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Choosing the Right Online Shopping Cart - Part I

2004-07-03
 

By Evan Stevens

Are you a website owner or a web designer/developer? If either applies, I would venture to say that eventually you'll need an online shopping cart for one of your websites. In fact, almost all new websites today need some sort of ecommerce built-in, for the purpose of selling goods and services in the online marketplace.

The greatest challenge is to find the perfect ecommerce shopping cart solution for yourself and/or your client. This task can be very overwhelming, considering, if you type 'shopping cart' into Google.com, this search alone returns over 14.4 million hits! Most of us don't have the time to sift through more than a few pages of a search engine to find what we're looking for.

For the last 3 months, much of my time has been devoted to researching as much shopping cart technology as I could get my hands on. In general, shopping cart software ranges in price from free to over $2000 for a single license and web hosted carts range from $5 to hundreds of dollars per month. The studied carts cover the spectrum of all web programming languages (ASP, ASP.NET, Cold Fusion, Flash, Java, JavaScript & Perl shopping carts) and provide limitless features as a whole. The problem is that locating YOUR perfect cart with YOUR specific features can be a big task.

But no fear, just follow this guaranteed step-by-step guide to locate it:

The Top 10 Steps to Finding the Best Online Shopping Cart

Cost

How much money do you have to spend on an internet shopping cart? The nice advantage is that there are shopping carts with hundreds of features and they don't cost you a dime. They are generally open source products. The only problem is that these same "free shopping carts" can take hours of installation time and be fairly difficult to configure. For a monthly fee, web hosting shopping carts are made for users with little programming experience and allows them to have an online storefront presence in no time.

Hosting vs. Software

There are two options in selecting your overall shopping cart solution. Either you get shopping cart software, download it, install it on your web server, then configure the shopping cart OR you get an online storefront (aka a hosted shopping cart) where the configuration is very basic and the required setup time is minimal. If you have some programming skills, I recommend buying a script and installing it on your own. The nice thing is that you pay a one-time fee for shopping cart software and the license is good for a lifetime. It's approximately the same price to have a hosted solution for a year compared to most one time shopping cart license fees.

Supported Gateways

What do I mean by gateways? Gateways give shopping carts the ability to connect and securely process credit card orders in real-time. Not all shopping carts are created equal. Make sure that your client's merchant account is supported by the cart you select. I have found that almost all carts support the larger online payment processing companies, such as Authorize.net, PayPal and Verisign.

Shipping Options

Will you be shipping physical products? If so, there are shopping carts that have built-in real-time shipping options through DHL, UPS And USPS. Often times, the cart gives the user the ability to view tracking orders and order status all from within your secure shopping cart web interface. Also, there are shopping carts with options to ship digital goods as well (files, programs, pictures, music and others).

Part II - Technical Support, Security, Style Compatibility and Extra Features

About The Author

Evan Stevens (http://www.evanstevens.com) is a professional web developer. This article reviews ecommerce online shopping carts.



Related Topics
Catalog Browsing Design - mostly ordered products, promotion products and new products.
Checkout Process Design
Shopping Cart Comparison - eBay, Yahoo Store and Microsoft bCentral
Choosing the Right Online Shopping Cart - Part II
eCommerce, How much does it cost? - design, hosting and shopping cart

 

 
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