The dictionary definition of traditional shopping cart – “A small vehicle that you push around a store, putting the things that you want to buy in it“. You cannot put such a physical vehicle into a virtual digital commerce store. Instead, you have shopping cart software that allows you to do the same things, such as:

  • Select things to buy and put these into a virtual shopping cart
  • Remove items you had put in this cart if you decide not to buy these now

The virtual shopping cart at an ecommerce store allows you to do more things, including:

  • Display the prices of each item in the cart and the total amount, taxes, and more, before you proceed to checkout
  • Keep the cart at the store with the things you have selected, and leave; you can come back say, after a month and still find the cart with the selected things

Virtual shopping carts are thus proving more useful for shoppers. Let us now look at different aspects of shopping cart solutions and the key functionalities that keep shoppers happy.

Types of Ecommerce Shopping Cart Software Solutions

Buy Now Button

The first online buying tool, Buy Now buttons are used even now to speed up the buying process. You display a button labeled Buy Now or similar wording with each product. The button is linked to a checkout process that allows the buyer to specify shipping details and pay for the purchase. This is a great solution when you have only one or a few items to sell. Even in large ecommerce stores, it can be used to speed up purchases:

  • Instead of putting things in a virtual shopping cart, you click the Buy Now button and immediately taken to the checkout page
  • If you had already shopped at the store, the Buy Now button could even eliminate the checkout. The shipping and payment details you used last time are applied automatically to the new purchase, and the entire transaction gets completed with that one click

You can get a few lines of code to create a Buy Now button at any place on your website. Many companies may allow you to generate the needed code. You can then copy and paste the code to where you want the button.

Self-Hosted or Downloadable Cart Software

You can buy the software for a one-time payment from the seller and install it at your site (or even multiple sites). The software could have different features, including:

  • Creating a product catalog
  • Creating a storefront displaying available products
  • Setting up a payment gateway
  • Searching for specific products
  • Making purchases and payments easy
  • Marketing and promotional tools
  • Operational statistics and inventory control

Companies like CS-Cart develop downloadable cart software. The disadvantage of the downloadable shopping cart software solution is that you have to buy upgrades (and install them).

Hosted Shopping Cart Software

Hosted shopping carts are SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions where you typically get a complete ecommerce solution on the web, including:

  • An Ecommerce website that can display product details
  • A product catalog (database) to store product details; a shopping cart for customers to put products they want to buy; and inventory management tools
  • Payment gateway with checkout pages and payment method selection options
  • Ecommerce online marketing and promotional tools

You can sign up with the provider and start doing business straightaway. The software will be kept up to date by the provider, and you will have access to the latest version at all times. In return, you pay a recurring fee. Hosted solutions are available from Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, and more.

Fulfillment Centres

Fulfillment centers allow ecommerce companies to focus on building their brands and marketing their products. The ecommerce company:

  • Sends the physical products to a fulfillment center
  • Transmits details of orders received to the center

The fulfillment center:

  • Packs, labels, and despatches each order to the customer on receipt of order details
  • Provides storage and handling facilities as warehouses do

ShipBob is an example of an ecommerce fulfillment company.

Shopping Cart Software Success Factors

Certain features make the shopping cart more buyer-friendly and facilitate success. These include:

  • Displaying product information that helps prospective buyers to decide whether the product is indeed what they want. Great photographs, multiple views, clear and complete (but concise) descriptions and pricing details are examples of information to display
  • An overall layout that is both pleasing and convenient. Buyers should, for example, be able to add and remove products from the cart, enter promo codes, see the prices by product and in total and move to the checkout page without any confusion
  • Clear mention about all applicable charges, such as taxes and shipping costs, so that buyers know exactly how much they will be paying
  • Where there are a large number of products at an ecommerce store, a search function is essential. Customers should be able to narrow down to what they are looking for by categories, features, prices, and such meaningful filters. And do it quickly and easily
  • A simple checkout process with clear instructions. The Buy Now button mentioned earlier is one great example. The checkout should not ideally go beyond one page

Shopping cart abandonment is a frequent occurrence. Abandonment means putting things on the cart and then not completing the purchase. This cart abandonment study lists the top reasons for abandonment:

  • High extra costs such as shipping and taxes
  • Asking to create an account before buying
  • The long and complicated checkout process
  • Inability to calculate or see the total cost
  • Website errors or crashes
  • Lack of trust to give credit card information
  • Slow deliveries
  • Unsatisfactory return policy
  • Too few payment methods
  • Credit card declines

Significance of the Shopping Cart

If you look at the role of the shopping cart carefully, you will notice a few surprising things. By offering a virtual shopping cart to customers, your ecommerce store can eliminate:

  • A physical building for the store, probably in a high-cost location
  • Display shelves, promotional information boards, signage
  • A lot of furniture and fittings
  • A physical cash register

With a fulfillment center, you can even eliminate storage and handling facilities for the merchandise.

Summary

The virtual shopping cart at an ecommerce store offers more functionality compared to traditional physical shopping carts. There are several types of virtual shopping carts in the market. Certain features add to the user-friendliness of the carts and reduce shopping cart abandonment.

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