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ECommerce 101 - Shopping Carts

Published on 6/24/2010 by

Basically a shopping cart is a series of scripts that tracks what a customer is purchasing as she gets to checkout. It is important to note that shopping carts do not handle the entire financial transaction; the information goes through a secure connection known as a payment gateway which channels the request and sends either a confirmation or denial back to the shopping cart software. There are different types of shopping cart systems you may want to consider before making a decision. Following are some of the more popular ideas and systems explained that you are likely to encounter:

  • The ordering system includes a database, storefront and administrative areas. The database stores customer data. It includes the store catalog, is easy to navigate and is flexible to a shopper’s needs. You choose the design and a provider does the technical work; your logo is placed in the cart system.
  • ASP Shopping Cart (Active Server Pages) can easily be customized and is an ecommerce application written in Perl, CGI, and Cold Fusion. The store runs on a fully functional Product Cart Storefront on Windows XP Pro System before uploading it to a Web server, and is delivered to you when you purchase a shopping cart license.
  • PHP/MySQL application can be installed on nearly any shared hosting system and is easily customized and user friendly. There is no programming required to run, and the system works on Windows, UNIX and Linux. It also supports multiple languages, multiple currencies, SEO facilities, and support. It allows visitors to add items from any web page on your site as well as offering multiple payment options and printable purchase orders.
  • An online storefront builder can be a licensed or hosted shopping cart system. There is a one-time fee to download, and the merchant owns the license. The system can be hosted on any web server and you can have your own graphic design.
  • You can always use your own graphic concepts and have a specialized system, which is able to create dynamic pages. You can use advanced applications such
  • As a “discount” page which can be linked to discounted products just for that one day. Options are endless.
  • An open cart/open source shopping cart uses MySQL database and is released under GNU (General Public License) lets you create unlimited categories for your products. It can support multiple currencies, allow product reviews and ratings. The system is especially popular selling downloadable goods, as in ebooks and software. It can set multiple tax rates, display related products, issue coupons, give out printable invoices and calculate shipping.

It is important to remember that you must look at installation and design, in store features, customer service features, able to use popular browsers, easy to maintain and simple to keep. Fraud protection and merchant tools to prevent fraud and the use of help lines that can offer chats with service technicians is also important. Blogs and forum capabilities can add to your business also. Always carefully analyze your budget to determine what functions you may need.