What Are Ecommerce Shopping Carts and How Can They Help Your Business Thrive?
The development of the Internet has made it possible to take any idea and market it successfully anywhere in the world. To truly take advantage of this remarkable situation you need to have a viable website and access to one of several ecommerce shopping carts that are currently in use.
Not sure exactly how an ecommerce shopping cart works? Don’t know what features to look for? Not to worry, we will cover all of that and more.
What is a Virtual Shopping Cart?
Simply put, a virtual shopping cart is a piece of software which is used to help customers make purchases online. It “collects” items the user wishes to purchase, tracks how many of each item they want, gathers shipping and billing information and calculates taxes and other essential fees.
While they don’t handle the financial transactions, they act as the front end (what the customer sees while shopping) so it is important to get the right shopping cart for your business.
How to Pick
There are plenty of shopping carts you can choose from which means you have to be careful with your selection. Both free and premium shopping carts can be set up to serve your website, but you want quality as much as savings.
Read the details on each service diligently. There may be some features your business can manage without. By the same token, there are some essential functions that will make your life much simpler.
Cross selling – this function makes suggestions and recommendations based upon what the customer has just selected to place in their cart. You can even arrange for a complimentary product to be offered at a discount. Impulse shopping is just as common online as in the stores.
Affiliate programs – if you purchase the right shopping cart software it will allow you to set up an affiliate program with other businesses they serve. This is an inexpensive way to market your product to receptive individuals.
Tracking services – many shopping cart programs can track your sales, letting you know what you are selling, when and where. This can help you tailor your offerings.
Marketing capabilities – some carts come with newsletter and auto-responder functions. This eliminates the need to get additional marketing software, decreasing the number of programs and services you need to obtain.
Coupon and Discount Support – using affiliate coupons, promo codes and other such marketing techniques will help you attract additional customers. Selecting a shopping cart that is capable of accepting and processing such offers will make for a smoother shopping experience and increase customer retention.
The Nuts and Bolts of Selection
Understanding what functions you need is important, but you also need to consider just what a particular service will be able to offer your business. You want a service which will be able to grow with your business.
Compatibility with your payment processing arrangement is even more important. Each payment gateway has its own way of processing payment, and while there is some degree of standardization, you want to make sure that you don’t need to make radical changes in what already works.
Can you make use of third party payment systems, gift cards and electronic checks? If you use them already with your merchant account, you will want to continue using them with your shopping cart.
The level of customer support and disaster planning is also critically important for your shopping cart to be a good option. It is essential that you be able to access support at all times. A user forum is a good indication that the company takes customer service seriously.
Run a test – send a question to the sales department and see how quickly they answer. If they can’t be bothered with you now, when they should be wooing you, chances are you won’t get a better response once they have your money.
Once all of your questions have been answered to your satisfaction, you will be able to select the best shopping cart program for your business, and the ease of making purchases will encourage your customers to keep coming back for more.