How to set up the ecommerce shopping cart software
tools on your web site to handle the purchases of your customers
and how to do set them up in a way that is smart, efficient and
cost effective.

Utilizing a ecommerce shopping cart software solution frees you of the burden of setting up and managing your shopping cart, credit card processing and sales management functions so you can concentrate on what you do best, providing products and services for your customers.

The cost of using professional financial management providers who can set up your ecommerce shopping cart software pay you back 10 times over by eliminating the worry if your cash flow is being managed correctly, if your software is working properly and if your ecommerce income is secure and under responsible management.

By utilizing ecommerce shopping cart software solution, the quality of service is significantly higher than a conventional solution such as PayPal and the worry of having your account frozen or service in some other way disrupted is completely eliminated.


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Creating a profitable web site is the dream of many of us. Knowing that there are thousands, perhaps millions of web surfers all around the world that we might be able to attract to our web site to purchase our products is an enticing marketplace. As you begin to explore the technicalities of getting your web site up and running, there are a lot of decisions to be made.


How do you get your web site hosted?
What are the best methods for handling your traffic? What is the best design? How can I keep people on my site?


Perhaps one of the most daunting areas of research is how to handle payments online. But getting paid is the bottom line of any business. You need a reliable and trustworthy tool for collecting payments for your goods or services and one that will grow and change with your business and as your web site grows.


In the beginning, the questions outnumber the answers:

  • How do I accept credit cards?
  • How can I know the payments are secure before I deliver the product?
  • What services should I use to manage the income flow?
  • Do I program the ecommerce shopping cart software myself and how do I do that?
  • Are free software modules better than outsourcing the financial components to an expensive contractor?
  • How can I keep from spending too much on ecommerce shopping cart software services?
  • What about PayPal and this thing called a "merchant account"?
  • Where can I find the best website host to take care of the applications?

ecommerce shopping cart software - screenshotOf these many questions and the many more you may have, none are more perplexing than how to set up that "ecommerce shopping cart software" on your web site so you can accept credit cards.


Do I have to Apply to the Credit Card Companies to Accept Credit or to set up my Ecommerce Shopping Cart Software?


The good news is that there are services that are already in business on the web that can provide you with ecommerce shopping cart software services and handle all of that overhead for a small fee. These services are sometimes called "Merchant Accounts".


After you sign up with such a service and get your account with them established, they provide you with all of the software, the scripts and the web "plug ins" to put on your site to manage your ecommerce shopping cart software. When your customer makes a purchase, their payment will be managed by the ecommerce shopping cart software which will pass the transaction back to the Merchant Account handler who will validate the payment and handle all of the financial details for you.


These services have gone through meticulous scrutiny and have been validated as trustworthy to handle your accounts. As you start to research these accounts, you will learn how to look for the proper authentication so you know you are working with a reputable service.


But here is where a bit of caution is in order. Do your homework and be a savvy web shopper. Merchant account handlers can be very costly. Shop around for the right deal. You do not want a service that charges a high sign-up fee and then an exorbitant monthly fee. At first, your web site may not generate sufficient revenue to support that level of cost and you know your income may be erratic from time to time. You want an ecommerce shopping cart software partner who has set up your business relationship so your level of cost is directly related to how profitable you are. Find those vendors and you will have a working business partnership that will serve you well.


Another shopping cart screenshotAnother internet concept that is good to know well is the idea of having your ecommerce shopping cart software "hosted". "Hosted" means that a third party is handling the transactions, the credit card management (and fees) and the payment authorization as we described earlier. However, there are some concerns about turning over the financial management of your internet business to someone else. We worry about whether that vendor is trustworthy. Will they be around in a month or two when my business is going strong? How do I know I picked the right one?


One alternative to having your ecommerce shopping cart software transactions hosted of course is to set it all up yourself which itself is a daunting challenge. A second alternative is to download a free ecommerce shopping cart software module that can handle that part of our business for us at no cost. Therefore, before you go into partnership with a third party hosting vendor, you need to have peace of mind that it is the right decision for you.


Are There Some Tangible Reasons to Have My Ecommerce Shopping Cart Software Hosted Rather Than Use Free Software or Do It Myself?


This is an outstanding question that reflects your need for solid return-on-investment reasons for spending your valuable business money on developing your internet business. So what are the reasons for using a hosting solution for our ecommerce shopping cart software that will be reflected in our bottom line?

  • Your focus is on what you do best; in many cases: getting targeted web site traffic that bring conversions to guaranteed you the biggest number of web visitors. Your internet business, the services and products you offer there represent what you are really good at supporting. Let's face it, that is your real passion, not the nuts and bolts of the infrastructure, the bookkeeping and the financial details. Most big companies hire others to handle the accounting and financial matters to their visionaries can put all their focus on the real reason the business exists. So it makes good business sense for you to do the same.
  • Compare the cost to the investment of your time. In general, the cost of a hosted ecommerce shopping cart software is under $100 a month. Compare that to the effort and risk, you will take by using unreliable software or doing it yourself and it becomes painfully clear that this is the kind of service you need to outsource. You would not use freeware for your bank account management software, your phone service or your ISP. Certain things are just important enough to invest in having the best services possible at your disposal. Certainly, the management of your incoming funds qualifies as something that is just that important.
  • What do you do if something goes wrong? One nightmare you do not want to face is a snafu in how your income stream is being handled. If you are using freeware, you know the support for problems will be spotty or nonexistent. By subscribing to a reputable business that does this kind of thing for a living, you have that assurance that they will be there when you need them.
  • You need this job done right the first time! Your ecommerce shopping cart software is a critical part of your business and it is a key part of your customer's experience that can make or break the final sale. You do not want to leave it up to chance on whether this function of your internet business will work well or not. By using a hosted ecommerce shopping cart software service, the installation and maintenance of your shopping cart is handled by skilled experts who are installing well tested systems on your web site. That alone is worth the monthly cost of the service.
  • One word - Security. Financial transactions must be guarded at the highest level of security, particularly in the online world. The last thing you want is to see your online transactions hacked or hijacked by clever internet thieves. A reputable hosting service not only has put in place rock solid security measures, they are bonded and responsible to see to it your accounts are managed in a secure fashion. Think of a hosting service like a bank. You pay them a fee but it is more secure to use financial professionals than it would be to hide your money under your bed. Secure online ecommerce shopping cart software hosting services give you that peace of mind that your financial security is in good hands.

If you take these concepts into account and do your business analysis on whether using a hosting service is a good idea, almost certainly it makes solid business sense to go this route for your ecommerce shopping cart software solutions. But there is another aspect to your web page financial functions that is just as important and that is how it impacts the experience your customer will have when using your services.


Should I Rely on PayPal for My Ecommerce Shopping Cart Software Solutions?


PayPal is probably the most well known service for handling online transactions. It is a trusted service offered by the folks that brought us EBay. The attraction to it is that it is very easy and free to set up an account. And they have done a great job of scaling their services so you can utilize more of their more advanced services as your needs develop.


However, there may be good reasons to think again about using PayPal as your primary ecommerce shopping cart software service and to do some comparison shopping when that time comes.


At the very least, consider keeping more than one ecommerce shopping cart software option at your disposal. While PayPal is predominantly reliable and safe, there have been some problems with the service from time to time. And if for any reason your account becomes unavailable, "frozen" or locked out because the service has problems, that can have a dynamic impact on your business and on your customer retention as we will discuss I a moment. So if you are a loyal PayPal user, be a smart businessperson too and research a backup service that you can quickly switch to should your PayPal account become interrupted. This just good business management.


Every page and banner on your web site represent part of your marketing efforts to draw customers, keep customers on your site and then entice them to buy from you. We all have purchased online and we know that if any part of the buying experience is problematic, we will move on. If you are using follow-up autoresponders systems then the situation gets even more complicated. Your web site must be fast, engaging to your customers and easy to use or you can loose business. So it makes sense to think for a minute how to make the point of purchase experience on your web site as enjoyable, efficient and worry free as possible for your clients.


What Are the Best Ways to Enhance My Ecommerce Shopping Cart Software Presence to Improve My Web Visitors Experience and Encourage More Business?


By viewing the moment of purchase as a continuation of your marketing, you are looking at your web site the way your customers view it and that is always a positive approve to your design decisions. So in addition to choosing the right ecommerce shopping cart software vendor and keeping backup alternatives as we have discussed, putting some thought into how your site will manage the purchase processing will pay off in completed sales and repeat sales.

  • Use a secure sign authority (SSL certificate) such as Verisign or Scanalert. Once you have set your site up with these services, you can prominently display your authorization which will give your business credibility as a legitimate member of the internet business community.
  • Put into place a site search function early in your web visitors experience. Web shoppers love to use search engines and it also gives you a point of contact to collect interest information from them which can be used later for marketing purposes.
  • Be subtle in guiding your customers to the point of purchase. So many sites put a "buy now" button on every page which is pushy and tends to drive customers away. Instead, draw your customer in to more refined searches of your product catalog and then when they are at the level that you know they are looking at what they want, then guide them to the purchase process where your ecommerce shopping cart software is located.
  • Review your purchase process to assure that it is easy, enjoyable and fast so the customer frustration is kept very low or eliminated. Have your site reviewed by friends and associates so they can give you an impartial review of how your purchase flow works for the average web customer. You know what to avoid because you know what upsets you when you buy online so use your own "customer" sense and transform that into good "business" sense.
  • Retain input. Nothing frustrates online shoppers more than having to re-enter information they already provided. So if you harvest their information early in their visit, use that again later when they are signing up for a purchase. Display on the screen the information you have gathered. This has the two-fold benefit of letting them confirm that what you have is correct and it tells them that your web site is smart enough to remember what it has been told.
  • Give your customers a point of review before they confirm the final purchase. Once they have made their product, shipping and other related choices, display a summary page of their purchase which represents their invoice. Give smooth and easy to use directions on how to make changes if needed and make it easy for them to print this invoice without all of your banner and marketing information on it. The invoice is a good place to do some subtle marketing but how that is designed is much different from a busy and colorful web page.
  • Along those lines, make your checkout pages that present your ecommerce shopping cart software guidelines, easy to look at and low on distractions. You can advertise to them elsewhere. This is your checkout line so let your customers concentrate on buying from you and paying you.
  • Make sure the customer is sure where they are in the purchase process and how much is left. On many very dominant internet commerce web sites, the purchase process seems to go on forever. If there is a five step process to the purchase, tell your customer what that is as they begin and let them know where they are as they go so they know they are on the right track and will be done soon.
  • Communicate often with your customers about the purchase as it is processed. Send a confirmation email with the invoice to supplement the place online where they can purchase. As the purchase is processed, send frequent emails letting them know what is happening. This pleases the customer to know they are still important to you and gives you more chances to keep that relationship active and positive. And be sure to accommodate customers who want to communicate back to you either by hitting a email link in your email or by hitting "reply" on their email software. Always send a response to their emails and follow up. You can use an autoresponder to make sure you confirm the email and then follow up directly. These are customers you already have, bend over backward to please them.

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There are many ways you can customize the purchase experience for your customers so their interaction with your ecommerce shopping cart software is enjoyable and rewarding to them. They will never know they are working with a third party service but by combining the professionalism of your ecommerce shopping cart software provider with your own high priority on customer service, you are building a web site sure to be a on the book mark list for your valuable customers.


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