Online retailers that sell products on the Web usually promote their products on Shopping Marketplaces (such as eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Kickstarter, Facebook, etc) or through their own internal website. In order to offer products online, a company must utilize a web store (or shopping cart) software.
What Does a Shopping Cart Do?
A shopping cart is simply a software program that compiles all of a company's products and allows the company to present them on their website for visitors to view and purchase. A shopping cart, or Web store, usually has the following functions:
- Storefront: this is what the website visitors see, including images of products, descriptions, buy buttons, cart that compiles order/shipping charges, etc.. The storefront is where shoppers can browse and search products.
- The actual shopping cart: this is the part of the shopping cart that complies the order information, allows users to view order, tax, and shipping information and totals, and checkout with their final order.
- Merchant processing: typically Web stores need an additional software plug in to physically accept credit and debit card payments. This software is made up of a merchant account and payment gateway, and it handles the heavy lifting for accepting payments from customers. Examples of merchant processors include Stripe, Paypal, Merchant Warehouse, Paytrace, and others.
- Backend: the backend of the shopping cart ranges from simple to advanced, with advanced carts offering a multitude of functions. Online customers can't access the backend of the cart - this is reserved for employees. In the backend, employees can edit and update their storefront, manage their product database of SKUs, products, descriptions, weights, shipping (carrier and service levels), prices and more, view and manage order information and inventory information, and view reports related to the orders and inventory. Sophisticated carts add further layers of functionality, including the ability to email tracking and other information to customers, identify and market to repeat shoppers, offer product recommendations, incentives, coupons and discounts, and even provide customers the ability to view and edit their order information.
Additional Things to Look For in a Shopping Cart
Even the most sophisticated shopping carts won't likely offer every detail needed to run an online store. In fact, the most common things that are needed outside of the shopping cart are further inventory, fulfillment and shipping functionality and financial accounting and reporting. For these functions, most online merchants export information from their shopping cart to their preferred fulfillment or financial software, either manually or using a software that serves as a link between the separate systems. For financial and accounting, most small businesses use QuickBooks. QuickBooks offers importing of data from other systems, and there are also some third party plug ins that bridge the gap if the out-of-the-box QuickBooks integrates doesn't fit the bill.
Order fulfillment, inventory and shipping integration oftentimes becomes a bit trickier. Most third party e-commerce fulfillment companies integrate with shopping carts either through a plug in software or through the manual coding of software. The purpose is to send order information form the cart to the warehouses' inventory management system. Similarly, when companies manage their own shipping, they will have to link their warehouse systems using the same methodology.
Some common and popular software programs that help businesses easily manage the integration with fulfillment are as follows (click here from an explanation on how fulfillment integration software works):
- Order Desk
Our Big List of E-Commerce Capable Online Shopping Carts
Now, for our list of actual shopping carts that we recommend:
AbanteCart eCommerce Platform: This free and open source shopping cart application was designed with every business in mind.
AgoraCart: This shopping cart was built for shopping cart flexibility. It is free and open source.
Amazon Payments: For merchant processing only, this trusted source not only allows merchants to use the Amazon shopping cart, but by opting for Amazon Payments merchants also get Amazon's fraud detection technology. The fee is 2.9% plus a $0.30 transaction fee and tax when applicable.
AmeriCommerce: The base price for this shopping cart is $24.95 per month. Its biggest bonus is its multi-store feature.
Avactis: This PHP shopping cart comes free, allowing users to purchase additional features.
Big Cartel: For very small stores—five products and fewer—this shopping cart is free. As more products are added, the price increases.
Bigcommerce: This shopping cart can come alongside other online tools, such as a website builder, or it can be a standalone shopping cart. It starts out at $29.95 per month.
Broadleaf Commerce: This e-commerce platform was designed as a shopping cart for enterprises. It is open source and a demo is available for free, but for detailed pricing Broadleaf must be contacted.
CS-Cart: This shopping cart is a once-off purchase of $385 and it comes with everything most businesses would need to sell online. There are also larger packages that come with additional features.
Core Commerce: This shopping cart is meant for existing websites that are now in need of a selling function. It comes at a starting price of $19 per month.
CubeCart: This shopping cart script is open source and free.
DPD: This shopping cart starts out at $10/month and has the benefit of being a pay-as-you-go plan—if you only sell for three months of the year, you only pay for three months of the year.
Ecwid: This shopping cart option is free for many small businesses. As soon as monthly sales have exceeded $1500/month, the shopping cart will need to be upgraded to a $15/month plan.
FatFreeCart: This shopping cart can be paired with PayPal and Google Wallet to create an all-in-one solution shopping cart with merchant services. It is free and open source.
Fortune 3: Booked as an all-in-one solution, Fortune 3 starts out at $9.95 per month for companies with 20 products or less.
FoxyCart: FoxyCart is a lucrative option for any business that wants its customers to be able to choose the payment method they prefer. With more than 90 payment options, the standard version of the shopping cart costs $20/month and $0.15/transaction.
GoDaddy Cart: This well-known website builder offers a feature-rich shopping cart for $29.99/month and the first month free.
Google Wallet: Also known as Google Checkout, this merchant processing shopping cart allows customers with Google+ accounts to save their card information online, enabling a much smoother checkout process. The merchant fees are 2.9%, along with a $0.30 transaction fee.
Idut: This PHP shopping cart is free and open source. The platform is very basic but it can be customized with ease.
Infusionsoft: This platform includes contact management and marketing automation, as well as significant help from InfusionSoft's customer service team. Because of all of these additional services, the starting price is $158/month with 50% off for the first three months.
Instant E-Store: This e-commerce platform has no transaction fee and is $19.97/month for up to 100 products.
JustAddCommerce: From Rich Media Technologies, this software enables any existing website to add a fully functioning shopping cart for $33/month.
Laravel Ecommerce: GitHub provides this shopping cart as free and open source.
LemonStand: While this shopping cart does have a free trial, the starter price for it is $19 per month.
LiteCommerce: A shopping cart and content management system in one, LiteCommerce is free and open source on a customizable PHP platform.
Magento: The basic edition of this platform is free and additional features can be purchased.
Mal's eCommerce: This shopping cart is free and is easy to use, especially for those with little technical knowledge.
Miva Merchant: This platform is for businesses that want a new website or do not have one yet. It includes the website build, unlimited products, hosting, and more starting at $79.95/month.
Network Solutions: This shopping cart has various packages that start at $7.95/month and a 1.25% transaction fee.
nopCommerce: This free and open source shopping cart was designed for small to medium-sized businesses.
Onveos: The basic edition of this shopping cart is free. The enterprise edition is $499/month, but includes a long list of helpful features.
OpenCart: The shopping cart is free but it does require a web server, PHP, curl enablement, and database to work.
osCommerce: This complete online store solution is free and has thousands of free extensions and add-ons.
OXID: The shopping platform is open source but payment can only be determined after contact with OXID eSales.
PayPal: Through PayPal's merchant processing option, customers who have PayPal accounts can choose to pay with that method or with their card. When the payment is coming from within the U.S., the fee is 2.9% plus a $0.30 transaction fee. Outside of the U.S., it is raised to 4.4% plus a small fixed fee that is currency-based.
Pinnacle Cart: This feature-rich shopping cart starts at $44.95/month, has no transaction fee, and users can post an unlimited amount of products.
PrestaShop: A free and open source shopping cart, PrestaShop is feature-rich and can fit any size business. Some features are for purchase.
ProductCart: A convenient option for businesses that already have and like their website. This add-on shopping cart starts at $995/year, but monthly payment plans are expected to be added in the near future.
Satchmo: A shopping cart framework that is both free and open source. It will be most successfully used by someone who has an understanding of code, as it has the ability to produce flexible and robust e-commerce stores.
Shopaccino: This shopping cart platform offers the first 30 days free and then starts out at $20/month. However, if the full year is paid for upfront, the price is further reduced.
ShopFactory: The basic version of this shopping cart starts at $49/month, but is reduced if the annual fee is paid upfront. Alternatively, for $597, the full license can be purchased.
Shopgate: Interested individuals can request a demo of this all-in-one e-commerce service. However, prices can only be determined after discussing individual situations with a Shopgate professional.
Shopify: One of the most trusted and popular e-commerce options, Shopify charges $14/month.
Shopio: This shopping cart offers merchants a myriad of features and starts out at $19.95/month.
Shopp: A WordPress plugin, this shopping cart is free and additional support for merchants and developers can be purchased in order to take the online store experience to the next level.
ShopperPress: This shopping cart is another WordPress plugin and the software can be purchased for a once-off price of $79.
ShopRocket: A free two week trial is available for this shopping cart. The starting fee is $7/month and there is no transaction fee.
Shop-Script: As a PHP shopping cart framework, Shop-Script provides countless tools for any merchant. A license can be purchased for $399.
ShopSite: This shopping cart is a group effort from ShopSite, Total Merchant Services, and Authorize.Net. The merchant fee that goes to ShopSite is dependent upon the ShopSite Partner that is selling the service, usually as part of a hosting package. Total Merchant Services charges 2.39% for Visa and MasterCard transactions, a $0.25 fee for each transaction, and a $10/month support fee. Authorize.Net charges a $149 setup fee, a $0.10 transaction fee, and a $19.95/month gateway fee.
ShopTab: Designed for Facebook, this shopping cart will allow Facebook followers to get an unparalleled shopping experience. A seven day free trial is available and the starting price is $10/month.
SimpleCart(js): The best way to describe this shopping cart is in its name: Simple. It is also open source and free.
Spree Commerce: This shopping cart was built with Ruby on Rails and the code is open source, free, and available through GitHub. Not only is it flexible, but it also has a large community behind it that is always working to improve and help.
Square: The Square shopping cart has not setup fee or monthly fee. Instead, it takes a transaction fee of 2.9% plus $0.30.
SquirrelCart: The license for this shopping cart can be purchased for $169.
TomatoCart: This open source eCommerce solution is both very easy to use and free.
Ubercart: This free and open source shopping cart is for Drupal only and is mainly used for selling event registrations and digital downloads, although physical goods are also possible to sell through this shopping cart.
Volusion: This online store builder is one of the oldest in business and its monthly fee starts at $15.
WooCommerce: Powering about a third of e-commerce websites around the world, WooCommerce comes free of charge. Although, additional extensions can be purchased when needed.
Zen Cart: Free, open source, and designed by online shop owners to be one of the easiest shopping carts to set up.
There are more than these listed here, but these tend to be the most popular and most supported carts.
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