Ecommerce Spot

3 Steps to choosing the right cart

3 Steps to choosing the right cart

Picking a shopping cart can be intimidating. There’s an overwhelming range of choices, and it’s often not clear where to even start. is great when you know what you want, but getting to that stage can be tricky.

Follow these steps and you should be able to choose a good shopping cart with confidence.

1. Understand Your Business

This seems obvious, but not always. Sometimes people say “I want to sell bike parts online! Which shopping cart do I need?” You’ll need a lot more information than that. Ideally you’ll have done a business plan already – this includes a marketing plan which will be a help.

For example, do you plan to have an affiliates program? That’s where other websites can direct sales to you in return for a commission. If that’s important to you, you need to make sure your shopping cart can support it. If you decide you want this after you’ve built your site and your shopping cart doesn’t support it, you’re in trouble.

2. Understand Your Customers

How well do you know your customers? How well do you want to get to know them? If you can easily target your customers through a niche marketing channel, for example, a professional cycling magazine, then you are in luck. However, maybe your customers would appreciate a newsletter with the latest happenings in the industry, and of course, the latest specials & items in stock. If so, you’ll need a shopping cart that supports a customer registration or newsletter function.

3. Requirements Gathering

On big websites & other computer projects, there is a person, or a team of people called business analysts, whose full time job is gathering requirements – that is, working out exactly what it is that whatever they are making is meant to do – in quite some detail.

You probably don’t have the luxury of paying someone to help you out with this, but you’re in luck. Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way.

  1. Download this template (.XLS file). Go through the “Requirements” column and for each item, choose a priority from the “Priority” column. For example, it might be reasonably important that you have gift certificates, so rank that as a 2. Don’t simply put everything as a 1. You may want to add a few more of your own if you have very specific requirements.
  2. Visit and search for shopping carts that meet your requirements.
  3. Get it to a short list of about 3 shopping carts, and visit each of the sites. Change the names of the “Cart 1”, “Cart 2” and “Cart 3” columns in the spreadsheet to the names of your short listed shopping carts.
  4. Study each shopping cart in detail on their web site, and fill in the columns based on how well each one performs.
  5. Review the spreadsheet to compare your priorities against which shopping cart best meats those priorities and you are ready to make a decision!

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