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As you shop for the best shopping cart software for your company, there are a few special features that are really nice to have. Things to look for when you are looking at the different options are:
You can find shopping cart software solutions anywhere. If you have a web site right now and want to upgrade it to an e-commerce site, your current web host probably has a plan it can easily migrate you to. But finding the right shopping cart software solution and shopping cart merchant account can be a make or break situation for your fledgling e-commerce store. So take your time and do your research. Look at e-commerce comparison and review web sites. Read magazine articles. Ask around, especially to trusted friends and associates. It's tempting to take the easy way out and go for the easiest or quickest solution. But that might not end up being the best solution.
Open-source shopping cart software offers some distinct advantges and disadvantages as an overall shopping cart software solution. Big advantage: It's free. Another big advantage: Open-source shopping cart software is almost always highly customizable, using familiar programming languages like PHP and ASP. The disadvantges? Well, you or someone who works for you needs to know PHP or ASP to install and customize the open-source shopping cart software. You need to have access to your server and the IT support to install and manage the shopping cart software. Open-source software can absolutely be the perfect shopping cart software solution if you have the time, energy and money to make the software do what you want it to do. Otherwise, it might not be the answer.
All the time and effort you put into creating a shop with ecommerce software isn't very useful if no customers show up. That is why promoting your shop is really important.
To promote your e-commerce software shop, you should:
•Set yourself up as the go-to guy or girl for your product's field. People like to buy from an expert over someone less knowledgeable. Becoming an expert is as easy as writing a few articles and having them published through sites like eZineArticles.com or willingly giving quotes to people writing on your product's field.
•Write a press release that features your online store in a news angle. (In this case, the “news” can be the fact that your store is new.) Post it on an internet press release service such as ExpertClick.com, eReleases.com, or the Optimized Press Release Service on NetworkSolutions.com. And don't forget to email it to business contacts and the media as well. Not only will this add search engine ranking to your company's name, but there is the possibility that a local or trade-specific publication will want to write about your story or interview you as an expert commentator.
•Make sure you take advantage of all of the tools your e-commerce software company offers. Network Solutions has several tools you can use to promote your site.
It's worth it to go the extra mile when promoting your new e-commerce software. Build it, promote it, and the customers will come.
What is a no-install shopping cart? It's a cart that allows you to use a web interface to quickly install your goods into the cart and has modules for taxes, shipping and other specific online merchant needs. The idea is that you do not have to install the software on your system. Instead, it usually lives on a server hosted by the provider and integrates with your web site. But it's still going to take some work to get your site up and running. Expect to spend a few hours getting all your information onto the site through the web interface. So no-install really means "easy install." But it's still the best alternative for anyone who doesn't want to spend a lot of time messing around the software integration.
If you're a Quick Books user -- and there are millions of you out there -- consider using a shopping cart software solution that is QuickBooks compatible. QuickBooks Merchant Services offers a merchant account with credit card processing that interfaces directly with your QuickBooks account. The same goes for the Quick shopping cart. If you are already using Quick Books, integrating it with your shopping cart merchant account, can make everything from order tracking, to billing, to accounting, much easier.
Unless you are seriously experienced with working with custom, or even out-of-the-box shopping cart software solutions, consider hiring an experienced consultant to help you through the process of researching, buying, installing and managing your shopping cart software. There's nothing like being able to design the exact shopping cart software solution for your business, as long as you have all the tools to do it right yourself. If you don't, ask for help from a professional.
You can expect to pay up to about $200 to $300 for most full-featured commercial shopping cart software packages. However, remember that this is only part of the cost of an overall shopping cart software solution. You'll need to add software and IT support, additional required software, like a shopping cart merchant account or payment gateway
If you are thinking about purchasing off-the-shelf shopping cart software as a boxed or custom shopping cart software solution, rather than a web-based or remotely hosted shopping cart software model, you should absolutely be able to answer yes to the following questions:
* Do I want to take the time to install and support a locally hosted shopping cart software solution?
* Does my commercial web host allow installation of a locally hosted shopping cart software solution?
* Do I want to shop on my own for a shopping cart merchant account, payment gateway, marketing and CRM software, and any other pieces I need to create a complete shopping cart software solution?
Boxed shopping cart software and custom solutions can be perfect for a company with the time and experience to make the software do exactly what the business needs it to do. But unless you answered yes to all above questions, it might not be right for your ebusiness.
If you're considering going with open-source, boxed or custom ecommerce shopping cart software for your own shopping cart software solution, you need to take into account some critical things, including the following:
Software compatibility: It's great to be able to choose all your own software to create a custom shopping cart software solution. But make sure all your chosen shopping cart software products will work together before you go out and buy anything.
Disaster planning: If you're hosting your shopping cart software commercially, make sure your provider has solid off-site back-ups. If you're doing your own hosting, this is going to be up to you. But it's important to have a workable plan as part of your overall shopping cart software solution.
24x7 support: If something goes wrong with your shopping cart software -- on a weekend, in the middle of the night -- your customers are going to expect you to take care of it yourself. Make sure you can, with proper planning for support.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|