Date of Review: 11/30/98
iHTML Merchant Pro is billed as
a turnkey solution for small to medium-sized businesses. That
promise is largely met, as both experienced and novice Webmasters
and designers should have no problem launching an electronic
storefront with a minimum of fuss.
Installation of iHTML Merchant
Pro is simple: you install directly from the CD-ROM on the Web
server, listing the domain name for the storefront and the ODBC
data source. iHTML Merchant Pro works in conjunction with a Web
server; currently supported are Microsoft Internet Information
Server (IIS), Netscape Web servers, and O'Reilly & Associates
WebSite Pro. Future versions of iHTML Merchant Pro expected by
the end of this year will run on UNIX platforms (BSD, FreeBSD,
Linux and Solaris), as well as run in conjunction with Apache on
the Windows NT platform.
Once installed, there are no
limits to how many products and categories you wish to maintain.
You can also run an unlimited number of separate
stores within a single iHTML Merchant installation. If you run
into problems, a free support forum is available at the iHTML
Web site or ask for assistance via electronic mail. Additional
charges apply to telephone-based support.
After iHTML Merchant Pro is
installed, administration is performed via a browser-based
administration tool. A nice touch, iHTML Merchant Pro allows
you to change the look and feel of your store via the
Setting up a storefront can be
as easy as selecting one of seven templates and entering product
information, graphics and company information. (More templates
are available at the Inline Internet Systems Web site.) In
addition, a base template is provided so experienced computer
users can create new templates.
One unique feature to iHTML
Merchant Pro is electronic-software-distribution capabilities,
where customers can be set up as members or nonmembers to provide
access to specific files.
iHTML Merchant Pro uses a
server-side shopping cart that stores information across
sessions, as well as maintain user purchasing information, such
as addresses. Personalization tools are minimal, but since such
information is stored in an ODBC database, you can perform some
searches within the database or export the data to an external
tool. In addition, dynamic sales reports provide sales
information in any number of ways: orders placed, shipped,
rejected, completed, etc.
Also supported is ad rotation,
both for within the store or for outside sites. Ads can be set up
to rotate randomly within the entire online store or portions of
the store. In addition, you can weigh the rotation in favor of
specific ads so they appear more often. Clickthroughs and
impressions are tracked.
Particularly easy is setting up
iHTML Merchant Pro to work with real-time credit-card processing.
Supported CyberCash 2.14, MCK 3.2, PC Authorize, TL Pay, Internet
Secure, Redi-Check, Authorize.Net and IC Verify. For merchants
who don't need real-time authorization, orders can be stored on
the server or sent to store owners via electronic mail. Supported
are worldwide tax systems, but the basic package ships with tax
tables for Canada and the United States. Also included is
information for local, international and overnight shipping
The pricing, however, is
probably a little higher than we'd like to see. While it's true
that the core iHTML Merchant Pro product is priced only at $149,
you'll need to purchase a copy of the iHTML programming language
for $595, putting the total price at $744. While other packages
we've reviewed do approach this level of financial commitment,
they are also tools that are better suited to the enterprise. For
many small and medium-sized businesses -- the target audience for
this product, according to Inline Internet Systems -- a price of
$744 is too high. (An advanced version designed for the
enterprise, iHTML Merchant 2.0 Enterprise, should also be
released before the end of the year, as should a mall edition
designed for ISPs.)
At the present time you can
download an older version of iHTML Merchant Pro here.
One final selling point for
iHTML Merchant Pro: Since you have access to the source code for
the product, you can make whatever changes you want. That makes
iHTML Merchant Pro attractive on two levels: novices will be able
to launch an online store without breaking too much of a sweat,
while advanced users will be able to use iHTML Merchant Pro as
the basic platform for further customization.
Pros: Easy to
set up out of the box; source code provides access to the iHTML
programming language; browser-based administration gives access
to all parts of the system; ad rotation works well.
Cons: On the
expensive side; current version does not run on UNIX systems or
work with the Apache Web server.
Date of Review: 11/30/98
Reviewed by: Kevin Reichard
Copyright 1998 Internet.com LLC.