Building an Online Store with CoreCommerce

In this review we look at how to use CoreCommerce, an all-in-one online hosted ecommerce platform to build an online store that offers mobile and social commerce options.

CoreCommerce 7.9 is an all-in-one online hosted ecommerce platform by provider Sum Effect Software.  This platform offers everything a merchant needs to launch an online store,  including design tools to build the webshop, secure ecommerce web hosting, the shopping cart and invoice system, plus a nice selection of online marketing tools.

One thing we like about CoreCommerce is its pricing structure. Many hosted online store providers charge a monthly subscription plan in addition to a per-transaction fee when you sell from your webshop.  CoreCommerce offers six different monthly fee-based plans with no extra transaction fees charged.

CoreCommerce screenshot; small business ecommerce
CoreCommerce has a large selection of professional store templates that you can modify to create a unique online store.
(Click for larger image)
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Another reason we liked CoreCommerce is because the platform is an all-in-one solution.  All ecommerce features that Sum Effect offers in its platform are included at every subscription level. For the webshop owner, this means you will not have to upgrade to access any of the ecommerce features.

Creating Your First CoreCommerce Webshop

Once you have registered for a CoreCommerce account and select a subscription plan that best suits your needs (see full plan details here), you need to provide basic contact details to get started. From that point onward, everything you need to create, build and launch your online store is accessible from the CoreCommerce admin dashboard.

You can make use of the platform’s built-in wizard to get you started, or you can go through the process of designing a store, adding products and managing inventory, section-by-section.  CoreCommerce is extremely easy to use, and you don't need to know HTML or CSS to create a visually appealing and functional webshop.

The platform offers a large selection of professional templates that you can customize to suit your needs.  For an existing webshop, you can use the CoreCommerce platform to integrate the shopping cart in to your existing site. EBay sellers can also import their listings to CoreCommerce.

As you create your online store, it is easy to edit the actual store template as you add content and set-up ecommerce options.  Assets you will want to have handy include a business and store logo, including different sizes for invoicing and the mobile version of your shop.  You can change your webshop template header, footer, cart buttons, the menu navigation bar and many other design elements of your store. 

CoreCommerce provides you with easy access to edit and customize every single page within your store, and you can change the content on every page to personalize sections for shipping details, Terms of Use, About Me and other standard ecommerce site pages. 

One platform feature that's extremely important is an entire dashboard section devoted just to making changes to the store homepage.  You can edit the homepage layout and page content to offer up fresh homepage content, like specials, featured products and so on to repeat visitors. You can use this feature to make the webshop look different from the other online stores created using this ecommerce platform.   

 Online Payments, Shipping, Tax and Standard Ecommerce Features

Once you customize your online store, it's time to add your products, set-up your online payment options, and configure tax and shipping options.

Again, the system is user-friendly and you can use a wizard interface or choose to set your preferences.  In most cases you simply load a one-page form and choose all the options you want to use for that feature.  For example, when you configure payment settings, you simply load the options page in the dashboard. You’ll see that each type of supported payment has checkbox beside it, and you turn on the payment services you want to offer customers.

Here you would click the box beside any of the following; check, money order, COD, pick-up, purchase order, gift certificate, PayPal Website payments, PayPal Express, Google Checkout, International Checkout, Checkout by Amazon, E-Check, 3D Secure, or credit cards.

Each payment option has a help button so you can determine if it is a payment type you will want to offer, and each option also has a little configure button beside it where you would enter your merchant account information.

The process to customize shipping, taxes and the other standard ecommerce options all work in the same way; CoreCommerce provides an easy-to-navigate form-style page form where you turn features on and off and customize the specific details to your own business.

From the main dashboard, you will have access to the following controls; Orders, Customers, Inventory, Site Content, Marketing and Reports.  Each admin control area also offers a dozen or more specific controls so that every aspect of your shop can be customized to your liking.

CoreCommerce screenshot; small business ecommerce
The Admin Dashboard provides all the tools you need to design, build, customize and launch a webshop.
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The Not-So-Common Ecommerce Features

We did not find the platform lacking any of the standard ecommerce features (see the full list of platform features here). What we did find is that Sum Effect Software stays on top of ecommerce trends and updates CoreCommerce on a regular basis to offer new ecommerce features.  Here are two “extra” features we were most pleased with discovering in the platform.

Mobile CoreCommerce:  With the CoreCommerce 7.7 release, the company introduced mobile-optimized storefronts that automatically detect if a mobile device is being used to access the webshop. If the software detects a mobile device, it will instantly adjust and optimize the storefront display for these smaller screens. The mobile commerce feature is automatically enabled and CoreCommerce merchants don’t need to do anything different to offer shoppers mobile versions of the Web shop, except to optimize their store logo for the smaller display screens.  

Facebook Integration: Another great feature of CoreCommerce is the Facebook integration. This feature allows you to post your Web shop products directly to your Facebook profile, using the Social Commerce application. Not only can you display your webshop products on Facebook, but people who view this on Facebook can access cart check-out buttons which will point the customer back to your product detail page.

In addition to these features, you will also have access to online marketing tools, product reviews, store widgets, and a CRM feature that allows you to track and manage all customer communications in one place from within your CoreCommerce dashboard.

Pricing, Support and Availability

All CoreCommerce platform features and the option to use your own domain name for your online store is offered in every subscription plan -- from the free trial account to the $29.99 Starter Plan, right up through to the $179.99 Platinum plan (the full subscription details can be read here, on the CoreCommerce Web site). The difference between the types of subscription you choose will depend only on how many products you will list in your store, and how much bandwidth, hard drive space and email accounts you will need.

In addition to a wide range of webshop plans, Sum Effect Software offers technical support for its CoreCommerce platform through an online knowledge base, online manual, live chat services, phone support and a 24/7 ticketing support built directly into your store admin dashboard.

Vangie Beal is a veteran online seller and frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com. You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.

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