I ran across a press release about Muncom today - a "build your own free web store in five minutes" play. The article really read as if this were a Google offering and my first thought was "Here we go; Google must be busting in on eBay and Magento Go..." And it made some tall promises, like "EVERY SMALL ENTREPRENEUR’S DREAM TURNS INTO REALITY THANKS TO INTERNET, WITH TOTALLY FREE ONLINE STORES." (And by the way, "Thanks, Internet!")
Well, don't proceed to checkout just yet.
The feature list sounded amazing: No setup fees, No transaction fees, Unlimited Products, Unlimited Storage, No Visitors Limits, Own SubDomain, Google Checkout, PayPal, No ads, Google Shopping, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)... The only warning sign I see at this point is "your own subdomain" and figured they'd hit me up for premium hosting somewhere down the road. So I figured I'd give it a try - I mean, after all, it has a CNN Badge on its front page, that's good coverage, right?!?
So I go to create a store. It requires a Google account and there's where I see that Muncom is "just an app" and has no affiliation with Google. Fart. OK, keep going. After a few page errors and form glitches route me to bizarre places I finally clear the hurdles and I create my first product. As you might expect, there are virtually no options to fill in like categories, attributes, etc. And you're dreaming if you think you're going to get inventory control or complex product types. We're talking name-description-price stuff here. And the product name needs to be 40 chars or less. Whuhuh???
On to images. BAMM! Another password link request, and this time to a Picasa Photo Account. (BTW, the Google password link authorizations are unencrypted, too - so use an account you don't mind getting hacked!) You must grant access or die - you cannot use images with Muncom unless you host them in Picasa, period. OK, create junk Picasa account, upload images. The AJAX uploads are glitchy too, you can save before they are finished and not get the image, or interrupt the process to where the "uploading" message doesn't clear when it's done so you sit there staring at it like a dummy. I ended up with multiple uploads and had no way to clean house, since I couldn't tell in PicasaWeb which was the dupe.
Fine, keep going. Create a second item. I already know there's no import routine, so there's no way I'm going to enter the "free unlimited products" I have available to me. And by the way, what is this site going to look like form an organizational standpoint knowing I have no category fields at my disposal? Let's go take a look. Ooops, I can't see my store as a user while I'm logged in; lemme spin up an alternate browser and go see http://CasinoChips.Muncom.com as John Q. Public.
My momma always told me that if you don't have something nice to say, then don't say anything at all. Well, it appears on first glance to have a clean, nicely-crafted Web2.0 front end design.
And all of a sudden I start seeing a detail I hadn't seen before - the little "BETA" stamp next to their logo. We're using what the developers must feel is their Minimum Viable Product. Well, thanks for the free offer, Muncom. It will be nice for people with budgets of zero dollars, really it will. And by that time I bet you can start adding those additional features people will really want - you know, the ones you'll have to charge for to turn a profit. I understand.
But Muncom free web stores are miles and miles from being ready for anyone who depends on ecommerce for a living. Those beginners-but-desperate folks should really pony up the dough for a $15-per-month Magento Go account.
So I figured I'd post a review and potentially save people from having to repeat the same learning experience. Hmm, I should add that reference to the CNN link and WHAAA???? Ooof. It takes me to "CNN Expansion" - and the article is in Spanish. Herrumph. "But I don't WANT to crea mi tienda!!!"
To let Muncom sum-it-up for you in their own words, allow me to quote a particularly amusing clip from their own disclaimer page:
"Consumer beware: The stores displayed on this site have been created under the Muncom system."
In short, I recommend: Remove from Cart - check back in a year to see what they've become.
"Buys Too Much"