Starting an ecommerce business is full of hard work and many challenges from beginning. There are bunch of decisions such as which types of products you sell, markets and customer segments you target and so on.
After deciding how will your store look like, you need to answer a big question which will affect rest of all. Which shopping cart or software platform will you use?
What Is A Shopping Cart?
Basically, a shopping cart is a piece of software that turns your ordinary website into an ecommerce store. Once you set up a shopping cart software to your website, your customers can select products, add them to basket, and make payment then check out process.
To sum up, a shopping cart software includes product, customer, and payment management.
Choosing the right shopping cart or ecommerce software platform
Shopping cart the one makes your business an ecommerce business. Anything else such as marketing, advertising is for improving your success.
Your marketing or advertising strategy would be great but if you fail on the checkout process, who wants to buy from you? This is a clear picture of state that if your shopping cart is not coherent with your operations, you will end up with a mess.
Choosing right ecommerce software is not an option, it is necessary. But how? First, what does “right software” mean?
Each business has its own needs, constraints, and abilities. What are yours? The first step is knowing who you are and who you are not.
For instance, how many product do you have? You might not a constraint on this. Or, do you want to sell your products worldwide? If you do, multiple language support may be handful.
By the way, independent from which you choose, your ecommerce software should have secure payment methods. Security is the heart of whole purchase process.
At the end of the purchase decision, lots of customers abandon products in the basket because of lack of security reasons. One of the main reason of low conversion rates is this point.
There is long-checklist but it is certain that wrong choice of ecommerce software can make lots of abandoned products in the basket.
As you can see, right shopping cart decision is lifeblood of your business. With the help of this article, you will almost there.
Let’s go deeper. In this article, we will begin with types of shopping carts. After that, I will give you the best tips about choosing right shopping cart and increasing conversion rate(CR). You will see a list of questions which will guide you while you are choosing shopping cart software.
Types Of Ecommerce Shopping Cart Software
1)Self Hosted Ecommerce Software
Requires investment for both hardware and installation but gives you the freedom of upgrading and changes on your own
2)Software As A Service (SaaS) Ecommerce
This type of software is based on cloud. You pay a monthly bill and, as long as you pay, you can continue to use. It may be ideal for beginners because it doesn’t require slightly no technical skills.
Generally, software as a service(SaaS) ecommerce software have very easy to use dashboard and structure.
You have the freedom of personalize your store but this can be also your thread.
3) Open Source Ecommerce Software
Mostly it is free but requires technical knowledge but gives you more freedom
4) Add-On or Plugin
Both free and paid options are available
Tips For Selecting The Right Shopping Cart
First things first. Decide which type of ecommerce software you will use. It depends on your situation. Suppose that you are already have a WordPress website, maybe a plugin will get the job done.
But maybe you are using shopping cart software but not pleased. You should consider compatibility of software with your existing hardware, operating software etc.
Be careful while you are transferring the data from existing shopping cart software to a fresh one. It is especially important if you have big data such as lots of customer or order data.
Ding dong! There should be always an easier way. While you are making decision, choose the easier and requiring less time for not only setup but also use.
For example, when you want to conduct a campaign, your shopping cart software should give you the easiest way so that you change the prices easy and quick.
Think about your growth and scalability. What will happen when you want to get into a new market? Will your ecommerce software allow you to add unlimited products?
In addition, your ecommerce software needs to provide different currency, language, and international tax and shipping options for international customers. One of the most common conversion rate killer situations arise at this level.
People are likely to use their favourite payment method because of some reasons. So, they want to see their favourite when they shop from your store. You need to give the customers to choose which payment method they want if you don’t want to encounter low conversion rates.
Security is the key point of ecommerce. Many of customers leave website or abandon products if they do not trust you which means conversion rates will reduce definitely. To increase credibility, be sure that your ecommerce software has the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate and compatible with PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards)
For customization, templates are very good options if there is any. It is easier to use software which have templates and tools to customize them. If you do not know how to code and your software doesn’t support these features, that means you start with a minus badge
Suppose that I want to buy a product from your online store and see that product is out of product! Bang! One customer is lost. To bring me back, you can alert me like “out of stock product is now available” via email.
The same strategy works for customers who abandoned product(s) in the basket. The one who alert the customers should be your ecommerce software. Be careful about these because they are conversion rate killers.
To measure and improve your performance you need to be able to analyse your data. It doesn’t matter what software you use, you should analyse detailed data of customer behaviors. Depending on data, you can make changes and improvements, then check your results which means analyzing data again.
Today, most of the customers comes from mobile devices so your store should be responsive that is it should be mobile friendly. For instance, products should look fancy as they do in the web.
As always, people do not want to wait while page is loading. Lots of people leaves the site if they are not loaded fast. at the end of the day, we end up with no sales and conversions if the website do not load fast.
Another criterion should be ease of use when you are searching an ecommerce software. Especially, if you cannot code you will need a service which has an easy-to-use dashboard.
In the same case, you will need help for sure. How much support will you be able to see from your service provider? Keep in mind this question.
As you make more sells and grow you will need to improve your store at some point. When the time comes, the easiest way to improve your abilities is built-in tools such as analytics or search engine optimization (SEO) tools etc.
Dear ecommerce folks! Money talks. How much money do you have to just keep the store open? The next question is how much money you will have at the end of the term? One of the most important criteria is the budget for sure.
Free trial is a huge advantage. Trying before purchasing service gives you the opportunity to see the problems and threads. Most importantly, you can have the chance to see how will your store be and, do strategies you are thinking work?
Here is the chance! Try and see. The best method ever: TEST
Ultimately, someone has already decided and used your potential shopping cart software. Why don’t you ask them? Or just look at comments of users and experts.
Which problems do people encounter? They are the potential problems of yours.
Top Hosted Shopping Carts
Shopify’s analytics and report tools are great. It also has integration to Google Analytics so that you can get product analysis.
You can create discount codes, gift card and discount coupons by Shopify. Shopify also send emails automatically to the people who abandoned their cart.
Shopify is integrated with social networks such as Facebook. In addition, it has built-in mobile shopping cart application which creates an excellent experience.
Bigcommerce is the one of the best shopping cart in the hosted ecommerce softwares. It provides some SEO options.
When it comes to abondoned cart recovery, Bigcommerce has an advantage with its automated emails option. It really increases the conversion rate and it is a very beautiful thing to see this option in a shopping cart software.
By default, Bigcommerce gives you the ability of creating coupons and gift cards. In addition, it has an app market which extents the abilities of your store.
Volusion is one of the oldest ecommerce softwares. Some unique properties puts Volusion in a special place. For example, Volusion gives you the ability of sending emails by using your domain.
In addition , it provides some variety of tools for marketing, SEO and Returned Merchandise Authorization.I think, the best tfeature of Volusion is integration with Ebay, Amazon and Facebook.
Best Self-Hosted Open Source Ecommerce Software
Magento is the best self-hosted shopping cart software for sure. It has the power of being self-hosted, besides it provides lots of theme options.
Also it allows customers to make payments by using several options such as PayPal, Amazon Payments. As a unique feature, Magento makes customers able to add products in wish list.
It provides variety of analytics and SEO tools. It also can gives you reports so that you can get insights and determine your strategies.
Most Popular WordPress Ecommerce Plugin
In its 16 years history, Woocommerce manage to be the most popular WordPress ecommerce plugin most of the time. As it argues, Woocommerce is the most configurable shopping cart software.
It is mobile friendly and creates a great experience for not only customers but also merchants. Its location feature calculates taxes and shipping easily.
Inventory management panel has easy to use interface. But the main advantage of Woocommerce is additional extentions amount of more than 300.
Conclusion: Which Cart Is Better for You?
To sum up, a shopping cart software should give the best and unpainful experience for both you and your customers.
Begin with identifying your goals and requirements then, decide which features you will need to meet your goals and requirements.
In addition, nothing has the same importance. Various services provide lots of features. So you need to prioritize these features. Decide which features are more important or must-have for you? This will eliminate some options.
Finally, I give you a list of questions to guide you along with your journey.
Guide: Main Questions
- What is your goals and requirements?
- What is your budget
- Can you code? If not, can you hire someone to do?
- Which features you need to achieve your goals?
- Which type of ecommerce cart do you want?
- Do you aware of your options?