Ensuring the Usability of Your Shopping Cart
As ecommerce continues to boom, the importance of employing the best available online shopping cart software should not be underestimated. In order to be successful, an ecommerce shopping cart system must maximize usability, functionality and design. This is because consumers typically look to online shopping for the convenience it offers, abandoning sites where transactions cannot be completed swiftly and securely. A reliable cart that efficiently manages the purchasing process is the key to retaining customers, as they are likely to seek an alternative online supplier if your site causes frustration.
The basis of any web shopping cart solution is the scripting language in which it is written, usually either PHP (Personal Home Page) or ASP (Active Server Pages). A PHP shopping cart is the most commonly used type, because they are built with one of the most versatile and easy to understand scripting languages. Finding good hosting at affordable prices is also easier using a PHP shopping cart, because it is compatible with most servers. Alternatively, the ASP shopping cart is designed with Microsoft’s programming languages, and is designed to run only on Microsoft servers. Therefore it can be more difficult to find affordable hosting with an ASP shopping cart.
It is important to consider is whether the online shopping carts software you choose is scalable. Flexibility and customization are important, so that your cart can be modified to support the growth and needs of your online store. For a shopping carts comparison, there are storefront applications that offer various shopping cart demo functions. These that are great for getting to know which tools, options and features are vital to providing a user friendly shopping experience. Knowing what to look for in usability will help your storefront shopping cart be successful. Some guidelines for maximizing usability are as follows:
Allow users to add and compare items in the cart before getting to the steps of the checkout process. If your site requires the customer to register their personal information before adding items to their cart, many web users will look elsewhere to shop.
Provide customers with live stock availability before the user places a product in the cart. This will reduce time wasted on adding items that are not currently available.
Make sure the contents of the cart are clearly pictured on screen once items are added. The design should be simple and easy to view with clear shopping cart icons.
Allow users to make changes to the items in their cart easily. Consumers often decide to change the size of color of a product once it is already in their cart. Being able to make changes in the cart saves time and the confusion of having to navigate back to the product.
Simplify the steps it takes for return customers to purchase items by allowing users to save their billing and shipping information on your site. If a return user can purchase an item in just a few clicks, they will prefer your site over competitors.
Use suggestive selling after an item has been added to the cart. An advanced cart can process information about the customer’s purchase and offer complementary products.
Allow for the calculation of discounts using coupon codes, or provide discounts based on the number of units a customer purchases.
Employ a cart that is able to compute taxes, shipping costs, discount rates and all other necessary calculations.
Use integrated auto responder and newsletter capabilities to streamline communications and increase the return on your investment.
Use a shopping cart system that can provide sales data and information about traffic to help improve your online business.