ProductCart Build To Order Editor's Review


Editor's rating

The editor's rating is calculated based on the average of the following criteria, rated on a
scale of 1 of 5:

  • Installation: 5
  • Features: 4
  • Interface: 5
  • Customization: 4
  • Help and support: 5

Bottom line

"ProductCart Build To Order is a super-charged shopping cart that serves as a foundation for selling complex products and services online. It is unique in its focus and offers features not found in traditional, off-the-shelf ecommerce solutions. Its excellent store management setup and built-in marketing tools are top-rate. " - Ahmad Permessur, Editor - HotScripts.com

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Offers a unique approach to selling complex products and services that require a buyer's customization prior to purchase.
  • Benefits from all the great features of the standard version of ProductCart.
  • Supplies some handy tips in certain sections via the admin interface, while complete documentation is available on the company's wiki.
  • Works for downloadable products.
  • Includes a powerful quote feature enabling printing or saving of a quote for later ordering.

Cons

  • Interface for setting up product configuration could benefit from some streamlining.
  • Lack of multilingual capability.

Detailed review

ProductCart is not new to me. Back in 2010, I took ProductCart for a test-drive and was highly impressed with its robust feature set containing everything needed for creating a decent ecommerce website. The standard version of ProductCart will work well right out-of-the-box for many sites, but if you're on the lookout for some extra product/service configuration options, the ProductCart Build To Order (BTO) version may be just the ticket.

ProductCart BTO is an extension of ProductCart - you still benefit from all of the great features of the original version, but BTO is targeted at merchants selling highly configurable products and services. Although you may think that product configuration is an option you'd expect by default in any ecommerce application, let me assure you that BTO's product configurator is quite different. Other ecommerce applications allow standard, non-configurable item sales, but BTO is unique in also including easily configured ways to sell complex products or services. Its quote feature is also a nice addition not found in standard carts. There is even an add-on to manage potential conflicts between interdependent product options (e.g., if a specific item must be purchased with another item).

To truly understand the BTO version, think of an ecommerce website selling computers, where customers are able to purchase individual computer components as well as pre-built computers. Pre-built computers can come with complex configuration options like extra RAM, a larger display, or mounting fees. A traditional ecommerce application may to some extent support this capability through options, but what you won't be able to implement is a flexible pricing strategy. Nor will you be able to let the customer build his own computer from scratch or provide pre-configured computers on sale that customers can further customize. This capability, along with several other complex display, cost-calculation, and shipping weight adjustments are easily supported in BTO through a very streamlined interface.

BTO supports three product types: Build To Order Only Items, Build to Order Products, and Standard Products. Build To Order Only Items are ones that you want to allow to be ordered only as part of the configuration or 'build from scratch' process. Build to Order Products are the actual products that customers can order directly, which can be composed of Standard Products and/or Build To Order Only items. A quick read of the ProductCart BTO documentation is highly recommended to allow you to familiarize yourself with this terminology and some key functionalities, particularly regarding these product types.

Setting up a product for use as a BTO product does require a few logical steps. You start by creating any BTO items that are not already set up as standard products for sale. Next, you create the actual BTO product and set up all the general properties for it, by filling in fields like name, description, images, weight, shipping, and inventory. Once you're done, you configure the different options for the BTO product. From a list of all items available for selection you simply select those that you want to enable. Each item you add can in turn be further customized. For example, you may opt to show an image thumbnail next to the item, adjust its price, or decide how you would like to show all the different BTO items on the order page.

One other great feature about ProductCart BTO is its powerful built-in quote system, letting the store administrator provide quotes based on items selected by users. With this feature enabled, site users can save and submit a product/service configuration (i.e., a quote or an estimate) for printing, later editing, or review. They can easily log in back and complete the order. The store administrator gets an email each time a quote is saved and quotes can also be accessed via the admin area.

From a buyer’s perspective, configuration options for specific products are available via a “customize” button when an order is placed. The final price is adjusted in real-time as the buyer add/removes options from those you configured during setup. The rest of the checkout process closely resembles the same user experience found in ProductCart’s standard version.

All in all, I consider ProductCart BTO to be an excellent choice if you are selling complex products and services. While the example I used above was for a computer store, several other business types need similar levels of customization (e.g., machinery stores, a web hosting business, catering services). I would even argue that any store could benefit from ProductCart BTO, as it can prove to be a great way to sell value-added products and services to complement regular sales.

Screenshots

 
Disclosure

This is an editorial review; not a recommendation. All editorial reviews, some of which we may receive compensation to perform, express our objective findings and experiences with the specific product (including version) under review. The review expressed is of the editor only. Any product claim, statistic, or other representation should be verified with the provider.