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STRATEGIES
 


Product Review: Interland’s Online Catalog Suite
By Sean Michael Kerner

March 17, 2005

Like many modern ISPs, Interland offers a lot more than just Web hosting. As the latest in an ongoing review series of online hosted e-commerce storefronts, we examine Interland’s offering, called the “Online Catalog Suite.” Just as Interland is more than simply another hosting company, the Online Catalog Suite is a lot more than just another online catalog application.

What Is Interland Online Catalog Suite?

Interland’s Online Catalog Suite is a do-it-yourself grouping of different services all focused on building and growing an e-commerce presence. The Suite is currently offered by Interland for $69.95 per month, which includes an extensive list of packaged products. For starters, it includes hosting (no surprise seeing as this is a hosting company after all), with 350 MB of storage and (according to Interland’s marketing specs) “unlimited bandwidth.” It’s not entirely unlimited, though; if you read the fine print, Interland puts a 10 GB cap on database server bandwidth. That said, it’s still a lot of bandwidth for the vast majority of potential customers.

The Catalog Suite also includes Interland’s Trellix-based Easy Site Builder online application. On the e-commerce side of things, the offering includes the Interland E-store builder, Miva Merchant, a VeriSign payment gateway, Amazon store connector, eBay auction connector, and Paypal integration.

Beyond just providing hosting and robust e-commerce functionality, Interland’s Online Catalog Suite goes a step further and actually includes tools to help you market your site. As we all know, if you build it and don’t market it, “they” won’t come.


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Interland’s Online Catalog start page offers an easy way to begin setting up your e-commerce Web site. (Click for a larger image)

Setting Up the Online Catalog

By following the Easy Site Builder instructions and with the help of the ever-present Help key, getting a store set up is a relatively straightforward exercise.

That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of choices available. The Easy Site Builder application includes some 215 different site designs that are categorized by type (Vertical Navigation, Horizontal Navigation, Basic, General Business, Crafts/Hobbies, Holidays/Special Events, Invitations/Announcements, Travel, Business Webblogs/Blogs). The entire interface is browser-based, and there’s little to no need for utilizing or downloading any other external programs for the process.

Once you’ve settled on the basic design it’s time to delve into the catalog details, which again is a simple step-by-step menu-driven exercise that is easy – and fast – to complete.

Beyond the catalog is where Interland’s offering really excels in a number of business-critical categories. By clicking on the site builder tab called “Site Add Ons” Business Tools, you’ll find a treasure chest of tools to kick an e-commerce site into overdrive. Among these “Add Ons” is a Gift Certificate and Coupon management system that can be created and managed with point-and-click ease.

Forms, an often overlooked but critical part of an e-commerce site, are also easily created with the Business Forms builder. If you’re building the site for a “real” storefront, the “Add a Map” feature will help your customers get there.

Page 2: Online Catalog vs. the Competition

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