When you are finalising the design of your new website, the shopping cart you elect to use for people to purchase items may not seem like a key decision, but in actual fact, it can be a make-or-break decision for your site.
A shopping card is the link between what you are offering for sale, and the user that you are selling it to and so you need a reliable shopping cart that will give users the best shopping experience.
The good news is for new website owners is that over the past 20 years, many successful online businesses have already done the research for you and there are now a number of top quality shopping cart services used by the best sites.
While each offers a similar product which one is best for you will depend on a number of key features:
1. Ease of Importing and Exporting – Importing and exporting items to your cart is vital and you need the flexibility to import large lists from a spreadsheet, rather than have to enter every item individually. You also need to be able to export items out of the shopping cart.
2. Administration – As a business owner, you do not want unauthorised people accessing your cart and tampering with the controls or the look of the site. As such, you need a shopping cart service that allows you to customise the administrative side of the site allowing you to clearly state which user has which privileges on site.
3. Multiple Images Support – The more high quality images you have of your items for sale, then the more likely you are to turn a view, into a sale. It is therefore much better to have a shopping cart that is capable of dealing with multiple images at once.
4. Save Your Shopping Setting – If a customer adds items to your cart, but for whatever reason leaves the site. You don’t want this to reset. If the customer comes back to your site at a later date and sees the items still in their cart, they may well buy the item then. Many customers have reported this feature is especially useful as it means they don’t have to shop twice for the item once they have had time to sit and think about whether they want to buy it.
5. Keep the Order in View – Your ideal customer is one that will make repeat, multiple orders from your site and the best way to help customers achieve this is to allow them to see their current order in view at all times. This means they can see how much they have spent easily and lets them keep a close control of their spending.
6. Accounting Software Compatibility – You need your shopping cart to be able to export its crucial data into your choice of accounting software, otherwise you will find you can spend an inordinate amount of time entering data. A shopping cart that does this accurately is a positive boon when it comes to accounting for your business, allowing you to focus on running the business, rather than keeping your accounts up to date.
7. Data Storage and Analysis – Having a secure store of your customers key data, such as billing information and addresses mean shopping with you is more convenient for customers but also allows you to look at past sales and help inform your future predictions for the business. Data can also help you keep your inventory stocked with key items, without overstocking on items that may not be selling so quickly.
8. Helpline available 24-hours-a-day – If a customer experiences a problem when making a purchase on your site and cannot have it resolved, then that is at least one lost sale and potentially more if they report this to other potential customers. The ability for a customer to report a problem so it can be quickly resolved helps the original sale go through quickly and means the customer is likely to return if the received quick and useful assistance.
9. A Reliable Search Tool – There are few things more frustrating for a customer than searching a site for an item and being unable to find it due to a poor search facility. A good quality search tool will allow customers to find what they want quickly and give you more chance of turning a view, into a sale.
10. Emailing Options – Your customers will provide you with their email address on their orders. If your shopping cart is powerful enough, you can collate these to send out carefully targeted emails and newsletters detailing special offers and promotions to customers likely to be interested.
The good news is that all the top shopping carts available tend to have all these ten features (some have many more) available for your site meaning that you can focus on other aspects of the site. Remember also, you need a shopping cart that will be able to grow with you as your business grows over time. As such, think beyond what a small business start up may need and instead, think about what your business may require 12 or 24 months down the line when it is established and has a larger user base.