You may have heard about online shopping carts but you may not know how an online shopping cart can benefit you. If you have ever purchased an item from an online store, you have used an online shopping cart.
What is an Online Shopping Cart?
An online shopping cart is a web application that creates an online store within a website. The shopping cart application displays and tracks inventory, and allows online customers to purchase items.
Online shopping cart platforms include many features, such as payment gateways, administrative interfaces and the ability to upload inventory images and descriptions. Many online shopping carts include coupon and sales features that enable the administrator to offer items for a special price with a defined coupon code or within a specified time period.
Standard functionality of an online shopping cart includes:
– Inventory Display and Tracking
– Payment System
– Shipping System
– Purchase Confirmation and Tracking
– Discounting, Coupon and Sale System
– Administrative Interface
– Reporting Features
How Online Shopping Carts Work
The online shopping cart platform is deployed either as a standalone application or as a subsection of a larger website. Once the cart is deployed, the administrator adds inventory items along with images, descriptions and pricing data for each item. The administrator may specify certain “featured” items to be displayed on the home page of the cart application.
During deployment of the cart, payment methods are configured according to the business’ merchant account and information. This means that the online shopping cart is integrated with Paypal and credit card companies to accept and process payments directly from the site.
When a customer selects an item to purchase from the online store, the item is placed into their shopping cart. After selecting the item, the customer has the option of checking out and paying for the item, or the customer may continue to shop and add more items to their cart. Once the customer has finished selecting items, he or she proceeds to the check-out process.
The check-out process provides the customer with a listing of all items in the cart, a subtotal of the order and additional information about the products. At this point in the process, the customer may remove items from the cart. The user is then taken to payment process. The customer provides payment information. Next, the customer is taken to the shipping module. The customer specifies where the products will be shipped. The customer completes the purchase and is provided with a confirmation of the transaction. Most shopping carts are configured to send the confirmation data in an email to the customer.
Many online shopping carts offer the customer the option to create an account on the site or to purchase items as a guest shopper. If the customer creates an account, their payment and shipping data is saved in the cart system. The customer may return to make additional purchase by logging onto their account. The customer’s data is saved and does not need to be re-entered with subsequent purchases.
Versatility of the Online Shopping Cart
Online shopping carts are versatile because these applications enable site owners and administrators to offer one or thousands of products or services. Site owners and administrators can sell an inventory of products, or they may offer subscriptions, digital media or access to reserved sections of the website through an online shopping cart. The cart platform simply provides the infrastructure that facilitates an online purchase. The site owner may sell tangible and intangible products using the platform.
Do You Need an Online Shopping Cart?
If you have a product or service to sell online, you need an online shopping cart. Whether you sell subscriptions or tangible goods, a shopping cart infrastructure is necessary to process payment and shipping data. The online shopping cart may be configured to add state tax, handling charges and other additional costs for each order. If you sell tangible goods, the shopping cart application updates the number of items in your inventory as items are purchased. When the inventory is depleted, the item;’s description may include the notation “Out of Stock” or “On Backorder.” The site administrator may also configure the site to hide item descriptions when no stock is available.
The online shopping cart automates much of the purchase process by automatically calculating order subtotals, tax, shipping charges and order totals. Shopping cart applications also simplify the process of keeping inventory up to date. Shopping cart modules include reporting features that enable the business owner to obtain real time sales and performance reports.
An online shopping cart is an essential component for business owners who wish to sell products or services over the Internet. Shopping carts are available as comprehensive packages that can be integrated into an existing site or deployed as a standalone application. When you decide to offer items or services for sale online, you will need to select and deploy a shopping cart application.