My favorite shopping cart to install for my website clients is eCommerce Templates, or “ECT”. ECT has a long list of features already built in, but what happens if my ecommerce customer wants a feature that the ECT shopping cart doesn’t have? Sometimes there are after-market modifications or “mods” that web developers sell. But which actually work? Here’s my review based on my own experience installing various modifications, mods or add ons for the ECT shopping cart.
1. Image Upload Mod by ECT Modifications: The ECT online store doesn’t provide a way for folks who don’t know how to use FTP a simple way to upload product or category images. This mod solves that problem. I’ve had good results with this image uploader mod, but ran into a problem with the fancier version, so for the time being, I’m only recommending this one.
UPDATE: The new 5.5 version of ECT has a built-in image uploader function, so I’d recommend checkout this tutorial video I made of how it works before you purchase any image uploader mods for your ECT store. It might be more advantageous to simply upgrade your store, versus buying a mod for your current version.
2. Advanced Newsletter by ECT Modifications: This is a wonderful enhancement to your ECT online store because it adds a newsletter manager right into the store’s admin area! It has a recursive feature so that you can avoid being labeled a spammer because it will send out X emails per Y minutes. If you’ve got a large database of clients, it might have to run overnight, but it’s better than paying $30 per month for a newsletter service. It also has a nifty auto “unsubscribe” feature, so folks can easily remove themselves from your mailing list.
3. USPS Click-N-Ship by DLSS: If you use USPS Click-N-Ship and are getting tired of copying and pasting your order data, this is the mod for you. You can print out your printing labels with postage right from the admin area of the ECT online store.
4. Digital Download Mod by ECT: This amazing mod from ECT gives your online store the ability to sell digital items, like photos or music files. It has an impressive array of features including the ability to set the number of days a download is available and to detect attempt to download without the proper authorization code.
5. Mini-Cart by ECT: Great little tool to show your customers what’s currently in their shopping cart.
6. I’ve just made my own mod, which allows you to search by product description when looking for a orders under “view orders” of the admin area. If you’d like to get this mod for your store, contact me.
Mods I Bought, But Would Avoid In The Future If Possible:
1. Dynamic to Static URL Product Pages by ECT Modules: I’d avoid this mod for two reason. First of all it’s unnecessary. In my experience, Google et al have no issue crawling and indexing the ECT cart pages. Secondly, this requires a .htaccess file to help out with the redirects, and this will cause a conflict with some hosting companies configurations.
2. Image Upload & Auto Resize by ECT Modules: This was the original mod I selected for image uploading, but it was only after I purchase it, did I realize it only uploaded product images, not category images. I had to pay for a custom modification to do category images – but then the developer didn’t offer free upgrades. So while this has a nice Ajax feature that lets you see the images you’ve picked, it doesn’t do category images. I recommend using the image uploader by ECT Modifications listed at the top of this article.
3. Navigation Enhancement Mod by ECT Modules: A website client of mine wanted to change her navigation to a lost vertical list of categories. When a customer clicked on a category, she wanted the sub-categories to be visible. This was the only ECT shopping cart modification I could find that would do this. The mod had several issues. First it had actually had some bad code in it, which prevented the style sheet from working correctly, which I was able to fix. Secondly, it is really slow, because it has to run to the database and fetch all the information. Thirdly, it didn’t work at all with static product pages. And lastly, if you clicked on a category in the content area, the menu collapsed! The developer says it’s working as it’s designed, so I presume no improvements are forthcoming.
You can see not all ECT mods are created equal.
Before you purchase any ECT mods, modification or add-on, be sure to check out the feedback from other folks who have purchased from the same developer. Go here to read all the ECT mod developer feedback.
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.