What Is an Online Shopping Cart?

What Is an Online Shopping Cart?

An online shopping cart is software that allows the customer to make a list of products they wish to buy. It also calculates the taxes and adds in the shipping and handling charges. It is like a virtual shopping cart where you place items in the cart and then proceed to check out.

Even the simplest shopping cart software will provide some additional features that an internet merchant will find helpful. One is the storage of data, like product details, discounts, and orders, into a database that the software can access in real time.

Shopping Cart Software

There are two components in shopping cart software: storefront and administration. The storefront is where online visitors shop and look at product information, discounts, best sellers, etc. Much of what the customers can do is based on the information stored in the software’s database. Administration is the area that the owner of the web store accesses to manage features like changing discounts, adding or deleting products, or editing categories.

There are two main categories of shopping cart software: hosted and licensed. Hosted solutions are typically charged on a monthly basis while licensed solutions charge a one time fee to use the software.

Licensed shopping cart software is downloaded and then installed on a web server. The advantage of this software is the merchant owns it and can use any server he wishes, as long as the requirements are met. Also, the source code can be accessed and edited to truly customize the application. The downside is that you are responsible for any technical issues which could be extremely expensive.

You are also responsible for safe guarding and protecting your customer’s sensitive information. PCI compliance is a big deal and you are opening yourself up to huge lawsuits by not being PCI compliant. With the overwhelming increase in fraud, hacking and phishing scams, it’s even more important to have a PCI compliant solution.

What to Look for in Shopping Cart Software

A good storefront will have:

1. A store catalog that is visually pleasing and easy to browse.

2. A good search feature that makes it easy to find specific products. A good bread crumb navigation is also good for search engines.

3. 3rd Party integrations that help you optimize your business. Today’s online shopping cart competition is fierce and though most of these companies can provide all technology, partnering with those companies that can help affect your bottom line is priceless.

4. Proof of PCI Compliancy.

A good administration area will have:

1. A simple way to manage all as aspects of your business including products, images, inventory, shipping, payments, orders and promotions.

2. Allowance for broad changes to the entire shopping cart such as a template, color or images.

3. A flexible yet intuitive CRM. You need an easy way to manage orders, customer support tickets and returns.

4. An easy way to import and export all store data.