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Software, Inc. is a software consulting firm founded by Neal Culiner. NC
Software opened its doors in 1998 specializing in custom Windows applications
for the aviation community providing Logbook Pro (
www.logbookpro.com ) and later the general
community with its advanced media cataloging application, AVCataloger (
has enjoyed growth in the IT industry as a Microsoft solutions partner.
Over the years NC Software extended its solution development from Windows
application to include that of programmable web solutions.
in Active Server Pages (ASP) and then .NET technologies with the advent of the
Microsoft .NET Framework (ASP.NET), NC Software was looking for a e-commerce
application first for company use, secondly for building increasing demand for
NC Software, Inc.
2711 Centerville Road
StoreFront 6 Implementation Review by NC
www.nc-software.com March 3, 2004
Software set out in 2003 in search for an e-commerce application targeting the
.NET framework for programmability, reliability, and scalability.
Microsoft .NET was the clear choice for cutting edge e-commerce solutions as
.NET offers increased performance and lower development time producing feature
rich web applications. In the search for an e-commerce system, NC
Software narrowed the product choices down to two – StoreFront by LaGarde (
www.storefront.net ) and BV Commerce by BV
In comparing the two products, StoreFront portrayed a much richer feature set
which catered to our specific needs as we were growing out of our custom store
to that of a cart enabled store. NC Software also uses the Intuit
QuickBooks accounting package therefore synchronization from our store to our
accounting package was imperative to eliminate manual entry if at all
possible. With this discriminator, StoreFront was the choice based solely
on the QuickBooks synchronization capability advertised.
going forward with our purchase of StoreFront, we had some concerns. In
viewing the gallery of sites, it was noticeable that the StoreFront sites were
running slow, later to find out there was a serious bug in the package resolved
in February 2004 with a service pack update. However, we didn’t let this
stop us as we would overcome the slower performing package with higher hardware
requirements to compensate. We also took advantage of Microsoft’s SQL
Server database engine to ensure the highest performance and scalability.
With these considerations, we decided to move forward and purchase the source
code version of StoreFront, the XE version.
July 2003, we purchased the StoreFront solution with the QuickBooks AccountSync
package included for approximately $1500. We were excited to be building
a shopping cart solution and started many long days to come adapting the store
to our graphics designer’s specifications and our developers requirements for
automation. We deal primarily with electronic delivery, so we needed to
adapt the store to produce license codes and quality invoices to our paying
customers. To accomplish this task, we needed a system that would
immediately return the shoppers payment status, then generate license codes,
embed in our custom designed invoice and immediately deliver the key codes and
can’t rate support this highest, it’s probably one of the weaker points of the
package. The first 30 days are free, however, when calling in I wasn’t
exactly treated with respect. I had to remind one individual to listen to
the problem, then provide his answer. Support has been questionable
throughout our experience and we often felt we were more knowledgeable then
those that developed this kit especially after viewing the code underlying the
system. Using OLEDB providers for a enterprise solution, extensive use of
session variables and a server load that prohibits shared hosting without
tremendous hardware assets. As of this writing, there is no free support
as LaGarde has shut down their peer-to-peer newsgroup with no other
alternatives. The clients whom are now “cut-off” have moved to various
other support sites trying to seek assistance with their StoreFront software.
is intended for development using third party tools primarily Microsoft
FrontPage and Dreamweaver. We purchased the FrontPage edition as we are
Microsoft partners. We learned early that it was best to produce our web
site using Visual Studio .NET as using FrontPage was troublesome and often the
client failed to load for use with FrontPage. We also learned several
times that the style sheet would often get overwritten requiring us to start
over again on our graphics design. We removed FrontPage from the equation
as the integration was not sound and moved on with Visual Studio making
progress on our store.
.NET developers, we were able to modify the StoreFront 6 XE version (source
code edition) to meet our needs. Later, we further took StoreFront to
cover shortfalls in the package such as an ailing affiliate system that was not
working and noted as such on their public peer-to-peer forums. After
approximately eight weeks of development and testing, on August 14th,
2003, we launched our new store which was well received with our customers.
With our new professional image thanks to the hard work and persistence of
9Ball Design (www.9balldesign.com)
and our shopping cart enabled systems, in the remaining months of 2003 we
doubled the business of the prior months of the same year.
with our store live, it came time to do our first synchronization to retrieve
our store’s sales data to our QuickBooks accounting package. Low and
behold, we were met with error dialogs and a system that did not work. We
contacted support and it appeared that our efforts to shorten the included
seven step checkout process to three using the Pendx Streamlined Checkout
add-on, a conflict arose. StoreFront support later provided us with an
update, however the results were less than satisfactory as voided orders will
still being retrieved as normal orders and contact information was not inserted
into the QuickBooks contact item list. We unfortunately had to abandon
use of this tool and also read that others were having the same problem.
our store now in service we continued to work with StoreFront by creating
custom e-commerce solutions to extend the capabilities of StoreFront for our
clients. With a non-functional affiliate system in the software
purchased, we had to build our own affiliate system from the ground up to
integrate with our store so our customers could e-mail promotional codes and
further bring in business. We took this baseline and offer it to our
StoreFront clients in need of affiliate systems. Offering customers referral
incentives is key to good business and customer relations and the new affiliate
system we designed and integrated with StoreFront 6 was a tremendous success.
the holidays and responding to the calls of our StoreFront clients, we
developed a system so StoreFront merchants could sell Gift Certificates like
other big e-commerce sites shoppers are familiar with such as Amazon.com.
With this idea came a new StoreFront logo certified add-on we named “Gift
Certificate as Product.” With GCAP, as our clients call it for short, the
merchant is able to provide a HTML template (Figure 1 and 2) for the gift
certificates so they can be skinned to whatever style the merchant
desires. With GCAP functionality added to a StoreFront 6 web store,
shoppers are able to purchase Gift Certificates real time and with the
Enterprise Edition the intended recipients are e-mailed the gift certificate
immediately. StoreFront 6 merchants have been overjoyed with our GCAP
add-on and continue to extend their stores with our 100% source-code
Figure 1. Gift Certificate Template (Courtesy
Figure 2. Gift Certificate Template (Courtesy of
are continuing to extend the StoreFront merchant line with a new round of
products we anticipate releasing in Q2 of 2004. Our Merchant Sync (Figure
3) product will be entering beta at the time of this article and provide
advanced QuickBooks synchronization for multiple e-commerce platforms and also
support Canadian partners. We will announce the new series of e-commerce
applications on our
web site. We also provide a mailing list system so our e-commerce clients
can subscribe and we’ll keep them notified of our product updates. To join our
announcement mailing list, e-mail in a blank e-mail to
and we’ll keep our clients informed of our upcoming releases.
Figure 3. Merchant Sync by NC Software, Inc.
has certainly been an improvement for NC Software and we look forward to
providing our clients continued support for our new line of products we will be
offering in the near future. For merchants preferring to build e-commerce
solutions with Microsoft FrontPage or Macromedia Dreamweaver, StoreFront is a
solution to evaluate fully! With our business continuing to grow, we are
concerned StoreFront is causing our search engine rankings to drop and our
clients experience a high level of errors with the checkout system. There
have been a lot of updates over the past year and for this StoreFront is no
longer cost effective for us to maintain. We are now looking at the
upcoming BV Commerce 2004 product to further improve our customer solutions
with e-commerce. We will gladly report our implementation of the BV
Commerce 2004 package due to release the end of March 2004.