organization, searchability and on-the-fly capabilities unavailable to the Sharpiest. But it was primarily a solution to the age old issue: Musicians just want to have fun.

Which was not a business problem.

So I started asking questions. I know what problem clothing solves, but what problem does height-of-fashion designer clothing solve?

I realize people need something to do, but what problem do the Dallas Cowboys, Mavericks, Stars and Texas Rangers solve? What problem do The Old 97’s, Toadies and Reverend Horton Heat solve? Folks need sports. Folks need to rock. Are these business problems?

In his article, “Building customer loyalty with surprise-and-delight marketing,” Ernan Ronan answers the surprise and delight question quite simply.

“Brands can build a greater connection to customers on an emotional level…If implemented successfully, brands can realize increased customer engagement, reduced churn, and greater ROI.”

Simplified, the problem is that customers don’t feel connected to brands on an emotional level and the solution is providing a surprising and delightfully fun experience. The business problems listed include:

  1. Customer Engagement
  2. Churn
  3. Return on Investment

PollCart surprises and delights its users bringing a sense of danger and adventure to shopping, involving their favorite people. And our favorite people love to decide our luxury retail fate. PollCart users buy, share and keep more than traditional e-commerce buyers and that my friend is both surprising and delightful.

We didn’t invent PollCart to solve the intense business problems it solves, but we fell in love with it because it does solve those problems and is fun as a slip and slide on one of those days where it’s sunny and rainy at the same time. Apparently being that fun solves a business problem. Or 3.

Rich Williams, MBA is the CEO of PollCart, a forward-thinking new platform that turns shopping into an authentic social experience. Our users can easily get to know the consumer opinions of friends and loved ones, even before they actually decide to make a purchase. With PollCart, you can share your shopping experience in the same way you share your status updates, moods and feelings through your favorite social media platforms. We ultimately aim to empower consumers and help them make informed purchased based on the opinions and suggestions of real people they actually trust!

From Cart to Checkout: PollCart Thoughts on Reducing the Abandoned Shopping Cart Phenomenon

Various strategies for reducing abandoned shopping carts

The international band of technologists, business experts and people of mystery known as the PollCart team got together to review how the PollCart system encourages additional customer engagement and additional sales.  As you can imagine, security was deployed as crowds rushed the conference room to hear the insights.  Since we didn’t want you to brave the alligator-filled moats around the vast and palatial PollCart headquarters, we thought we’d share it with you.

We took a look at this article from VWO.com about reducing shopping cart abandonment.  VWO provided a very scientific and mathy formula for calculating a “cart abandonment rate,” or as we refer to it, CAR.

CAR = 1 – (Number of Orders Placed/Number of Shopping Carts Created)

That looks complicated and official.  And probably peer reviewed and carved into a stone tablet.  But what does this tell us?

Here is what is important and how it impacts online retailers:

  • The abandonment rate in the home retail industry is almost 74%.
  • The abandonment rate in the fashion industry is almost 75%.
  • The abandonment rate in the travel industry is an astounding 81%.

You are a retailer.  You put work into developing or curating your products.  You spend a lot of time and money developing a website.  You spend a lot of time and money on an SEO and marketing strategy.  Customers show up.  Customers choose products.  Customers leave.

How do you get those customers to pull the trigger and buy when they are clearly interested enough in your products to put them in a shopping cart?

Customers abandon shopping carts primarily for encountering unexpected costs.  Often, these costs involve shipping, but there can be tax and service fees.  It may be difficult to get these customers back.

However, the next largest category of lost customers are those who were just browsing.  Can they be tempted into buying?  What if there were a mechanism for them to show their friends?  Perhaps Social Commerce, where individuals online share their shopping experience, could induce additional sales, particularly additional sales that would otherwise be lost because they were just browsing.

PollCart gives these customers the ability to get their friends and family involved in the buying the process.  It creates an event around the buying process and puts the buying decision in the hands of trusted people when the customer was ready to abandon the transaction.

PollCart gives the retailer another chance to sell when the sale was already lost!  These are incremental sales for customers in whom you already have an investment!  In addition, you have just reached one, two, five or more potential customers when one potential customer has already vouched for you and your products.  This is word-of-mouth advertising and customer engagement gone viral!

What is PollCart?

PollCart is a forward-thinking new platform that turns shopping into an authentic Social Commerce® experience. Our users can easily know the consumer opinions of friends and loved ones after they decide to make a purchase. With PollCart, you can share your shopping experience in the same way you share your status updates, moods and feelings through your favorite social media platforms. We ultimately aim to empower consumers and help them make informed purchases based on the opinions and suggestions of real people they actually trust!

PollCart works with online stores to create an approval poll for an online purchase. The buyer creates the poll as part of the checkout process and validates her card for the item, distributing the poll. When the item is approved by one or more contacts, the online store charges the card and processes the order, shipping the item. Our targets include abandoned shopping cart items; big ticket items a customer might otherwise wait for or never buy and fun items typically bought with a group, similar to taking your friends shopping at the mall.

PollCart makes a percentage of the initial cart polled and sends the contacts links to approve the item with referral information, and affiliate sales billed at a higher percentage of the total purchase. PollCart eases the minds of buyers who may otherwise return the item or simply not make desired purchases. The few steps and short time required to create and complete a poll guarantee faster shipment and receipt than traditional forms of opinion gathering. Because the buyer only has to visit a site once, the question of whether or not she will return and purchase the item is not a concern.

PollCart’s landing pages shows the participants votes and comments, giving the voters opportunities to change their opinion or suggest alternatives with item links on the participating website. PollCart gives the user options to share their results on social media and share anonymized product poll feedback with the retailer. The users can create an account for additional features or maintain anonymity as a guest, communicating with PollCart’s API through encrypted links.

The PollCart team is currently creating a demonstration environment for the patent-pending technology and business process using the popular Shopify platform. The first version of our plugin will be available to Shopify ecommerce platform users first and soon thereafter customizable via custom API integration into any ecommerce platform or conceptual license for in-house integration.

PollCart aims to shed light on the informational black hole that exists during the time between a user’s first visit and expressed desire for a product and their possible eventual return to purchase the item. We aim to pry the items from sitting in an eCommerce shopping cart or wishlist for often months or years. PollCart is a new platform on a quest to turn shopping into a social experience and let users share their opinions. PollCart: Empowering consumers through opinions they actually trust!


Patent Pending PollCart Poetry Slam

Sixty Second Ad Version

Some companies make announcements via press releases, t.v. commercials or skywriting. At PollCart (coming soon to an e-commerce shopping cart near you), we (or at least Rich Williams) announce the filing of our patent application by reading it at a poetry slam. Let’s get weird! —dougBerman

Lots of people have ideas. Some people get those ideas patented. Only one person reads that patent at a poetry slam.

Say “hello” to PollCart. — jonnyMack (iagreewithjonny)

Jonny, Doug and I spent some time this weekend creating this video, please share if you like the crazy idea we had! I attended the Dallas Poetry Slam to present the PollCart patent through neither press release nor white paper, but SLAM POETRY. —filthyRich

On March 10, 2016, PollCart Social Commerce filed their first patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Most companies announce their patents with a series of press releases and white papers. PollCart found the best way to present their patent to the world. PollCart founder, Rich Williams, attended the Dallas Poetry Slam to present PollCart through neither press release nor white paper, but SLAM POETRY.

Extended PollCart Patent Pending Poetry Slam

I Want $150 Asics and I Want Them Now: The Ecommerce Strategy

During a recent study, Callie* told me a riveting story of wanting to buy $150 shoes and how she communicated with her husband, Tom*. Callie is a distance runner who typically runs 5 miles every morning before 6:00 a.m. and gets to work by eight where she parks at the top of the garage, does five flights of stairs, then goes into her building six flights up where she changes into her designer pumps for her legal job.

Queen: I Want it ALL!

From asics.com: “After 18 years of innovation, the Nimbus® series continues as one of ASICS’ most recognized high performing footwear. The new GEL® placement offers modernized geometry of cushioning, designed to improve adaptability and mitigate brisk impacts. Improved Guidance Line® technology harmoniously syncs componentry to embrace the motions of the runner’s gait cycle. $150”

$150 Asics

Callie’s active lifestyle has contributed to a number of injuries and turning 40 has not helped with her knee and heel sensitivity that she treats with massage therapy and ice. Shoes designed for an active pronator are a must. Callie picks up new Asics about every three months and typically just asks Tom if there’s money in the bank before she hits up Asics’ frequent shopper ecommerce platform.

If you feel like you can’t relate to Callie or Tom, here’s the thing—neither can I. Let me tell you Tom and Callie’s real story: Callie is actually a busy mom and real estate agent. Callie hasn’t jogged in years and is trying to start a conversation with Tom, but it’s a “hard talk to have” when she wants something that is a “low priority” for her husband. Callie loves the way Asics Nimbus look with her jeans and they’re certainly comfortable, but how do you ask your spouse for $150 shoes when you can’t even give a pair of Chuck Taylors a run for their money?

Callie is overwhelmed because an item she actively wants, but certainly does not need is not an item Tom considers a good purchase. If Callie is lucky she can wait for birthday or Christmas and hope to see those aqua-mint, titanium and turquoise runners under the tree.

Let’s look at some other problems from our study associated with non-purchases or delayed buying and find a theme:

  • I can’t get in touch with anyone with expertise.
  • I struggle to gain approval if it’s expensive.
  • I’m not buying it if it means I can’t pay the bills.
  • I have to remember to buy it before the sale ends.
  • My friends, family and wife’s needs are different than mine.
  • I make her wait 30 days and she normally forgets.
  • I don’t ask or buy if I know he’s just going to say no.

Callie #1 legitimately needs those $150 Asics, I think we can all agree on that. But who decides if Callie #2’s reasons are important? In some relationships, Callie does. In some relationships, Tom does. In most relationships Tom and Callie strike a delicate balance with how they ask for items like a complicated game of chess.

What is Conversion? Ryan Kettler calls a website conversion “getting your visitors to do what you want them to do: Buy your product. (1) But ecommerce trends don’t just call for our target market, avid runners to buy $150 shoes, but a thoughtful ecommerce manager using an intelligent conversion optimizer is looking at ways to entice Callie #2.

Something I’ve noticed is that when I buy my wife Johanna a new pair of Chucks, she almost always finds time to go pick up a new pair of work shoes. Buying her hip sneakers is fun for me, but buying quality work shoes is important for her confidence. But in this scenario, Johanna picks my time to splurge on a gift as her time to invest in workwear. You can use your imagination when I imply that we have a similar system with “fun” and “functional” underwear. Like I said, complicated. Asics may have the best shopping cart according to the latest ecommerce trends, but if they can’t get Tom, they can’t get Callie, and if they can’t get Johanna, they won’t get Rich.


11378659_994706603907715_1554912690_nfilthyRich is the founder of PollCart: Empowering consumers through opinions they actually trust! PollCart is a forward-thinking new platform that turns shopping into an authentic social experience. With PollCart, you can share your shopping experience in the same way you share your status updates, moods and feelings through your favorite social media platforms.

*Real names changed to protect those from who we are grateful for their stories.



(1) What is a Website Conversion? by Ryan Kettler, April 24, 2012 http://www.boostsuite.com/2012/04/24/what-is-a-website-conversion/