In a world filled with eCommerce solutions such as Prestashop and osCommerce, now comes the newest offering… JEM.
The makers of JEM call it a “Fully Integrated eCommerce, Content and Marketing Solution.” They go on to say that “With JEM, you’ll get a completely integrated solution that allows you to have one interface to manage your content, orders, promotional material and news.”
We took a ride on their Demo installation, and at first glance it reminded us of Prestashop, but without all the fancy AJAX. The backend had the feel of the JROX.COM Affiliate Manager [JAM] with all the tools and gadgets appropriately grouped. The features include Built-In Content Management, FAQ Module and Web Page Builder, Integrated Affiliate Marketing and Promotion System, Search-Engine Friendly URLs and more. Each feature was easy to use and understand something we all expect from any website application – but do not always get. Although unappealing, there are free templates included with JEM as well. The only thing missing in JEM was a blog, and the ability to make us breakfast.
We have been working with eCommerce shopping cart systems for over 5 years and can honestly say that there are few eCommerce systems that include a good, working Affiliate manager [we have and use JROXs’ affiliate management system and have always been impressed with its features and ease-of-use], not to mention a built-in Content Management system.
We all know that content is King and the ability to add unique content to your site is obviously important. The integration of a content management system and affiliate program into an eCommerce site is a plus, but our ride ended abruptly when we reached the JEM License Options page. We were surprised by the cost of a JEM license.
JROX.COM eCommerce Manager product page states:
“With JEM, you’ll definitely save money. Why buy several different software applications to handle your shopping cart, affiliate program, or web page editor that can total hundreds, if not thousands of dollars? By using JEM, you’ll get all of it in one single installation, with no need to purchase additional software.”
This is partially true. By using JEM you will get a system that includes the 3 big features that most website owners can not do without – eCommerce shopping cart, affiliate manage and a content management system. However, we are not convinced that anyone will save much money using JEM. The downside to JEM is the price of its license. Granted, you can freely download and use JEM without cost but there is a catch… much like JAM, the free version is restricted to only 50 members [only 50?]. Once you reach the limit, you must purchase a license [not that there is anything wrong with that].
JROX has two license options. The first is strictly the application itself – no frills, no thrills. The license will cost you $29.95 per month, seemingly for as long as you use the application. As far as we can tell there is no included support, outside their regular support options and user-to-user forums, and there is no indication that regular updates will be provided, or if those updates will be free. One can only assume the latter to be the case.
The second option is JEM with cPanel hosting. The license page states that this option includes 4 GB of Disk Space, Unlimited Emails, Unlimited Databases, Unlimited Add-on Domains, Unlimited FTP Accounts, and Unlimited Sub Domains. However, clicking on More Info reveled that the hosting plan includes only 2 GB of disk space with an ample 100 GB of data transfer [the difference in allotted disk space could be a typo]. As we do provide hosting services, the additional $15/month for hosting is not a huge selling point considering our Director cPanel Hosting Plan allots you about 21 GB’s more disk space and 100 GB’s more data transfer for about the same price. Fact is, JEM will operate the same on our servers just as it would with any host offering LAMP [Linux, Apache, MySQl and PHP].
While at first glance the license fees may seem worthwhile [remember, it is a full-blown eCommerce system], the cost [not including hosting] outweighs the value. If you were to use JEM for 5 years, the cost would be $1,797. However, you could use any number of free/open source Content Management and eCommerce applications, purchase a JROX Affiliate Manager [JAM] license and hire a designer to create a design for use with each application and accomplish the same for less. The benefit of using JEM? Considering applications such as Prestashop, and Joomla are free to download, use and update, you’re cost to use these applications for 5 years is $0. One could easily find a good designer to design a theme for use with each application and pay an industry standard of about $100-$200 per application. Add up the JROX Affiliate Manager license fee of $250, the $0 cost to use Prestashop and Joomla, the $600 design cost for a theme for use with JAM, Prestashop & Joomla, and the total cost for 5 years is $850 – $947 less than JEM!
We love that JEM comes with a working affiliate manager and content management system. We love that JEM is packed with a slew of features that make Salvatore Iozzia’s CRE Loaded look like a floating candy bar in a public pool. We love that JEM does not force standards on its end user like EOS Online Merchant does with Forced SSL. Unfortunately, the never-ending license fee does not make a gem out of JEM. The cost of JAM is $250. You can pay it all at once or you can choose their payment plan. Considering this, a similar option [and maybe some toast] would make all the difference for JEM.