Depending on the needs and capabilities of the business, there are many e-commerce shopping cart options available with various capabilities that businesses should consider before making a final selection. An e-commerce shopping cart can also offer a company a competitive advantage while providing a boost to customer retention.
There are additional features that are generally available to all types of e-commerce shopping carts, such as a hosted shopping cart, purchased software or developed shopping cart system. These features typically include exporting data in the format for major accounting software, auto-responders, inventory level notifications, digital downloading, real-time reports, Google Analytics integration and real-time connectivity with fulfillment centers.
When comparing different e-commerce shopping cart options, it is important to create a list of features that are valuable to the company, and then verify that the e-commerce shopping carts under consideration include those features.
Hosted Shopping Carts for Retail Websites
A hosted shopping cart solution is often the easiest and most affordable solution for start-ups or small to medium-sized businesses. This option allows for the business to take advantage of feature-rich and secured technology for a fraction of the price of developing a shopping cart system.
Hosted shopping carts are easy to set up with no programming knowledge necessary, have fraud detection services, are secured for customer transactions and software updates are automatic. However, companies that expect a large number of transactions, have many digital products available to download or have complex product offers should consider an alternative solution.
Hosted shopping carts offer several disadvantages for growing businesses or businesses with complex product offerings. Most hosted shopping carts offer very limited customizations, limited real-time statistics and limit merchants on the number of products to offer.
In the long run the hosted shopping carts are more expensive as they generally charge transaction and subscription fees on either a monthly or yearly basis, plus businesses have no control over solving downtime or any technical errors. It is also common to find that hosted shopping carts limit the number of transactions per month, hard drive space and bandwidth. These limitations could prevent sales, especially if the company experiences an unexpected boom in sales or a large number of digital download purchases.
Shopping Cart Software for E-commerce Websites
For those that are tech-savvy or have a website programmer on staff, purchasing shopping cart software is normally the optimal solution for most businesses. Shopping cart software is normally available to purchase for one flat fee, then allows for the business to have full control over integrating it seamlessly to the website and making unlimited modifications and additions.
There are no transaction fees, subscription fees or limitations with the number of products in the catalog. Plus, the only limitations the company has in regards to disk space and bandwidth is by its own hosting company or in-house server capabilities.
The major disadvantages to using shopping cart software are that upgrades are usually only available for an additional fee, and the company must detect fraud itself and be responsible for securing transactions
. The business needs someone that is tech-savvy in order to integrate the shopping cart software or maintain it on a continuous basis. For companies that plan on expanding the shopping cart software’s capabilities or adding its own custom features, it is important that the chosen software has its source code available. However, many customizations and features can be added to the shopping cart software without the source code.
Custom Shopping Cart Software for Online Retailers
Large businesses or those with complex product offerings benefit the most from developing their own e-commerce shopping cart solution. These types of businesses either need a more advanced e-commerce shopping cart solution to fully integrate with their complex business systems or offer products that require much customization.
Developing an e-commerce shopping cart has the same advantages as purchasing shopping cart software, yet the business will not have to worry about obtaining the source code for full control of making advanced modifications
The disadvantages of developing an e-commerce shopping cart include that the business must constantly develop its own add-ons and upgrades to maintain a competitive advantage and not get out-dated. It must also be able to constantly monitor and combat fraud by developing its own security and monitoring systems. If there are any glitches or errors, then it must be done in-house as there is no outside support available.
Selecting Between E-commerce Shopping Cart Solutions
It is imperative to select the correct e-commerce shopping cart solution when starting an online retail website as switching to a new solution in the future can involve a significant investment of time and financial resources.
There are strengths and weaknesses of having a hosted shopping cart, purchasing shopping cart software, or developing a custom shopping cart solution. After understanding the differences between the different types of e-commerce shopping cart solutions, use the How to Select an E-Commerce Shopping Cart article for more information on choosing which e-commerce shopping cart solution is best for the company’s needs.