Actinic Express 2.0

Actinic Express 2.0

Summary: Actinic Express produces slick online shops with minimal hassle, but you may find that its limited functionality quickly becomes restrictive as your business grows.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Apps, Reviews
0

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Flexible online catalogue
  • Range of payment processing options

Cons

  • Expensive over the long term
  • Domain name registration not included
  • Restricted range of templates
  • No support for editing underlying HTML

So, you're a budding e-commerce entrepreneur; you know what you're going to offer for sale, and you've registered your domain name. What's the next step? Generally, you'll want to put together a web site that will encourage your customers to trust you and buy your products. If you're a programmer or web site designer, you could build the site yourself from the code up. Or you could use Adobe's Dreamweaver or some other web site design application to help you build it. You could hire someone else to do it for you. Or you could find and purchase some ready-made web site templates. Alternatively, you could get up and running in minutes using Actinic Express, an intuitive and relatively complete e-commerce solution that allows individuals and small companies to set up shop online with the minimum of hassle.

So, you're a budding e-commerce entrepreneur; you know what you're going to offer for sale, and you've registered your domain name. What's the next step? Generally, you'll want to put together a web site that will encourage your customers to trust you and buy your products. If you're a programmer or web site designer, you could build the site yourself from the code up. Or you could use Adobe's Dreamweaver or some other web site design application to help you build it. You could hire someone else to do it for you. Or you could find and purchase some ready-made web site templates. Alternatively, you could get up and running in minutes using Actinic Express, an intuitive and relatively complete e-commerce solution that allows individuals and small companies to set up shop online with the minimum of hassle.

Actinic Express provides a quick and easy route to online trading for individuals and small businesses, for a £49.99 setup fee and £19.99 a month thereafter.

Actinic Express is very much an entry-level web-based shopping cart that provides start-up 'e-tailers' with a quick and cost-effective way to start trading online. It's not an all-encompassing e-commerce solution, but it does let you create and manage your own online shop — all managed via a web browser, without the expense and complexity of a weighty software package or a developer.

Actinic Express uses a web-based management interface, while the online store is hosted by Actinic itself.

The web-based application includes all the core elements you need to start selling: site design (templates), order processing and payment (Actinic Payments, PayPal, Protx and Google Checkout), and web site analysis (Google Analytics). The only additional expense is domain registration, which you'll need to sort yourself — unlike Mr Site Takeaway Website Beginner (£19.99 setup, £1.69 per month). You'll also need a merchant account and payment processing, which carries small surcharges for each transaction. You should also bear in mind that Actinic Payments, which can handle and automate the payment process, costs £100 a year (plus a one-off setup fee of £20) for up to 800 transactions per year. If you exceed this amount the fee is 39p per transaction. And unlike Mr Site, there is no guest-book or blog functionality, so you'll also have to seek external help if you want to integrate a forum or real-time chat support.

Actinic Express 2.0 adds eight new themes (twelve in total) to provide additional choices for your site's appearance. The included themes are adequate, but once you become more familiar with the software you'll want to customise a theme with your company logo, different fonts and colour schemes to give your site a distinctive look and feel. The design options for the product pages have also been enhanced. New layout options include displaying products in multiple columns on a page, which is ideal if you have a large product portfolio. Among other performance changes, Actinic Express 2.0 now has an improved back-end database with faster page loading and rendering, plus configuration of product attributes and memory usage.

You can have up to 20,000 products, with images, in your Actinic Express store. If you outgrow it, you can upgrade to more functional Actinic software, such as Actinic Catalog or Actinic Business.

Actinic Express's biggest benefit is quick store setup and the flexibility to add your own company and contact information and shopper terms and conditions. The Quickstart wizard walks you through the initial site setup and the software automatically creates a standards-based store with features such as automated site navigation (menu bar, section list, site map and 'breadcrumb trail') and product search facilities (keyword or price range). A shopping cart content summary is also visible on every page, which is a neat usability feature.

Once you start to populate your online store, Actinic Express gives you compete flexibility over the product items in your shop. You can create as many product sections and categories as you wish, adding images, descriptions and product options with choices such as small, medium and large. You can lay out products and sections in one or two columns, and define a range of options and choices for each product, selectable by radio buttons or drop-down menus.

Your online shop is hosted by Actinic with new software features added automatically, leaving you to get on with the job of running and growing your business. Actinic Express also includes free telephone support for as long as the service is being used. Actinic Express 2.0 uses a 128-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) system, so credit card transactions are fully encrypted and secure.

Actinic Express is an easy-to-use online shopping cart solution that includes everything you need to setup and manage your own online shop. It's hosted by Actinic itself, and all design features and functions are accessed through your web browser. Whether you're a start-up or an existing business looking to expand online, Actinic Express will get you trading on the internet fast thanks to its wizards and forms that make it almost impossible to break anything. No programming or design skills are necessary.

Actinic Express online shops are pretty slick, but the software is expensive in the long term thanks to the £20 monthly charge. Actinic Payments is also pricey compared to PayPal and Google Checkout. This means that novices looking for the best-value solution may be better served by Mr Site Takeaway Website Beginner. If you have some coding experience, you may also outgrow the software as it doesn't let you access the store's raw HTML for precise customisation. Still, Actinic Express is well worth considering — just make sure you're clear on the pricing before you commit.

Specifications

There are currently no specifications for this product.

Prices

There are currently no prices available for this product.

Topics: Apps, Reviews

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

0 comments
Log in or register to start the discussion