Shopping Cart Features

© Brian Rotsztein

Shopping carts come with an array of features that you should be aware of, some of which can really help you increase sales. The decision to develop a shopping cart (or modify your current one) should include ideas beyond search engine optimization.

All shopping cart software offerings have unique features about them which make them more or less useful, depending on your needs as a business owner. Keep in mind that feature-rich does not necessarily mean it’s better for you. If you or your webmaster are the type to get bogged down by a flood of options, too many features will certainly prove to be overwhelming.

That said, if you intend to grow your company, you may need to include more features than you originally anticipated. You should also consider that the programming and set-up involved in getting your site to “act” the way you want it to might be substantial. Moreover, unless you have a tremendous budget, many features will remain out of reach if they don’t already come pre-packaged in one form or another in the software. On occassion you should expect to make concessions regarding funtionality of your site.

The List!

The following is a list of shopping cart features that you should consider as you decide which cart to use as the platform for your website.

  • Discount coupons
  • Affiliate programs
  • Gift certificates
  • Automatic postage calculations (such as with UPS, FedEx, USPS)
  • International postage calculations (in real time)
  • Order-taking options (through the website, over the phone, fax)
  • Detailed statistics (who came to the site? How did they get there?)
  • Flexibility with taxes (state, international, multiple taxes)
  • Credit card payment options (Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, etc)
  • Multiple payment options (Credit Card, PayPal, C.O.D., paper invoice, purchase order, charge to telephone)
  • Real-time credit card processing
  • Electronic gateway options (such as Authorizenet, Verisign, Bank of America,…)
  • Multiple currency displays (Selling to Canada? Show the prices in Canadian dollars)
  • Recurring billing (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly)
  • Digital delivery (for e-books and other e-files)
  • Bulk purchase discounting
  • Recognition of repeat customers and customer-sign in
  • Automatic confirmation emails
  • Automated “lost password” recovery
  • Newsletter sign-ups
  • In-site search engine
  • Detailed sales reports (to the extent of cost versus price)
  • Integration with sales software (such as Quickbooks)
  • Security issues (such as forbidding orders from a Yahoo account)
  • Gift wrapping option
  • Multiple products options (such as color, size, style)

Business Needs

As you can see, the decision to develop an online store can involve a lot of time just trying to assess what you need. If you intend to open a fairly small store, you probably don’t need the “fancier” features that some of the shopping carts and e-commerce systems offer.

Keep in mind that companies will often show you features (such as during a demo) that look impressive but are actually more gimmicky than anything else. It is up to the business owner to consider the options and consult with a specialist as needed. Think about your goals and business needs and go from there.

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