Best Shopping Cart Solution
for Your Online Business!
(Why Choice of the Shopping Cart can Make or Break Your Business)
From: Andrew Minalto eBay PowerSeller
Registered TWF Seller
CEO of SpicyAuctionTemplates.com Contact Me | FAQ
Hello & Welcome to the Easy Auction Business video
Yes, it’s the 20th anniversary video newsletter and I’m really happy that we have reached this
mile stone. There have been some quite periods without a publication for weeks, especially over the last couple of months due to me being too
busy with everything else. But as I said previously, I’ll just try and stick with this format and work on a new video newsletter every two to
three weeks. Let’s hope we reach the 5oth and 100th edition as well!
As promised, today I want to cover shopping carts. Why shopping carts?
Remember, at the end of the last year I conducted a questionnaire and more than half of you were very interested to learn more about e-commerce
stuff. In fact, the number of people who were interested in selling on eBay and the number of people who were interested in e-commerce were
That’s why I’m starting a series of newsletters dedicated to online shop owners and those who
only plan to open an online shop! So, without a further ado, let’s get started!
What Is a Shopping Cart & Why You Need It?
For people who haven’t been involved with shopping carts before, term itself may sound a
little confusing. And to be honest, there’s no simple definition to what a shopping cart is – simply because these days, Shopping Carts are so
advanced that you can’t separate them from overall selling mechanism.
But ok, to put it simply – shopping cart is software, service or a script
which is used during the shopping process to collect customer’s order. Some shopping carts won’t stop there – they’ll also collect customer’s
billing & shipping information, create an account record and even collect credit card payment details on the go, if a suitable payment
processing method is used.
This is a simple shopping cart solution and is kind of piece of a history. Apart from PayPal’s shopping cart, there aren’t that many similar, popular solutions out there.
But as I said earlier, modern Shopping Cart systems are so much more advanced! They’ll not
only collect & process orders but will include stock management system, customer support system, Live Chat system, SEO modules, designing
system and many more! To put it simply – these days, we’ll refer to a shopping cart as a “All In One” solution for e-commerce store owners.
Basically, a good Shopping Cart solution is all you need to start selling online in a matter of few days if not hours.
Here’s what a Shopping Cart can do for you:
Create & edit the online shop itself – design, layout and
So, without a shopping cart, you’d be lost, right?
Well, if you sell just one or two products, you could do ok without a shopping cart by simply
putting direct PayPal payment buttons on the product pages or use PayPal’s shopping cart buttons. But:
1) It will look really amateurish; 2) You won’t have customer details, accounts in a data base; 3) You restrict yourself only to PayPal as a payment method used on your site!
Usually, this model will work only in specific cases, like for information products or
services and subscriptions. For majority of you, a real shopping cart is what you need! So let’s take a look @ different types of shopping cart
systems available out there!
3 Types of Shopping Carts
Some of you may argue with me & that’s totally ok, but I have divided shopping carts into
three large groups. Each group has some positive and some negative qualities, the choice is really yours. I’ll try to be as objective as
possible, even though my heart belongs to just one shopping cart solution. But let’s leave that for a moment. So here it goes – 3 most popular
types of shopping cart solutions:
These are the dinosaurs of shopping carts so to speak as they were quite
popular many years ago. There are people still using these solutions but if we rank shopping carts by popularity, desktop based solutions would
take the last place.
So what are they? These are software solutions you buy a license for
(monthly, yearly or life time) and you install the software on your PC and run your shop’s admin panel from there. One of the most popular
solutions from this category is Actinic.co.uk
I don’t know why but I don’t like these desktop based, software based solutions at all. It’s
just my personal opinion but they just seem too complicated and un-stable for me. Same Actinic – few months ago I downloaded a trial and played
around with it – trust me – no joy at all! Interface was just too complicated! Yeah, probably if you read the manuals from cover to cover or take
a seminar, you can use these solutions and maybe even get creative. But they are not for beginners, that’s for sure.
Another negative factor – they are based around software installed on your
PC, so you can only modify shop or process orders from the PC you have installed software on. Which means you can’t use it while you travel
unless you carry on a laptop with installation. In addition, there could be some serious data safety issues you want to address from the very
beginning of using such software.
Any pluses? C’mon Andrew! Ok, yeah – the bright side could lie in the cost of
running such software – if there’s just one time license fee, it could be cheaper than to pay a monthly fee for a hosted solution for example.
BUT, don’t forget that you’ll need a hosting account anyway + probably you’ll want to opt-in for regular software updates. So not much savings
there anyway. Unless you need a really simple solution, with less than say 25 items or so! Then you could use some very simple software, like one
available from Coffee Cup – it’s called “Shopping Cart Creator”. There’s just one time fee of $49 involved, so if you’re on a really tight budget and won’t sell lots
of different items, this may be a perfect solution for you!
Also, if you have a slow internet connection, a desktop based application might be your life
saver as it will probably be very difficult to work with web based admin panels.
Overall, as you guess, I’m not a huge fan of desktop software based shopping
cart solutions. And to be honest, if you’re not after something very simple or don’t want to learn for months to get going, I wouldn’t recommend
using these solutions. But it’s just me – it could be all the way around for you – so check them out and make your own
Ok, these are one of the most popular shopping cart solutions out there. Most of you have
probably heard of Cube Cart or OS Commerce.
So what exactly it means – script based/owned solution? It simply means that
you purchase a script (software or call it whatever) and install it on your website – via hosting account. Installation is usually pretty
straightforward and with a little knowledge in FTP, there shouldn’t be any problems in setting you up in as little as 30 minutes. If you struggle
with installation, get on The Wholesale Forums – there are guys who are experts in this field, they will help you out for a small fee or even for
So, to use a script based/owned shopping cart, you’ll need a hosting account. When starting
out, all you need is a simple, cheap hosting plan you can get from the same old Host Gator. This will set you back @ 5 quid per month or so. But keep in mind that when your business grows, traffic levels
increase and you start getting thousands of hits per day; you’ll want to move to a good shared or even dedicated server. And it will cost you
money. So it’s not like these solutions are very cheap, hosting costs what it costs and no one will give you fast server, tens of Giga bytes
in bandwidth for a few pounds per month.
But yes, when starting out – money outlay is minimal. You just need a cheap
hosting account and license to run the script. OS Commerce for example is totally FREE to use,
while Cube Cart has a reasonable, onetime fee. I don’t have any shops running on OS Commerce or Cube Cart but from what I have learned; Cube Cart
is a preferred solution amongst many online entrepreneurs. Yes, it involves a onetime payment but the features, admin panel & templates look
so much better. Both OS Commerce & Cube Cart has pretty strong communities going on with forums etc., plenty of plugins, specialized
programmers & designers are available so you definitely won’t feel alone choosing these shopping carts.
Ok, Any downsides? One dis-advantage of using a script based/owned solution
is that they may require quite a bit customization in the code to get the result you want. This isn’t really a problem if you’re ready to invest
some money into your business as there are plenty of coders out there that will happily help you to install plugins & mods to get most out of
Finally, we’ll talk about this more in next newsletters but a quick note – do not use default
design themes if you use a Cube Cart or OS Commerce! They just look plain old ugly & un-professional. Invest those 50 pounds or so in a
pre-made template or if you can afford it – get a custom made template. It will pay you back in no time!
The final group of shopping cart solutions is what I call “Script
based/hosted”. This simply means that the shopping cart is script based, much like OS Commerce or Cube Cart BUT is hosted on service provider’s
servers and NOT yours. So, you won’t have to pay for a separate hosting account. Generally
speaking, all these solutions involve a monthly fee which covers the license fee, hosting and support.
There are many popular script based/hosted shopping carts out there with Volusion.com being one of the most popular. They are US based but there are many small UK based companies offering various
shopping cart solutions.
Personally I’m not a huge fan of Volusion – I think it’s too complicated and more suitable for
web developers and programmers than for “Do It Yourself” type of person.
The biggest advantages these hosted shopping carts offer
• Fast, reliable hosting – monitored 24/7;
• Fast, easy to use, great looking admin panels;
• Up to date script;
• Technical support;
• Features you can’t get in other carts!
The obvious downside is price, as you’ll have to pay a monthly fee. But as I said before, it’s
actually pretty relative as hosting and technical support is included in the monthly fee. Also, if you really can’t afford to pay a 20 quid
monthly fee, the question arises whatever you’ll achieve any results at all in the whole selling online thing! As to get results in e-commerce,
give it or take, you have to invest some money or time, if you have plenty of it.
Another downside is that you’re “physically” attached to the service provider
you started to working with. As you can imagine, it won’t be that easy to move away from a hosted solution, even though products, inventory &
customer data bases can be usually exported. But it won’t be easy. So make sure you choose a solution you’ll be happy to stay with for a long
What I particularly like about script based/hosted shopping carts is the final layouts,
functionality, check out process they offer. Also – reliability and secure peace of mind, knowing that daily back-ups are processed and script is
up to date with latest changes. There’s a reason why many large companies do use these solutions and NOT a Cube
Cart for example, don’t forget about that. So, maybe there’s no need to re-invent the wheel? This brings us to final question of
Which Cart Should You Choose?
That’s a good question indeed.
And if you’re just starting out, I would recommend you to wait for our next newsletter which
will be published on 6th August, in 2 weeks time as then I’ll cover in detail most important shopping cart features you should be aware of! Don’t
just fall for a shiny box or a popular brand name! You really want to know in detail what each shopping cart is capable of doing and whatever it
will suit your business model. So stay tuned for the next newsletter for more advice!
In meantime, my personal choice is 3DCart.com It’s a script based/hosted shopping cart solution. It gives me everything I need to run my business and even
more! Support is top notch and the admin panel is SO easy to use! Lots of customization options available so I even don’t feel like I’m
running my shops through a script/based/hosted shopping cart!
Yes, there are some downsides – as they’re based in the US, there are some
small issues which I have addressed on numerous times. Obviously, there aren’t many UK based users so our voice may get lost somewhere but I’m
sure, if more Europe based sellers will choose 3D Cart, they’ll fix those small problems. What problems I’m talking about? For example, in the
stock management system, there’s no option to choose kg, as an item weight. This doesn’t affect my business in any way but it would be great to
have a kg option.
Also, 3D Cart doesn’t support multiple currencies, so if you accept GBP, all prices will be in
GBP. So you can’t offer customers to switch between currencies.
But overall I’m very happy with 3D Cart and next week you’ll see exactly why! I’ll go through
the most important shopping cart features you MUST have! So stay tuned and I’ll see you in 2 weeks
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