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Marc Sanders
06-26-2006, 10:45 PM
Hi Guys,

Just a quick question..(Like they are ever quick!!!!)

On the subject of shopping carts..

Firstly: are they easy to add to your site?
All I want is a cart that can mount up, then send the details to my e-mail account for processing..

Secondly: is it a pre-requisit that you must sign up to the data protection act when you have an online system?

I have just had a company that is going to do a cart for me and charge 6% per sale on each sale (I'm told this is quite good?!?)

Payments go straight into the company account from this site...

Oh, what to do, what to do...
I think I can do it, but am a little aprehensive! Then again, I was aprehensive about building a web site! Look at me now!!!! Lol

Marc Sanders

VodaHost
06-26-2006, 10:52 PM
1) How many products do you have that you want to sell?
2) Are they tangible products? ( Is shipping required)
3) What countries are you marking in? UK, Global???

Girlonthehill
06-26-2006, 10:54 PM
Hi Guys,

Just a quick question..(Like they are ever quick!!!!)

On the subject of shopping carts..

Firstly: are they easy to add to your site?
All I want is a cart that can mount up, then send the details to my e-mail account for processing..

Secondly: is it a pre-requisit that you must sign up to the data protection act when you have an online system?

I have just had a company that is going to do a cart for me and charge 6% per sale on each sale (I'm told this is quite good?!?)

Payments go straight into the company account from this site...

Oh, what to do, what to do...
I think I can do it, but am a little aprehensive! Then again, I was aprehensive about building a web site! Look at me now!!!! Lol

Marc Sanders
Hi Marc, I use a free cart called Mals-e.com (http://mals-e.com ) I like it. It's not too difficult to set up and use and it doesn't cost a penny! There are plenty of others out there too.

Vasili
06-27-2006, 03:29 AM
Mark-

You asked about 2 things in your initial inquiry:
a. You said you wanted your "cart" to simply forward to your email for processing (off-line, processing, right?), which would indicate emailCommerce....something you can do either in BV as you now are , or with an extended PayPal function.....AND.....
b. A cart that would present to your accounting (true integration, say with Quickbooks). This is true eCommerce, and you can do this with Soholaunch, the mega-cart osCommerce (also available from VH via Fantastico!), and even Cube and Zen, all free for you to use as a VH client.

When it comes to carts and implementation, both Amanda, myself, and some others (including Generals VodaHost and Race) have gone 'round and 'round trying to determine the best route. For Amanda, in keeping with her penchant for ultimate design customization, and to preserve her BV front-end, she is the expert on other carts brought to VH (VH supports 3rd party carts besides those offered in your account already).
In the same vein as maximum design ability, I opted to strike first with Soho, after first getting a template designed for me just the way I wanted. To me, learning the ins-and-outs of a cart system as simplistic as Soho when compared to OSC made sense....I already know that OSC is the cart system that will be required by my 2 other sites that need the sheer size and complexity of merchandise and accounting management it provides. I am simply playing leapfrog: BV to Soho to OSC to world domination!! LOLOL

And I am glad you picked up on the concept of compliance with the new standards of practices concerning what we Yanks address with our Patriot Act, and I'm sure the UK has guidlines in the same manner. Anyone based in the US or depositing in a US based Bank is required to demonstrate compliance with the Patriot Act since February 6, 2006, whether or not they are aware of it. This should have been made clear by the voluntary introduction of the "SecureCard" program, advertised first by Visa (part of the anti-fraud methods include the 3-digit security code on reverse of card, and ZIP code billing verification). If you choose to serve the US as well, then you might consider a full-blown cart (Soho, OSC, Cube, ZEN, etc.) and a Merchant Credit Account, opting to enroll in the Secure Visa/MC Online Payment Program....you will get the newest credit validation (dual recourse) services and the advanced gateway platform as well at an affordable rate. Internationally, this is available from VeriSign. Make your first inquiries with your bank, then shop for independent providers....you will notice rates and levels of services vary, and be able to choose much more selectively based on real needs as opposed to what others are simply "promoting".
**This also makes the case for every site maintaining a Security Certificate......

The rates? Ask Amanda....she's in your neck of the woods!

VodaHost
06-27-2006, 07:36 AM
Answer my questions and I will point you in the right direction.

Marc Sanders
06-27-2006, 01:21 PM
Well, there are about 2000 products.

I have been advised by a number of people to use mal's ecommerce.
I already have a paypal account set up, and the site has quite a lot of the images already..

I have registered with the DPA - which wasn't that difficult to be honest.
Needed this in the end as I will need to take names and addresses to send the products to..Basic cover was 35 per year (not bad considering what could potentially go wrong I guess)

I think Mal's ecommerce is going to work for me - soho launch seems slightly complicated (I know there are tutorials but I like using Blue Voda and the drag n drop ease..)

thanks for the info guy's....

VodaHost
06-29-2006, 03:07 PM
It all depends how serious you are about your business and your budget.
mals is ok, but it is not as good as osCommerce and it is also a third party
service. I would prefer to have complete control over my business and my
cart.

Go with osCommerce, if you can afford it, get a customized template with
a merchant account. You will be much happier in the long term.

Bethers
06-29-2006, 08:48 PM
I use a 3rd party for processing - but with my own merchant account - and prefer it over OsCommerce - but I do recommend you have your own merchant account with the size store you're having - and the only reason I don't use OsCommerce - is I want the control over my webpages design-wise - without their templates.

But my 3rd party account is a paid account, and the company is recommended by one of the largest US banks and merchant accounts - which is how I decided on using them.

Luckyman
07-08-2006, 08:48 AM
Hi,

I am about to launch a site with potentially a similar number of products as Marc but my "products" are chunks of information contributed by members of my site. Apart from the product summary page in the catalogue, the detailed information will only be accessible to other members via annual paid membership or on a pay-per-download basis with site profits shared with contributing members.

Can any of these carts allow site members to complete a template for these information products (e-products?) that only I can then upload after I review its content (to maintain site quality and avoid anything offensive)? It will take me forever to launch this number of products if I have to personally cut and paste each member's contributions to the catalogue.

Many thanks for any help, suggestions or guidance anyone can give.

Luckyman

Vasili
07-08-2006, 08:40 PM
As far as I have found (poring through every cart User Manual), the only way you can restrict access to your cart is by putting it into a password protected directory - which can be done with a front-end page, linking it to the cart in the protected directory - but in order to divulge yourself of doing the "loading" you would have to allow everyone else access to your Control Panel, since your cart is loaded from there. Creating a "Template" that can be simply 'loaded' to your cart has to originate from the cart itself, also via the Control Panel. So, the answer to creating a template you can distribute is "No."

Loading your cart is really quite easy (via FTP), so you might want to simply format a Word or PDF document with restrictions on characters for the text fields, a place for an image (?), and for the "Item Description" fields that you would simply collect, review/edit, and then bunch to upload as a streamlined process.

Your front-end could be done in BV8 for complete customization and control over directed linkage (presenting clear instructions prior to visitor/member being prompted for password), and achieve the results you are looking for.

If anyone has any better ideas, please jump in!

Luckyman
07-09-2006, 01:15 AM
Vasili, many thanks for your ideas and for confirming that a template cannot be used. Formatting a Word document may be a solution for me to explore but could you explain "bunch to upload" for me please?

I should clarify, I do not want to restrict access to my cart itself as this would contain only the summary of each information product. However, following through on your suggestions, the detailed information behind each product could be in the password-protected directory with annual subscribers being sent the password automatically on payment via Paypal. For customers paying for a single piece of information, maybe there is a way to link Paypal checkout to the detailed information page which again could automatically grant access without my manual intervention? Does that sound possible?

Forgive me asking please but do you think this suggested approach would work with any carts or do you have a particular one in mind?

Thanks again for your support.
Luckyman

Vasili
07-09-2006, 01:33 AM
Sorry, Lucky, I should have used "batch" instead. As in collecting a 'batch' of forms, and tasking them as a 'session' to ease the time needed.

I understand the logistics of what you are trying to accomplish, but working within the limitations of how files relate (or fail to!) and the differences in software, you might be better off thinking of it this way:

1. Members fill out a Form, which is properly formatted to be easily loaded (by you) into the cart for "publishing"
2. You personally load them into the cart, after review/edit, using a simplified processing theme
3. The 'approved forms' are then filed/stored in a separate password-protected folder within your Voda account (as a sub-directory/folder)
4. These Approved Forms can then be reviewed or updated at will by the subscribing members prior to the next cycle of publishing or renewal

This would allow you to:
a. keep unwanted persons out of your Control Panel;
b. allow the secure access to the Forms available to Members upon demand;
c. institute the interaction of Members to participate as much as possible in the creation/updating the information;
d. create the posture of real 'service' you present, which now requires a modicum of compliance also;
e. Creates a single-source of Forms from which you can organize and publish at will --simplfying the whole ordeal.
In fact, you can actually set up an unlimited number of secure "folders" - one for each Member, each with a unique password - to maintain ultimate security and prevention of hacking other member's Forms....

The Form is limited only by the information constraints of the fileds allowed in the Soho cart, for example, and will display as a typical cart - pure information/text or not - and will be really easy to maintain and give that professional organization you are seeking......this would allow you to even use a modified Free Template, keeping it Spartan, if you will. On the other hand, the cost for a truly customized Soho template from TemplateZapper.com is incredibly cheap, and might be justified with the solution discussed here. I personally would opt for the TZ template done the way I want, and to set up the site along these lines...anything to make it simpler without compromise from the original business plan.

Additionally, your PayPal transaction/confirmation formatting might include an access code, special links, or anything beyond the tradtional "Thank You" if you want....me, I think that is devling on complication again, as where do you think you are sending them? Their secured access "folder" isn't even set up yet, is it? And, since it only takes a couple of minutes to do yourself, I would think you would want to verify payment receipt, send a personal email (this is where you can provide them an access code), and officially "Welcome" them after setting up their 'account'.....

Is this better?

Vasili
07-09-2006, 02:11 AM
I should clarify, I do not want to restrict access to my cart itself as this would contain only the summary of each information product. However, following through on your suggestions, the detailed information behind each product could be in the password-protected directory with annual subscribers being sent the password automatically on payment via Paypal. For customers paying for a single piece of information, maybe there is a way to link Paypal checkout to the detailed information page which again could automatically grant access without my manual intervention? Does that sound possible?

OK...after reading through your questions AGAIN, I see what your issues really are (Finally, huh?).
1. The cart will display whatever you allow it to, as herein mentioned brief product descriptions only....visitors are then prompted to PAY (to get more info, to get the product, or to GET A SUBSCRIPTION
a. In your "catalog" cart of informational e-products (e.g. scripts, HTML, etc.) which is continually being updated by submissions from partner/subscribers, a brief description of the 'item' is all that is visible until they pay for the rest of the "script" (for example), which is revealed only after the transaction is complete....I would have no problem presenting this, as long as I fully supported my Purchase Policy, and Satisfaction Guarantee, whaterver that is to be.
b. I would 'list' all items available with these brief descriptions, all with the same basic cost of the subscription/membership price, which when paid, grants me access to the entire offering, each priced accordingly on top of the membership fee.
2. The front-end cart, then will collect Membership fees in every instance, while displaying available "inventory" in the Membership Catalog (which is in actuality, a "cloned" cart of this front-end version). The Members Catalog/cart is an eact copy of the front-end cart, only it is in a password protected directory, and has expanded "descriptions" of individual items, and individual pricing as well.

I would still keep the Forms in a separate folder, though, and treat them individually also. This allows the submittors access and updating, and really, it is no huge effort on your part - it IS a business, right?

I would also keep the same methodology about confirming PayPal Membership fees (personalized thank you, etc.) AND set up individual passwords to the protected cart...you can issue unlimited passwords. You need to do this, as subscriber terms expire individually, and for other reasons also.....you'll find this out.

This is the best way I could figure out for you......1 customized Soho template (clonable), 2 Soho carts, 2 secured steps. You might have to have each cart in a separate account, though. Still no big deal, really. First account has the Forms and front-end cart, second account has the Membership Catalog...it's all about linking, that's all.

Luckyman
07-10-2006, 03:11 PM
Wow! Many thanks for all your effort and creativity in helping me out here. My head is spinning a little at the moment but if I can create what you propose then I think this could solve most of my issues. (Anyone who has paid for the annual membership gets to download the products for free but I think I could price the products at £0 for paid up members, right? This would mean I could still track the number of times they were downloaded for profit sharing purposes.)

As you suggest Soholaunch, I think the next step for me is to go away and do some reading on the forums, watch the tutorials and have a play with the cart at a more simple level (I’ve only really looked at BlueVoda and OsCommerce to date). Then I’ll come back to this and try exactly what you suggest. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Thanks again for being so helpful and giving so freely of your time.
Luckyman

P.S. Your website looks just great! Striking design, very professional and really easy to navigate.

Vasili
07-10-2006, 10:13 PM
No problem, Lucky!
(And thanks for your kind comments....all of my sites are still pending completion, unfortunately, but I appreciate your encouragements!)

As you can now see, you can accomplish almost anything worthwhile as a VodaHost client, being so fortunate to avail yourself to the wonderful tools and technologies made freely available! You can always count on your peers to offer sound efforts on your behalf also, unlike other communities.

And, the little slogan we use so frequently has thus been demonstrated as an essential part of (business) success online:
"Plan Your Work, and Work Your Plan!"

Karen Mac
07-11-2006, 12:49 AM
Hello Everyone!

1st let me apologize for my absence. Eh absence makes the heart grow fonder? <joke>

I had a month of NO internet because I live in the toolies and some GURU got the idea that we could do 1 800 internet, which, The BIG TELEPHONE companies put an abrubt halt to, but not before all the small towns shut down their t1 lines, which had to be reinstalled. Hence NO internet. It will be drug out in court for the next 20 years, so long story short, i finally have access again.

Back to topic. I used SOHO and CUSTOMIZED one of their templates. IT CAN BE DONE with perserverance, and I started, before my abrubt shut down a store in zencart, in which I also CUSTOMIZED a template. SO with trial and error, Im saying you can do mahvelous things darling, and lots of cussing and keyboard pounding, come up with what you want on your own without paying a dime for someone else to do your customization. If I can do it, and Im an OLD dog, so can you!

You can view my just completed soho at www.grannyscountrynook.com (http://www.grannyscountrynook.com)
and my start up zencart at www.charmingnoveltees.com (http://www.charmingnoveltees.com)


Karen Mac

Vasili
07-11-2006, 01:31 AM
Karen-

You have done a great job in Sohlaunch....and have done quite a lot of "customization" but I think your assertion of being able to truly customize a template in the same vein as the many previous conversations is a matter of scale, not supposition.

ANY template can be manipulated to desired performance, but only by those who posess the HTML espertise and focus. As offered to VodaHost clients, Soholaunch truly IS the most "user-friendly" web design tool with eCommerce ability, and can be 'customized' to a level that is immediately usable and satisfying very simply using the Control Panel to insert images, resize text areas, etc. For those desirous of a truly customized Template, the 3rd party providers VH presents can do wonders for even the most modest budgets.

However, try to understand the perspectives you address herein, and clarify your suppositions within the parameters pre-established for the most universal understanding and benefit.

Soholaunch, like any other web design tool, has it's own learning curve and performance levels. It is a simplified commerce solution that almost anyone can use without prior experience or special skills required, as demonstratred by the wonderful results you have demonstrated!

Karen Mac
07-11-2006, 06:58 AM
I like Soho, its not the most perfect module I have used, but, it has many things I do like. Yes, The customization I did do was a whole NEW ballgame as it was in php format. While I didnt get as far as customizing, say a sign in area, which, Im sure you COULD do, or would be possible, as it already allows for an auto responder, and a downloadable product. As I go along, and finish my new store, and get another store moved over, Im seriously going to look into programming and customizing SHIPPING modules to allow more than ONE method of shipping rates. I got around this by adding a PRODUCT for 2nd day air, but I am not happy with this result, but it will work for the moment.

And you are correct, If I hadnt known html, and what to look for where, I couldnt have done it. BTW my links pages are html pages, not part of the storebuilder at all, and I just discovered, I have some editing to do to make the MENU work correctly on them. Footer links work, but the menu doesnt, so, Ive either over edited them, or not edited them correctly, currently, but thats something Im not so concerned with atm, as finishing the front end.

Karen Mac

Vasili
07-11-2006, 07:27 AM
Karen,

You do know that Soho "mirrors" every php generated page with an HTML version so there is something for the SE's to index, right? Your operational foundations are written in php, within the Soho template and program software?

You should stroll through the Soholaunch Support Forum (use the link under my signature) to find your specialty shipping script....I am currently doing the same thing for my Soho site (http://www.theblingster.com). Since I have some complicated shipping schemes (due to the nature of the product I am selling), I might actually have to pay TemplateZapper.com a whopping $30 to get exactly what I want. I too, thought about adding a "line item" to simplify the added shipping options, but I foresaw Quickbooks wouldn't process it properly....

But, nonetheless, I am glad you see my point: you were in fact able to customize your template satisfactorily, but to a point -- it is not as simple as Blue Voda, nor as complicated as osCommerce, and still it allows a much cleaner and more professional "cart" that Zen, Cube, or some of the other 3rd party solutions often mentioned in our VH Forums. The ability to use a BV 'front-end' linked to a Soho cart is also an option not available elsewhere, and is something that can allow real creativity and self-maintenence to remain a priority.

And, in the event you wanted to develop an original custom-designed Soho template unlike anything ever seen, the price range of $45-150 is within reach of so many more clients than other so-called solutions with other providers. I simply want VH Memebers and prospective clients to be aware that Soho is not just a web builder tool, and not just an eCommerce shopping cart, but a unique combination of both that they can put their own touches to with a great degree of flexibility, but not with the unbridled freedom or simplicity that may have been announced earlier....
That wouldn't be fair. It is important that anyone entering into a website building effort that will include commerce carefully and dutifully consider the options, capabilities of both the cart and themselves, and the anticpated results to see if they meet the requirements or demands.

Best,

Bethers
07-11-2006, 11:00 PM
Vasili, Soho told me they couldn't do what I wanted with shipping - and they also told me - and I got it in writing - that the se's will not read their individual product pages because of how they are written.

Oh, they did then tell me they could help me modify a shipping module - but the cost was so prohibitive that I couldn't consider it - and one shipping method was totallly unacceptable to me.

I also was told by Soho that I could NOT have more than 6 options on a product - which I'm sure someone who could figure how to modify (as my good friend Karen has done) would be able to do - but how the heck would a candle store do with only being allowed 6 colors or scents?

Anyway - I like lots about Soho - but after struggling with many of these things that I'm not good at - Karen, you amaze me with how you grabbed onto some of this and made the changes - I had to look at my limitations and switch - which is how I ended up back on BV (after building the complete A Child's Palace on Soho) and with Cart Manager as my shopping cart - who has ALL the options I wanted and more.

Wow that was long-winded - but it is also why I tell lots of people Soho might not be for them - cuz some things can't be done unless you have a lot of technical knowledge that many of us don't have - and I like to KISS - Keep it simple, stupid - yep, I call myself stupid! :)

Vasili
07-12-2006, 06:45 AM
Vasili, Soho told me they couldn't do what I wanted with shipping - and they also told me - and I got it in writing - that the se's will not read their individual product pages because of how they are written.

Oh, they did then tell me they could help me modify a shipping module - but the cost was so prohibitive that I couldn't consider it - and one shipping method was totallly unacceptable to me.

I also was told by Soho that I could NOT have more than 6 options on a product - which I'm sure someone who could figure how to modify (as my good friend Karen has done) would be able to do - but how the heck would a candle store do with only being allowed 6 colors or scents?

Anyway - I like lots about Soho - but after struggling with many of these things that I'm not good at - Karen, you amaze me with how you grabbed onto some of this and made the changes - I had to look at my limitations and switch - which is how I ended up back on BV (after building the complete A Child's Palace on Soho) and with Cart Manager as my shopping cart - who has ALL the options I wanted and more.

Wow that was long-winded - but it is also why I tell lots of people Soho might not be for them - cuz some things can't be done unless you have a lot of technical knowledge that many of us don't have - and I like to KISS - Keep it simple, stupid - yep, I call myself stupid! :)

I am having an entire custom script written for my shipping schedule, and I thought $30 was an error, but that is the total cost. I have even seen a slightly different version already being used on a previous clients' site. SO, until I have it fail or succeed on MY site, I have to believe it will also work for me. Funny, it is similar to OSC, but very different somehow...I dunno, I rely on Template Zappers (the guys who did my template) to dedicate themselves on my behalf!

Line item categories ARE limited, clearly stated in the User Manual and in the demo versions published (their example is "shirts" I recall, and "sizes" of same shirts), but this is dually so limited due to the fact they are a single SKU (item number). Creation of "sub-categories" is unlimited if written as an extension of the same root item number but assigned a suffixed "style" number (which can be labeled as a 'location' or variant). It is a simple plug-in to create an added "line" inventory suffix number to keep it sorted and relationally presented.

And...most importantly....Soho (as OSC) mirror-writes everything in a HTML file that is php presented in the template (the website proper). I could care less if the HTML site is in the corner inaccessible to anyone but the SE's....the fact that it is there to be searched is enough for me. AND that it remains an updated file, dynamic in nature, not simply replaced (as part of the SQL database, to be "presented" via the template as pure php). This can be recalled by anyone reading the first lines of the User manual when trying to "customize" a Flash/php template beyond intentions. **As a matter of fact, that is why I am presently looking into protecting the files from rogue bots without restricting the spiders with the right kind of ****file/botscript.

I followed your early advice to "Plan my work, and work my plan" without resorting to starting over or paying through the nose again. I have been listening, learning, investigating, even going blind poring over all the **** in 3 Forums trying to not only find solutions to my maniacal logistics but to remain calm in the process!!! It has NOT been always easy or fun, to say the least. I have come to the conclusion that most of these initially indimidating technologies are in fact quite fragile and unstable, and as I further my interests, I am able to actually correct this to some degree by identifying opportunities to mold according to my vision (which contributes to the community).

And, nearing the completion of the initial stages, I still believe that Soho is more versatile and "professional" than ZEN, CUBE, or MALS, less complicated than OSC (to me), and completely worthy to wholeheartedly recommend to VH clients. It was my choice to require a customized template and customized application, and because I can present my "project" in such a clearly defined manner, I pay accordingly for my demands --- something above and beyond what is expected from successful application by any VH client!

It would have been extremely appreciated, however, to have a VH provided "feature comparison" illustration somewhere to begin the process (just like you see when deciding which software version to buy), and a clearer Sticky to define functionality of a BV Front-end. Maybe that is simply wishful thinking. Or, better, an article I should prepare to post myself? I have to keep reminding myself that I have 2 OSC sites yet to complete....Arrrghhhh!

Karen Mac
07-12-2006, 08:01 AM
Vasili,

You are 100% correct. There is NO canned software or cart that I have come across that is perfect and without limitations. Yes SOHO was much easier for me to GRASP about editing modules, understanding the PHP format. Nor is there one with canned templates that I adore, or dont want to "fix". Of the available ones I have come across, SOHO is definately my reccomendation price wise, and usability wise, and professional display wise. Across the board SOHO is one of the best options out there, for the end result. Soho is simple enough that you dont NEED html knowledge to build a credible storefront, but accessible enough that you can customize, and can do it yourself, if need be with some fair html knowledge under your belt. Wow my English is really up to par this evening. In fact I have been helping a signup with installing soho cart and what you can and cant do with it. I think they signed up under Bethers, but we are all buddies, so we all help each other!

There are other builders out there, which require ALOT MORE money, which may APPEAR to give you bells and whistles, but, you are limited in areas about what you can access and edit yourself. IMPORTANT areas like htacess, controlling one hundred percent of your hosting and domain, ability to customize the templates without paying their programming to do it, etc etc. Also their hosting charges are astronomical. I can tell you right now that i was paying $24.95 per month PER STORE. Im in absolute pig heaven that I am now doing it for around $5.50 a month, ok...currently $8.50 a month for the static domain etc, for all the stores I CAN BUILD practically. And that didnt include what i paid for UPFRONT use of the software, and I will tell you right now for three stores was roughly $3000 bucks. So that ought to make those of you who think you need to go shopping, or, think you arent getting a TOP VALUE, because I can tell you otherwise. I consider it my college education in internet sales and merchandising. :)

Its been my experience, with even windows, that nothing comes perfect in the software world, it all must be tweaked. So, the value of voda, plus the FREE SOHO is worth way more than most folks realize, and, the customer service that is provided here is wayyyyyyy more valuable than many other companies, and these are things I can tell you from a COSTLY learning experience, that you folks, myself included, however you got here, truly dont know the value of, until you have been on the other end of that stick.

Karen Mac

Bethers
08-05-2006, 06:18 PM
And I still prefer my method of using BV to build and using my Cart Manager shopping cart - is why there are so many different methods for so many of us!