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10 Things You Should Know About Shopping Carts

November 4th 2005

10 Things You Should Know About Shopping Carts

Shopping Cart

You want to move your business online, and now you are faced with the many available options for shopping carts. Trust me keeping track and deciding which is the best fit for your purpose is no easy job, but these 10 things should help you make an informed decision.

  1.   Type of Product or Service / Target Market
One of the first things to consider is the type of product or service and whom you sell to? If these are not clearly defined and you are just trying to get some products online to see how they will sell, then a starter package that is rentable is probably the way to go. You still need to consider the following needs. Most shopping carts are built for physical products that are mailed or shipped to customers. So if you sell a digital product you need to look for a feature set that accommodates ordering and then providing immediate controlled downloading of the product.
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If your product is informational then another type of software solution called a membership site might fit your purpose better. Who you sell to also may require different features than you typically find in a standard shopping cart, for instance if you sell to other businesses (B2B) instead of the end customer (B2C), you will want the cart to handle Purchase orders as well as Credit Card payments.

2)  Technology Platform

The second decision you need to make may have already been made for you without you knowing it. The technology platform you choose will limit the shopping cart choices you can use. If you have an existing website then the platform (Web server type) has already been determined for you. You simply have to go through your records and see which platform your host provides. Three of the popular technology platforms in use are Linux based or open source servers, Microsoft .NET (IIS) based servers and Coldfusion systems. The main thing is to check with your Web hosting provider to determine this information. You may also need to know if you have a hosted, shared or dedicated server.

            3)  Number of Products

The number of products you provide or plan to provide also helps determine the right shopping cart solution. Once you get over about 30 50 products you start spending a lot of your time, just keeping up with changes to the products, etc. If you hire out this work, then your expenses go up quickly after this point as well. Shopping cart features to consider allow batch loading, and changing product information. A batch process allows you to put the product information (or changed information) into a spreadsheet form and let the system upload the changes all at once (in one batch) taking hours less time than the standard one at a time based feature set.


           4)  Product Display

The type of product you sell and how to display it best will also have bearing on which shopping cart to use. Most shopping carts have a structured way to display products, allowing pictures of the products to be displayed in predetermined sizes. How many sizes of pictures and how many pictures of the same product with different attributes is something you need to know before deciding on a solution. For instance if you sell sweaters that come in various colors, you may want to show each color (same style) to enhance the chances a person will buy a sweater (or several). If a visually appealing display is important for your type of product then this is something you want to know about the system before choosing. 

5)  Search Engine Compatibility

So far we have not focused on the shopping cart, because the type of shopping cart features are determined not by what is available (through your host) and known to you (referred by a friend), but what shopping cart will provide the needed features to your business and its customers. One of the main reasons business owners want a shopping cart is so they can offer their products to a wider audience (where ever the WWW reaches). So if you have a product that is positioned in a competitive market (many other sites offering similar products) then finding your site, because of competition will be difficult for customers. The main issue with shopping carts here is that they provide a Search Engine Compatible page address and product page address (URL) so that search engines can find your shop on the Internet. If your product is highly competitive, then more aggressive Search Engine Optimization will be needed.

Article Continued


By Robert Speyer
Bob is Co-Founder, President of Web Success Team and Speyergraphix Design Studio.  Bob and his team can handle all of your offline design and advertising needs.  Contact Bob

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                     Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:47 PM