Shopping Carts

A small business will typically need a website and web hosting in addition to a shopping cart and a merchant account. After researching through the multitude of possible suppliers for these services and their many possible combinations, the solutions listed below are the cream of the crop. They are relatively inexpensive, can meet a small businesses needs and are easy to set up and use.

Web site design and hosting are discussed in detail elsewhere on this site so, let's look at shopping cart software and merchant accounts specifically from the viewpoint of a small business.

Merchant Accounts
A Merchant Account is necessary to be able to accept money from credit card purchases. Ecommerce merchant accounts can be gotten from most banks and many other financial institutions. Merchant accounts for an Internet only business may be more difficult to get than for a brick and mortar store. The same is doubly true for a new start up business.

You must make certain that your merchant account and payment gateway are compatible with your shopping cart. Click Here for more detailed information on merchant accounts.

How Does a Shopping Cart Work?
It doesn't matter whether you sell products or services, your customers need a way to electronically store the items they are going to purchase from you until they are actually ready to buy. This is where an e-commerce shopping cart comes in.

Ecommerce Shopping Cart software is used to make a web site's product catalogue available for online ordering. It works in pretty much the same way as a shopping cart at your local supermarket. Your visitors view a product in your online catalog and if they like it, select the item to be put into the electronic shopping cart by clicking on the "add to cart" button. The shopper can check what's in the shopping cart as often as they want and add or delete items or change quantities of items. Ultimately when they are finished shopping, your customer can go to the online checkout counter and purchase the merchandise.

Ecommerce Shopping Cart software has lots of cool features such as transaction security, real-time authorization and the safety of your customer's personal data. There are many full-featured shopping carts available that will integrate with the merchant account of your choice. But, be aware that not every shopping cart works with every merchant account.

Choosing the Right Shopping Cart
I've only chosen shopping cart and merchant account solutions that can easily integrate into your existing website to present here. This is usually the best and cheapest way to go. If you don't already have a merchant account and have no preferences for a specific company, I'd recommend you go through the shopping cart company to get your merchant. That way it's guaranteed to work with their product and will integrate easily into your web site. If you already have a merchant account, be sure to check to see if it is compatible with these shopping cart solutions before signing up for one.

Hard Goods Sales Options
The shopping cart below allow you to sell tangible products that require shipping to your customer.

1st Shopping Cart
My recommendation if you sell hard goods. All you need is an existing website. All of 1stShopping Cart services integrate into your existing website. If you sell actual physical products, this company can provide all of your needs. Their best product can handle the delivery of digital goods as well. So if you sell hard goods or both hard goods and digital goods, you definitely want to consider using this service.

1st Shopping Cart is an Application Service Provider (ASP) that's one of the best shopping cart software packages on the market. The basic package allows you to take online credit card orders and integrates with over 25 real time processing gateways and merchant accounts and integrates into your site easily; without any programming knowledge needed.

It uses a web browser management interface, provides an email receipt for each order for your customer, you, and a 3rd Party (your order fulfillment company if you don't do your own product shipping), allows a product database size up to 10,000 items, includes buyer registration, a client database up to 10,000 clients and real-time shipping cost calculation. An upgrade can provide auto responders, affiliate tracking software and a digital delivery system for e-goods. 1st shopping cart charges a monthly fee for their service.

For a fully refundable (in the event of a refusal) setup fee, 1st Shopping Cart will help you get a merchant account that will fully integrate with their other products. (US, World and Canadian Accounts are available.) Click Here to read more about 1stShoppingCart.

Digital and Electronic Goods Sales Options
Although, 1st Shopping Cart's most expensive solution does allow for the delivery of digital and electronic goods, the company below specializes in digital products. If you only sell downloadable goods, 1Automationwiz is probably your best bet.

1AutomationWiz
My recommendation if you sell ONLY digital downloadable goods.With 1Automationwiz all you need is a website. All of their services integrate into your existing website. If you sell only digital products, this company can provide all of your needs.

1AutomationWiz.com is an Application Service Provider (ASP) whose shopping cart software provides integrated digital delivery for ebooks, software sales, etc., electronic coupon and discount modules, broadcast email capability, ad & Revenue Tracking, "Pop-Up" Windows wizard, a contact and survey web forms generator, support for multiple web sites all from the same account, an unlimited product database, a 10,000 client database and integrates with 57 payment processors. An upgrade can provide auto responders and affiliate tracking software. They also allow payment with PayPal in addition to merchant accounts. That can be a definite plus since not everyone has a credit card but everyone who has a bank account can get a paypal account. 1AutomationWiz.com charges a monthly fee.

For a fully refundable (in the event of refusal) setup fee, 1automationwiz.com will help you get a merchant account that will fully integrate with their other products. (US, World and Canadian Accounts are available.) Click Here for more information on 1automationwiz.

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