Astrosell – Astrosell Professional review

Web catalogue builder, like Actinic
Photo of Astrosell – Astrosell Professional
£349 + VAT

The e-commerce software scene has stagnated a bit of late and there seem to have been few noteworthy releases in the off-line catalogue builder genre. But while the main players have been busy consolidating position, it appears that someone else has been busy in the programming cupboard.

Astrosell has just appeared from nowhere with a very well-rounded product, displaying remarkable similarities to the market leader Actinic Catalog. What we have here is not a clone, but look and feel are very similar and comparisons are bound to be made – particularly as Astrosell provides import conversion routines from Actinic versions 3, 4 and 5.

Like Actinic, the software provides an off-line catalogue builder, creating a multi-level database of products and e-business settings. This means Astrosell basically asks for information concerning your shop and the products you sell, and then turns this into HTML and uploads to the Web site host of your choice.

You get a set-up wizard to help you through the initial stages of creating your web shop, and this provides a useful workflow system where each tick box is filled as you complete the task. There aren’t too many design themes on offer at the moment, but the layout templates can be edited directly in any Web designer software such as Macromedia Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage.

Unlimited options can be added to catalogue items such as ‘colour’ or ‘size’, and any of these can increase or decrease the price of the original item. Merchants can also use stock control to manage product levels, the software sending a low stock warning direct from the Web site. A nice touch is the ability to define your own customer message to display at the Web site when stock is low – such as ‘delivery in 2-3 days’ instead of ‘in stock’.

Both the tax and shipping calculations are comprehensive and operate by using invoice or delivery ‘locations’; these determine who pays tax and how much is charged for carriage. Those customers who don’t pay tax in the EU can opt for tax exemption at the checkout phase if required, but there is no option for pro-rata tax on delivery – essential for a combination of VAT-able and non-VAT-able items in one shipment.

Astrosell arrives complete with full order processing and payment management, downloading encrypted credit card details with the orders. Links to accounting software like QuickBooks is also on the way and this should narrow the gap between this product and the obvious main competitor.

Company: Astrosell

Contact: 020 7622 4177

Actinic does go further than Astrosell, with more templates and options for design and layout control. This is mostly because you get separate designs and layouts for departments and individual products. Nevertheless, there is plenty on offer here and Astrosell Professional deserves serious consideration if you are in the market for a mid-price off-line Web shop builder.