Choosing the Right Online Shopping Cart : Are you a website owner or web designer/developer? If either one is correct, I dare say that eventually you will need an online shopping cart for one of your websites. In fact, almost all new websites today require some kind of built-in e-commerce, for the purpose of selling goods and services in the online marketplace.
The biggest challenge is finding the perfect ecommerce shopping cart solution for you and/or your clients. This task can be overwhelming, considering that if you type ‘shopping cart’ into Google.com, this search alone yields over 14.4 million clicks! Most of us don’t have time to sift through more than a few search engine pages to find what we’re looking for.
Over the past 3 months, most of my time has been devoted to researching as much shopping cart technology as I can get my hands on. In general, shopping cart software ranges from free to over $2000 for a single license and hosted web carts range from $5 to hundreds of dollars per month.
But fear not, just follow this guaranteed step-by-step guide to find it:
Top 10 Steps to Finding the Best Online Shopping Cart
How much money should you spend on an internet shopping cart? A nice advantage is that there is a shopping cart with hundreds of features and it doesn’t cost you a penny. They are generally open source products.
The only problem is that these same “free shopping carts” can take hours of installation time and are quite difficult to configure. For a monthly fee, the web hosting shopping cart is built for users with little programming experience and allows them to have an online store in no time.
Hosting vs. Software
There are two options when it comes to choosing your overall shopping cart solution. Either you get the shopping cart software, download it, install it on your web server and then configure the shopping cart OR you get an online storefront (aka a hosted shopping cart) where the configuration is very basic and the setup time required is minimal.
If you have some programming skills, I recommend buying the script and installing it yourself. The nice thing is that you pay a one time fee for the shopping cart software and the license is valid for life. This is roughly the same price to have a solution hosted for a year compared to most one-off shopping cart licenses.
What do I mean by gate? Gateways give shopping carts the ability to securely connect and process credit card orders in real-time. Not all shopping carts are created equal. Make sure your client’s merchant account is supported by the basket you choose. I’ve found that almost all carts support larger online payment processing companies, such as Authorize.net, PayPal, and Verisign.
Will you ship a physical product? If so, there are shopping carts that have real-time shipping options built in via DHL, UPS, and USPS. Often times, carts give users the ability to view order tracking and order status all from within your secure shopping cart web interface. Also, there are shopping carts with the option to deliver digital goods as well (files, programs, pictures, music and more).
What type of technical support does your shopping cart offer? If you choose to purchase the script, be sure to also subscribe to the shopping cart builder’s newsletter, so you can stay abreast of future software updates. Be aware that technical support is generally available on a pay-per-incident basis, as an annual fee or in rare cases, free of charge. Be sure to find out the type of customer support that guarantees the shopping cart.
Please, only purchase a shopping cart if it supports SSL (secure sockets layer), with 128-bit encryption. As an online storefront, remember that you are responsible for the secure transfer of sensitive information (credit card and bank account information) processed through your store.
If any sensitive information can be accessed (stolen) from your website, you can be held liable. Make sure you buy a secure shopping cart solution. Ask the shopping cart creator what they do specifically to protect the secure transfer of sensitive information.
Can you customize the shopping cart to look like your website? There should be a smooth transition between your website and your shopping storefront or your customers may be hesitant to buy your products. There must be a similar style of color and layout to make it look professional and believable.
I just wanted to mention a few other features I came across, which might be a tipping point in deciding which shopping cart you want.
Affiliate Program – Offer your own customized affiliate program through your shopping cart software. Quickbooks Integration – Multiple carts allow direct integration with Quickbooks.
Newsletters & Mail Mail Manager – The ability to stay in touch with your current customers and keep them coming back to your online store.
Custom Tax Options – Create taxable or tax-free products and have the ability to add various global tax options at checkout.
World Languages & Currencies – Shopping cart language translation and support for world currencies may be required features for your cart.
You mean shopping carts can have errors? of course. A UK-based private web testing company found the following, after studying a large group of UK online shopping carts for a period of one month (24/7): “Most UK websites are guilty of leaving electronic consumers stranded on the cash register empty-handed, after they spend valuable time browsing and selecting items to buy. This is due to erratic functionality in shopping carts, at an important step in the online buying process.”
“Electronic consumers are barred from making purchases on UK websites for an average of 9 hours and 30 minutes a month, (115 hours a year).” “80 percent of websites perform inconsistently with response times, timeouts, and errors that vary widely – leaving consumers wondering what to do next and at worst not being able to complete their purchase successfully. This could potentially cost electronics retailers millions in loss sales from consumer frustration.
Be sure to see what other users have to say about the shopping cart that you might be interested in buying. Every shopping cart mistake can cost you thousands of dollars in sales. Get a stable and safe train.
Shopping Cart Directory
The following is a link containing a directory of shopping carts categorized according to each of the steps mentioned above. Make shopping for shopping cart easy!