A simple but quite pricey online store creator and manager.
Intuitive interface; wide variety of layout options; hosted service; payment processing option.
Limited functionality; quite expensive.
£49.99 + £19.99 per month
Smaller businesses looking to set up an online store face the daunting prospect of getting the site built and looking good, setting up the inventory and putting a secure customer registration and payment processing system in place. Fortunately there are several products around to help out on this, including Actinic Express.
Actinic provides a service for companies that just have products to sell and don't want the hassle of setting up and maintaining an online store. The firm offers secure hosting facilities, and optional payment processing.
Actinic Express costs £49.99 plus a monthly subscription fee of £19.99. Although it isn't the cheapest around, the package is still very reasonable and offers a wide range of options and services. It is expensive compared to alternatives such as Mr Site, but you do get quite a lot for your money.
The entire package is managed through an online portal, so there is no software to install and your site can be managed from anywhere, although you'll want to make sure that any PC you use is secure or you risk allowing someone else to access your customers and their payment details, a sure fire way to find yourself without customers very quickly.
Actinic will provide a web address, but it will include 'actinicexpress.com' in the URL. There is the option to associate your site with another web address, so you may want to register a more appropriate name.
Setting up a new site takes a lot of time and effort, but Actinic has tried to make the process as easy as possible by hiding all the technical stuff. There are a lot of customisation options available, from designing the site to uploading product information, images and business details, including company information, terms and conditions, tax settings, shipping methods and payment options.
The site designer is template-based, but with a lot of flexibility. There are a dozen basic themes but, when combined with the various colours, images and other layout options, it's not too difficult to create a fairly unique looking site. All the designs are slick and good looking, leaving the options down to personal preference and what suits the type of products on sale.
There is no way to preview changes made to the site, but edits propagate very quickly making it easy to see how any alterations will appear.
Probably the biggest task will be loading the site with inventory. There is no way of importing a list of products, so each one will have to be generated manually. As you might expect, there is also the option of creating sections for various product categories, but there is no way to have a product spanning multiple categories without creating multiple copies of it.
One thing Actinic Express doesn't do is inventory control, so you'll have to handle that yourself. If something is out of stock there is an option to temporarily remove products from the site, rather than deleting them entirely or having to email customers who order it to tell them the item is out of stock.
Customer account creation is optional as is the ability to allow customers to purchase items without registering. Site owners with registered customers have the option of managing their details or exporting information to Excel, usually for marketing purposes.