SunShop Shopping Cart Review: Is This the Best E-Commerce System for Medium-Sized Brands? We Put It to the Test.

Are you a small business looking for a robust e-commerce solution? Read our review of SunShop to see if it's right for you.

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Katie Horne
Katie is a C# developer-turned-technical writer who loves the Oxford comma, NYT Crossword Puzzles, and knitting for no reason whatsoever. She has a love/hate relationship with JavaScript and thinks that package managers are the bees knees.

Last Updated on February 22, 2018

Turnkey Web Tools, established in 2000, aims to deliver high quality, easily accessible, and cost-effective e-commerce software solutions to small- and medium-sized businesses. One of its offerings is the SunShop Shopping Cart.

The SunShop Shopping Cart is a full e-commerce system that you can use to build a website and online store from scratch or turn your blog or website into a full online store. SunShop is a robust, feature-rich e-commerce platform that includes everything you need to build your digital storefront, market your products, accept orders, process payments, manage your inventory, track your shipments, and more.

Background and Requirements

SunShop is a comprehensive PHP-based e-commerce software that allows you to handle every aspect of your online store. For all intents and purposes, SunShop is an e-commerce builder, but unlike many other offerings, you bring your own web hosting (and are therefore responsible for everything related to domain name management, system administration, and so on).

SunShop Shopping Cart review

SunShop is a multi-platform tool, which means that you can install it on pretty much any server running any operating system, as long as you meet the other requirements detailed below.

To properly run SunShop, your server should support PHP version 5.4 or later. You should also have the following libraries installed so that SunShop runs properly:

  • cURL: used for secure communication between you and SunShop
  • GD Library: used for resizing your images
  • MCrypt: used for encrypting credit card information to ensure that those who gain unauthorized access to this information can’t read and understand the intercepted information.

SunShop makes use of MySQL version 5.1 or later, which is something else that doesn’t come included and needs to be provided by you.

SunShop shopping cart review
Try before you buy: SunShop has a demo store that enables you to experience everything their product offers. This is a good way to get a quick idea of how extensive the SunShop feature set is.

Finally, you’ll need web hosting for your online store. If you’ve already purchased a hosting package, you can use it for SunShop (as long as it meets the minimum software requirements), but if you don’t, you can purchase one from SunShop’s sister business, Turnkey Web Tools (TWT) hosting.

See all SunShop features

Ease of Use

To use SunShop, you should be familiar with (or capable of learning) how to install and manage software in a server environment (whether the server is your web host’s or one you’re actively managing and on location with you). SunShop comes with a user-friendly, web-based installer, but you might find it helpful to have some technical understanding, such as how to set up a database for your shopping cart, how to use the FTP to transfer your files, and how to manage the permissions necessary to enable the installer.

However, to set up and run SunShop, you don’t have to understand (or even view) a single line of code. SunShop considers their product to be a plug-and-play application that, after installation, can be maintained and edited via the site administration area.

If you’d like to use SunShop, but you don’t feel comfortable installing the program onto your server, you can opt for Turnkey’s installation services.

SunShop shopping cart clients
On the SunShop website you can view some of their existing clients and visit their operational stores. We recommend you do this and try out the functionality on some of those sites, in addition to viewing the demo store.

SunShop Shopping Cart Features

SunShop is a full e-commerce suite, which means you have everything you need to create and manage your store. Here are some of the major features that ship with the product designed to make getting up and running as quick and painless as possible.

Installation and Configuration

Installing SunShop onto your server can be done with the included user-friendly installation wizard. Once you’re done, you can update and manage SunShop using the web-based Administration Panel that allows you to configure and customize everything on your storefront.

Data Migration

If you have an existing store, SunShop makes it easy to transfer your data. SunShop offers a Cart2Cart service that allows you to migrate all of your shopping cart data from your current e-commerce platform to SunShop. Additionally, during the installation process, you can quickly import any of the existing product and customer databases you already.

Store Design Templates

If you don’t already have a storefront or a website to go with your online shop, you can create one using SunShop. SunShop comes with all of the features you expect from a full website builder, including customizable templates that make creating a professional-looking, unique website easy. You can freely customize as little (or as much) of your template as you’d like. SunShop offers templates for your home page, category pages, product display pages, checkout, and more.

You don’t have to have technical knowledge or design experience to work with the provided templates, but if you’re well-versed in CSS, HTML, or JavaScript, you can certainly use those to modify the source code for your template.

Social Integration

Turnkey offers ShopBuddy, an integration that allows you to showcase your products and services on Facebook. While the product is available to users of any e-commerce platform, SunShop comes with built-in support for this tool.

SunShop has also partnered with AddThis, which makes it easy for your customers to share your content and products on their social media. AddThis also comes with built-in analytics tools, so you can easily track your visitors and your success rates.

See all SunShop Shopping Cart marketing features

Pricing and Billing

To use SunShop, you’ll need to purchase a license, which is a one-time fee. The exact amount of the fee varies based on the license you purchase. Currently, you can choose from the following license types:

  • Standard: the standard license includes access to all software updates for one year, but you can use SunShop for life. You’ll get 30 days of toll-free priority phone support, as well as basic support for the rest of your first year of use via email, support tickets submissions, and live chat. You can renew your access to support and software updates on a yearly basis.
  • Owned: the owned license includes access to updates and the ability to use the software for life. You’ll get sixty days of toll-free priority phone support, followed by basic support via email, support ticket submissions, and live chat, for the rest of your first year of use. Like the standard plan, you can renew your access to support and software updates on a yearly basis, though your renewal fee will be less expensive.

Note that you’ll need a merchant account to accept credit card payments from your customers. However, this account is optional, since you can choose to accept other methods of payment, such as PayPal, checks, and money orders.

Hosted SunShop

If you already have a domain name and a web hosting package, you can opt for Hosted SunShop, which is strictly a shopping cart solution. Turnkey is responsible for the initial setup and the continued maintenance of the software. All you have to do is to login and set up your shop categories and products.

You can pay for your Hosted SunShop plan monthly or annually. If you opt for the latter, you’ll receive a discount off the cost of your plan. Regardless, you will get to display an unlimited number of categories and products, won’t have to pay any transaction fees, and won’t have to sign any long-term contracts. Essentially, SunShop will take care of everything on the back-end for you if you choose this plan.

SunShop Shopping Cart review

SunShop Guarantees and Refunds

If you’re not satisfied with the product you’ve purchased, you can take advantage of the thirty-day money back guarantee (as long as you were a new customer making your first purchase with Turnkey).

If you’ve purchased installation or other services for Turnkey, you may receive a refund only if Turnkey hasn’t initiated the work you requested.

Custom Services

SunShop offers a variety of custom services to help you build the online site you envision. You can get assistance with SunShop installation, template customization, new features, and third-party integrations at an additional charge from the Turnkey team.

Technical Support and Customer Service

If you need to get in touch with the Turnkey customer service team, you can reach them via website, telephone, fax, or mail. While Turnkey doesn’t provide a specific set of hours during which you can reach them, the company indicates that it observes all US federal holidays.

In terms of self-help resources, Turnkey offers a set of documentation and a knowledgebase.

Summary

Turnkey Web Tool’s SunShop is a fully-fledged e-commerce platform aimed at getting small- to medium-sized businesses up and running with their online stores. While SunShop isn’t the easiest product to use (in fact, we recommend that you have some knowledge regarding server usage and management if you’re interested in SunShop), it is a very powerful suite that lets you handle everything, including product displays, shopping carts, inventory and order management, and payment processing. Finally, for those who are looking to make a one-time software purchase instead of a short-term subscription, SunShop is a great fit for you.

Visit SunShop Shopping Cart for more information