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Given the level of competitions in commercial online businesses, you are well aware of the need to maximize the potential of your websites and other features that you might have. This includes optimizing your shopping cart by using SEO techniques to meet and go beyond the current web standards and enable you to get ahead of your competitors.
An online shopping cart is in itself a wise investment especially if you have a website geared towards commercial viability. The benefits of a shopping cart cannot be undermined. By having a shopping cart, you can manage more efficiently your product inventories. It is also a great means to convert website traffic to tangible sales. The shopping cart is useful application that can help increase your visibility on the internet which in turn can increase your return of investments.
The shopping cart is an innovative product that you should take full advantage of. And like any other investment, if you don’t take good care of your cart, it will not be worth anything. There are a number of ways where you can optimize your shopping cart.
When you customize your shopping cart remember to that little crawling neighborhood friend of yours: the spider. But in this case it’s more of the web spider concept that you need to worry about. It is important that your links on your shopping cart can be spidered. Ensure that your URLs will be easily remembered by both your clients and search engines. Using categories and product names on the URL is one way to keep search engines spidering your content.
One thing that you should avoid when optimizing your shopping cart are duplicate contents. You can have duplicate contents when you the same exact content in multiple categories. Your page rank can be affected by having duplicate contents.
Another thing that you should remember is to know your clients’ needs and how they go about finding them. When you created your shopping cart, use commonly searchable words to refer to your products. For instance, use “chair” if you’re selling a chair and not a “comfort device”. Make sure to use brand and specific model names on your inventory as well. Place them properly in the title and heading of the pages.
With regards to the SEO order, use proper title tags. Write creative meta descriptions as well as the texts describing the products and categories. Don’t forget to use proper headings.
Another aspect of SEO that you should incorporate in your shopping cart is linkbuilding. This is creating an opportunity for search engines to find and rank you. You will have to create a lot of links to your site. You can email various site owners and sell the idea of linking your site. It would be ideal to have site owners use your top keywords in the anchor text, though.
If you find SEO work complicated and troublesome, there are numerous specialists which can do the work for you. However, that would be additional costs on your end. It would be better to study the techniques and applications and do the basic optimization yourself.
In this day and age, being noticed on the internet is no longer as simple as creating your own website. You need to direct traffic to your webpages including your shopping cart and try to convert that web traffic into sales. The need to optimize your shopping cart is real and would be advantageous to you as well.
With more than a hundred e-commerce shopping carts to choose from, selecting one is really a matter of preference with careful product evaluation. But what makes one provider stand out from the rest? See the answer below.
Different shopping cart providers offer similar and unique features that are useful to the consumers and beneficial for you as a merchant. While choosing which features to have may depend on the size of your business, a good shopping cart provider offer a wide range of feature options for different business needs.
Integrated Online Marketing and Promotional Tools
With a right shopping cart, you can increase traffic and increase sales virtually over night. How? Shopping carts affect the costumer’s response to your website. The more useful tools it has, the more it can attract new costumers and persuade existing costumers to buy your products. Through integrated marketing and promotional tools like catalog and product comparison, your costumers are able to make easy and wise decision on which products to buy.
Promos, sale, discounts, free shipping and coupons are powerful marketing strategies that can attract more costumers. Shopping carts offer these features.
Product review is another powerful feature that can increase sales. In a study conducted by CompUSA and iPerceptions, 63% of costumers are more likely to buy for the sites with product ratings and reviews.
User-friendly Interface/Ease of Use
Costumers are very impatient when it comes to purchasing products and services online. The last thing your costumers want to you is figure out how to navigate your shopping cart. A user-friendly website is important to keep potential costumers browsing. A user-friendly shopping cart is crucial if you want to keep your costumers stay and complete the transactions.
Different online costumers prefer to use certain types of payment. While most would like credit cards, many are still hesitant to enter personal information online and choose other alternative modes of payment like Paypal, checks and money orders. A good shopping cart service should cover all these.
Hacker-Safe Ordering Page
Earning your costumers’ confidence is important in any business. That is why you have to make sure that your costumers are properly protected when they enter their credit card information to your website. Wise costumers often look for SSL certificate seal on a merchant’s website. This seal is a guarantee that the site is hacker safe. Make sure that you have one.
Full Order Management System
A good shopping cart guides costumers throughout the process of purchasing, checking out, payment and shipping. These services can be provided fully by a hosting company or are linked from different services. Payments can be through major credit cards, PayPal, money orders and checks. Shipping can be linked to major shipping carriers like UPS, DHL and FedEx.
One of the best ways to gauge if a particular e-commerce shopping cart provider has a good costumer service is by sending questions though their email address. How fast did they reply? Did you get a template reply? In business, time is money; and personal touch is a plus. Costumer service should reply a personalize message as soon as possible. Another way to test how good the costumer service is is through its technical support. In running an effective e-commerce store, the availability of good documentation is important.
An e-commerce shopping cart is an integral part of your online business. It acts as a costumer service representative that guides the costumer throughout the purchasing process, an information board where costumers can see promos and discounts you offer, and a checkout counter rolled into one. So if you are shopping for a cart, here are the things you need to know:
Understand the types of shopping carts and identify your needs.
Shopping carts are not created equal. They may appear the same but a thorough research will reveal their differences. Knowing how shopping cart services differ from one another is important when choosing what you really need.
Begin your search by listing down your needs. The basic includes a shopping cart, a payment processing-gateway, and a process to fulfill your orders. Aside from these, are there are any other features you need? Do you need order tracking, different payment options, express checkout, product reviews, search and browse features, and real-time inventory? If you sell a number of products that do not require sophisticated shopping cart features, avoid products with too much add-ons.
If you are selling a moderate number of products and require some of the features mentioned above, you may have to look for mid-steam shopping carts. They are reasonably-priced for the features they offer.
Running a large online store with a wide range of products may require several types of shopping cart features. Here, you may want to consider having all the important features that your costumers need for easy searching, browsing, purchasing, checkout and even order tracking.
The key when choosing which shopping cart to buy is to know your business and know what your costumers are looking for.
Narrow down your list.
Reviewing hundreds of shopping carts is impossible. And quite frankly, many of these are not worth a minute of your time. Narrow down your list by taking into account your budget and the features you need. From these, read product reviews as well as user reviews. Choose only the service that is suitable for your business but at the same time, very appealing to your costumers.
This is not perfect, but it’s a quick way to discard products you don’t need and shorten the list of your possible vendor.
Take the free-trial.
There are a number of merchant services offering free-trial for their products, say a 30-day free-trail period. Take this opportunity to test if the product suits the needs of your business. However, features in free-trial versions are very limited to the most basic. If you know that your business requires more, I suggest that you open up your options to paid merchant accounts that offer a good package at an affordable cost.
Start with free accounts.
Starting with free account and working your way up may be a good idea if you really don’t know which type of shopping cart service to take or, if you just have no time reading product reviews and risk your money to buying an unknown product. Popular shopping cart services that offer free account like PayPal allow you to send and receive payments online. Once you get the hang of using free online merchant services and if you feel that the features are insufficient, do not hesitate to upgrade to a premium merchant account.
Like what the title says: the security of shopping carts is always a major issue, it was before, it is now, and it will always be. If you’re a small business trying to break into a fairly large and competitive market, shopping cart applications integrated to your website would be a great investment. But several issues need to be addressed and probably one of the more significant one is the issue of security.
Let’s begin with the concept of shopping carts. Shopping carts are online applications where you can make purchases by means of using your credit card or any electronic payment services to pay for your orders. If you have an online store, you will need a reliable host where to place your files and where your clients and potential customers will access them from. You also need a shopping cart whose interface is easy and functional.
A shopping cart typically functions with having a check out, generates the total purchase, compute for the shipping costs, and records the needed personal information. The security aspect of the shopping cart lies on the Secured Socket Layer certificate or the SSL which basically handles the security of the personal information entered by customers up until the time the information reaches the payment gateway. The SSSL is the responsible of making “https”. If you see this on the URL bar, it means the transaction is a secure environment. Meanwhile, the payment gateway or credit cart gateway is the one that validates and charges the purchase on the credit card.
There are options now where the shopping cart providers no longer needs SSL but instead directly sends the information to a payment gateway. The personal information entered by the customers will then be the responsibility of the gateway. This eliminates the need for you to maintain any SSL.
It is important that you let your customers know first and foremost the possible security risks of online transactions. But also make sure that you clients know that despite the risks, you have done your part to make the website secure and hack-free. Do no underestimate your customers. Often, if they fee that something’s not right with a website’s shopping cart, they will most likely bail out of their transations.
Also be precise and clear about your shopping cart’s policy guidelines. I know it might be tempting to use various legal and marketing jargons. But, you need to remember that your users are not experts and presenting them with a policy guideline that is high complicated and difficult to understand will reflect on your business’ reputation.
We can only stress the importance of security in these kinds of web applications. I have heard stories of identity thefts before and your customers will surely go with a shopping cart that can protect them from possible theft of credit card and personal information.
One of the simplest way to have a secure network is to avail of the services of well respected and secure service provider. That, of course is a sure way to have a secure network for your shopping cart. Relying on the credible services of third party suppliers is not a bad course of action to take. You just need some time checking on theses shopping cart suppliers to get to know them.
The bottomline is to purchase and maintain a secure shopping cart for your clients. You have several options at your disposal and not having a secure one is totally inexcusable.
The perspectives of using shopping carts have always been geared towards the more commercial based websites. These are websites that have catalogues of products to sell. These are the websites that need an application that will make their sales and marketing lives easier. Sure, there are ways that we can go about it but the significant innovation of the shopping cart is something that we can not partially ignore or totally set aside.
The significance of the online shopping cart lies on how, in recent years, online transactions have developed. The internet has become a hub of business transactions. As more and more people take advantage of the benefits of setting up online businesses, the need for an application that will assist people in sales and marketing becomes apparent. Especially since the internet can be both a playing ground for online businesses and those predominantly offline establishments.
Generating earnings online can be very challenging sine you will most likely be competing with millions or billions of businesses. If you thought you have come up with an innovative business idea chances are you haven’t. Try searching the web and see if your business idea is indeed unique. The good thing about having some competition is you will be thinking about quality to capture your share of the market. However, with regards to an online business, you will be worrying more than just the quality of your product.
On the internet, generating traffic is as important, or even more important than what you have. When you have good traffic to your websites, you can take full advantage of it and convert that traffic into sales. Yes, traffic does not automatically means you will sell something.
When people go to a website, they will remain potential sales as long as they don’t actually purchase anything from your website. Here is where a shopping cart application can make the difference. It’s the same as a department store. If you see everything on the shelf stacked neatly with complete prices and tags and all, you can make your choices easily. You get your purchase, go to the cashier to pay your order, have the attendant bagged your purchase, and even assist you to your car where you take home your grocery.
The same level of convenience is what online shoppers will be looking for. Nobody will appreciate a website that has a complicated process when you purchase their products. Simplicity and convenience are key elements in any commercial online website. It is best to remove any stumbling blocks. By knowing this you can hopefully convert more traffic into sales by customizing your shopping cart to allow customers to pay.
Fortunately, there are battalions of companies that offer shopping cart applications and definitely there are several options to choose from. Select the ones that fit your preferences and your needs to maximize your chances of converting some online sales.
But aside from the commercial value of the shopping cart, it is a great tool as well in managing product inventories, tracking transactions, generating sales reports, tax purposes, and the overall maintenance of your online product store.
The significant innovation of online shopping cart cannot be downplayed. It has become more than a trend. It is a marketing tool that helps generate sales and improves product and site management. You can choose not to have it, of course. But why remain to be disadvantaged?
You’re all fired up. You know the advantages of having a shopping cart integrated on your website. You have heard of the benefits and you really want them. If the rest of your competitors are doing it why can’t you? And that’s what you’re going to do now. But you’re facing a major stumbling block, what shopping cart would be the right choice? Can you go with just the first one you see?
The answer would be no. Selecting a shopping cart is a decision that you should mull over. It is an investment and any investment should be approached cautiously. Sometimes you can’t afford to mess up. The same can be said with shopping carts for your website.
Imagine purchasing from a company and it did not worked out the way you expected. The shopping cart appears to be too complicated for your clients. It’s not as flexible as it should be. You can’t sell anything through it and worst of it all, your customers have gone to your competitors. Even if you change suppliers and have a new shopping cart out, you will still have a hard time convincing your former clients to come back. A bad rep spells more trouble so it pays to be cautious.
We can classify a shopping cart into a merchant shopping cart service, a hosted service, or a fully integrated shopping cart. Each one has their own unique features which you will or will not need.
Shopping carts that are classified as merchant services involves paying a merchant service provider for allowing you to use their bank account and secure gateway in order of you to transact your business online. Normally, you will have your own bank account and secure gateway. This is quite popular for small companies or those that are just starting out.
You don’t have to worry about editing your product inventories and prices since the businesses will be given administrative access to the merchant account to perform updates whenever necessary. The problem in this kind of shopping cart setup is that your business name does not appear on the product pricing and credit card transactions. What appears on the credit card statement is the owner of the merchant account. Sometimes, your customers might get turned off from this or get confused and abandon the shopping cart altogether.
This is why a hosted shopping cart might be more advantageous to your business. The hosted shopping cart shares very similar aspects with a merchant service one. But the main difference would that your business name can be requested to appear on the credit card statements, pricing and ordering information.
Plus the shopping cart itself can be customized. This time you can make the shopping cart more in the theme of your website. Your customers will see that it is a single entity maintaining the shopping cart and they will not get suspicious and abandon whatever purchasing they plan to do.
But if you want to have the most control over your shopping cart, you can acquire a fully integrated shopping cart. This kind of shopping cart will have the same look as your website, is truly customizable, flexible, and has a whole of features not present in merchant and hosted shopping carts. However, the added features come with a price. These kinds of shopping carts are far more expensive that the two previous mentioned.
Choosing the right shopping cart can bring your online business to a whole new level of success. You might begin converting your traffic into sales or if you choose poorly might sweep away all your efforts in the past years.
Setting up an online shop is easy. Marketing the products you sell, while it requires a bit of online skills, can be done. But your job is not finished once you have accomplished these two. You cannot just waiting for traffic and hope that they become potential costumers. You need the right tool that converts traffic in to sales. You need an e-commerce shopping cart. But getting a shopping cart is one thing; maximizing its benefits is another.
While many choose to go online to purchase merchandise, it doesn’t mean that you can get complacent because if they happen to stumble upon your website, they will buy anyway. This is a wrong way of looking at your traffic. You have to please your costumers and please them well. You need to know what they want – not necessarily the things they need to have but the right tools to guide them through the entire online purchasing process. And with tougher competition now, you need to raise the bar and stand out among the rest.
Thus, your online store needs not only to look good, but also to have efficient shopping cart system. Here’s how to maximize your website and shopping cart and convert traffic into buyers:
Use all the tricks in the business. Use large headings and sub-headings to let your costumers know where they are; and breadcrumb navigation to help your costumers know how deep they are on your website.
Use search functions to let costumers find what they are looking for fast and easy, especially if you are holding a large inventory and multi-page site. Place the search function above the fold where costumers can see it.
Give the power to your costumers to narrow down their search options by using search category refinement. Costumers should be able to refine according to size, shape, color etc. Make sure that they can clear this refinement anytime. Utilize sort option that allows your costumer see your product by category.
Let your costumers remove or change items from their cart easily. Help them find product that are related to the items they have chosen. Cross sell!
Place your contact information where costumers can easily see it.
Never allow your costumers to go on a lengthy process of shopping, only to find out that the products they have chosen are out of stock. Show only the products that are on stock or place “out of stock” mark on those what are not in your inventory. Most shopping carts have this feature.
Cart abandonment rates are high simply because many shopping cart services do not allow shopping before registration. What you should do is to let your costumers to add items in their cart before they register for an account. Some vendors have this feature.
Show them every detail of the product they wish to buy including the price, discounts (if there’s any), applicable taxes and added fees. Do not hide any information that the costumers should know.
The key to any online store is usability. Many online shoppers get irritated even on the tiniest hitch on your site. This is the main reason why many abandon their cart even on the last step in purchasing product. Keep your costumers fully satisfied by making everything easy. Use your e-commerce shopping cart properly. Extra efforts may require time but the pay offs are all worth the trouble.
Now that you have your shopping cart working, the question would be how to maximize your shopping cart. You have acquired a great marketing tool which you can utilize in both managing your products and generating sales. It would be a shame if you left if underutilized. At least on the basic level you need to optimize your cart to keep it competitive and relevant to your company and your customers’ needs.
One of the basic issues here is, of course, security. Keeping your shopping cart hack free will earn your company some brownie points to your customers. Who would want their personal information hacked? Or their online transactions? You need to keep hackers at bay and at the same time give assurances to your customers that you have a proactive approach on this issue. Keep them informed of security issues and innovations that you implemented to keep them protected. Your clients will appreciate that and that alone can generate more referrals, which can result to more traffic to your site which you have an opportunity to convert to actual sales.
Keep your cart simple and easy to access. Your customers will not like to fill out too many information fields when ordering products. Keep the information you need to a minimum. The idea of the shopping cart is to remove stumbling blocks in purchasing items in the first place so don’t create totally unnecessary ones.
Also along this line of simplicity and convenience, it would be best to create options where your clients can easily have access to their recorded transactions. Aside from having the option of saving their online transactions, it is also recommended that you have an easy to print page where your customers can produce a printout of their purchases with just a click of a button.
You might need to create ways to have your clients access your webpages faster and more efficiently. Take a look back and see if you can create shortcuts. Take the perspectives of your clients. If you find things complicated and difficult to access then you will need to do some revisions.
The idea, of course, is to grab the loyalty of your clients. Sure, one of your customers purchased something from your website. The reason may not be entirely because you have a great website and an easy to access shopping cart. The reason might be simply because you were the only one who has the product in the first place. And the customer just had to access your complicated procedure because of not having any other choices.
So always keep in mind your users and customers when customizing your shopping cart. Never compromise usability with aesthetics. You may have a kick-ass looking shopping cart but it is a pain to get something from you. You will never convert your web traffic into sales this way.
Part of your marketing and sales approach is always provide a means to contact you. Your customers might have complaints or suggestions or comments regarding the product, your website or the shopping cart. You need to listen to these things and make improvements whenever necessary. Provide as many assistance webpages and information possible. FAQs should be pretty standard as well as providing a toll free hotline for their convenience.
Getting the most from your shopping cart means customizing that would benefit you and your customers.
Think long term and continue innovating and improving your cart.
I’m sure you’ve done the same thing yourself. You go to a grocery store, get a cart or basket, fill it with items and suddenly you felt that you’re buying unnecessary things. What happens after that realization is a pretty common sight. You leave your basket or cart half full of items near the counter or just at the end of the aisle. The same thing can happen on an online shopping cart: customers abandoning their carts. But that is not entirely out of your control. There are a number of ways to increase the effectiveness of your shopping cart and the proper implementation of these can result to a fairly successful online business.
There are several reasons that you should now about why people abandon their shopping carts midway. One reason is that they just want to know the prices of the products on your website and compare them with another supplier. If they find out that they can get the products much cheaper somewhere else then they will just abandon their carts.
However, the solution to this issue is not an easy one. We have to get the right suppliers and services to ensure that we can offer the products at a minimal mark-up or at a very competitive rate. At least if you and your competitors have fairly the same product prices, you can get customers by getting ahead in other areas like customers support.
Another issue that your customers might find with your shopping cart is usability. The internet is a fast-paced information gateway. If your customers find your shopping cart slow to upload, and have a lot of required fields to fill-up, they will turn to your competitors.
Remove any stumbling blocks that might hinder your customers to order products easily online. Too much non-purchase information is a definite turn-off. Keep the interface simple and customize the shopping cart to enable fast product browsing and ordering.
Security is another major issue. This is only natural. Your clients will be handing over credit card information which in some ways can be hacked and used by unscrupulous people. Asking too much information will put your customers on the defensive. They will be cautious resulting to loss of sales.
Keep your shopping cart up-to-date. And this goes for both security options and other features. Make sure that you incorporate already standard shopping cart features. It would be a plus if you could add a couple of innovative ideas of your own as well.
And when you update your shopping cart security and other features, make sure your clients know about them. These changes are useless if you don’t give your clients assurances that you have a proactive approach in ensuring the protection of their personal information.
Honesty is greatly appreciated as well. Let your customers know of any other added costs on their purchases. Place this information as early in the ordering process as possible. Customers will surely get irritated if they find out of additional fees at the end of their transactions. You’ll get a lot of bad rep from doing that.
Also be aware that US dollar is not the only currency your customers will use. You’re talking about a global network where people from almost anywhere can purchase items from your cart. Place a conversion application which would help your clients know of the amount in their own currency.
These are but simple ways to ensure the effectiveness of your shopping cart. Nonetheless, as simple as they may be, it will give you several benefits if you pay attention to them and implement the necessary solutions.
When choosing an e-commerce shopping cart, you need to think both ways: as a merchant and as a costumer. Ask yourself these questions: What are the features you need? How large is your business? Do you have several products and require a closely monitored inventory? Do you sell few products? Do you need simple hosted carts? As a costumer, what kind of cart is good? How do I want to pay for the products I buy? Do I need order tracking? The answers to all these questions matter a lot, so let us discuss them one by one.
Types of shopping carts. Features. Business size.
Let us tackle all these simultaneously since they are interrelated to one another. The types of shopping carts depend on the number of features they offer; the number of features carts offer depends on what type of business they cater; and the type of business these carts cater categorizes the types of shopping carts.
The simplest form of “shopping carts” is not actually a cart but a merchant-generated webpages that contain product description and prices with “Buy now” button. The “Buy now” button transfers the customers to a third party payment provider like PayPal. This type is best for merchants with simple needs and few products but is not suitable for large businesses with several products that require constant monitoring.
If your sell several products that have to be closely monitored, what you need is a shopping cart that is either hosted by a cart provider or hosted by the same server as your website. Most carts work by keeping track of what the costumers select and take them to the checkout page, which is linked to the third party credit card payment provider. This type is often preferred choice by most small- and medium-size merchants as the price is comparatively reasonable with the features it provides.
Fully hosted shopping carts provide everything that the merchant needs: from shopping carts, checkout counter, payment system and even shipping. This product can be integrated with your website and can be customized to adapt at your website’s appearance. If you are handling a wide array of products with complex business rules, this is an ideal choice.
Since sophistication determines the price of the shopping cart, make sure that you only get the features you really need. Decide on the features that are right for your business. I advice that you make a list of the things you need for a shopping cart and rank it in order of priority. Then, find different shopping cart vendors that offer the features you need. If the price is higher than what you can afford, remove features that are least important.
Costumer Appeal and Ease of Use
A website that looks good may not always matter in terms of sales. But the behavior of the traffic towards a certain feature in your website – in this case a shopping cart – can make or break a sale. You can use the trial and error method but unless you are given a free trial on every shopping cart provider, it may be very costly. The best thing you can do is to review different cart vendors and focus your attention to the ease of use. If you are satisfied, then you can add it to your list of possible items. Do not forget to consider if the vendors are offering popular payment methods such as PayPal and other major credit cards.
Selecting an e-commerce shopping cart is a serious matter; evaluate the products based on the things that are discussed above.