Tips and Hints

Choosing a shopping cart

If you’re selling goods or services directly on your site you need some type of e-commerce system. Most people use the phrase shopping cart to describe that system. The shopping cart allows users to select items they want to buy, store them in their own shopping cart and checkout with that cart, paying with a credit card or other payment type.

In looking for the right shopping cart you’re looking for:

1. Reliability. You need a system that will always be up and running. If people go to buy and they can’t you’ve lost a sale.

2. Ease of use. I’ve seen some pretty complicated systems out there. You need something that’s easy for your visitors to use. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to complete a transaction with you.

3. Integration with payment systems. You want to be able to seamlessly integrate with the payment system you choose, and you want to be able to accept as many different payments systems as you are able.

4. Marketing tools and features. Most shopping carts now have additional features like newsletters, customer segmentation by product type for marketing purposes, subscriber lists and other great marketing tools and features tied to the product or service sales process. Make sure you’re getting a rich set of these features.

5. Integration with your site, both in look and feel and technically. You spend a lot of time designing your site, and you want your shopping cart to fit with the site theme. You also want to be able to seamlessly tie whatever technology the cart uses into your site.

Here are some shopping cart/ecommerce systems you might want to review:

Veracart – VeraCart is an easy to use e-commerce system that includes a custom templating engine to integrate the catalog and cart into your system. It looks like a great product at a great price. It has a 30 day free trial too.

Professional Cart Solutions – An e-commerce system that is based on a system of simple hyperlinks which are inserted into your website, connecting your webpage to URLs for each product, allowing autonomous site design and the capacity of an unlimited database.

The look and feel of the system can be tailored to match your site’s quite easily. There are facilities for e-Book licensing, digital product delivery, inventory tracking and automated recurring billing. Sales tax calculations, universal currency conversions, real time gateway providers and a 30 day money back guarantee are standard features. They even offer a 30 day free trial. Definitely worth a look.

Ecommerce Templates – This product is a series of shopping cart templates that integrate with programs like Dreamweaver, Frontpage and GoLive.

You download the template, edit it in the program of your choice and upload the pages, then add your products online. It seems a little clumsy for people who want an efficient generic system, especially considering the graphics have to be edited in Fireworks.

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