What would an online store be without a trusted shopping cart solution? It can make or break an ecommerce empire with users now looking for more security and convenience than ever before. That said, the checkout process should be quick, easy-to-use and provide reassurance to customers parting with their hard-earned money.
They may offer the same outcome, but shopping cart software is available in a huge selection of formats. Choosing the right one can be a challenge. In the following guide, we’ve demystified this process. Here’s information on the three main formats, with recommendations of the best shopping cart software for each.
Self-hosted software is often the most complex option. This standalone program is hosted by yourself rather than a third party. As such, it’s widely used by larger ecommerce sites, or those with technical know-how. Self-hosting provides far more freedom than the hosted counterpart. Webmasters can choose from a multitude of themes, download endless plugins and feature add-ons which could make the checkout process more efficient. This sophisticated approach gives freedom to customise a shopping cart to your liking.
Open Cart provides an impressive service for those taking the self-hosted approach. This clean and simplistic software is less complex than others, which can be beneficial for those without a dedicated tech team. Alternatively, Magneto is quickly becoming the most popular program on the web. It can be very complex and often requires extensive time and resources, but results are impressive for those seeking to stand apart from the rest.
Hosted solutions are far easier as lower development and maintenance is required. You won’t need the support of a tech team and most of the back-end is beginner-friendly. It’s built for ease and you should be able to set-up the shopping cart with minimal stress.
However, as you won’t be running from your own server, these do come at a price. A monthly subscription is usually involved which can be costly in the long term. For those with exacting requirements, a hosted solution can also be restrictive. Limited themes and layouts give a generic shopping cart which won’t be unique or tailored.
Currently, Shopify and Bigcommerce are the major hosted providers. Both of these offer competitive rates, and a simplistic service developed with the technically challenged in mind. For anyone with a small to medium ecommerce site, these are the reliable choice.
The final solution is geared up for those users with an existing WordPress site. Although these can be a more basic option, in some circumstances they can provide a useful platform. Take for example the small blog writer who chooses to sell an eBook or small selection of products. Given their existing familiarity with WordPress, it could be beneficial to make use of one of the ecommerce plugins.
Some of the premium ones include WooCommerce, Cart66, MarketPress and eShop to name a few. With improvements to WordPress in recent years, these plugins now offer a surprising range of customisation options. They are also low-cost and provide all necessary security to keep your customer satisfied throughout the checkout process.