Ecommerce Spot

5 Worst ways to pick a Shopping Cart

5 Worst ways to pick a Shopping Cart

Picking a good shopping cart can be a make or break deal for your online business. If you choose the wrong software, you might be stuck with some software that’s hard to manage, hard to configure, or that doesn’t grow as your business does. But no one said choosing a shopping cart was easy. There’s an enormous range of choices, and it’s pretty hard to work out what’s good and what’s bad. Obviously, helps you come up with a short list, but how do you then pick the tool to base your e-commerce success on? Here’s 4 things you shouldn’t do!

1. Don’t plan your site

How many projects have you work on where at the end you’ve said “you know, we spent too much time planning this”? If you’re anything like me, you’ve never said that! Unless you understand how your business will work and how you will sell online, you won’t be able to make an informed decision. Here’s a hint: it’ll take more than an hour to work it out. Planning is hard work, but it’ll pay off – big time.

2. Don’t involve your techies

If you are a business person using some technical folk or web designers to help you out, not getting them involved will help bring on certain failure. Setting up a shopping cart well is a lot of work. If the cart you choose is hard to adapt to your existing design, or is incompatible with the rest of your site, you’ll end up with something second rate or spending many dollars getting your techies to sort out the problems.

3. Get your techies too involved

Am I contradicting point 2? Nope. The other side of the coin is letting your business be driven by technology. You might have the world’s best technology and nicest site, but if it doesn’t allow you to run the shop the way you want it’ll hurt your sales. The challenge is finding a balance between the business and the technology. The business is king, but the technology can dethrone that king pretty quick, so make sure you keep things in balance!
You might have the world’s best technology and nicest site, but if it doesn’t allow you to run the shop the way you want it’ll hurt your sales.

4. Don’t worry about the search engines till later

Some online shops are lucky enough to have a niche audience which allow them to get customers via community sites, or perhaps newsletters, etc. The rest of us are dependant at least in part on people finding us in the search engines. So, if the search engines are so important, don’t leave them till later – make them a part of your planning from day one.

Shopping carts are complex pieces of software, and depending on how they are created, search engines will sometimes have troubles crawling them. I don’t know about you, but if I’m selling 100 products on my site, I want all 100 to be in Google, not just a few. How do you make sure this happens? First, check out what the shopping cart company says – do they claim their site is easily crawled by Google? If they do, that’s a great start. Check a couple of their sample customer sites (we list 3 sample customer sites for most shopping carts on

Here’s what you do next: go to a customer site, find one of their products, copy and paste the URL into Google and do a search on it. If Google comes back with:
Google can show you the following information for this URL:

    Show Google's cache of

Then that’s a good sign. If Google says

    Sorry, no information is available for the URL

That’s a bad sign. Make sure you check out a few sample sites to make sure it’s not just one customer who has set up their site badly or is brand new.

If the search engines don’t like your shopping cart there are workarounds, but it’s more work.

5. Avoid all Shopping Carts that don’t have unlimited free support

“I’ve paid $500 for this shopping cart, why should I pay another $50 to get help with it?”
Most shopping carts are complex pieces of software, and there’s always going to be something all but the most experienced techie struggles with. Paying for support is important for the company making the shopping cart in order to be able to keep working. Otherwise, they’d sell a few hundred copies and then spend the rest of their time supporting their existing customers for free!

You don’t always need to pay for support – most shopping carts have a customer support forum where you can ask help from other users. Sometimes the developers of the shopping cart will pitch in and answer for free as well. There’s also a good chance someone has had the same problem, so see if the forums has a search function, or if the developers have a knowledge base you can search.

In my opinion, the fairest model for all is having some limited initial support including in the price of the shopping cart to give you some basic assistance to get up and going, and then paid support after that – in addition to a free customer forum of course

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