From: Andrew Minalto eBay PowerSeller
Registered TWF Seller
CEO of SpicyAuctionTemplates.com Contact Me | FAQ
Hello & Welcome to the Easy Auction Business video
As promised 2 weeks ago, today I’ll show you the most important features you should look for
when choosing a shopping cart system for your business! I may not include everything here but I think I have covered the most important
Why it’s so important to conduct a detailed research process before choosing a shopping cart
to work with? Because you don’t want to make a mistake here, trust me! Switching a shopping cart can be a really painful, costly and time
consuming process so you really want to make the best choice from the day one.
Ok, without further ado, let’s get straight to the point!
In today’s video lesson I’ll use one of my shops based on 3D Cart system, just to show you what I’m talking about. It doesn’t mean you have to use 3D Cart, not at all! I’m in no way
affiliated with them and won’t get any commissions so the choice is yours! Yes, I use 3D Cart and I’m very happy with them but your situation
may be unique hence a different shopping cart choice!
So, let’s go through the most important features a good shopping cart system should
Usability – it may sound like a small issue but in fact, it’s not! And admin panel usability was one of the main factors why I switched to 3D
Cart in the beginning. As you can see, the layout is very easy to understand and navigate. Sure, it takes a few days to get used to any new
system but overall, 3D Cart’s admin panel is very intuitive and easy to understand.
I have seen many shopping carts and can honestly say that this one is the most user friendly
admin panel that I have ever seen! Don’t take my word for it! Go out and take a trial version of carts like Magento and see yourself how easy it is to even understand what’s going on!
So, the admin panel is definitely something you want to pay close attention to as you’ll spend
hours upon hours in it on a daily basis adding products, processing orders and doing other tasks.
If you decide to go with a hosted solution, make sure that the admin panel speed is
acceptable! It should work fast & precisely! Trust me, you don’t want to wait seconds after each click for something to happen! It will ruin
all the joy working on your site!
Template based design – the cart should offer a template based design,
period. And most modern carts will do! What is a template based design? This simply means that all pages are grouped in templates that can be
easily modified and what’s more importantly – once you modify a template, all pages using that template will be updated.
So for example, a product page will have its own, unique template. Checkout pages will have
specific templates, category pages as well, and so on!
Preferably these templates should be based on HTML for easy editing and
Without using templates, your website will look really lousy plus it will be almost impossible
to make any changes in design or layout as you would have to manually change code for hundreds of pages. With templates it’s easy – just change
the code in the template and all the pages using that template will be updated automatically & instantly!
FTP Access – if you use self hosted or desktop based shopping cart, this
won’t be a problem as you’ll have full FTP details by default.
But if you’re using the hosted solution, make sure that it offers FTP access. This will come
very handy when editing templates, uploading images, videos and other files. Yes, you can live without it as most carts will have some sort of
internal File Uploading system but it’s a very handy feature to have!
Product Information – depending on what you sell, you want to make sure
you’ll be able to add necessary information for each item. Things like stock id, cost price, weight, size are small but very helpful product
parameters that will help you to run your business more efficiently.
WYSIWYG editor for product descriptions is also a norm these days. Even more, these editors
also are different and what I have found in 3D cart, their WYSIWYG editor is simply amazing! It works without bugs and offers great features.
Building tables or adding CSS rules is really simply with 3D Cart editor.
Additional, custom fields that can be coded anywhere in the template are also very handy. For
example, you could use one field for YouTube URL and code it into the template so that a video is shown below the product description!
Opportunities are endless here!
Product Images – this is pretty straightforward, you should be able to add multiple images for product and create a gallery. Built in image
editor may also come handy – if you’re not really a tech-savvy type of a person!
Product Options – options are very important for people who sell specific
items requiring different sizes, colours, compatibility options etc. From a customer usability point of view, you’ll want all the options
available from one page. So for example, you sell T-Shirts. Obviously, you’ll want to offer a drop-down menu with all available sizes. This is
exactly what product options can do!
And the more customizable they are the better for your business! So pay close attention on how
product options are organized in the shopping cart that you’re looking at.
Meta Tags & Custom URL’s – this is a huge one! I wouldn’t even consider a
shopping cart that doesn’t offer custom URL’s and custom Meta tags for each product and page.
Your success in getting high rankings in search engines will partially depend on your ability
to optimize your site! So do it the right way from day one! Create custom, SEO friendly URL for each product and add unique Title, META
description and keywords as well.
And I do want to emphasize on word “unique” here! At least make sure you have unique Title and
Meta description for each product as it will help you a lot in Yahoo & Bing rankings, as well as Google.
Import/Export Products – another important feature especially important if
you’re switching shopping carts and have lots of products to transfer. By doing this manually, you could spend months on a task that the Import
feature handles in seconds.
So if you’re planning to switch a shopping cart solution, pay close attention to Import/Export
Customer Groups – customer groups can be really handy in wholesale business
as well as used as a marketing tool in retail sales. In wholesale, you can create a number of customer groups based on monthly volume for example
and give different discount levels.
I use custom groups mostly as a marketing tool by adding VIP customers to a different customer
group so that I can communicate with them separately from other customers, offer special offers, deals, free shipping etc.
If you plan to introduce some sort of membership plans to your customers, make sure your
shopping cart can handle this with ease!
CRM System – this may not be a mandatory feature but I simply love the way 3D
Cart has integrated this into the cart. Yes, you can purchase software and install it somewhere and it will probably give you more features than
this one BUT I just like keeping everything at same place.
In addition, the integrated ticket system will instantly give you the link to the customer
records to see their orders, previous messages and other important data.
Promotion Manager – this is a must have! You will definitely want to use
coupons to give special offers to the first time purchasers as well as repeat clients. Pay close attention to what coupon features your shopping
cart offers! The more customizable the system, the better for you!
Take a look at 3D Cart’s coupon manager – there are so many variables and customization
options to choose from that it’s really simple and easy process to create powerful, effective & targeted promotions. Do not underestimate
this feature as it may really make or break your business if you plan to heavily use coupon marketing.
Mailing Manager – a good shopping cart will have an integrated mailing
manager. You’ll be able to send follow up e-mails to the customers, leads, publish newsletters, special offers, promotions and payment reminders.
All that should be integrated into your shopping cart!
Yes, you could use 3rd party software or service like AWeber.com BUT then you won’t have that customer sensitive information! You won’t be able to segment customers based on the
date of purchase, order size, customer group and other important criteria!
You’ll want to build relationship with your customers, right? So make sure you can send emails
and newsletters to your customers with ease!
Shopping Engines – there are many shopping engines out there, some are free,
and some are paid ones. But there’s only one you should really concentrate on – Google Base! I have seen some phenomenal results using Google
Base so make sure the shopping cart solution is compatible with it.
Google Base is free and your products will be shown in search results in the world’s largest
search engine. Why not use this opportunity? Works great, especially in the UK as not many companies are using it.
Reports – if you’re serious about what you’re doing, you’ll know that
analyzing past results and using that information to improve your business is an essential skill every online entrepreneur should master. But you
can’t analyze historical data if you don’t have the right tools for it.
You’ll still want to use Google Analytics for traffic monitoring but for sales, marketing, customer behaviour only built in reports feature will give
the best results. You know, there is so much you can do with that data!
For example, let’s take a look @ this website’s last month’s orders sorted by weekdays. As you
can see, Sunday generated just 1 sale which is a pretty good sign to stop Ad Words campaigns on Sundays and not waste any money on ads not generating any sales! Sundays may well be “the dead days”
for this particular niche.
Plugins – different carts will offer different plugins and chances are you
won’t even need them. BUT if you know that you’ll need some kind of integration with 3rd party applications, make sure your shopping cart will
Plugins for accounting software, inventory software and safety services are amongst most
Support – whatever you go ahead with – a desktop based software, hosted
solution or self hosted shopping cart, you want to make sure there are plenty of support options available. For me, a 24h support is a standard
option and 3D Cart has never let me down.
Before choosing the shopping cart, test their customer support – send a couple of e-mails or
submit tickets to see how fast they come back and how professional the answers are. Are they just talkers or problem solvers? There’s nothing
worse than to purchase a software solution without technical support!
Updates & Upgrades – e-commerce world changes on a daily basis! You want
to use a shopping cart solution that is evolving, updated and modern. You want to be with a company that listens to their client needs, works on
improvements and upgrades on an ongoing basis.
Check back dated release news to see how often new features are introduced – this will be a
great indicator on how often improvements are carried out.
Community – finally, a community can tell a lot about shopping cart you plan
to use. Is there a forum? How active it is? You can simply read the forum and learn about common problems people face, feedback, success stories
Ok, to sum it up – I hope this list of features will be helpful to you, my
dear newsletter subscriber! I know it’s not perfect and completed so if there’s anything you feel worth mentioning, get in touch with
That’s it for today! Next time I’ll reveal the formula of a successful design for an
Andrew Minalto is founder and CEO of the Web’s largest auction
templates company SpicyAuctionTemplates.com. Andrew runs successful information publishing business as
well as an eBay store and an online retail store.
At the age of just 23 he has achieved a phenomenal success in selling both physical and information products online. Hard work and
belief in his dreams enabled him to leave a dusty Dublin warehouse in winter 2006 to go full-time online.
The recently launched EasyAuctionBusiness.com website is dedicated for all people trying to achieve
financial freedom or just to make some extra money by selling on eBay.co.uk