How to Create Your Shopping Cart
|August 5, 2008||Posted by Business4Moms under E-Commerce||
Installing the right shopping cart from the beginning can save hours of downtime and frustration for new online business owners. Although there are hundreds of cart systems on the market, there are basically two options: 1) contract out for the service or 2) install the system in-house.
Here are some tips to help make the best decision.
First, consider cost versus available time. The business owner with a generous start-up budget and little programming experience might consider hiring someone to install the shopping cart. However, many new ventures find the entrepreneur with less money than time, making the cost of a good programmer or web master prohibitive.
On the other hand, taking on the project with little or no experience can cost a business even more in terms of down time, lost sales if the website doesn’t function properly, and ultimately, the cost to hire someone to take over the installation and correct any mistakes.
It is wise for the do-it-yourselfer to budget for technical assistance in the event that problems are encountered. Another safety measure is to purchase a shopping cart from a provider that offers customer support and technical assistance. Some companies offer online videos or other training as part of the purchase price, which could eliminate many installation problems before they occur.
Whether or not a professional is hired to perform the installation, it is important to make sure the shopping cart offers all the features that the business owner anticipates needing. The ability to customize in some ways is desirable – for example, to alter the appearance of pages so the cart matches the rest of the website – but all the desired functionality should already be in place. Internet marketing experts advise against buying software that has to be re-programmed, as this can be extremely expensive.
Any good shopping cart should offer commonly used features such as:
- calculating shipping, tax, and sale totals
- allowing changes to be made to the cart at any time before the customer finalizes the transaction
- the option to continue shopping at any point before the transaction is finalized
- the capability to accept coupons and discount codes
- customizable thank-you and order confirmation pages following the sale
Additional features to look for is up-sell capability, which recommends similar products based on the customer’s preferences before the sale is completed. Internet marketers have found that automated suggestions lead to thousands of dollars in increased sales.
Also related to higher revenues, the cart should ideally come with a built-in affiliate program for businesses that wish to derive the benefits of a network of marketing affiliates.
Other useful features include report generation, transfer of data to the business owner’s accounting and database programs, email and mail-merge functions, and ad tracking.
While the do-it-yourself approach is the right choice for some website owners, the best decision will be reached after considering time and cost factors and selecting the ideal shopping cart in advance.