When you’re setting up a website to sell online, there are going to be many decisions to make, a key decision is going to be your choice of ecommerce shopping cart software, as this will play a big part in the success or failure of your new web shop.
To avoid making costly mistakes you’ll later regret, here’s 5 things to look for when choosing the right shopping cart software to give your online store the best chance of success.
1. Will the shopping cart be easy to add into your website?
Many people who set up an online store don’t have the time to become technical experts figuring out how to install and configure ecommerce software, managing databases and then have the continual software feature and security upgrades to keep the software up-to-date.
The quickest way to get your business off the ground, without having to become a technology expert, is to use a hosted shopping cart solution. A hosted shopping cart is an easy way to turn any website into an online store in a matter of minutes. You typically add these ecommerce solutions into your web page by following a few simple steps, copying and pasting ecommerce buttons and a shopping cart checkout into your web site to create a professional online store. Using a hosted shopping cart will free up your time to let you concentrate on the most important part of your business, marketing and selling the products and services which will make you money.
Other advantages of using a hosted shopping cart solution is that you’ll have a secure PCI compliant ecommerce solution, without the hassle, and you’ll have ongoing support for your online store, as everyone needs help at some point. It’s nice to have someone to direct questions to without having to post questions in web forums and hope that someone out of kindness will answer your question, and that you will get the answer in a timely manner. If your online store needs attention, you want fast, responsive support, as it could be costing you lost sales otherwise.
2. Will the shopping cart give you the features you need in the future and not just for now?
You start a great little online business and with the right products and services, hard work and marketing, it starts to take off and your sales start increasing. This is going to be great news in the future, but it also means you should look ahead to choosing a shopping cart that has the features your business will need further down the line, so that you don’t have to re-do your whole online store.
A successful online store is likely to mean you’ll want to do more to grow your online sales, such as run special offers, send out promotional discount coupon codes, maybe start selling to more countries that require different shipping cost calculations for each country. As your order volumes increases you’ll want an easy way to create invoice documents and shipping labels so you can process more orders faster.
3. Does the shopping cart have a good choice of payment processors?
To take payments online from your store you need a payment processor, also called a payment gateway. PayPal is a popular choice for someone starting a new online business as it offers a combined payment processor and merchant account in one, with no monthly fee. Instead, PayPal charge you a per-transaction fee from each of the customer order payments. This keeps your start-up costs low, which is ideal to get your online store going on a small budget.
You should also think 12 months ahead, what happens when you’re getting lots of online store orders and you look into different payment processor to find that there is an alternative to PayPal which you decide is a better solution for you? Instead of just using PayPal’s basic shopping cart and being locked in to PayPal, by choosing a hosted cart upfront, you’ll have an easy way to connect your store’s checkout to a different payment processor without re-working your whole online store.
You’ll want your shopping cart to be able to connect to a variety of different payment processors so in the future you will have an easy way to switch payment processors if you want to, or even offer customers a choice of different payment options in the checkout alongside PayPal.
4. Make sure the shopping cart also work well for mobile ecommerce shoppers
You already know more and more people are using their mobile phone to shop online. When people shop on their mobile they have different needs to those on a conventional computer display, because the screen for their mobile device is much smaller and could also be using a slower mobile Internet connection.
Mobile shoppers want the shopping cart store checkout to fit nicely into their small screen instead of having to zoom in and out of the page all the time. They also want the checkout to load quickly without lots of big images slowing it all down. Make sure you look for a shopping cart that will work well as both a mobile checkout and for desktop users, otherwise you risk losing potential mobile shoppers who give up in the checkout because it is just too frustrating to continue.
5. Look for a shopping cart that offers a decent free trial period so you can really evaluate the ecommerce software
It takes time to properly evaluate something to know its right for you. The last thing you want to do is to have to make a quick decision because the free trial period is too short. A 7 day trial sounds like it will give you enough time, but in reality, with everything else you’ll have going on, it will just fly-by.
Look at hosted shopping cart solutions that offer a longer free trial periods so that you are not forced into making a decision until you’ve had a proper amount of time to evaluate the ecommerce software. That way, you’ll know it is going to be the right ecommerce solution based on real world experience using the software.