Platforms

An Easy Guide for Ecommerce Shopping Cart

Learn more about the importance of shopping carts in ecommerce and get to know what are the best options in the market.

Amanda Pofahl

Latin American Market Expert
January 9 2018 · 7 min read

Ecommerce shopping carts play a key role in helping merchants deliver a smooth and seamless customer experience. Fighting cart abandonment rates is part of the day-to-day life of ecommerce owners, and choosing the right software can help you keep your customer from leaving your store without buying any product.

A good shopping cart software is key to gathering customer information, providing access to product data, storing selected items for purchase, facilitating the user to review, modify and remove items from the cart, as well as processing customer payments at checkout.

Having said that, shopping carts also plays a key role in product-line management, customer data management, and purchase management among others.

Shopping cart softwares make the process of ordering online simpler and hassle-free. Meanwhile, in a business perspective, shopping carts play a key role in boosting sales revenue for online retailers in a multitude of ways, which we are about to see on this article.

But first, let's take a step back to get a clearer notion on how they exactly work.

Types of Shopping Carts

Here are the 2 main types of shopping carts that are currently in the market, and we’ve also come up with some great reasons why you should or shouldn’t use one.

Hosted Shopping Carts

Also known as Software as a Service (SaaS) carts, Hosted Shopping Carts are rented at an annual/monthly subscription fee to use the shopping cart software from their server.

In this case, the online retailer can use the third-party shopping cart hosting services, and doesn’t have to worry about regular maintenance, updates and upgrades for the software. In simpler words, it is like purchasing a premium theme for your website instead of custom designing one because it calls for less technical expertise.

One reason why you need to opt for hosted shopping carts is because the third-party servers are maintained and secured by the vendor company and you need not worry about the technical aspect of it. However, the fact that you cannot access the source code, cannot customize the cart software and might have to pay additional charges on each transaction are a bit of a let down.

One popular hosted shopping cart is Shopify that comes with a range of features for ecommerce website design, ecommerce cart integration, dropshipping and much more.

Self-hosted/Licensed Shopping Carts

As the name suggests, Self-Hosted Shopping Cart (aka Licensed Shopping Cart) software involves the purchase of license from the cart company, which can then be installed on your own servers offering a 100% customization feature.

The software license is purchased at a price for use over a specific period of time, which gives you complete freedom to access, edit and customize the source code as per your business needs. As long as the license is active, you are free to make the cart software either fully flexible or highly complicated.

As much as your ecommerce business needs a licensed shopping cart software is because you save so much on lifetime subscriptions; however, you might need to spend on a full-time developer who is a proficient and will have complete control over the software and ensures regular updates and plugins are installed on time.

Magento is a great example of licensed shopping carts, which offers multiple products and solutions for ecommerce businesses including the dropshipping feature.

How does this all work?

A shopping cart is part of any online store process. The customer make a few clicks, pays using their preferred payment method and wait to receive the goods at their doorstep. As simple as that seems, the software algorithm behind the ecommerce platforms is much more complicated and interesting.

An ecommerce platform is a combination of multiple major systems, of which the shopping cart is the most visible piece of software that simultaneously delivers three major functionalities:

  1. Connect with the Backend Database system to verify if the selected inventory is in stock.
  2. Connect with the Payment Gateway to process transactions on a front-end platform.
  3. Connect with the ecommerce Platform’s Dispatch System (Inventory Infrastructure) to facilitate the identification, packing, and delivery of purchased items.

Main ecommerce Shopping Carts Features

Considering that there is considerable empirical evidence why reliable and secure shopping carts are crucial for ecommerce businesses, it is also important to understand how these softwares can deliver multiple capabilities in the overall business management. Having said that, a slow-loading, faulty shopping cart software can shatter your ecommerce business in no time:

Product Management: Shopping cart is connected to the inventory management and product database systems, making it easier for the user to add or delete quantity and/or selected products before checkout. It helps modify the inventory in-stock quantity once a product purchase has been made. It is also integrated with the website user management system thus allowing the user to easily sign up or sign in before checkout.

Customer Data Management: Collecting customer data is a key business practice in developing customer-centric business models to increase conversion rates, thereby your company’s revenue. Basic information such as Name, Email, Billing information and Phone Number are the four major fields of data that are needed to create a great customer database. This helps send personalized recommendations, email notifications about offers and deals as well as survey links.

Purchase Statistics: Shopping Carts also contribute to generating statistical data about Cart Abandonment rates, purchase rates, sales analysis and payment method analysis to identify the real-time factors that can affect customers’ purchasing decisions, thus making out the reasons behind a successful or failed checkout.

Payment Methods: A payment gateway is an online point-of-sale terminal for your ecommerce business, which is connected with your shopping cart. A flexible shopping cart software should be able to integrate with multiple payment processing software to facilitate easy checkout also at times of high volume. The most common payment methods are Debit Card, Credit Card and PayPal payments. Some of the most common payment gateways include PayPal, Authorize.net, Google Checkout, PayUMoney, CCAvenue among others.

5 Best Shopping Cart Softwares in 2018 and Why

Now that we’ve covered everything that you need to know about ecommerce shopping cart software, we’ve come up with an exciting list of some of the best online store software you can choose for your ecommerce business.

Shopify

Shopify is a synonym of shopping cart software in the current ecommerce market. It offers Hosted Shopping Cart services, coupled with multiple software products to start your ecommerce business from scratch. Shopify is considered one of the top cart software providers in the market owing to its vast market presence and a robust client base.

  • Shopify offers pricing packages that are as low as $29 per month coupled with a transaction fee of 2%.
  • Shopify offers a large set of add-ins for your cart software, as well as number upgradable features.
  • One major disadvantage is the price that you pay for each transaction as you get more sales.
  • Also, Shopify being a hosted shopping cart, you have absolutely zero access to the source code means there is no place for customization.

3DCart

With the concept that the three dimensions of ecommerce are Store Owners, Search Engines, and Shoppers, 3DCart has in no time become one of the most successful ecommerce shopping cart software in the market.

  • 3DCart offers 256-bit SSL Encryption for secure customer and transaction data for your business.
  • The software also provides real-time and order-specific shipping rates from the shipping company.
  • It also offers 100 pre-integrated payment solutions for merchant payment gateway setup.
  • 3DCart offers customizable designs for ecommerce storefronts coupled with multiple business management tools for transactions, payments and shipping management.
  • It offers custom pricing packages for as low as $29 per month with an assurance of zero transaction fees, unlimited orders, transactions, and bandwidth.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is for those newbies who are interested in building their own ecommerce website on Wordpress and use a self-hosted shopping cart software plugin at a lower price. It is popular and trusted ecommerce platform that turns your Wordpress site into an online store with a few installations.

  • WooCommerce comes in a few pricing packages with the basic package as low as $13.99
  • It offers multiple features that include installation and customization of templates, most of which are also optimized for mobile devices.
  • Provides built-in shipping rate options, flexible tax settings, detailed reports of orders, purchases, and sales, stock management notifications, among others.
  • Offers standard payment options such as bank transfer, check, cash on delivery and allows local payment methods.

You may also like this: Woocommerce vs Shopify: Which One is The Best Ecommerce Platform.

Magento

Magento is an open-source ecommerce software developed in PHP. Magento Commerce is exclusively designed and developed for self-hosted online shopping stores for ecommerce platforms.

  • Magento Commerce offers all standard features such as catalog management system, shopping cart, search, checkout and administration functions among others.
  • It is an open-source software, which gives complete access to source code - hence, allowing merchant companies to customize the shopping cart software as per their business needs and anticipated sales volumes.
  • Magento Commerce offers an interactive admin interface coupled with 24/7 technical assistance.

VirtueMart

Virtuemart is an ecommerce shopping cart extension compatible with Joomla. It is a free, open-source online store software solution for online retailers using Joomla content management systems that can be installed on a web server to manage the content of the entire website.

  • VirtueMart offers a range of plugins, components, modules, and templates for easy installation and customization.
  • VirtueMart functionality includes all basic ecommerce features, including orders tracking, multiple currencies, custom attributes, guest check-out and multi-language among others.
  • Rated as the best Joomla ecommerce plugin, VirtueMart comes with an integrated SEO feature by default.
  • It supports multiple payment options - PayPal, SystemPay, Credit Card, Cash on Delivery and much more.

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