Online Shopping Carts

Online shopping carts is the software that drives your customers shopping experience

Business owners every day are planning for a successful ecommerce website. Some are finding success, others frustration. It’s important to understand the basic differences between your choices — custom shopping cart, prepackaged cart, and template system shopping cart.

Custom Designed, Open Source Shopping Cart
A custom designed, open source shopping cart is usually a fix cost bid and costs are wide ranging depending on who you hire. If you’re processing 20 to 30 orders a week, bearing the cost of an entry-level custom cart is justified.

Advantages in having an open source shopping cart are:

~ Easily modified for any custom functionality
~ You own the cart
~ Can be easily moved to another web hosting company
~ Can be highly optimized for search engines
~ Can easily integrate custom tools and third party software applications

Disadvantages in having an open source shopping cart are:
~ Cost may be too much for small business start-ups
(If you were processing 20 or 30 orders a week bearing the cost an entry level custom cart is justified)

Prepackaged Shopping Carts
When a web designer or web design company quotes you a cost for a custom cart, be sure to ask if they’re using an off-the-shelf custom cart. These are pre-developed cart applications that can be purchased from third party developers. This means that the source code, i.e., the under-the-hood components, may or may not be easily customized for your purposes. Most pre-packaged carts costs range from $299.00 to $2200.00 and up.

Advantages in having a prepackaged shopping cart are:
~ You own the cart
~ Is cost effective for ecommerce start-ups

Disadvantages in having a prepackaged shopping cart are:
~ Is a third party application. Support is poor or non-existent.
~ Is difficult to expand, scale or customize

Template System Shopping Carts
Many web hosting companies offer an integrated shopping solution. These shopping cart system templates are fine for dipping your toe in e-commerce waters, but they do not permit custom modifications. They are closed proprietary systems built for beginners.

Advantages in having a template system shopping cart are:
~ Inexpensive. Range from $15 to $40 per month
~ Easy to use depending on your computer skill level
~ They provide a testing ground for you to assess your online sales skills
~ Online and live support is usually pretty good for third party carts
~ They are a great place for e-commerce beginners with a limited budget
So they are a great place for ecommerce beginners having a limited budget.

Disadvantages in having a template system shopping cart are:
~ Cannot be modified for any custom functionality
~ You do not own the cart
~ Cannot be easily moved to another web hosting company
~ Some template base carts can be optimized for search engines, but this requires an intermediate knowledge of HTML.

If you decide to test the online waters with a template shopping cart, you’ll want to have a powerful web site presence to help drive traffic to your online products or services.

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