Definition: A shopping cart on an online retailer's site is a piece of software that facilitates the purchase of a product or service. It accepts the customer's payment and organizes the distribution of that information to the merchant, payment processor and other parties.
Shopping carts bridge the gap between shopping and buying, so having the best shopping cart software is extremely important on your website.
It's likely that those just starting out in the market may be unfamiliar with the concept. Most people, especially those in the e-commerce industry, have likely made a purchase online at some point in their lives. That said, most consumers don't fully realize the need and capability that shopping carts have (besides leading a customer to checkout). A cart typically has three common aspects:
Another way to look at things is as follows: The online shopping cart is similar to the tangible ones we use at the supermarket, but it wears many more hats. It's also the shelves, the building, the clearance sign, the cash register and often the credit card machine relaying information back to the bank.
For those seriously considering the e-commerce platform route, it's important to know that there are two basic types of carts:
Hosted solutions are often recommended for those who are beginning their own venture because they require less technical expertise. That's not to say all new online retail store owners aren't adept at IT, but a hosted solution may free up a time to focus on other aspects of operations. There are numerous providers of shopping cart software on the market today, and companies must first evaluate their individual needs before making a final decision on which solution is best for them.
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