July 9, 2014
by David Goodale
Overview of Moltin Shopping Cart
Who it's meant for: Developers
Why we like it: It's a cart that's been built with "thinking ahead" in mind.
Interesting points about Moltin
Moltin is a young cart that was only launched in November of last year. It started it's life as a shopping cart platform that was able to be implemented into any CMS based website such as a Wordpress website.
The concept behind Moltin seems to be about "e-commerce anywhere". Only a few years ago building and launching an e-commerce website was a cutting edge project. More recently the media has started promoting the "mobile e-commerce revolution". Moltin seems to be realizing that e-commerce doesn't necessarily happen "here" or "over there". The management at Moltin want to make it possible for customers to pay for your products or services on any platform, or any place that your customers may be interacting you with online. This obviously includes on an e-commerce website, but also through social media, a mobile application, or even embedded within Microsoft word, excel or google documents.
In terms of functionality It joins the ranks of other e-commerce platforms like Foxycart and Snipcart that allow you to drop e-commerce functionality via code snippets into any existing website.
In that vein, it is one of a few e-commerce platform's we've seen recently that is uncompromisingly targeted towards developers. It's not meant for everyone, nor do they want it to be. Instead, it's a framework that will give developers the tools they need to build e-commerce functionality into whatever platform you may be using. It seems that significant effort is being made by Moltin so that customizations or additional features can be built into the cart framework by it's developer userbase. In other words, it's an expandable platform that should hopefully not just meet your needs today, but additional requirements that may come along well into the future.
Accolades and Criticisms
In the short time that I spent with Moltin my criticisms would be few and far between. (In full disclosure we only had a short demo and barely scratched the surface of what the cart is capable of).
A major plus is that Moltin is a very open platform, and is less about the "features" that are built in already, and is more about the features that you can build to suit your own specific needs. In the right hands this is a tremendous strength, but if you lack development resource it won't be the right cart platform for you. This just reinforces how purpose-built Moltin is for it's intended userbase.
Moltin is still a young cart, with less than a year having passed from it's initial release in November. Even still, it is already well rounded, with flexible shipping and tax logic. What I was particularly impressed by is that it is already fully multi-currency capable. Checkout can be routed by different currencies (or even routed to different gateways) depending on the location of the shopper. This is a significant advantage over many single-currency shopping cart platforms.
One drawback is that recurring billing is not yet supported. At some point Moltin will integrate recurring billing support into several popular payment gateway platforms using a data vault type model (so the gateway handles the sensitive information), but that functionality does not exist today. This ties into another area of the cart that is both a major strength and significant drawback: cardholder data. Moltin does not store any sensitive cardholder data. Avoiding storage of cardholder data is very important for small and mid-sized businesses, as the storage of sensitive data can cause additional PCI concerns that must be addressed. The management of Moltin have made a decision not to allow any sensitive cardholder information to be stored in the database. (The customer database is stored on Moltins web servers). This eases the PCI burden that Moltin would need to address in-house if they were storing cardholder information. This is a strength in many situations and in general should be seen as a benefit. However, some large merchants may not like the idea of outsourcing one of it's most important assets (customer billing information) to a 3rd party platform. Some large merchants want to have all cardholder data on file and under their own control (or at least within their own shopping cart platform and not "owned" by the payment gateway). For clarity, this is not a drawback but an uncompromising business decision that goes to show how purpose built Moltin seems to be for it's intended userbase of small and mid-sized businesses.
My time spent in front of Moltin was short, but it was long enough to be impressed. If you are a developer or technical-capable business owner looking for a very flexible e-commerce shopping cart platform that can "drop in" to whatever already have (whether it's a wordpress site, a custom coded website, or even social media) then Moltin may be a good option to consider. It can be deployed quickly, integrate into whatever you are already using today, and should scale well for the future.
To learn more about Moltin and try it out for yourself visit the Moltin website.
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