What Is A Shopping Cart

If you’ve been online for any length of time now, more than likely you’ve heard the term “shopping cart.” For most new online businesses it can seem somewhat overwhelming and totally out of the small business budget therefore, having Paypal as your merchant as well as shopping cart may seem pretty sufficient for you.

Of course, being the ecommerce expert that I am, I beg to differ. Here’s why. On top of the fact that you may not completely understand what a shopping cart – you also may have no clue of what it’s capable of doing in terms of time management and efficient organization. So I’ll break it down to make it easier to understand.

A shopping cart allows customers or clients a secure and simplistic ease of purchasing your products and or services.

Technically speaking, a shopping cart is a software application. This software (depending on the type you choose) will either:

  1. Require no download to your personal computer
  2. Be available on the merchant’s site
  3. You purchase a script (software) to add to your hosting account
  4. Be provided through your hosting account as an additional service

With this software customers can choose items that you offer and place them in a shopping cart, similar to a grocery cart or basket that will keep the items there until ready to check out. What makes this possible is the way the actual program is written. Some programs are available that allow an experienced programmer the ability to change codes and features, while others do not. Much of what happens behind the scenes of shopping cart software is difficult for someone who is not technologically savvy in that particular area. Many individuals that use shopping cart systems basically want to know the features it contains, how they can enter data then cut and paste html code to their website and viola with a matter of a few key strokes, the infamous buy now button appears.

Since not every shopping cart software is made alike, it is wise to do comparison-shopping before deciding on a particular system to use for you website or online business. Determine what features you will need to make your experience one that is hassle-free. Shopping cart software typically consists of two components: storefront and administration.

The storefront is the ‘store’ that is accessed by customers to an online shop or website. The categories, products and other pages are generated by the software and saved in the store database. The look of the storefront can be changed or designed to match the shop or site. The administration involves the area of the store that is only accessible by the merchant who can then manage the shop. In other words, the administration is the ‘behind the scenes’ section where the merchant can add, delete, edit, categorize, set prices, shipping fees, etc. This area can be web-based or implemented on your computer via the service provider’s website with a few key strokes. Most are web-based which makes it easier for the merchant without the fear of computer crashing and losing all the information.

If you have an online business that offers services or products chances are you are using a shopping cart. A little knowledge on the mechanics of a shopping cart is always helpful and the ease of having shopping cart software that is web-based with features that will benefit your business in the long run.


rbaker

Regina Baker is Co-Founder of Wahmcart.com, eCommerce Solutions for Work at Home Moms and Small Businesses. To Learn More About Wahmcart, download our complimentary guide: "The Benefits & Power of Wahmcart" at www.Wahmcart.com

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25 Responses to What Is A Shopping Cart
  1. LaTara Ham-Ying
    September 6, 2010 | 4:24 pm

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  2. virtualfreedom
    September 7, 2010 | 4:28 am

    RT @GetOnlineBasics: From the Expert Corner @ReginaBaker talks shopping carts! Good Stuff! http://ht.ly/2AjWo

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