What Is the Best Shopping Cart to Use for e-Commerce?

As a virtual assistant that offers shopping cart set up for small business owners I often come across the question from my clients as to what is the best shopping cart to use for e-Commerce?

As more and more business owners are going into business for themselves offering products/services online so are the different services available to them that offer shopping cart solutions. It can be confusing at times to know which is the best one to use that would get them the best value for money especially if they are just starting out.ecommerce

My advice is to first decide what is the absolute minimum you need for a shopping cart to do for your business and what things are your ‘would-likes’ down the road as your business grows and your needs change.

For the purposes of this article I’m going to compare three different shopping cart services as examples of what will meet basic needs and what is available for the business owner that just needs a little more from their shopping cart at the intermediate and advanced levels.

Basic Option – PayPal

Since PayPal is a payment gateway that also offers the ability to add e-commerce to your website you save the step and cost of having to sign up for a payment gateway that allows you the ability to accept credit card payments online or over the phone.

If you need to be able to accept credit card payments on your website and need an easy way to transfer those funds directly to your bank account, then PayPal is a good and inexpensive option to go with as the only fees you will have is the transaction fee that is charged by PayPal for each payment transaction you accept through your website.

It’s fairly easy to setup “Buy” buttons on your website for one-time charges or even for recurring charges if you are offering a training or coaching program that spreads out over a number of months.

Also, if you need to bill a client on the fly for one-time and don’t want to create a product for sale on your website you can create an email with PayPal and send to your client requesting the payment amount.

Intermediate Option – 1ShoppingCart

With 1ShoppingCart you can do more than just accept payments on your website. You will be able to build your mailing list through sign-up forms on your website, create auto-responders to send out a series of emails to potential clients to connect with them over a period of time or to run a e-course where you send out emails each week providing training to clients.

Unlike PayPal 1ShoppingCart is not a payment gateway so you will need to sign up with a third party company like Authorize.net to enable you to accept credit cards through 1ShoppingCart.

1ShoppingCart offers:

  • one-time charges
  • recurring charges for a fixed period of time of your choosing
  • ability to set a sales price for a specific period and then automatically going to full price afterwards
  • setup download links for clients after they have made their purchase (links expire within 24 hours after the order is placed)
  • custom look and feel of shopping cart to match your website brand
  • link auto-responder list to specific product so that people who purchased gets added to this list
  • WordPress Signup Form plugin
  • Newsletter
  • Contact list segmentation
  • Affiliate Program setup and management

Advanced Option – Infusionsoft

(shopping cart combined with lead generation and comprehensive sales/marketing tools)

Infusionsoft is a fairly new-comer compared to 1shoppingcart and is the priciest of all shoppingcarts. However, if you business is at that point where you need an all-in-one solution that provides:

  • Built in CRM (customer relation management) tool – attract customers through email, website and social media and manage the whole prospect/customer process
  • Lead Management tool – capture valuable data on leads
  • Automated Marketing – sending targeted emails automatically, segmenting your list
  • Sell Online – quick and easily design your storefront, customized cart, automated fulfillment and billing
  • Close Sale – tools to help you convert leads to sales and build customer relationships

Conclusion

For most people just starting out PayPal offers a great way to accept credit card payments if you don’t need all the bells and whistles.

If you need an integrated system for your email newsletters, contact management and also offers a shopping cart solution, then 1ShoppingCart will work well for you at a great price!

If you need a robust system that can handle everything for you from attracting customers to automating the process of nurturing your prospects, to turning them into paying customers and also automating payments, then Infusionsoft would be a great choice bearing in mind that they cost the most of the three choices I’m featuring.

Which shopping cart service is right for you? Comment below and let our readers know! I’d also love to answer any questions you might have about setting up the right shopping cart for your business.

 

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How To Stand Out as An E-Commerce Shopping Cart Provider

With more than a hundred e-commerce shopping carts to choose from, selecting one is really a matter of preference with careful product evaluation. But what makes one provider stand out from the rest? See the answer below.

Features

Different shopping cart providers offer similar and unique features that are useful to the consumers and beneficial for you as a merchant. While choosing which features to have may depend on the size of your business, a good shopping cart provider offer a wide range of feature options for different business needs.

Integrated Online Marketing and Promotional Tools

With a right shopping cart, you can increase traffic and increase sales virtually over night. How? Shopping carts affect the consumer's response to your website. The more useful tools it has, the more it can attract new customers and persuade existing customers to buy your products. Through integrated marketing and promotional tools like catalog and product comparison, your customers are able to make easy and wise decision on which products to buy.

Promos, sale, discounts, free shipping and coupons are powerful marketing strategies that can attract more customers. Shopping carts offer these features.

Product review is another powerful feature that can increase sales. In a study conducted by CompUSA and iPerceptions, 63% of consumers are more likely to buy from the sites with product ratings and reviews.

User-friendly Interface/Ease of Use

Cosumers are very impatient when it comes to purchasing products and services online. The last thing your customers want to do is figure out how to navigate your shopping cart. A user-friendly website is important to keep potential customers browsing. A user-friendly shopping cart is crucial if you want your customers to stay and complete the transactions.

Payment Options

Different online consumers prefer to use certain types of payment. While most would like credit cards, many are still hesitant to enter personal information online and choose other alternative modes of payment like Paypal, checks and money orders. A good shopping cart service should cover all these.

Hacker-Safe Ordering Page

Earning your customers' confidence is important in any business. That is why you have to make sure that your customers are properly protected when they enter their credit card information to your website. Wise customers often look for SSL certificate seal on a merchant's website. This seal is a guarantee that the site is hacker safe. Make sure that you have one.

Full Order Management System

A good shopping cart guides customers throughout the process of purchasing, checking out, payment and shipping. These services can be provided fully by a hosting company or are linked from different services. Payments can be through major credit cards, PayPal, money orders and checks. Shipping can be linked to major shipping carriers like UPS, DHL and FedEx.

Costumer Service/Support

One of the best ways to gauge if a particular e-commerce shopping cart provider has good customer service is by sending questions though their email address. How fast did they reply? Did you get a template reply? In business, time is money; and personal touch is a plus. Customer service should reply with a personalized message as soon as possible. Another way to test how good the customer service is is through its technical support. In running an effective e-commerce store, the availability of good documentation is important.

How To Make Your Shopping Cart Effective

I'm sure you've done the same thing yourself. You go to a grocery store, get a cart or basket, fill it with items and suddenly you felt that you're buying unnecessary things. What happens after that realization is a pretty common sight. You leave your basket or cart half full of items near the counter or just at the end of the aisle. The same thing can happen on an online shopping cart: customers abandoning their carts. But that is not entirely out of your control. There are a number of ways to increase the effectiveness of your shopping cart and the proper implementation of these can result to a fairly successful online business.

There are several reasons that you should know about why people abandon their shopping carts midway. One reason is that they just want to know the prices of the products on your website and compare them with another supplier. If they find out that they can get the products much cheaper somewhere else then they will just abandon their carts.

However, the solution to this issue is not an easy one. We have to get the right suppliers and services to ensure that we can offer the products at a minimal mark-up or at a very competitive rate. At least if you and your competitors have fairly the same product prices, you can get customers by getting ahead in other areas like customer support.

Another issue that your customers might find with your shopping cart is usability. The internet is a fast-paced information gateway. If your customers find your shopping cart slow to upload, and have a lot of required fields to fill-up, they will turn to your competitors.

Remove any stumbling blocks that might hinder your customers to order products easily online. Too much non-purchase information is a definite turn-off. Keep the interface simple and customize the shopping cart to enable fast product browsing and ordering.

Security is another major issue. This is only natural. Your clients will be handing over credit card information which in some ways can be hacked and used by unscrupulous people. Asking too much information will put your customers on the defensive. They will be cautious resulting to loss of sales.

Keep your shopping cart up-to-date. And this goes for both security options and other features. Make sure that you incorporate already standard shopping cart features. It would be a plus if you could add a couple of innovative ideas of your own as well.

And when you update your shopping cart security and other features, make sure your clients know about them. These changes are useless if you don't give your clients assurances that you have a proactive approach in ensuring the protection of their personal information.

Honesty is greatly appreciated as well. Let your customers know of any other added costs on their purchases. Place this information as early in the ordering process as possible. Customers will surely get irritated if they find out of additional fees at the end of their transactions. You'll get a lot of bad rep from doing that.

Also be aware that US dollar is not the only currency your customers will use. You're talking about a global network where people from almost anywhere can purchase items from your cart. Place a conversion application which would help your clients know of the amount in their own currency.

These are but simple ways to ensure the effectiveness of your shopping cart. Nonetheless, as simple as they may be, it will give you several benefits if you pay attention to them and implement the necessary solutions. 

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E-Commerce Shopping Carts Comparison

Not all e-commerce shopping carts are the same; and choosing one can be a bit tricky. Since this is one of the most important decisions you have to make as an online merchant, you have to make sure that you roll on the perfect shopping cart suited for your needs and the needs of your potential costumers. To successfully find the perfect one, doing some deep research is a great help.

When comparing different shopping cart vendors, consider the following:

Features vs. Business Scale

Wish list, registry, site search, real-time inventory, payment options, express checkout, product reviews, order tracking, website security, and order tracking: these are just a number of features that may be included when purchasing a shopping cart. If you are not careful enough, these features may define your choice for a shopping cart vendor. Instead of allowing yourself to be hypnotized with all these attractive options, ask yourself this question: Do I really need all these things?î

It may seem very basic that you should decide according to your needs but there are certain instances where you simply become an impulsive buyer.

Deciding whether or not such feature is important requires understanding on the needs of your business. The decision should depend on the size of your business, quantity of products you sell and budget.

Price vs. Budget

Speaking of budget, the next thing you should consider is how much you can afford. Before setting a budget, try to browse first the websites of different shopping cart vendors. This will give you an idea how much such service will cost. Take note that the prices depend on the features included in shopping carts.

Once you have set your budget, stick to it.

Ease of Use vs. Looks

Most buyers are more impatient when purchasing items online than when they buy on shops and stalls. This is quite ironic since all they need to do is to move their mouse pointer to the right direction click on the products they want to buy and wait for the shipment to come; instead of visiting a shop and spending time browsing different products and dealing with (sometimes annoying) sales representatives. But this is the fact you have to consider. Buy from a vendor with easy to use shopping cart. Looking for a vendor with user-friendly features should be easy as most shopping cart providers offer an easy to use feature. Similarly, it is a plus if the shopping cart looks good but this is really not your main priority.

If possible, you need to have a shopping cart that is easy to use and at the same time, a shopping cart that looks good and can add to the appeal of your website. But if you have to choose one, going for ease of use is a wiser option.

The key here is research. Do not settle for two or three vendors. Search as many websites as you can. Read reviews and testimonials. Read articles about shopping carts. Join forums if possible. The more websites you visit; the more information you can gather that is important when deciding what features to take, how much money to throw, and what type of e-commerce shopping cart to buy. But remember: do not purchase anything that you cannot afford and do not buy something you cannot use.