How to Choose the Perfect Shopping Cart for Your Website in Two Steps

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There are two steps to choosing the perfect shopping cart so you can sell your goods or services online through your website. The first step is to identify what features you need. The second step is to find which shopping cart will meet those needs.

Not all shopping carts are created equal and what works great for a site you love or a friend in business may not work at all for you.

Here’s the process I help my clients work through to find the best option for each of their online businesses.

For this process you’ll need to open a spreadsheet file, or grab a piece of blank paper. On the left side we’re going to complete step one. On the right side we’ll be working through step two.

On the left side of your spreadsheet or piece of paper begin listing what features you need and want in a shopping cart. Notice the “need” and “want.” You will want to distinguish between absolute non-negotiable needs (like a carts ability to accept PayPal or work with your merchant account gateway, or whether it can calculate the tax structure you’re require to collect by your city/state/county/province/country) and your wants (such as 10 photographs for each product). In order to get a cart that meets all your needs, you may have to give a little on the wants, or decide to find a work around for them later.

What do you need and want in a shopping cart? Consider these features:

  • online payment acceptance
  • shipping calculation methods
  • inventory control
  • a customer wishlist
  • a gift registry
  • customer registration
  • ability to send a newsletter
  • sharing options for your product listings
  • customer review system
  • customer rating system
  • technical support options available
  • budget for software, installation and design
  • tax options
  • languages available
  • currencies available
  • coupon and sale options
  • digital downloads
  • ability for customer to choose options (size/color/etc)
  • integration with drop shippers

Once you’ve got a good list of what features you want and need, on the left side of your piece of paper or spreadsheet you’re going to list the shopping carts you’re considering. Then look at each shopping cart and check off the features that it offers. Once you’ve completed your research of each one you’ll have a grid showing you which carts are the closest to providing all of the features you listed so you can easily choose the one that will work best for your business.

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  2. I really like the one which has many new templates and which can be changed very easily.

    1. Customization is definitely an important thing to consider. Thanks for adding that, Uzi.

  3. One feature you did not mention is affiliate management, especially important for those who sell live services or informaiton products. 1shoppiingcart has this but that version is $100 a month. I looked for a more economical alternative and found WAHMcart (as in Work At Home Mom) which has many of the same features (including affiliate program email management/autoresponder) for only I think around $35 a month. Regina Baker, the owner, is very responsive and has tried to make it simple for non-techies. Here is a page with a 14 day free trial.
    I have not tried it yet (I am working up the courage to have a product to sell!) but impressed with it and am planning on using it instead of 1shoppingcart. I don’t know how many of the features on your list is has, I only know it has affiliate programs which is something that is important to me.

    Lisa Rothstein recently posted… Are You in “Idea Overwhelm”My Profile

    1. Yes, that’s another good feature to know if you need – that’s not an easy one to add on later so it’s important to start out with a cart that has it.

      I used WAHMCart for a few months, probably 2 or 3 years ago now. aMember Pro is what I use now, one time payment and it’s hosted on my domain (and has an affiliate program and integrates with WordPress).

      E-Junkie is another good, affordable cart for information products that includes an affiliate program. :)

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