Choosing A Shopping Cart For Your Website
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The shopping cart you use on your website might not seem like one of your most important decisions, but it’s the critical link between what you’re offering and who you’re selling it to.

When choosing your cart, it’s best to go with the experts—online business owners who’ve already done the homework and chosen the most important features for you.

The following are the top 10 picks from a variety of online product and service providers:

1: Import and Export capability. You need to be able to automatically import entire lists of inventory from a spreadsheet unless you want to hand enter every item by its product number. Just as important is the ability to export products out of the shopping cart.

2: Administrative and customization control. You, the business owner, don’t want anyone else messing with controls such as passwords and custom options like colors, fonts and numbers of items that appear on a display.

3: Multiple Image capability. The images of your products are the only way for your customers to window shop or test drive. Sales multiply in line with the amount of quality images that are provided.

4: A Save Setting. Don’t ever let your customers slip away. If they’ve made even a tentative choice you want to make sure that they can leave it and come back later. Time and again, customers have expressed how happy they are to be able to “sit back and think” without going through the entire shopping process again.

5: An Order View. The perfect customer is the one that stays on your site and makes multiple order. The best way to keep them doing this is to let them keep an eye on what’s already in the shopping cart. A shopping cart that stays open on the page the customer is viewing and lets them keep track of costs they’re racking up.

6: Compatibility with accounting software. Your shopping cart should be able to export information to whatever accounting program you use. This cuts accounting workloads in HALF and keeps inventory counts under control.

7: Data storage. Stored billing and shipping info is a convenience for most customers. More importantly (for you) customers who use this option intend to return for future business. This gives you a good way to track revenue and predict future sales.

8: 24-hour Helpline. Your online store is running 24/7. If there’s a glitch in your shopping cart you need it fixed a.s.a.p. One failed sale because of the shopping cart will likely mean the customer will never return.

9: On-site search tool. A versatile search tool will help your customers find what they want, even when they’re not sure of what they’re looking for.

10: Email capability. You’ve got the email addresses in the order forms. With the right shopping cart you can auto-send e-newsletters and special offers to your customers.

There are many other options for shopping carts you can use when creating a website, but making sure you get at least those 10 top features will land you with a system that will satisfy your needs as your online business expands. Whether you use an expensive service or pick up your own software program, think ahead to future needs, and don’t settle what just works for a small start-up.