What is a shopping cart?
A shopping cart is a piece of software that allows shoppers to view a merchant’s merchandise (products and/or services) on a web site and to buy it online. This makes actually setting up a shopping cart environment within your web site’s back-end the first step in making a profit with your web shop.
Plug-in and go
There are a couple of options when it comes to integrating shopping cart software: a shopping cart can either be purchased as a loose item (plug-in) or is offered as an integrated feature by services that facilitate and host e-commerce web sites. For smaller or starting merchants, we recommend the last option, because of the convenience. For larger and experienced web shop operators, we endorse implementing a plug-in, since there are more options for customisation to make it fit seamlessly into your web site’s back-end.
Shopping for carts
When you go online, you will find an overabundance of shopping carts and endless reviews on all their features. Our highly skilled IT and Product Development teams have done extensive research and we have made an initial selection of the 6 most-used shopping carts to offer to our merchants:
- PrestaShop – fast, efficient and easy to use, PrestaShop’s free e-commerce solution provides everything you need to open, operate and maintain a successful online store
- OpenCart – a free, turnkey-ready, “out of the box” shopping cart solution to help you build a successful online store
- osCommerce – provides you with the tools to set up your very own complete and self-hosted online store and to securely sell products and services to customers worldwide
- X-Cart – PHP/MySQL-based secure shopping cart software with an open source code
- WooCommerce – with a free core platform and hundreds of premium add-ons available, WooCommerce allows you to set up an online shop with functionality catered to your store’s needs
- Magento – an open-source content management system for e-commerce web sites
Get the word out
Ok, let’s see. Assuming that you already have a merchant account (if you don’t, inquire here), after selecting and implementing shopping cart software, you now have a functioning web shop and awesome merchandise to sell. But how will you get word out about your magnificent new web shop? The answer is – and always has been – marketing! Without spending on marketing and PR, you will have a hard time getting the word out about your web site and the great things it has to offer. Get that ad space, get intimately acquainted with social media, never say no to free publicity, have a little patience and see those orders flooding in.
Like with everything in life, shopping cart integration is not without its challenges. You will find that, next to the usual suspects of fraud and data security, one of the most common challenges in online entrepreneurship is shopping cart abandonment. As all merchants will tell you, it’s highly frustrating when a customer fills up their cart on your web site, but then abandons it completely. But why would they do such a thing? According to Statista.com, these are the top-5 reasons for shopping cart abandonment:
- Unexpected costs – high shipping costs and other unforeseen amounts like taxes and administration fees will trigger the customer to abandon the purchase, because the final amount due is (much) higher than initially anticipated.
- Just browsing – while browsing, some consumers get so excited that they deposit articles/services in the shopping basket like there’s no tomorrow, but, when the browsing is done, ‘come to their senses’ and abandon their potential purchases.
- Found better deal elsewhere – as we have mentioned in our earlier post about cross-border e-commerce, consumers have become increasingly savvy and are highly aware of the fact that going online to compare prices will eventually land them the best deal possible. And who doesn’t like a good deal?
- Overall price too high – shoppers tend to drop everything they like in their basket whilst browsing and then, when the time comes to pay, come to the conclusion that the price of the purchase is higher than they can afford.
- Decided against buying – for whatever reason, the shopper just simply decided that he didn’t want to make a purchase. Maybe they concluded that they didn’t need an inflatable palm tree, a Harry Potter crossword puzzle of the day subscription or expensive organic bear food after all.
Small change, big difference
Of course, for a merchant it’s quite disastrous when potential customers leave their store without buying something. Especially if this is a recurring problem. Just a few small changes to your web site, interface and online demeanour can make the difference between your customers abandoning their purchase altogether and them coming back for more.
- Unexpected costs – to avoid shoppers abandoning their purchases because of “hidden fees,” make sure that all additional costs are clearly visible on your web site and in your shopping cart. Another possible solution is to make a pop-up appear with each item that is dropped in the basket that immediately states the total price and/or additional costs to avoid surprises, abandonment and, ultimately, disappointment.
- Just browsing – you may have lost the customer this time, but when they come to your shop again, send them a pop-up reminding them of the merchandise they still have in their shopping cart. Or, when they have emptied out the cart, use targeted suggestions based on their previous almost-purchases to remind them that last time they found something they liked. Just remember, less is more, nobody wants to be bombarded by pop-ups every time they visit a web site.
- Found better deal elsewhere – to avoid losing (potential) customers to your competitors, try to always be aware of what their pricing is like and – if possible without going bankrupt – adjust your own pricing to make sure that you always offer the best deal. Also, it is advisable to start a loyalty programme offering your devoted customer base special rates and other perks to ensure their return to your little corner of the Internet.
- Overall price too high – if the customer has been mindlessly filling their basket, there is not so much that you can do, they overshopped and overspent. What might help is to offer customers the option to put a spending limit on their shopping basket before they start dropping items in their cart (especially handy for people with kids that know how to use a credit card.) This is of course a judgement call, since it’s favourable for people to spend as much as possible in your online store. But would you rather have them spend some of their disposable income or none of it? That’s what we thought.
- Decided against buying – a tried and proven method against shopping cart abandonment are reminder emails. Having a – preferably humorous – email reminder of the abandoned shopping cart can really improve your chances of a shopper returning to your web shop to complete their purchase. Two key elements that all successful reminder emails have are an overview of the abandoned content and great copy that triggers customers to come back. And if you want to go all out, you also offer a discount, reserve the items in the cart and throw in some cool visuals.
With these tips and tricks, nothing should stand in the way of your web shop becoming the next Amazon. Are you ready to start making some profit?