These days, a small business (including those run out of one’s home) that only takes cash is seen as old-fashioned and a bit inconvenient.
If you’re selling online without using shopping cart software, you run the risk of being seen the same way, and driving away customers who will go to the businesses that make it easy to browse and buy online.
Using a shopping cart can increase your revenue and bring you more satisfied customers. Even for a small business or home business, if you’re selling online, you need a good shopping cart plugin.
So what makes shopping cart plugins so vital, and how can you go about choosing the right one?
Meeting Customer Expectations
When it comes down to it, your customers expect a smooth, easy and convenient shopping experience when they buy from you.
Choosing and installing the right shopping cart for your business is a vital step in making your online shop user friendly.
Whether you sell five products or 5,000, a shopping cart makes it easy for your customers to browse, explore, choose, and most importantly, buy. No matter how small your business, providing a user friendly experience is part of winning customer loyalty.
If buying from you isn’t easy and attractive, your customers will turn to your competitors.
How to Choose Your Shopping Cart
There are a lot of shopping cart plugins on the market today, from very simple solutions to much more complex carts, and ranging from free to regular monthly fees.
Your choice will depend on the number and kind of products you are selling, your budget and your technical know-how.
1. Free solutions such as PayPal requite minimal set up, but customization options are limited and customers may balk at having to go through the process of entering their details with PayPal to complete their purchase;
2. Free solutions that you install yourself such as Zencart are a lot more flexible, but the bad news is that you’ll need some technical know-how, time to learn, or a friend or team member to help you set it up;
3. Hosted solutions such as Core Commerce offer ease of building and the comfort of knowing someone else is taking care of the technical details – but the monthly fees can soon add up;
4. Plugins such as those available to WordPress or Joomla users are often free or low priced, and can be integrated with an existing website, providing a good middle of the road solution for flexibility without a high cost.
Using Your Shopping Cart to Increase Revenue
Choosing a shopping cart with the right functionality for your business and website is an important first step, but to really make the most out of your shopping cart, there are some other things you can think about.
Once you’ve drawn up a list of must haves, whether that is shipping or tax calculations, ease of use, or the ability to bundle products, take some time to think about added features that will increase your revenue.
To start with, look for:
1. Coupons and discounts – coupons and discounts are a good way to attract customers, so make sure your cart supports them;
2. Customer reviews – customer reviews inspire confidence by letting customers
3. Recommended products – recommending other products to go with recent purchases helps customers find what they need and see what else you have to offer;
4. Good images – multiple images and a good zoom capability gives your customers a chance to see what they are buying.
Finding the right shopping cart plugin for your business can take a while, but the investment of time is more than worth it in terms of giving your customers a better and more tailored experience that encourages them to spend their money with you.
Photo credit: Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
About the Author: Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on subjects as diverse as health, marketing, business, and SEO.