What Are Ecommerce Shopping Carts and How Can They Help Your Business Thrive?

The development of the Internet has made it possible to take any idea and market it successfully anywhere in the world. To truly take advantage of this remarkable situation you need to have a viable website and access to one of several ecommerce shopping carts that are currently in use.

Not sure exactly how an ecommerce shopping cart works? Don’t know what features to look for? Not to worry, we will cover all of that and more.

What is a Virtual Shopping Cart?

Simply put, a virtual shopping cart is a piece of software which is used to help customers make purchases online. It “collects” items the user wishes to purchase, tracks how many of each item they want, gathers shipping and billing information and calculates taxes and other essential fees.

While they don’t handle the financial transactions, they act as the front end (what the customer sees while shopping) so it is important to get the right shopping cart for your business.

How to Pick

There are plenty of shopping carts you can choose from which means you have to be careful with your selection. Both free and premium shopping carts can be set up to serve your website, but you want quality as much as savings.

Read the details on each service diligently. There may be some features your business can manage without. By the same token, there are some essential functions that will make your life much simpler.

Cross selling – this function makes suggestions and recommendations based upon what the customer has just selected to place in their cart. You can even arrange for a complimentary product to be offered at a discount. Impulse shopping is just as common online as in the stores.

Affiliate programs – if you purchase the right shopping cart software it will allow you to set up an affiliate program with other businesses they serve. This is an inexpensive way to market your product to receptive individuals.

Tracking services – many shopping cart programs can track your sales, letting you know what you are selling, when and where. This can help you tailor your offerings.

Marketing capabilities – some carts come with newsletter and auto-responder functions. This eliminates the need to get additional marketing software, decreasing the number of programs and services you need to obtain.

Coupon and Discount Support – using affiliate coupons, promo codes and other such marketing techniques will help you attract additional customers. Selecting a shopping cart that is capable of accepting and processing such offers will make for a smoother shopping experience and increase customer retention.

The Nuts and Bolts of Selection

Understanding what functions you need is important, but you also need to consider just what a particular service will be able to offer your business. You want a service which will be able to grow with your business.

Compatibility with your payment processing arrangement is even more important. Each payment gateway has its own way of processing payment, and while there is some degree of standardization, you want to make sure that you don’t need to make radical changes in what already works.

Can you make use of third party payment systems, gift cards and electronic checks? If you use them already with your merchant account, you will want to continue using them with your shopping cart.

The level of customer support and disaster planning is also critically important for your shopping cart to be a good option. It is essential that you be able to access support at all times. A user forum is a good indication that the company takes customer service seriously.

Run a test – send a question to the sales department and see how quickly they answer. If they can’t be bothered with you now, when they should be wooing you, chances are you won’t get a better response once they have your money.

Once all of your questions have been answered to your satisfaction, you will be able to select the best shopping cart program for your business, and the ease of making purchases will encourage your customers to keep coming back for more.

Explore the Shops in Covent Garden

Covent Garden is one of the most famous shopping venues in the whole of London. It has shops, cafes, restaurants and a lot more besides, so you’ll enjoy going there on a shopping trip.

It is arguably the character of the place that is most appealing. It is certainly a venue for all weathers, since the Covent Garden Market is mainly under cover. There are plenty of market stalls in the main part of the building, offering all kinds of delights, crafts and trinkets for sale.

It’s a good place to head to if you’re looking for something different to buy as a gift – or perhaps even for yourself. Since you have two main markets to explore – the Apple Market and the Jubilee Market – you are sure to find whatever you need there.

The Market Hall in the famous old buildings of Covent Garden offers plenty more than just a market or two though. You will also find a number of shops here that you won’t always find anywhere else.

Some of the names will be familiar but even then the quaint and sometimes small shops are wonderful to browse around. You will find two levels here to shop on as well, and if you head upstairs you can look down on the level below. You can sometimes get a bird’s eye view of some of the Covent Garden entertainers too, making your shopping trip into something even more special.

The variety of shops you can look in is another big selling point for adding a trip to Covent Garden to your list when you are in London. From clothing shops to tea shops and jewellery to toys, there isn’t a lot that is left out.

Make sure you don’t confine yourself to this market area in the middle of the cobbled streets that surround it. There are other streets which radiate out from it and still fall within the confines of Covent Garden itself. Monmouth Street, James Street and many others all offer more shops to explore.

As you can see you can happily spend a whole day at Covent Garden. There are plenty of places you can stop off for a coffee or something more filling for lunch, so you won’t go hungry either.

In fact a lot of people come to London for a longer shopping weekend. Flights to London are quick and easy to book, so wherever you are you can be in the capital sooner than you might think.

With plenty of hotels to stay in while you are there, you could turn a simple shopping trip into something much more enjoyable. With a day at Covent Garden and a day to explore the West End or Knightsbridge as well, you won’t be short of shops to spend money in!

Shopping Online

Shopping habits of people:

As we know, shopping is necessary for everyone of us. In a life time, one would spend a quite an amount of time in shopping. Some really enjoy shopping. Some are even addicted to it. Thus, this activity is inevitable. Different researches are conducted to know the buying habits of people. These statistics help the researchers, assess the buying patterns of different people. It greatly helps them to identify the different categories of potential buyers. The frequency of buying a product, the age factor in determining the need to buy a specific product, the brand consciousness in buying a product, the preferences of people to buy online or through personal shopping, the seasons for demands on a product are some of the aspects that determine the buying patterns of individuals. So, the buying habits are really important to analyze the need and to meet the requirements of the buyers.

The old trend in shopping:

Before developing the concept of Internet shopping, there were many constraints. Customers did not have the freedom to shop for 24 hours a day and needed to wait for the shop to open. Customers needed to visit a shop for product knowledge and were forced to choose from the limited availability of products. If not satisfied with the products in a shop, the customer needed to search for another shop, inquiring and traveling to find one. Customers had no other choice, but to repeat the whole process again and again, till they found the product needed. These searches really wasted their precious time. People get tired while doing a shopping in person – from driving in the heavy traffic, finding a place to park the vehicle, opting from a limited choices available in a shop, to queuing for the payment in the counter.

Why would one shop online?

In the recant years, the number of people shopping over the Internet is remarkably increasing. Why? Because of the many advantages. With the help of Internet, one can have a self analysis by comparing the prices of a product or commodity, offered by different sellers. The same way one can analyze the quality, the seller behavior, the product availability and the reputation of a dealer through good reviews available via the Internet.

The best part is, one can be free from the crowd while shopping. One need not get ready and take the car to drive through huge traffic, for a purchase. There is no parking problem, while shopping over the Internet. One need not wait for the shop to open, to buy a product. One need not wait in the billing section to make payments. The buying can be in a relaxed manner. One need not bother about the closing of shops on holidays. And one can take the time to analyze and opt for the best, among the many choices available from different dealers. This was not the case when the Internet shopping was not available.

The things necessary for shopping online would be a computer with Internet connection and an unexpired credit or debit card. There are no hassles during an online shopping, unlike shopping done personally. Therefore, people who prefer a hassle free shopping, are comfortable with this virtual shopping.