Online Shopping Carts

Written by Patricia Skinner
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If you want to sell products or services through your website, you need to investigate online shopping carts. These virtual shopping accessories are essential for the benefit and safety of your visitors. If you don't have an online shopping cart, and you haven't provided your visitors with a secure server through which to pay, you're risking the loss of a lot of business as more and more Internet users become aware of the difference between secure and unprotected online trading.

When setting up your online store you will discover that there's a bewildering selection of online shopping carts. The cost varies wildly, from free to astronomical, and there is a big difference in features and quality. They all look basically the same, but let's look at the different merits and demerits.

You may be asking yourself why anyone would pay when they can get free shopping carts. Well, it's true to say that nothing is ever free. The companies that offer free shopping carts get something from you. For some, they take money on your behalf and charge fees in this way; PayPal is just one company that works on this principle. It is in fact much cheaper to pay for a shopping cart than pay a royalty on every sale you make!

From Scratch or Ready to Go?

You can, of course, design your own shopping cart from scratch, or pay an accomplished web designer to do so. But there are many excellent packages that will provide you with the shopping cart that's exactly right for your online store. Why pay extra when you can get a really great one that will fit right in with the design of your site and cost only a small amount?

Another advantage to buying ready-to-use online shopping carts is that they are ready to slot into your online store and start working. Chances are if you have one developed especially for your site it will take some time, and will also take a period of acclimatization while you iron out all the wrinkles. An online shopping cart package will have been tried by many thousands of different customers so you can expect it to work perfectly right from the get go.

The different online shopping carts available vary in size and capacity to suit the size of your website. If you're running a tiny little online store with only a small customer base, you'd be wasting a lot of money to buy a shopping cart package intended for a huge site. Plan on buying one that will allow for a realistic amount of business expansion.

Different Sizes of Online Shopping Carts

Online shopping carts are available with a whole range of different features. If you're offering downloadable eBooks for sale, then your customers won't, for example need to calculate shipping charges. So this will be an extra you don't need unless you're planning to start selling hard copies of your books too.

You will, however, need a system that allows for real time payments. It's a good idea to provide your customers with as many methods of payment as possible so you never have to turn a customer away, so look for online shopping carts that go the whole nine yards. Be sure that the company you buy your online shopping car from offers first class customer service. Nothing less than 24/7 is good enough for your online store. If your online shopping cart goes down you need to get it working as soon as possible or you'll be losing customers the whole time.

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