Shopping Cart Software Review
Why is Shopping Cart Software Important?
The top performers in our review are 3dcart, the Gold Award winner; Volusion, the Silver Award winner; and BigCommerce, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 systems.
Online stores are a necessity for any retail store to be successful. Studies show that by 2017, over $370 billion in sales will come through online purchases. Creating a shopping cart online is easy with the right tools and software. We have ten solutions that we tested and reviewed and that we recommend because of their ease of setting up, the security measures in place and the quality of the tools and options compared to the price.
What We Tested; What We Found
As part of our testing, we created a simple online store in order to gauge how simple it is to create a shopping cart. Each of the programs came with a setup wizard that walked us through the design and creation process, although some of those that are ranked lower required additional steps to complete some of the features, while the best solutions had us finished and ready to promote our products much more quickly, particularly our top-ranking product, 3dcart.
In addition, we used as many of the shopping features and options that we could in order to understand the consumer experience with our online store. For the most part, each of the shopping cart software we tested differed in the number of templates available and the extra options available with the tested package; this number changes if you include options that need to be purchased separately or as part of a higher-priced package. We found that the best shopping cart creation programs offered templates and features that give our finished website a seamless and professional look.
Whether you are a seasoned online merchant or new to the medium, it's likely that you'll need technical assistance with your site at one time or another. Any company should provide direct technical assistance via email, telephone or live chat. The manufacturers of the best shopping cart software provide comprehensive support resources that you can reference, including knowledgebases, user guides and video tutorials. Some services go a step further with education centers and forums where you can learn more about eCommerce in general.
Support Services & Software for Shopping Cart
Shopping cart software is used to help you create an online store, whether you need to create one from scratch or update an existing website into an eCommerce site. Several of the programs on our top ten list provide you with a unique domain URL and can host your site. However, some require you to have your own web hosting service lined up after you create your online store. Some of the solutions we tested integrate into your WordPress blog, such as Pinnacle Cart, so you don't have to create a separate site.
Naturally, you should be able to run sales reports and manage your orders. Most shopping cart solutions offer detailed reporting, so look for those that also integrate with your accounting software for greater efficiency. If you have a physical store, consider software with a point-of-sale system, such as CoreCommerce, that works as your cash register for your brick-and-mortar store and tracks physical sales as well as online sales.
If you need a professional-looking website, but not necessarily one that offers shopping cart functions, you can use a website builder or consider hiring a professional web developer to do the work for you. Once your site is created, whether it is an eCommerce site or a business page, consider using an online marketing company to help promote your business and increase your name recognition.
Additional Features to Consider
Shopping cart software comes with a wide range of tools and options for both the administrative side and for the consumer. Here are several more features we looked at as we reviewed webshop solutions.
Storage & Bandwidth
Shopping cart services generally offer a variety of plans, so we chose plans that provided for at least 100 products, 3GB of storage and 1GB of bandwidth for transactions. Since plans still vary widely, we also looked at the best plan each service had to offer that met those requirements but cost less than $60.
Because different companies reach different clientele, their plans vary. Look at the range of storage space, bandwidth, products and price to get a feel for what a company offers. Storage space refers to the amount of information you can store on your website, such as product information, blog posts and images. Bandwidth controls how many transactions you can have and includes customers clicking around your website as well as employees loading a new product. Some shopping cart services limit the number of products you can have in your inventory. Shopify gives you unlimited bandwidth and storage.
Templates & Themes
If you want to create a shopping cart website that prospective customers will enjoy using and want to visit repeatedly, you need a site with polished, professional and intuitive webpages. Shopping cart software should include an array of design and customization options that enable you to create the perfect site for your business. Most programs now offer the tools you need to manage all the facets of a shopping cart website, including website design, inventory control, customer management, and tax and shipping calculations. Additionally, most shopping cart applications help you market your site with integrated features for affiliate programs, social network marketing and sales through other venues as well as online sales features that attract and retain customers.
If you have a large inventory, you should look for bulk editing. This allows you to make changes to a group of products at once rather than having to change each product individually. If your site contains a lot of high-density images or large files that need to be uploaded or downloaded for the customer, being on a content delivery network makes those transactions faster. GoDaddy Online Store is one such solution.
Third-Party Program Interface
Blogging helps keep your website on the radar of search engines, increase customer loyalty and promote your brand. We think having built-in blogging capability is a plus, as it adds convenience to you and synchronization to your site. If you like WordPress, look for software that integrates with it to sell products as well.
One important feature that we looked for was the ability for the solution to integrate with and support a store with eBay or Amazon. This features lets you list on multiple venues while still accurately tracking your inventory. If an item sells on any of these sites, the item is removed from all, eliminating the need for you to take extra steps to ensure each store is accurate. Additionally, we made note of those solutions that include an abandoned-cart feature, which lets patrons save products within the shopping cart and return later to finish the checkout process. Products vary by whether nor not these features are included with the monthly price, as with fortune3, or charge an additional fee.
While all the shopping cart software programs we looked at offer payment gateways, which enable you to take checks or cash on delivery, they do vary in security. All are PCI compliant and SSL encrypted with the minimum standard of 128 bits, so you can feel secure along with your customers. Some require you to pay for the SSL certificate.
Fraud-protection tools differ but are available. Some shopping cart solutions go a step further and provide fraud scoring, which alerts you to customers who are a risk and gives you the option to deny them the sale.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
Webshop software can make your online business a success or a headache. The software should be simple to work and replete with features that help customers purchase your products with ease, confidence and security. The shopping cart company should also provide you great customer support.
Whether you are purchasing independent software to add a shopping cart to your existing website or software as a service that includes hosting, cart and support, you deserve the same breadth of features and quality of service.
We found that our top-ranked solutions, 3dcart, Volusion and BigCommerce, have the easiest setup, the most professional-looking pages, the best options for both your store and your customers, reasonable prices, and the best overall value.