Everyone knows that a Shopping Cart Software is a fundamental part of every e-commerce website. But how many know about the huge functionality that is now available? A Shopping Cart is no longer just a trolley. It can be the front end of a complete e-commerce platform and an essential SEO and Marketing tool as well!

There are literally hundreds of Carts from which to choose and choosing the right one for your business can be crucial. Once customers have made a decision to purchase, they want that process to be as simple, quick and secure as possible.

The same goes for the person who is tasked with administrating the website and its integral Shopping Cart. They want straightforward software that is easy to use, with as much functionality as possible. Most reputable sellers will offer a minimum of 14 days free trial of their product to help with the decision-making process.

Shopping Carts have their own classification system: Type 3 has no SEO functionality, Type 2 has some elements and Type 1 has full (or near) SEO functionality. There are several websites available which can be useful for making comparisons, but generally speaking, a Type 1 Shopping Cart should offer the following features or allow for them to be included:

    Managing affiliate programmes
    Merchandising
    Creation of Voucher Codes or Coupons
    Social Network integration
    Cross-and/or Up-Selling
    Automatic Reporting (sales, traffic, bounce rate etc.)
    301 redirect
    Meta titles, descriptions and h1 Tags for every page
    Customer reviews

This list is by no means exhaustive and every day a new Shopping Cart appears with even more functions, features and benefits. One of the most recent movements in the sector is the advent of WordPress e-commerce themes. Best known as a blogging platform, WordPress has now developed one of the best CMS (Content Management Systems) for e-commerce websites, known as WordPress 3+.

One very important feature is ‘breadcrumbs,’ which are an aid to navigation, usually found at the top of a web page, just below the Header. Named after the fairytale of Hansel and Gretel, they show users exactly where on the website they are and provide links to follow back to where they started from.

E.g. Home > Product Selector > Product

Sometimes a colon (:) is used instead of the ‘greater than’ (>) symbol. Breadcrumbs are also search engine-friendly because they add more internal links to the website.

These days everything online, especially e-commerce, has to relate to two separate, but connected things: search engine visibility and overall customer experience. In other words, not only optimising a website so that it can be found but also converting subsequent traffic to sales.

As an e-commerce webmaster, this means that the choice of Shopping Cart becomes doubly important and it is vital to do plenty of research before making a final decision.

Comparison websites are a useful starting point, but bear in mind that some Shopping Carts are easier to administrate than others, regardless of the level of functionality. The best way is to make a shortlist of potential platforms and then take full advantage of free trial periods on offer.

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