Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Choose the Best Type of Shopping Cart Builder for Your Business

If you are new to developing an online store, finding an online shopping cart builder may not be your first thought. In fact, you may not even really know what an online shopping cart is. An online shopping cart allows the customers of your web venture to place items in a ‘cart,’ review an order and check out their items. Many aspiring online businessmen and women fail to recognize the importance of this software. 

Baymard.com averaged cart abandonment rate (leaving a website and failing to make a purchase after items have already been put in the shopping cart) at 67.89%. This very high statistic shows that it doesn’t take much for a potential customer to back out on a purchase. Why is that? According to ipage.com, although there are many factors that explain this trend, failing to invest in a quality online shopping cart will more than likely drive visitors away from your online venture. This article describes the main two types of online shopping carts and which one may be best for your site.   

Hosted Shopping Carts 

Hosted shopping carts have been developed to help new online business owners to offer quality shopping cart platforms that work and don’t require much technical knowledge. The host website usually sets up the online shopping cart as well as other features of the online boutique and make it ‘user friendly.’ You can start selling very quickly and don’t have to worry about hiring an outside consultant to ensure the website is functional before you open your site.  
eCommerce platforms such as Shopify usually already offers a variety of features such as payment, shipping and data support options. If online selling is brand new to you, opening an ecommerce venture may be scary and confusing. Using a hosted shopping cart will allow you to open your business as soon as you want to without the stress of doing it all on your own. The main drawback to a hosted shopping cart is the lack of flexibility. Once you start becoming more experienced with the features of your ecommerce venture, you may want to modify some aspects of your online shopping cart. Unfortunately, hosted shopping cart don’t allow much room for customization.  

Personalized Shopping Carts 

Self-hosted shopping carts are the opposite of hosted shopping carts. They are software of their own that must be installed and set up on your website. This involves also having your very own website (you can’t install a self-hosted shopping cart on a hosted website.) These applications usually require you to have extensive knowledge in coding and IT. You are on your own, so setting up payment processing, shipping and data support applications will be up to you. The reason for choosing a personalized shopping cart is the flexibility and customization options that you can benefit from for your business. You can adapt some features of your cart to your taste and to what is best for your online venture. If you had your ecommerce going for a while, you can try and purchase separate shopping cart software. If your computer knowledge is limited, you may have to hire an outside consultant to help you with it, which can mean additional fees.  

Which Online Shopping Cart is Best for Your Venture?  

Choosing a hosted shopping cart or a personalized shopping cart depends on whether you are just starting with your business or already have a shopping cart but are looking for more customization for your ecommerce site. According to sitegeographer.com, there are many factors one must take into account, such as the cost of the cart, appearance and flexibility. Hosted carts usually charge a small monthly fee or percentage of sales. Some even handle the entire sales process and send you a check, make a deposit or hold the funds securely until you decide what to do with them. If your sales volume is low, this might be optimal for you. However, as your sales start to increase the fees associated with a hosted online cart may not be the best option for your venture anymore. You could then switch to a provider with a flat, monthly subscription-fee, or install your own shopping cart software. You may notice there are some ‘free’ carts offered online. These are great for beginners, but do require both the seller and buyer to have an account with the cart /bank online service. If your customers do, that’s great. But if they don’t, you might lose potential sales. Many customers will abandon their cart if they find out they have to set up an account to be able to process their purchase.  

The appearance of your shopping cart may not seem very important to you, but it is to customers. An online cart that seems ‘too simple’ and lacks payment and shipment options may scare some potential clients away, who may think they are dealing with a fraudulent vendor. An effective shopping cart template can drive up sales, especially if it is associated with an easy-to-navigate, efficiently organized website. If you sell digital products that require downloading (like books, movies, games, software etc.) you may need secure links and other add-ons for your cart that not every software and hosted services provide. Usually these come at an extra monthly fee.  

It is important to note that the world of online shopping carts isn’t all black and white. There are a lot of hosted services that offer some flexibility, and software that is ‘in-between’ both types of carts. An appropriate, efficient and high-quality online shopping cart may be the best feature of your ecommerce platform, as it may either help increase your sales or cause them to go down. With high online cart abandonment rates, it is essential to find an online cart that is very simple to navigate and use for customers. There are many factors to consider when finding an online cart, but price, appearance, flexibility and ease of use are very important when opening an ecommerce venture.


Anonymous said...

good tips! thanks for sharing

Unknown said...

good post