E-Commerce Shopping Carts: How to Choose the Right Platform

If you engage in e-commerce, you have a shopping cart. A shopping cart is actually a piece of software. Shopping cart basics include: holding items while shopping, calculation of the total amount, and addition of shipping and taxes. When you check-out, you are sent to a check-out page with all the list of items you want to buy. The shopping cart does not however, process the credit card information - that's the role of your merchant account

In the online marketing world, the common problem facing many entrepreneurs is that many have great products but do not know exactly how to sell them online so they turn to shopping cart solutions. Shopping cart software gives online shopping customers a way to gather a list of items for purchase so upon checkout, there will be a calculated total for the order which includes shipping and handling. An online store can help build an e-commerce platform for growth.

Choosing the best shopping cart software for your e-commerce business can be pretty challenging considering the wide variety of shopping cart software. Choosing the right one is critical for your business success. Here is some of the footwork to help narrow your decision,

Hosted or Self-Hosted Solution

With a hosted solution, everything is set up for you already. If your cart is a freebie given to you by your hosting service, then you have nothing more than a big old cash register. All it does is calculate the purchases and takes the shoppers' credit card information. There's little configuration or customization needed. Basically, you need to choose your template, add your products and you're ready to go. However, if you're paying anywhere between $59-79 a month, then you should have a very robust shopping cart system. The better shopping carts like the ones listed here are housed on secure servers that require downloading, installation and configuration.

Simple or Robust Shopping Carts

Simple shopping carts are by definition - simple. They just calculate and total your purchase and send your customers on their way. Robust or sophisticated shopping carts can automate your marketing making it easy to develop and maintain relationships. It can also automate your marketing campaigns. Most people don't buy from you right away the first time they visit your site so you need a way to stay in touch with them and by sending emails automatically, you'll be able to develop that personal contact. In today's need for stay-in-touch marketing, businesses are choosing more robust shopping carts for these same exact reasons.

What about the Upsells?

Have you ever found yourself buying a pair of shoes for example, and you're asked right before checkout if you want to purchase a discounted pair of name brand socks? You think to yourself, "Hey, I've already paid an arm and a leg for these overpriced shoes, so heck, what's another few bucks? And it's a good deal." That upsell is a lower priced or free item offered for sale after your main purchase and it usually works. The cool thing about upsells is that the customer doesn't have to take out the credit card again. He simply clicks "yes," and the complimentary item is added at the checkout. As a business owner, you just turned your $147 sale on a pair of shoes to $164 (including the discounted socks) without doing a single extra thing.

If you're serious about making money online, and you have a web presence anyway, why not make as much money as possible with the right shopping cart software. The no brainer question would then be -- why not have your marketing automated?

testPromoTitleReplace testPromoDekReplace Join HuffPost Today! No thanks.