Frequently Asked Questions

What can SurfShop™ do? [ Test Drive ] [ Documentation ]
Does SurfShop™ support Mac OS X? Yes! Since Mac OS X is based on unix, SurfShop™ works just as well on one version as on another.
Does SurfShop™ support Windows? As long as your system can run Perl, it should also support Surfshop. We do not have a Windows machine for testing, so we can say for sure. Any adventerous types out there? :)
Does SurfShop™ support PayPal's IPN Solution? Yes. IPN (Instant Payment Notification) functionality is installed by default. You will need to enable it on your PayPal account.
Does SurfShop™ support AuthorizeNet AIM and SIM? Yes. Plug in scripts are available for either solution; however, we recommend AIM for ease of setup, security and robustness.
Is SurfShop™ secure? Yes. Although no system can claim 100% security, SurfShop™ has addressed many security issues.
  • Users are assigned a unique 10-character ID. Unregistered ID's are automatically retired after a user-defined period of inactivity.
  • SurfShop™ easily integrates with SSL, allowing stores to operate securely.
  • Data files are stored in a private, protected data directory.
  • Sensitive information, such as Credit Card numbers, Check info, and passwords are encoded on the server. Credit card numbers are not stored by default.
  • Calculations are done server-side, not client-side (as is the case with JavaScript).
  • User input is parsed for validity and metacharacters which might contain malicious commands.
  • Admin System is password protected.
When used in tandem with a secure payment processing system, SurfShop™ is a secure e-commerce solution.
What if my website does not have MySQL or DBM capabilities? No problem. You do not need DBI, MySQL or DBM installed on your server to use SurfShop™, but if it's installed, SurfShop™ is more than happy to utilize it.

SurfShop™ uses Perl 5 and gives you the option to use MySQL, Berkeley DB, Unix NDBM, or even plain text ASCII. It was designed for webmasters who wish to have a standalone solution that does not require a lot of third party software to be running on the web server.

One of the most elegant features of our system is its portability and autonomy from the server administrator. We decided to build the script so it would work on virtually any shared hosting account. Over time, we have scaled it up to utilize more advanced database functionality, while still retaining its original simplicity.

I have seen other carts out there that are free. Why should I use your script? There are hundreds of other systems available, however few offer the scalability, ease of installation and total customizability as SurfShop™. Often "free" carts are not really free — they require you to place a banner or link on each page of your store, which looks really unprofessional. We don't.

As you look for an e-commerce solution for your site, consider these points:

  • Can it integrate with card processors securely?
  • Is it secure?
  • Does it include a browser-based management interface?
  • Is it customizable?
  • Does it allow you to design your shipping and tax tables to your exact business?
  • Is it reliable?
  • Does it make you change the way you run your business, or does it conform to you?
  • Can it be scaled to grow as your site grows?
  • Does it look nice?
  • Will it scale properly depending on which platform your customer is using, e.g. tablet, smartphone, or desktop computer?
You can trust your business to SurfShop™.

Does SurfShop™ incorporate UPS real time shipping?

The current version does not interface directly with UPS or InterShipper. You can, however, manually track your orders using the browser-based SurfShop™ admin features. This is on the feature request list for an upcoming version.

Also, you can enter "lookup" calcs in SurfShop so that a shipping formula for UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc. can be based on zones, mimicking real-time shipping costs.  This requires 2 calcs instead of 1 but results are fast, since the cart doesn't need to fetch the current shipping cost from another website.

I am happy with my existing catalog pages. Can I just add a link from my pages? Yes! You can insert the 'add to cart' code on your existing HTML or PHP pages. You can have the program either return the same page with a confirmation or go to a 'view cart' page. The choice is yours.
Why don't you use a standard UNIX tar distribution? SurfShop™ was designed for webmasters who may not have system access to the servers on which their sites are hosted. The entire system can be installed, maintained, upgraded and monitored using FTP and a standard web browser, provided the hosting company allows users to upload files, change permissions, and run CGI scripts.
Does SurfShop™ produce XML output? Yes, with customization. Since you can fully customize the resulting output, creating XML output is possible with the current release of SurfShop™.
Will SurfShop™ integrate with SQL, Oracle, Access, etc? It should, but we have not tested SurfShop with databases other than MySQL, DBM, and ASCII.
Do you offer an installation package? Yes. We will be happy to install SurfShop™ on your UNIX website (see store for current pricing). If you have your catalog ready to go as a Filemaker, Excel, or Access database we will install it as well.
Can SurfShop™ be used with online Payment Gateways like PayPal, VeriSign, Linkpoint, or AuthorizeNet? Yes. SurfShop™ calculates all the necessary information and sends it to the card processor using SSL encryption. You can gather and send as much or as little information as you see fit to complete the order process. You are not required to collect sensitive credit card information if you do not want to.
Can SurfShop™ calculate tiered pricing based on order quantity? Yes. SurfShop™ was designed with bulk orders in mind. You can enter either a flat price or a set of tiered prices based on quantity in your catalog database.
Can SurfShop™ calculate prices using foreign currency?

Yes. SurfShop™ allows you to customize the output for any language or any form of currency. The monetary value that you assign each item in your catalog is entirely up to you. You create the calculation tables and the displays. You can have SurfShop™ use Pounds, Yen or Rubles. If your bankcard company requires US dollars, you can create a simple calculation file to do the math before you send it off to the processor.

In fact, the units of weight are up to you as well.

Can SurfShop™ be configured to calculate tax in places other than the US ? Yes. SurfShop™ allows you to customize all order calculations. You can base a tax or discount calculation on ANY customer data such as State, Province, Country, postal code, etc.. You can also make calculations based on order quantity, total weight, subtotal – even set-up charges!
Is my store going to look stale and boring like other web stores? No. SurfShop™ comes with a gorgeous set of HTML 5 templates that you'll be proud to use. However, if you want your cart to look like the rest of your site, you can create the individual catalog pages to be as spectacular as you want them to be. And because it does not generate the output on its own, but rather parses your HTML templates, each step of the order process looks just like any other page of your website.
What is meant by the term HTML templates? You can create a set of HTML web pages which act as templates for the ordering process. SurfShop™ reads these files and inserts the user's order information. The result is a completely customized shopping experience that looks just like the rest of your website.
How do I keep track of my orders? Each order is also stored in a database on your server along with all customer information which can be used for mailing lists or order tracking. You can download the databases and view them using just about any common database program like FileMaker, Excel or Access, or manage them with your web browser using SurfShop . Additionally, SurfShop can be configured to e-mail you a notification each time someone places an order. This message can contain as much or as little information as you feel is necessary to complete the order.
How does SurfShop™ calculate shipping charges? You can base the shipping on total weight, quantity, price, volume, or even assign a flat value. You can also create multiple shipping options from which the customer can choose. Because you create the calculations, the process is easy to adjust as your needs change.
Do I have to create hundreds of catalog pages? No. If you only have a few items for sale, you can use individual HTML catalog pages for each item, or even create a single page with all of your items. If you have a large catalog, you can create your store using SurfShop™, and have your catalog generated automatically. SurfShop™ uses a database that stores information about each item such as price, weight, setup charges, etc. It also allows you to enter both a long and a short description of the product, various modifying options the product may have, and an image URL of the product. SurfShop™ can generate a page automatically from this information.

SurfShop™ allows you to add option modifiers to each item so that the customer can choose things like color, shape, finish, etc. It is intelligent enough to know when the same combination of options has been selected. You can set the price of an item by these options as well.
Is SurfShop™ easy to install? Yes. SurfShop™ comes with an automatic configuration utility that sets the server variables. Most of the time you can be up in running without any additional configuration. Anyone with a reasonable familiarity with HTML and CGI scripts should have no problem installing SurfShop™. For everyone else, we will install the system on an existing Unix website for an additional cost.
Does SurfShop™ have to use cookies? Yes and No. The public side of SurfShop™ was designed so that it would work either with or without cookies. Cookies make it a whole lot easier to follow customers through the order process, but SurfShop™ will work without them. To use the WebStore Manager, you must have cookies enabled on your browser.
Do I have to gather all the customer's credit card info? No. SurfShop™ was designed so that the merchant can configure the cart to gather whatever information they need to complete the order. Most card processors allow varying levels of input so you can put the sensitive information in their hands and limit your responsibility for sensitive information. You can gather everything about a customer and pass it to a card processor, or just get their email address. The choice is yours!
When the credit card info is e-mailed to you instead of using a bank to process it, is the information verified and encrypted? No. Many Credit Card companies now require their merchants to use some form of Secure Payment Gateway for internet orders. For this reason, SurfShop™ does not attempt to encrypt the information and send it through email. The email is for notification only. SurfShop™ does, however, encrypt this information in its server database to prevent it from being accessed by authorized users navigating the server.  No sensitive information is sent via e-mail. SurfShop's back-end administration system allows you to view all of your orders securely using your web browser.
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