The advent of the internet as a commercial medium has generated endless business opportunities through eCommerce. No matter where they are located or what they sell, online businesses of all sizes can sell to customers around the world. The foundation of any functional – let alone successful – eCommerce website is shopping cart software. eCommerce shopping cart software has greatly evolved to include far more than a basic virtual shopping cart for your customers to add products to; it offers all the essential tools you need to manage all the facets of an eCommerce website.
To begin with, shopping cart software provides you with tools for website design, inventory control, customer management, and tax and shipping calculators. These calculators allow you to configure settings so that tax and shipping costs are automatically calculated for customers based on their location. Additionally, most shopping cart applications help you market your site with integrated information regarding affiliate programs, social network marketing methods and online merchandising to attract more customers.
Security is also an important aspect of shopping cart software. Online shoppers won't purchase from an unsecure website, so shopping cart software provides access to reputable payment gateways as well as encryption for all information transfers.
There are dozens of shopping cart applications on the market, but Volusion, Shopify and Shopping Cart Elite are among the best. Each of these scores high marks in the criteria we established for our side-by-side comparison and reviews of top-notch e commerce shopping cart software. To learn more, browse our articles on shopping cart software.
Choosing the right hosted shopping cart software is one of the most crucial steps to making your online business a success. Your customers need to be able to purchase your products as easily as possible, with a sense of security. For business owners, the software should be simple to use, replete with useful features and great customer support when you need it. The following are the criteria we used to evaluate the best shopping cart software on the market.
If you want to create an eCommerce website that prospective customers will enjoy using and want to visit repeatedly, polished, professional and intuitive webpages are important. The design features of shopping cart software should include an array of design templates to choose from and step-by-step wizards or WYSIWYG editors for storefront development. The templates should be easy to use and should offer customization options that enable you to create the perfect site for your business.
Administration & Inventory Control
Shopping cart software includes a range of administrative features that allow you to manage your inventory. An administrative dashboard provides access to product upload, editing and management options. The best shopping cart software applications allow you to upload an unlimited number of products and sell both hard (physical) and soft goods (services or downloadable products, such as software). However, some applications restrict the number and type of products you can sell, so pay attention to these aspects of the products you consider.
Comprehensive inventory controls that include inventory reports and a catalog manager are crucial because they give you insight into the current state of your inventory. For instance, with a few mouse-clicks, you should be able to see how many units of each product you have ready to sell and which products are running low or are out of stock. Similarly, you should be able to run detailed sales reports and manage your orders. Sales reports track how many units of each product you have sold among completed orders, while order management enables you to view and process open orders that are awaiting shipment and access real-time order tracking.
Beyond inventory control, the best shopping cart software offers comprehensive payment options and integration with accounting software. Additionally, these applications have options that enable you to set up cross-sell and up-sell modules on your site and to offer coupons, gift certificates and special discounts to your customers.
Most simple shopping cart software provides basic administrative and inventory control features, such as bulk product uploading and support for both hard and soft goods. However, these applications' specific features and pricing structures can vary greatly between companies, so it's important to find shopping cart software that includes your desired features at a cost-effective price.
Shopping cart eCommerce software should include robust marketing tools to help you generate more traffic to your site and thus increase sales. For instance, you should be able to automate abandoned cart emails, offer daily deals and implement a loyalty program for your shoppers. Additionally, the software should allow you to run detailed sales reports so that you can easily identify your best – and worst – selling products. Other options may include the ability to set up an affiliate program for your site and to send promotional or follow-up emails to customers. The more marketing tools and features the website shopping cart software provides, the better.
Security is a chief concern for online shoppers, so it's crucial to make sure that the shopping cart website you use offers standard security features. These should include fraud protection, SSL secure checkouts that encrypt customers' payment information, as well as data backup and restoration to protect your business records.
Help & Support
Whether you are a seasoned online merchant or new to eCommerce, it's likely that you'll need technical assistance with your site at one time or another. The manufacturers of top-notch shopping cart software provide comprehensive support resources that you can reference, including a knowledgebase, community forums and video tutorials. The manufacturer should also provide direct technical assistance via email or telephone.
Shopping cart software is not the only component of a successful internet business, but it is one of the most crucial. Regardless of whether you are a new merchant or are unhappy with your current online shopping cart, our side-by-side comparison and comprehensive reviews can help you select the shopping cart software that is best suited for your eCommerce website.
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