E business - What is Shopping Cart

What is Shopping Cart?

A Shopping Cart program allows you to implement your own on-line storefront. The shopping cart keeps track of what visitors have ordered and allows them to add or remove items from a 'virtual shopping cart'. When a visitor decides to check-out, the order information including the buyer's name, address and billing instruction is e-mailed to the site webmaster and a receipt is sent to the shopper.

The shopping carts do not handle whole financial transactions, but they only really act as a front end which passes information via a secure connection (another service) to a payment gateway.

Quantity Discounts / Coupons: Many shopping carts now allow for the calculation of discount rates based on the number of units a customer wishes to purchase. Coupon functions allow you to issue special offers as part of your marketing campaigns. Usually, prospective clients are given special codes that are matched against a particular item or overall discount rate.

Auto-Responders: If you follow up all your clients with regular email offers, you may want to consider a shopping cart application that has integrated auto-responder capabilities - this will streamline your operations and can be used for maintaining other contact lists as well.

Affiliate modules: One of the most effective, low cost ways to advertise your product is through an affiliate program. Your outlay is minimal if you only pay on performance, i.e., sales generated. An affiliate module can handle the signup process, provide statistics, streamline communications and keep track of payments to be made to affiliates.

Other features commonly incorporated into carts include inventory tracking, sales tax calculation and stationery creation/management.

Compatibility with the payment gateway: It is somewhat challenging to integrate the shopping cart, gateway service, and your bank. So before purchasing the shopping cart, it is advisable to review the gateway services supported by the software and the compatibility of the payment gateway with the internet merchant account you have with your bank.

Payments supported by the cart : Though credit card transactions are now a normal and important part of our online world, there are still some customers who refuse to use a credit card over the internet. So you will need to be able to offer other forms of payment - e.g. money orders, cheques etc.

FAQs:

Q: How does the shopping cart software provide order details? There should be a way to ensure that confirmation is sent to customers once they make an order and that you are provided with a message that indicates when an order is made.

Q: How long has the provider been around and have they developed a solid customer base? Be sure to go with a provider that has been around for a number of years and has developed a solid customer base. If it is at risk of shutting down, support and upgrades will not be available in future, and you may need to switch to a different shopping cart solution in the future, which means you will incur additional costs.

Q: Does the solution have a method by which to calculate taxes and shipping? An important component of shopping cart solutions is their ability to calculate shipping, handling and tax costs automatically. Ensure you obtain a solution that can specify shipping charges for international shipments and also collect taxes from all regions, not just one.

Q: Does the solution offer more than one payment option? Although the credit card is the most popular way to purchase online, there are many consumers who prefer to pay using alternative methods. In order to maximize your sales your site should be capable of accepting orders through various payments methods such as digital cash.

Q: What kind of security features does the solution provide? Important to online success is security. Not only should the credit card information be encrypted as it passes from the customer site to the merchant site, but it should also be stored in a secure environment so unauthorized parties can not access it.

Q: Does the solution enable connection to legacy systems i.e. inventory system? Although not absolutely necessary starting off, it is beneficial to consider connecting your shopping cart solution to your inventory system so you can keep track of the number of items in stock and prevent overselling your inventory.

Q: What administration functions does the solution provide? An important administrative tool is being able to make changes to your site as needed, including adding new products or making changes to existing products online. The method used for accessing and administering the store is essential to consider. For instance, some packages require that changes be made offline and then uploaded to the server. Try to avoid this option. Alternatively, find a package that will allow your store to be updated online from any Internet connected PC.

Q: What kind of reporting tools does the solution provide? To determine if you are meeting your site objectives and to help you make decisions about the effectiveness of your store's design and product offerings, it is important to ensure your solution includes reporting capabilities.