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How to Evaluate the Shopping Cart for Your eCommerce Site?

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As the eCommerce rage continues, it’s natural for you to want to start a site of your own. 

Of the myriad aspects that you need to take into consideration – including what platform to build your solution on, what features to choose, what products to offer, and more, there is also the pressing decision of what shopping cart software to use. Given that your shopping cart will be with you for years to come, its capabilities (or the lack of it) will either make you (and your customers) extremely happy or completely miserable. 

When you set to look for a shopping cart vendor, you’ll find hundreds of them claiming their solution is the best one for you. But how can you really tell? How do you figure out which one best fits the bill? What features should you look for? How do you ensure you make the right educated decision? Here’s how! 

List your requirements

The first step to choosing the right shopping cart software is to make a list of “must-have” features, along with a list of “would-be-nice-to-have” features. Next, imagine your business 5-10 years down the line, and list down features that you might need as your business scales, and your customer base grows. 

Do detailed research on shortlisted vendors

Next, make sure to carry out detailed research on a handful of vendors. Evaluate shortlisted vendors on aspects such as 24x7 support, schedule adherence, release timelines, development team expertise, openness to suggestions, and data integration capabilities. 

Evaluate the various features 

No matter how attractive your eCommerce website looks, how intuitive the UI is, how seamless the navigation is, and how advanced the search capability is, it is the features and capabilities of your shopping cart that drives true customer satisfaction. 

Your cart has to present an organized record of items, it has to effectively manage the sea of customers during peak hours, perform real-time inventory management, and allow customers to easily use coupons and discount vouchers before checkout. 

Having said that, here are some of the features you should look for while evaluating the shopping cart for your eCommerce site: 

Admin features 

  • Multi-vendor and multi-store support so you can easily allow people or companies to become vendors, create profiles, build stores, and configure pricing options, and attributes. 
  • The ability to configure taxation and create zones to group countries and regions with similar taxation rules, and club multiple taxes charged on a product. 
  • The ability to configure shipping for both single and multi-vendor modes, create shipping profiles to combine multiple shipping methods, and set up zones based on the shipping provider. 
  • The option to configure different discounts for different product bundles such as buy 2 and get 10 % off on the third, flat discount on certain products, discount on total cart amount, and more. 

Integration features

  • Integration with multiple payment gateways such as Paypal, Authorizenet, 2Checkout, Pay By Check, Pay By Purchase Order, and more for fulfilling customer experience. 
  • SMS and email integration so customers can be updated about the status of their orders. 
  • Social integrations with popular social networking extensions and apps for improved customer experience.  

Front-end features

  • A fully responsive frontend (and backend) to ensure customers have a uniform shopping experience – irrespective of the device or screen-size. 
  • The option to configure custom fields for product attributes such as reviews, materials used, etc. and change product attributes such as size, color, quantity or even the whole product. 
  • Advanced filtering that allows customers to sort products based on attributes you create such as categories, prices, size color, featured products, etc.
  • An option to enrich the display with multiple modules such as a snapshot of current cart status featured or top-selling products, and more. 
  • The capability to specify in-stock quantities for products, automatically subtract quantities on successful sales, and also allow customers to purchase an out-of-stock product – if needed. 
  • A quick and smooth checkout process that ensures customers are directed to the payment page without any hassle or interruption. 
  • The ability to list shipping charges, delivery details, and order return/cancellation options. 
  • The ability to display a toast message as soon as a product is added to the cart along with the total number of products that have been added to the cart, and an option to either jump to the checkout process, complete the payment or continue shopping. 

Reporting features

  • Customizable and intuitive dashboards that provide visibility into total sales, income from a particular period, a snapshot of pending, confirmed or refunded orders, store performance, and more.  

Compare each cart against your must-have list

Once you have a list of must-have features ready, compare each cart against this list. Make special note of any features that aren’t on your list but sound interesting, and remove those that seem repetitive or unnecessary. 

Weigh your budget 

Building an eCommerce website is a costly endeavor; hence while scouting for a shopping cart software, make sure to consider aspects such as software price, implementation costs, maintenance, and support costs, integration costs, bug fixing costs, and the cost of introducing new features in the future. 

Make the right choice 

When you shortlist a few vendors, it is natural for some to fit your needs perfectly. If making the right decision still seems challenging, start comparing vendors based on other factors, and run the numbers. 

Closely evaluate the visual design, and gauge if the vendors offer customizable templates to enable personalization. Assess the various support options, and weigh vendors on their customer service capabilities. Look carefully at what features are included in the base set and how much more premium features will cost. Consider what is included in the setup cost; check for self-service tools and capabilities that let you control just about everything on your eCommerce site with little or no technical knowledge. 

In the end, choose a shopping cart that is right for your business needs, fits your budget, and allows you to offer an experience that is unmatched.

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