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Features of a good shopping cart software

Updated on August 20, 2012

If you are new to buying and selling in the internet, or you are passionate about building an ecommerce website (website which sells goods or services online), it is best to know a bit about what is going inside before jumping into the system. This article explains things happening and parties involved in an online transaction.

The shopping cart is the only addition to an ordinary website to make it an online shop. Following things are handled by shopping cart.

Select the items to be purchased

The customers can go through the products available in the website, see the images, read reviews, select colors, sizes etc, and then select the products that he intends to buy.

Calculate the total cost

Once the items to be purchased are selected by the customer, the shopping cart will calculate the total cost, adds any taxes, packaging costs and shipping costs, etc. Then requests the customer to supply the payment options : Paypal, credit card, debit card, webcard, etc and then this information will be passed to the payment gateway.

Payment gateway

The payment gateway facilitates the transfer of information between the website and the card acquiring bank. Payment gateway is not a part of the shopping cart, but can be integrated to the shopping cart. The payment gateway does many valuable and important things in this process.

  • Encrypts the customer information such as the card no, amount, customer name etc and sends them to the merchants web server. For example if the credit card is from HSBC, the information will be sent to the web server at HSBC.
  • The marchant’s web server then checks the request, verifies the information send, checks whether funds are available etc and produce an approval or decline response. This response is again encrypted and sends back to the website through payment gateway.
  • Depending on the request the shopping cart can complete the transaction.

So in this whole process the, shopping cart is responsible for connecting all these together and, there fore selecting the correct shopping cart software for your website is pretty much important. There are hundreds of shopping cart software available providing various features. Following are the must have features of a good shopping cart software.

1.Support for Images

Every shopping cart support images but the question to ask is how better it support images. Since image is the only available feature to see the actual product for an online buyer, the quality of the image plays a big role in the customer’s buying decision. So the shopping cart should support high quality, large images together with thumbnails. It should have the facility to add multiple images for the same product and also the interface should provide easy handling of images. Resizing, changing images is an added feature of a shopping cart.

2.Product Reviews

Normal consumers don’t just by products. They do lot of research before making the buying decision. The internet has been an excellent platform for doing this type of research. So normally people tend to read the customer reviews before buying. So it is very handy to have this feature available in your shopping cart.

3.Search Feature

This is a must have feature for any ecommerce site. There should be an advanced search facility to filter the products through, price, category, sub category etc.

4.Customer Support

Probably this can be put in the first place position of this list; this extremely important. There are 1001 things that can be done using a shopping cart and the features keep changing. So you need a solid customer support to keep you on track when you need it. Nowadays everybody gives a very high value to customer service, but you have to go with the company that provides the best, 24x7 customer support. This is not a feature of the shopping cart system you should pay high attention to this before you go with a particular shopping cart software. A good way to monitor the level of the customer support is to read the customer reviews regarding the shopping cart.

5.Fast Checkout

Your site should not take your customer through long unnecessary journeyers. The time spent by a customer should be an enjoyable experience to the customer and to make that happen the checkout process should have a minimum steps. You should not display different options discounts, etc to a customer who has made up his mind to buy a product. May be you display your discounts, promotions etc after the transaction is completed.

6.Sales Reports

Your shopping cart should be able to provide good reporting facilities. You should be able to track the sales down in different categories so that you can make correct decisions on your marketing strategies etc.

7.Integration with 3rd Party Pluggings

Your shopping cart should provide easy integration with 3rd party plugins. For example it should be quit seamless to integrate your shopping cart with a newsletter plugin or a email client. Otherwise you will have to invest a lot in customizing your shopping cart.

8.Coupons and Discounts

This is a very handy to have option. Normally coupons and discounts are very good for promotions and more importantly to sell the out of demand stocks. So it is better to select a shopping cart where coupons can be managed easily.


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