Shopping for a Shopping Cart? Make Sure you Weigh your Options First!

Written by Merle

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 outrepparttar items they want and send them to a "cart," which holds onto them until they're ready to check out. The program then totalsrepparttar 109057 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 andrepparttar 109058 pros and cons involved with each:


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.


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:

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:

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:

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. Followrepparttar 109059 wizard for easy set up. You need your own merchant account but they supplyrepparttar 109060 secured server. So what'srepparttar 109061 catch? they try to get you to upgrade to their 150.00 a year package, which is an option. If you continue to userepparttar 109062 free onerepparttar 109063 only trade off is they will display business related ads on all of your cart pages.

"How exactly does Ecommerce work"?

Written by Lisa Schmeckpeper

"How exactly does Ecommerce work"?

This has to berepparttar most-frequently asked question I receive from newbie clients. They know people are buying online and they know they have to accept credit cards if they want to stand a chance in allrepparttar 109056 net-based competition, but beyond that realization, most are clueless as to how it all works.

I can't blame them, really. It's a confusing online world out there and a lot of people who are trying to tell them how it works are really just trying to sell them their own solution. It's kinda hard to trustrepparttar 109057 validity of what they say when profit is a huge motivating force behind their persuasive suggestions.

And to be sure, there is profit in this Ecommerce game! Money is to be made at many steps alongrepparttar 109058 Ecommerce path. With that in mind, let's take a walk alongrepparttar 109059 path to Ecommerce, and take a look atrepparttar 109060 signs--or components--that are necessary to take part inrepparttar 109061 Ecommerce excitement and potential profits.

1. The Merchant Account:

This really is your first step towards Ecommerce, unless you have chosen to go through a payment facility and are willing to give up a rather large portion of your sales in fees. The up-front costs of a merchant account can be hefty for a small business, butrepparttar 109062 long-term savings can be substantial.

This is especially true if you are selling big ticket items. For instance, onrepparttar 109063 sale of a $300 product/service through a payment facility you could pay between $20-$45 dollars or more in fees. With your own merchant account it will probably cost you about $9. Withrepparttar 109064 typical fees and equipment for a merchant account startup costing about $1,500, you can recoup that cost rather quickly.

A merchant account comes with a merchant identification number. That is about all it gets you. In order to process transactions you need either a terminal (the little box that you swipe your credit card through at retail outlets) or software that runs on your PC and will dial uprepparttar 109065 merchant via your modem, and then processrepparttar 109066 transaction and depositrepparttar 109067 money into your bank account.

2. The Shopping Cart:

If you are selling just one or two items on your site you won't have much need for a shopping cart. A site with a variety of products should userepparttar 109068 shopping cart system because it'srepparttar 109069 easiest way for your customers to shop. The easier it is to shop,repparttar 109070 more they will spend, which is exactlyrepparttar 109071 psychology supermarkets use, and exactly how shoppers are similar whether in a supermarket or scanning through your website. Andrepparttar 109072 nice thing about electronic shopping carts is thatrepparttar 109073 wheels never go square, and you don't have to send a clerk out afterrepparttar 109074 store closes to round up allrepparttar 109075 carts that have been left scattered aroundrepparttar 109076 neighborhood. So shopping carts are good. But how will they work with your merchant account andrepparttar 109077 all-important ordering process?

Ifrepparttar 109078 orders placed on your site are to be processed withrepparttar 109079 customer's credit card as a sale through your PC or swipe erminal, then there doesn't have to be any compatibility between your cart and your merchant account. The two will work completely independently, each doing their part ofrepparttar 109080 job.

If, onrepparttar 109081 other hand, you would like all of your incoming orders to be automatically processed for you asrepparttar 109082 customer hitsrepparttar 109083 submit button, you will need what is called "real time processing."

3. Real-Time Processing - Almost every website company I talk to would like to have their orders processed for them (the vision ofrepparttar 109084 owner of a website company turning onrepparttar 109085 PC and then stretching out in a hammock, watchingrepparttar 109086 orders get processed onrepparttar 109087 screen, comes to mind). However, most web company people, upon learningrepparttar 109088 cost involved, take my advice to wait until they have a steady flow of orders coming in before they use real-time processing. If you're on a tight budgetrepparttar 109089 extra fees involved in real-time processing might be better used to aggressively advertise and drive customer traffic to your site. Processing a few orders per day doesn't take very long and until you find it to be more time-consuming to processrepparttar 109090 orders yourself than you like, you are probably better off processing such orders manually.

If you are starting with a healthy budget and an aggressive promotion plan you will probably be better off implementing real-time processing right fromrepparttar 109091 start. Changing order-processing methods can sometimes result in system hiccups and you don't want anything to slow down your momentum once you've started. You'll also save money, not having to set up your ordering system twice.

4. Web Hosting - The web host who is hosting your site can sometimes make a difference in how compatible your entire site and ordering system are with each other. I say "sometimes" because for those of us not using real-time processing, it doesn't matter who your host is or where your merchant account is located. They are independent of each other. Orders arrive and you process them. No interaction betweenrepparttar 109092 two is needed.

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