We live in an era when you can buy nearly anything you want with the click of a button—instant gratification and convenience are now the expectation. That means, if your store has a poorly optimized online shopping cart experience, you'll send customers flocking to the competition.
Even if you offer an extensive inventory of products, great marketing or deep discounts, customers that find your checkout process confusing, tedious or inconsistent won't stick around to complete the sale. For example, if it's too difficult to figure out how to add an item to the cart, or if the tax calculation and shipping requirements are confusing, you can't safely assume that a customer will put much effort into figuring it out, especially if they can find a better experience on a competitor's site.
Therefore, choosing the right shopping cart software (i.e., a platform that's user friendly, aligns with your business needs and budget and makes the shopping experience easy for your customers) should be your top priority. Having good shopping cart software can also boost your customer service, which is an integral part of customer retention and the growth of your e-commerce business.
In this Buyer's Guide, we'll discuss the features of shopping cart software that help businesses provide a seamless customer experience.
Here's what we'll cover:
Shopping cart software offers capabilities that streamline the online purchase process for consumers on e-commerce websites. It does this using features such as multiple payment options, tax calculation, shipping calculation, discount and coupon code options, real-time inventory updates, order management and more.
The terms "shopping cart software" and "e-commerce software" are sometimes used interchangeably, due to an overlap in the core features that make them both up. In addition, shopping cart software is often included as an integrated feature in e-commerce software platforms.
If you have a large inventory and want to sell products online only, you should look for dedicated shopping cart software. However, if online sales isn't the primary function of your website, but you do want e-commerce capabilities, then the shopping cart feature in an e-commerce platform will suffice.
While not every shopping cart platform offers the exact same functionality, there are some core features that you should expect to find when selecting a tool for your business. These core features include:
|Payment options||Lets customers pay with credit cards and alternate payment methods such as PayPal, Google Checkout and money orders.|
|Search and browse||Allows customers to search the website and filter by parameters such as price and brand directly from the shopping cart page.|
|Product reviews||Offers fields where customers can rate and review products during and after a purchase. Also lets them view ratings and reviews from other customers.|
|Wish list||Lets customers save products in an editable wish list to purchase them later. A customer can come back and retrieve the wish list at any time.|
|Real-time inventory||Reflects availability of a particular product in real time, so customers know whether an item is in stock or not. Also offers recommendations of similar products to the customers in case their desired product is not available.|
|Express checkout||Lets customers register and store their billing and shipping preferences, so they don't have to re-enter the information every time they return to the site.|
|Order tracking||Keeps customers informed about the status of their orders. The customer (registered or not) can track their order any time.|
|Discount/coupon management||Allows customers to see current discounts, coupon codes and other special promotional offers, and also provides special fields where customers can enter and apply coupon codes.|
|Tax calculation||Calculates the tax rate accurately, depending on the shipping location, and adds it to the final purchase amount.|
|Abandoned cart saver||Sends emails and notifications to customers who added items to their cart, but then left the site without completing the purchase.|
|Refund and return management||Manages the return process from facilitating return requests to tracking and receiving return shipments to refunding the customer.|
|Shipping management||Allows customers to choose from a variety of shipping options and view different quotes for shipping. Also allows e-commerce companies to integrate with major shipping company interfaces.|
List of abandoned and live carts in CS-Cart (Source: GetApp)
There are many shopping cart software options available, but you need to know what buyer category you fall into to choose a platform with functionalities that are the most relevant to your situation:
Shopping cart software offers several benefits for both customers and businesses. Some of the most notable include:
Secure shopping experience. E-commerce business is always at risk for data fraud, due to the large volumes of customer and payment data that is transferred on a regular basis. Shopping cart software encrypts and secures credit card and order data through PCI DSS Compliance (an information security standard) and SSL certificate (industry standard 256-bit encryption technology). This makes sure that the payment goes to the right place and order data can't be intercepted.
Convenient shopping. With wish list features and easy payment options, shopping cart software makes the online shopping experience convenient for customers. There is no need to select the same products over again, if they're not quite ready to make the purchase. And, the customer can also keep shopping directly from the shopping cart page.
Instant feedback. Shopping cart software allows businesses to better manage and improve the customer experience. Customers can rate the service and products immediately to improve the evaluation process.
Upselling opportunities. Shopping cart software allows several upselling opportunities by offering discounts and promotional offers as they land on the final payment page. Promotions and coupons act as motivators for repeat and subsequent purchases.
When you're looking for shopping cart software, it's helpful to understand the current trends in the industry. Technology continues to make the experience of shopping easier and more convenient, and businesses must understand how these trends fit in to their own technological capabilities so they can remain competitive.
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