Ebay Templates

Choosing a Shopping Cart - Some Simple Criteria

In order to develop your businesses e-commerce capabilities you will need an online shop. There are a multitude of options available via the internet and it can be very daunting when you initially start to look, this short article is aimed at giving you some indication of what you should be considering when you are looking for the shopping cart that best suits your needs.


The first thing to do is draw up a list of things you need the shop to be able to do, then find a cart that satisfies that list.

The sort of things you could include are:

1) The List:

1) Automatic email receipt to customer
2) Stock control - you enter the quantity of each item you have so that it's automatically made out of stock when finished
3) Automatic thumbnail image creator
4) Integration with a wide range of credit card processing services
5) Ability to create categories and sub categories to suit your products
6) Easy template creation so you can change the look of the shop easily
7) Ability to change between one-off orders or forcing registrations when ordering
8 ) Mailing list facility (though this is easy to set up separately)
9) Search facility (if you have a lot of products)
10) Backup facilities so you can have your own backups instead of relying solely on the hosting company

2) Self- or Remotely Hosted

Once you have drawn up your list, decide whether you want your own shopping cart or a monthly hosted service. There are advantages and disadvantages for each, but if you can, go for your own cart. If you don't have the cash to stump upfront for your own cart, hosted services can be useful but you may find in some cases that their range of templates are a little limiting, and you may well find other shops using the same or similar templates, which is not ideal. In some cases they can also work out quite expensive, though they are ideal for someone with very little technical knowledge.

3) Administration

You will also need to decide whether you want to manage the shop online (through an admin area) or offline (on your PC). Online management means you can manage your shop from anywhere, which can be useful. Offline management usually means you set up your cart on your pc, test it there and manage it there, then upload it to your web host. These offline systems sometimes include a complete contact management system as well, but at £300+ they may have more features than a small shop would require, and may therefore be a bit pricey if you're not using many of those features.

4) The Budget

Next is a budget. What is the maximum you want to spend, either upfront or on a monthly hosted service? Are there various levels of upgrade with the cart so you can start small and add features as you need them, which may suit you better? Some shopping systems are free, for example Mals-e and osCommerce but they do require a bit of technical knowledge to get the most out of them. When you're thinking of a budget, always bear in mind that even though you may save money now on a cheaper solution, in a few months time if your shop is successful and you have to upgrade to a different cart, it could cost a fair bit in both time and money.

5) Choose a Language

Another consideration is whether to go for a Javascript, PHP or ASP based cart. If you don't already have hosting then it's not an issue, however if you do have an existing website then it would be wise to bear this in mind, so that everything works well together. You could, of course, always host your shopping cart on a different server to the rest of your website, so this is more of a preference than a requirement when choosing your new shopping cart.

6) The Legwork!

Now you can start going through the list of shopping carts available. There are literally hundreds, but not all will satisfy your list above, so it's important you use that as your guide. One of the primary deciders will be your credit card processing service, so your list should include who you are going to use for that.

Some popular shopping carts are listed below. Please note that this is not a definitive list..

Free:

Mals Ecommerce - http://www.mals-e.com
osCommerce - http://www.oscommerce.com
CubeCart - http://www.cubecart.com/
phpShop - http://www.phpshop.org/

Commercial:

Actinic Catalog - http://www.actinic.co.uk/
JShop - http://www.jshop.co.uk/
Evolve - http://www.lynx.net.uk/
Ekmpowershop - http://www.ekmpowershop.com/
Erol - http://www.erolonline.co.uk/
Get Trolleyed - http://www.get-trolleyed.co.uk/
Cactus Shop - http://www.cactushop.com
ClickCartPro - http://www.clickcartpro.co.uk/
Squirrelcart - http://www.squirrelcart.com/
BazaarBuilder - http://www.bazaarbuilder.com/

As you will see if you do a bit of research on these sites, choosing the right e-commerce system for you can be a bit of a minefield, though if you've drawn up a list or requirements as described above it will be a lot easier. Don't just go for the first option or the cheapest - it may not necessarily suit your new shop. Good luck!

Written by Managed Web - http://www.managedweb.com

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