Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How to Get the Best Online Shopping Cart for Your Money

What is a Shopping Cart?
shopping cart software is software used in e-commerce to assist people making purchases online. The software allows online shopping customers to "place" items in the cart. Upon "checkout" the software typically calculates a total for the order including shipping and handling (i.e. postage and packing) and taxes, if applicable.

What are the Benefits to Owning One?
Online shopping carts are very valuable for site owners because they allow users to buy immediately. I once read a fact that stated something like, 80% of online sales are bought impulsively. This is a huge statistic. Now that not to say that the people purchasing these items in any way regret what they bought, it just means that unlike in a regular store, people see an item online and since there's no hassle they purchase it right away.

But not only is having an online shopping cart important because your visitors can easily make purchases (compared to having to send you a check or money order via snail mail) an online shopping cart has far more benefits, such as:

1. Savings in set-up and operational costs. You won't need to pay shop assistants, rent costly street premises, or answer a lot of pre-sales queries

2. Customer orders can automatically come straight into your orders database from the web site, reducing the costs of order processing

3. You can reach a much wider audience. You will be able to be contacted by people worldwide, giving you the ability to increase sales.

4. You can compete with larger companies

5. You'll receive payments more quickly from online transactions

6. Your business can be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

7. You should be able to provide better customer service and attract more loyal customers

8. You will be able to track purchases and use data to improve your offerings

9. Your shopping cart can function as only a catalogue for existing customers

The importance of offering a secure online shopping cart is becoming a crucial part of any business. As mentioned previously, the only other way customers can make purchases from your site would be to mail you a check or money order. However, although many consumers would have been fine with that 7 years ago, due to the heightened awareness of identity theft and online scammers, nobody really wants to send out money to a person they have never even heard of before. I know that I, personally, am not comfortable with that situation.

The Different Kinds of Online Shopping Carts
There's literally thousands and thousands of companies online that offer shopping cart services. From what I have researched, there's pretty much two kinds of shopping carts you can pick from. The first kind is where a you buy your own website then pay a company to install a shopping cart. This means you will be paying two separate fees.

The second kind is a company that offers the site along with the shopping cart together for one low fee, usually monthly.

Either of these kinds of shopping carts may work for you depending on what your long term intentions are. Lets say you already have a site and you wish to open up a separate "store site" that is linked right to your current site; if this is the case, it would be best for you to go with a company who offers a site and the shopping cart all in one.

What to Look for in a Shopping Cart
After determining what kind of shopping cart works for you, you will want to find answers to these questions:

1. How lengthy is set up? Many companies offer a quick and easy 10 minute set up.

2. Is there shopping cart software to buy and install?

3. Do they offer Live chat technical support from admin panel?

4. Are there any fixed terms or contracts?

5. What does the price include? Example: Price includes ecommerce software, hosting, 128 bit SSL security, email, payment integration, full technical support and ongoing upgrades

6. Any hidden fees?

7. Does the shopping cart allow you to create self generated and/or customizable meta tags? This is very important! This is how people will find your items when surfing the net!

8. In addition, are auto tags created from your item descriptions?

9. Are the URL's Spider Friendly?

10. What kind of control do you have when it comes to customization? Can you Design, Make Your Own Shipping Costs, Tax Costs, Others Variants, Design Newsletters, Offer Discounts, Chose Your Own Payment methods?

No comments: