What is Involved in Shopping Cart Software
There are many things that go on within a shopping cart. There are many different features and management systems, so many that it can be mind-boggling. When deciding on which shopping cart program to purchase you should know what the basic parts of a shopping cart system entails so that you can make a smart buying decision.
All shopping carts have some kind of ordering system whether it is a simple online ordering system that includes buttons that have HTML attached to them such as is done with the Paypal shopping cart or a store-front ordering system where everything is done on site.
All shopping carts also have the ability for customers to add items to the cart, delete items from the cart, and input quantity desired. All shopping carts collect data such as the customer’s name, address and phone number. All shopping carts have to include shipping modules unless the products are all digital in nature in that case there would be a download manager.
Advanced shopping carts would allow customers to have several options per item such as color, size, weight, shape, height or width. Some carts even have choices between bulk or single item orders.
Shopping carts normally have shipping options with common ones being USPS, UPS and FedEx, DHL, CanadaPost, and also AustraliaPost. Not only do you have the different carriers but you also have other shipping options such as delivery time: next day, second day, ground, and air.
Tax calculation are also a part of what shopping carts need to offer when the customer has a physical address that is in the same state or city as the merchant. Tax calculations are done by zip code. Merchants who have stores in multiple rates would have a hair-pulling experience if not for advanced software plug-ins such as TaxWare’s Sales/Use Tax System or CertiTax which can calculate for the customer in real time the exact taxes.
Buyers insist on secure transactions before they hand over their credit cards so it is important for the shopping cart to integrate a payment gateway that is secure, protection for credit card numbers that are stored on the Website, an SSL secure connection certificate between the customer and the Website to discourage hackers from stealing sensitive financial information from the customers. It is also important to have a secure Sockets Layer (SSL) between the customer and the Website. If your Website server is not secure customer won’t buy. It is also important to have secure order retrieval.
Not all payment gateways are compatible with all shopping carts so you need to verify that the payment gateway is compatible before making your purchase. The most common U.S. based shopping cart compatible payment gateways are Authorize.net, LinkPoint, veriSign PayFlow Pro, and WorldPay. PayPal is another alternative payment system for most shopping carts but PayPal’s proprietary Instant Payment Notification (IPN) is not always available so you have to check before deciding to use PayPal.
Most shopping carts nowadays provide email confirmation of order placement and a few provide email confirmation of shipment.
Cookies, temporary IP number assignment and randomly generated cart numbers are all ways that shopping carts have to help keep customer orders straight. Because some shoppers turn off cookies it is important that shopping carts be set up with other methods alongside cookies just in case.