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Meet the author:
Jill Olkoski

Jill has a MA in Clinical Psychology, a BS in Computer Science, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

She currently owns Aldebaran Web Design in Edmonds (near Seattle WA) and enjoys educating her clients on topics related to small business website design.

In Jill's previous life, she spent 17 years in the engineering and quality organizations of a Fortune 100 tech company.


How To Select a Shopping Cart For an eCommerce Website

September 8th, 2007

Since I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel, I often look for website applications that already exist to integrate into a client’s website, and shopping carts are no exception. There are so many different website online shopping cart solutions out there, how does a client select the best one for his or her small business?

I’ve worked with three different online shopping carts: eCommerceTemplates, ZenCart and osCommerce. How does a client who wants a shopping cart choose from the myriad of shopping carts available? The devil is in the details, I’m afraid. Setting up a shopping cart is like building a brick and mortar store – you need to know what features you want BEFORE construction is started, because some things will be difficult or impossible to add afterwards. Go here to read more about how to add eCommerce to your website.

Review the List of Shopping Cart Features: Before installing and customizing an online shopping cart for a client I make sure the client has read over the list of features for that particular cart. Sometimes add-on features are available, but it’s best if the default version of the shopping cart has most of what the client will need.

What does a shopping cart feature list look like? Here’s a window into the feature list of eCommerceTemplates:

Impressive huh? It’s a long list! It’s important to review the list of your potential shopping cart features with your website designer BEFORE it’s installed onto your website. I’ve found that each client has a different business model and different things they need their online shopping cart to be able to do. But your time will be well spent going over these details ahead of time, to make sure you are selecting the appropriate shopping cart solution for your particular business.

Experience Shopping Cart from Customer and Administrative Viewpoints: Another thing to check out is both the customer experience and the administrative experience of the shopping carts you’re considering for your website. Ask your website designer to give you a tour “under the hood” of the shopping cart and find out what it’s going to be like to manage your online store before you purchase the cart.

Payment Processor: Are They Compatible with the Shopping Cart? Which payment processor do you use? PayPal? Make sure that the shopping cart that you select is compatible with your particular payment processor. You can usually find out compatibility by looking on your payment provider’s website for a list of compatible carts, or you can look on the shopping cart’s website to find a list of compatible payment providers.

Selecting a shopping cart is a critical decision for a business owner who is looking to add ecommerce to their website. Feel free to contact me with questions or visit my page on ecommerce solutions for small businesses.

J. Olkoski
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.

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