A Cart of Your Own

By Gail Z. Martin

Now that you’ve decided on how to accept payments, it’s time to shop for shopping cart programs.

Online carts vary tremendously in cost, ease of use, and flexibility. Ideally, you want a program that has capacity for you to grow without being prohibitively expensive for your transaction volume.

OneShoppingCart.com is a program popular for its user-friendly attributes. There are many other programs to choose from; just be sure to investigate cost and capabilities before investing.

At a minimum, an online shopping program should enable you to do the following:

  • Accept some form of online payment (ideally, several types of credit cards plus PayPal or a similar online money transfer program)
  • Offer a variety of products
  • Set prices and edit descriptions for your products
  • Deliver your downloadable products as part of the purchase process
  • Notify you via email when a purchase has been made
  • Track applicable sales tax

In addition to the basic functions, you’ll find it helpful if your cart can also:

  • Handle multiple payments (enabling you to offer payment plans)
  • Accept “affiliates”–resellers who promote your products in exchange for a percentage of sales
  • Create autoresponders to continue the conversation with buyers by offering follow up messages via email
  • Provide you with options for how your “buy” link is presented and how your digital products are delivered
  • Create coupon/discount codes

Many template programs, such as Citymax, come with their own shopping cart functionality. While convenient, these programs often have limited capabilities. If you outgrow the template program and want to change your Web hosting, you’ll also have to rebuild your shopping cart. These built-in programs often do not offer enhanced capabilities such as the ability to accept affiliates or process payment plans. Think ahead to determine what range of functions will best serve your business over the next few years.

(Excerpted from the brand new book 30 Days to Online PR and Marketing Success: The 30 Day Results Guide to Making the Most of Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and Blogging to Grab Headlines and Get Clients by Gail Z. Martin)

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