Step By Step Guide To Selling Online for Small Businesses

Guide to selecting an ecommerce shopping cart software for ecommerce website

Shopping cart software allow online shoppers to browse and select for purchase items from a web site. Depending on the choice of payment methods offered by the web site, shoppers choose a payment method whilst placing the order. If an online credit card payment method is chosen then the shopping cart software will pass on the request for making payment to a payment gateway who in turn link to the merchant bank who ultimately debits the shopper's credit card. The payment gate and merchant bank facilities must be arranged separately from the shopping cart purchase. There are currently many different shopping cart software available on the market. Each has its own list of features, advantages and limitations. The trick is to find a package that suits your own particular needs. We will describe the main characteristics of these shopping cart software as used by the small and mediums sized business.

Types of shopping cart solutions

Out of the Box ecommerce Shopping Software

Ecommerce Software provided in this way is often provided "in a box " or downloadable form. After receiving it is installed on a web server with your hosting company. Typically it will require installation and configuration of a separate database, secure server certificates before it will functional. This type of software is suitable if you have significant programming skills and are comfortable with setting up Internet databases such as Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL. It will also require understanding of web programming languages such as PHP, ASP, Perl etc as well as normal web design skills. You will also need to purchase and install your own secure server certificate at extra cost from organizations such as VeriSign and Thawte.

Typically speaking minimum initial cost of all components will be in region of US$1500, UK£1000 plus cost of web design and cost of professional programming staff. This type of software is often preferred by professional web design firms with in house web design and development expertise. In many cases the software vendors have made updating of the online products relatively simple but any major changes to the sites structure will require the business owner to call on the web design team again. Boxed software does offer a greater degree of customization and flexibility than perhaps hosted solutions.

Remotely Hosted Ecommerce Shopping Cart Software

This type of shopping cart software is typically hosted by the software vendor who provide the ecommerce software as a turnkey solution by providing supporting infrastructure such as on going software management, secure servers, databases configuration as part of the software package.

On comparing cost with " out of the box" solutions, most hosted shopping cart solutions can work out to be cheaper. Generally speaking, a remotely hosted solution will cost less than half of the cost of a " out of the box " software due mainly to lower cost of implementation and availability of support infrastructure. For most small businesses starting out in online trading a remotely hosted solution can be the quickest way forward. Advanced shopping cart software like BazaarBuilder have made implementation of ecommerce even easier by separating out complex programming from the web design process. This is useful when the integration is for those setting up their own web sites or even professional web designers seeking a quick and powerful way to implement an ecommerce facility on a web site.

Custom Built Solutions

Whilst " out of the box" and hosted solutions are useful for most business requirements, sometimes the features available from these two package may not be sufficient to meet a particular need. In this case a purpose built solution will be required. This is perhaps the most expensive solution available and costs can run into many thousands of dollars.

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