ProStores, from eBay, is an ecommerce solution that powers thousands of online stores and has a loyal following of merchants. This is because ProStores has more than just the brand name, eBay, behind them. They have a robust feature set, an easy to use administrative interface, over 250 fully customizable templates, and a staff that works closely with ProStores merchants to ensure that this ecommerce solution meets their needs. The recent update, ProStores 10, is a great example of ProStores working with their merchants to improve their solution. Starting with a ZippyScore, the ProStores review below provides an in-depth report on the new ProStores 10 and how this ecommerce solution shapes up in comparison to other solutions on the market.
|Shopping Cart Feature||ZippyScore (out of 5.00)||Shopping Cart Feature||ZippyScore (out of 5.00)|
|Overall Value (15%)||4.20||Customer Service (15%)||3.78|
|Level of Customization (15%)||3.95||Ease of Use (15%)||4.05|
|Search Engine Friendliness (10%)||3.85||Range of Tools Available (10%)||4.05|
|Depth of Reporting Tools (5%)||4.01||Social Media / Social Commerce Integration (5%)||3.55|
|Mobile Commerce Integration (5%)||3.81||Free Trial Features (5%)||4.25|
|Overall ZippyScore: 3.97 out of 5.00|
Since late 2004, Ebay owned ProStores has been helping thousands of merchants create ecommerce stores so that they can start driving online sales for their business. Over the last year, ProStores has been making continual upgrades to their ecommerce software solution to ensure that their merchants have the tools they need to be successful. With four major updates in 2010, merchants are quite pleased with all of the improvements and are excited to start using all of the features in the ProStores ecommerce solution. In late 2010 the company upgraded merchants to ProStores 10, which has a long list of enhancements and new features that were driven by merchant feedback and requests. Not only is it much easier for a merchant to set up a new ecommerce store, but it is also much easier to manage so that time can be spent on marketing and increasing online sales. Now in 2010, ProStores is set to continue to improve their ecommerce software solutions so that merchants have all of the great features that they desire.
ProStores is targeted at merchants that run small to medium-sized businesses, and need a powerful and easy to use ecommerce platform to power their online business. Merchants who use Amazon Webstore or Yahoo Merchant Solutions, tend to also look to ProStores for a comparable solution, but most find that ProStores offers a more robust feature set for similar pricing. In an effort to show new merchants why ProStores is a great choice for an ecommerce solution, the company offers a free 30-day trial of the platform so merchants can see what the buzz is all about. This is one of the best ways to determine if ProStores is the right ecommerce software to power your online store. Before you test drive ProStores on a free 30-day trial, you can read the expert ProStores review below to get a better idea about what the ecommerce software solution has to offer merchants selling online.
The great thing about setting up your online store with ProStores, is that they start you off with a checklist to help walk you through the process of creating your storefront. This allows a new merchant to get the core required information setup, before diving deeper into the store administration panel where they can start to work with the advanced store features. Once the essential information about your online store is submitted, you then need to add at least one product category and product so you can soon begin the design process. Before editing the design, merchants also should set up and configure their payment information, so that the online store can be completely functional once the design is finalized. The last thing you will want to address before jumping into the design is setting up sales, tax, and shipping options, which all are laid out in the easy to use checklist. Ultimately, this is a different process than many ecommerce solutions on the market, as they tend to start you off with design and then work on the details of products, payments, and shipping after. Other solutions make their setup a free for all, where you can start with any feature you want. All that said, it is sometimes easier to work on your design after you have finalized details like products and payment, because you can view how your design interacts with these features, which makes this setup method a smart move for ProStores. Regardless if you are new to the world of ecommerce or a seasoned professional, the setup process in the ProStores ecommerce solution should be simple to tackle.
The ProStores administration panel can come across as a bit clunky at first when you log in, but this is quickly overcome by the abundance of quick tips and information that ProStores includes in every page of the admin tool. Many ecommerce solutions rely on icons and imagery to guide a user through their admin panel in an attempt to not overwhelm the user and make things look easier, but ProStores takes a different approach. To ensure ease of use for their merchants, the ProStores admin panel provides clear tips, directions, and information to ensure that each tool is easy to use and that the importance of each tool is stressed. All of this information might make the admin panel seem very wordy and overwhelming at first, but merchants that take the time to read through each tip (including the variety of SEO guides), will have a leg up on the competition. Overall merchants have been very pleased with how easy it is for them to get things set up with ProStores ecommerce software so they can start selling online.
Customizing the design of your online store is now much easier for merchants, thanks to the release of the ProStores 10 ecommerce software solution in late 2010, as they have enhanced features and added tools to greatly improve the process as compared to previous ProStores versions. In prior versions of ProStores, some non-technical merchants would need a little help during the design process, with some even choosing to utilize a ProStores certified ecommerce designer. While it is still a smart idea to utilize a ProStores certified ecommerce designer, merchants now have much more power under their control to tackle the design process on their own. The two biggest design related improvements that merchants have been impressed with are the new Page Builder and new Theme options. Customizing the key pages in your online store like the Home, Product List, and Product Detail page, are all easy tasks with the new Page Builder. Merchants can use a variety of pre-set layouts or take advantage of drag and drop panels to instantly change the look of their online store, which makes the process go smooth so that merchants can focus on selling online. ProStores even allows for the merchant to save multiple layouts so they can experiment to see what works best. In total, ProStores now provides merchants with over 200 themes to choose from and also has options to use horizontal category navigation, which was a popular request among merchants in 2010. Additionally ProStores also has the option for merchants to use rounded or blended borders and colors around and within panels, which can allow for the creation of a more unique design. The changes and enhancements to the design and setup of a ProStores online store is now easier than it has ever been before, and in 2011 the ecommerce solution should receive more updates to make it even more attractive to merchants.
Once your online store is fully setup and you're comfortable with the look and feel, the next step is to review all of the great marketing and promotions features which are included in ProStores. One of the newer features provided in ProStores is the ability for merchants to instantly create advertising banners which can be automatically promoted through an advertising schedule. The Advertising Banner Creator is a powerful tool, that allows merchants to run promotions in a way that larger retailers do, and it can help to make the site look more professional.
Thanks to this tool, no extra code work is involved for the merchant, as the quick edit tools in the creator can take care of all the hard work for you. In addition to this tool, there are also many other features that help the merchant market and promote their online store including the ability to tap into comparison shopping engines that easily list your products, which is a great way to expand the reach on an online store.
As for email marketing, ProStores allows you to tap into Sales in a Click™ to help create a great newsletter program which will keep customers coming back to your online store. There are also SEO features like URL optimization which is enabled by default for your store URLs, plus you can easily tweak your home page and META descriptions in the admin panel, and run your site map generator. The last thing to note is that ProStores now has improved eBay integration, as many of their merchants also sell on eBay and wanted more control over product listings and inventory. Expanding to sell on eBay is a great way for a merchant to grow the reach of their online store, and now there is better integration between the two companies to help you achieve this. Since ProStores is an eBay company, the integration between these entities should only improve in 2011.
Running an online store day-to-day requires a merchant to have the right management tools to oversee their products and orders, additionally they need proper reporting so that they can track their progress and measure success. ProStores has all of this for their merchants, and over the course of 2010 they made a variety of improvements that make it even easier to manage an online store. The Order Management system was updated and enhanced, so that merchants now have a more powerful tool to allow them to better locate orders and handle the needs of their customers. Ensuring that you can quickly find the information you need, is critical to making a customer happy if they call about their order, and ProStores has the capabilities to let merchants accomplish this task with ease.
In addition to an improved Order Management system, ProStores also recently improved their Invoice Adjustment and Order Entry feature. Merchants can better oversee and control all aspects of a customer's order, which helps them do a better job of running their online store. Those merchants who choose to use the ProStores Professional eCommerce PLUS package will be able to have up to 100,000 products in their online store, so proper tools to manage catalogs and products are critical, and ProStores has the tools merchants need to make this possible. The Category Management tools allow merchants to control a large catalog of products, by using categories and providing advanced search tools that allow you to quickly find what you need. In general the entire store management process was improved and simplified in 2010 to meet the needs of present and future ProStores merchants.
If ProStores sounds like an ecommerce software solution that will meet the needs of your online store, then the next step is to figure out which of the two monthly hosted packages will work best for your business. The Professional version will run merchants $29.95 per month and can accommodate up to 5,000 products while the Professional Plus package will run $59.95 for up to 100,000 products. Both of these monthly packages have the same per-transaction fee of 0.5%, but in return you get 50GB of bandwidth from the Professional package and unlimited bandwidth in the Professional Plus package. Transaction fees are not popular among many larger merchants, but small merchants just starting out typically do not mind the fee in return for 50GB or unlimited bandwidth. No matter what package you choose, you can have a free 30-day trial of the ecommerce platform to see if it is the right fit for your online store.