If you have been mulling over the idea of opening a web store, it is time to rush before it is too late. According to data from Forrester Research Inc., online retail sales will grow at a dizzying 10 percent through 2015. And these figures exclude online vehicle and travel sales. This phenomenon is migrating from PC based purchases to mobile devices. A study by Adobe Scene7 found that 62 percent of consumers with mobile devices made online purchases. Average spend per consumer has been hovering around $1,139, as estimated by eMarketer. To take full advantage of this growing online market, you need to invest in shopping cart software for your retail site.
At the heart of every e-commerce site is a shopping cart program to make it easy for visitors to buy your products. This software runs from your web server to aid customers move around your site, find products, select products, and finally make orders. However, this is not a stand alone application but integrates into your site for smooth on-site operations. These programs do not perform the same functions as they are written in different programming languages. Some can run on either Unix and windows servers or just one of them. You will also come across other shopping programs with access to the source code for programmers to make any additional tweaking. Installing the application is easy as the majority involve using FTP to transfer the necessary files.
How It Works
Shopping cart programs are very dynamic allowing a host of useful functions. To start with, most sites store data on a central database. This is the central cog in your shopping cart being able to find products that consumers are requesting. The beauty of it all lies in the fact that a page about a particular product does not really exist until a request is made. The page is then created and served at that instant. This is very crucial because navigating around a retail site with thousands of product pages would be cumbersome. In addition to storing product information on a database, shopping cart programs also feature a storefront with lots of product information. To top it all, you will have access to a store administrator area where you can manage your store.
Desirable Administration Features
- Administrator module for managing and creating product details. This should include the ability to change product information as well as the way they are displayed.
- The ability to manipulate on-screen product size and color. You should also be able to make a single change and observe the ensuing makeover globally.
- A module you can use to manage the processing and shipping of products.
Desirable Storefront Features
- A search feature customers can use to find particular products. This filtering capability should be as fine as possible.
- A store catalog that is easy to navigate around with tons of product information.
- A way for customers to contact customer service any time and from anywhere.
- A process for customers to register as well as retrieve lost personal information.
- 5. Special pages featuring products on sale or popular brands.
Different Types Of Shopping Cart Programs
The majority of shopping cart programs can be broken down into two categories. These are:
- Hosted shopping cart programs.
- Licensed shopping cart programs.
Hosted Shopping Carts
This type of software is never downloaded but provided as a hosted service that is paid for either monthly or annually. The beauty of it all is that you will not have to worry about extra hardware to accommodate the software. The costs are also considerably lower with faster start up times. The model can also be based on commission sales depending on vendor.
Licensed Shopping Carts
Unlike hosted options, you buy the shopping program and host it on your sites’ web server. You have to pay a license fee before you can start using the software. Different vendors have varying continuous updates and support features. If the software gives access to the source code, you can hire a developer to customize it to your specifications. Even if you change hosting services, you will be able to take your shopping cart wherever you go.
If you are searching for shopping cart software that will make a difference in your retail fortunes, worry no more. You can choose from three excellent products with superb customer satisfaction reviews. You can rarely go wrong with a choice of Volusion, Big Commerce or 3DCart to ramp up your retail capabilities. You will get round the clock unlimited support with everything you need to succeed.