If you sell more than a handful of products on your website, you'll need to add what's known as a shopping cart. This is a function that allows your customers to pick out items they want and send them to a "cart," which holds onto them until they're ready to check out. The program then totals order and adds any applicable taxes and shipping charges.
So how do you add a shopping cart to your site? There are three different options you can choose from.
1) Link out to a third-party service (hosted)
2) Buy your own software and do it yourself
3) Download a script and configure it to your needs
Let's examine each option separately and pros and cons involved with each:
THIRD PARTY/HOSTED CARTS
Third party cart services are easy to set up; you can be running in a matter of hours. They require no software to buy or install, but usually charge a monthly fee. Most include a secured server and a merchant account option, if you don't have your own. This is a relatively inexpensive solution for small businesses.
1) VCart.com: http://www.vcart.com
Free to try for 30 days then you pay 90.00 for 3 months, 150.00 for 6 months or 1 year for 249.00. Supports 1 to 10,000 products- No CGI to configure and you can use your existing merchant account.
2) FreeMerchant: http://www.FreeMerchant.com
Prices range from 19.99 to 40.00 per month with a 30 day free trial. Build your store using their web based interface.
3) Yahoo Store: http://store.yahoo.com
You can't go wrong with Yahoo's expert reputation. Easy to build your store on their servers using a point and click interface. You can even upload your own images. Cost for up to 100 items is only 100.00 a month. You can also use your existing merchant account or apply for one through them.
4) Marketers Choice: http://gta-tech.com
Believe it or not, this one is free. Supplied by Marketers Choice, this cart calculates totals, taxes, shipping charges and notifies you of new orders automatically. Follow wizard for easy set up. You need your own merchant account but they supply secured server. So what's catch? they try to get you to upgrade to their 150.00 a year package, which is an option. If you continue to use free one only trade off is they will display business related ads on all of your cart pages.