Online shopping carts are electronic
order forms for a merchant's business. Customers access
the order form via a hyperlink placed on the merchant's
Web site. Similar in concept to a physical supermarket
shopping cart, customers can put in as many or as few
items as they wish, selected from the merchant's Web site
Shopping cart software allows merchants to accept product
orders for multiple products from their Web sites. Shopping
cart software automatically calculates and totals your
customers' orders, including tax and shipping.
Some setup is required to make your shopping cart operate
on your Web site. The shopping cart software must be installed
on the server that hosts your Web site or on the secure
server that accepts sensitive ordering information.
A credit card processor that is considered a one stop
shop for e-commerce can get you started with all five
of these essential Internet business components.
Which Shopping Cart Is Best for Your Business?
Whether you are a startup or established business, there
are certain shopping cart criteria that should be available
to your Web site. These criteria include:
Customizable - Your shopping cart should be able
to manage the size of your business today, as well as
grow with you as your business expands and evolves.
Real-time shopping - Your customers want to place
their orders when they are ready to check out, and they
want to know the status of those orders. Is the product
they ordered in stock? Did the credit card authorization
Multiple-store management - Can your shopping cart
manage your business if you have more than one store?
Some carts can, but others cannot.
Security - Does your shopping cart offer state-of-the-art
security and encryption capabilities (e.g., 1024-bit encryption;
Secure Sockets Layer [SSL] security)?
Professional appearance - Will your shopping cart
allow you to generate a professional-looking storefront
for your business, customized and personalized with your
logo, products, categories and shipping methods.
Does your shopping cart feature back-end browser-based
administration that helps ensure quality service and customer
1. Automatic tax and shipping calculation capabilities
2. Live customer inquiry or customer service email capabilities
3. Immediate order confirmation to customers
4. Invoice and inventory management
5. Site-wide discount capabilities
6. Integrated search capabilities
7. Product variations (e.g., sizes and colors) and product
8. A drill-down menu system
9. Minimum product quantities
10. Statistics reporting for merchant data-mining capabilities
11. Product group and cross-selling opportunities
12. Customer-friendly navigation
International capabilities - Do you conduct business in
other languages, in other countries, in other currencies?
Your shopping cart partner should be able to accommodate
these needs with true multi - currency capabilities.
How Can a Shopping Cart Benefit My Business?
The right shopping cart relationship can facilitate building
and managing your consumer and e-business catalogs, as
well as making online shopping as easy as point, click
and fill in the blanks. Browser-based shopping cart management
lets merchants control all aspects of their storefronts,
from product maintenance to category management to order
and credit card processing.
Your customers want shopping and payment options. The
right credit card processor and shopping cart relationships
ensure that you make it easy and pleasant for customers
to shop on your Web site. The right shopping cart ensures
that your e-commerce platform is easy to implement, use
and customize. This makes your business a full-service
e-commerce solution for your customers. It encourages
them to buy from you and to return to your Web site again
How Much Do Shopping Carts Cost?
Prices vary widely depending on a number of considerations:
Who will do the site hosting?
Is the secure server or secure payment gateway included
in the cost?
How long is the contract?
Do you pay yearly or monthly?
Is there a maintenance fee after the first year?
Is there a real-time credit card processing interface?
(That component usually costs extra.)
What kind of backup program is available?
Your best bet to select the right shopping cart is to
develop a relationship with a trusted, one-stop credit
card processor, which can help you conduct e-commerce
securely, safely, quickly and effectively over the Internet.
Shopping Cart Primer
Imagine how frustrated you would be if you walked into
your local grocery store to gather your family dinner
and they had no shopping carts and would not allow you
to go down the aisles to grab any food. This is what life
is like for your customers if they come to your website
and cannot select and purchase the products or services
they want. (Unless you have only one or a few product
choices) This should help you see why having a robust
shopping cart and catalog is essential to your future
When searching for a shopping cart solution, you are looking
for a package to transform your Web site into a shopping
environment without extensive effort, complicated programming
or high-cost support. Here are some of the key things
you should look for in your quest for an online shopping
1. Compatibility with reputable gateways
2. Easy setup-simply cut and paste
3. Online user guide
4. Secure Sockets Layer data protection
5. Real-time, offline ordering
6. No need for common gateway interface programming
7. Scalable to any business-unlimited products and orders
8. Fully customizable - order form /shopping cart with
background image, logo and test-color input
9. Calculates all shipping, handling and sales tax charges.
10. Supports UPS, Federal Express and U.S. Postal Service
Secure Gateway Primer
Just like telephone lines allow storefront merchants to
send in a credit card order, the internet Gateway will
send in your customer's online credit card order to your
Merchant Account processor. To protect your customer's
credit card data, make sure your Gateway provider has
a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol with cryptographic
tools. With SSL, transaction data sent by the merchant
to the payment Gateway server can only be read and used
by that server.
Your Gateway provider should also have a secure communication
channel to minimize message handling errors and allow
an uninterrupted data stream between the gateway server
and merchant account processing bank. With today's Gateway
technology, your transaction response time should be in
You also want to look for scalability in your Gateway
system. As your business grows from hundreds to thousands
of transactions per month, your Gateway provider's server
must be able to handle this. The last thing you want is
a Gateway provider with a history of extensive downtime.
Make sure your gateway provider has a track record of
at least 99.9% uptime and support teams that can get the
servers back online at any time 24 hours a day, 7 days