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.

Astana Kazakhstan and Its Remarkable Buildings

It’s time to visit Kazakhstan! The capital will astound you. Dubbed by CNN as the world’s weirdest capital, Astana seems like a playground of modern architecture. From a bird’s eye view, the profusion of uniquely designed edifices in different shapes, sizes and colors is itself worth the visit. From the ground, marvel at each point of interest, which are remarkably different from each other architecturally.

Perhaps the most iconic building in Astana is the Bayterek Monument. Nicknamed the Tree of Life, the Bayterek is an inspired work based on the Kazakh legend, where a tree of life grows on the World River bank and on its top is a nest of the Samruk, a holy bird of happiness. In this nest, the bird flies over to lay a golden egg. The Bayterek stands in the middle of the city at 97 meters high. For its creators, it is a tree with a big golden egg in a nest on its crown represented by a giant, wooden globe in shiny gold held by several petal-like structures. But for the locals, it simply is the giant Chupa Chups or lollipop as it does look like one.

Inside the tower are several entertainment facilities like aquariums, a gallery and a café perfect for a quick gastronomic respite. Try your best to get to the 86th floor as it offers the best 360-degree view of the city. A stroll around the tower is also delightful as you will be walking around geometrically arranged garden patches with flowers bursting in bright colors.

Another strikingly different and ultra-contemporary structure in the city is the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center. It looks like a tent in a monumental scale, whose base is bigger than 10 football stadiums. Thus it is often considered the world’s largest tent. It is transparent and such effect was achieved not by the use of plastic but a fabric stretched and suspended by series of cables. The transparent feature makes a perfect containment of multi-colored lights that make a dramatic effect on the structure when seen in the evening. The inside holds a park, a shopping center, squares, cobbled streets, a boating river, a mini golf, and an indoor beach resort.

Definitely eye-catching for its resemblance to the Louvre in Paris, the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation also known as the Pyramid of Peace and Accord is another must-see, due to its structure and design as well as the idea and belief it stands for. It’s a 5- story glass pyramid where each triangle side measures about 12 meters. The upper two stories are interesting because of the flying dove design etched on them. When light passes through these doves, the reflections are truly magical. This unique structure and the ideaology that it was based on it to be admired and commended.

Every three years, the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions is held here. For the Kazakhs, the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation represents and reinforces their belief that various religion, cultures and traditions can thrive side by side peacefully. Aside from the congress held in its oval hall, the palace also contains an opera house with a 1,500 seat capacity, a national museum of culture, a library and a research center devoted to the Kazakhstan’s ethnic and geographical groups.

Astana also astonishes visitors with its other magnificent buildings like the Presidential Palace that resembles the White House, the colorful Duman Center, and the Nur-Astana Mosque. Make sure to bring your camera and capture the remarkable Astana structures.

Choosing the Right Personal Gift Through Catalogue Shopping

It might be something personal or a gift that is practical, either way, choosing the right gift for someone is a joy when you get it right. If they are a keen gardener, you might think of garden ideas, if they just love their car, you might look for car accessories. Or if someone just loves cooking, then you might look for fun kitchen equipment. Whether you buy via catalogue shopping or by hitting the local high street, you want to give a gift that will be loved.

The trick to giving a great present is to think about the person receiving, and also remember; it is the thought that counts. Many people just appreciate that you took the time to look for something and bought them a gift. Everyone likes to receive presents, whether they admit it or not and receiving a gift, no matter what the reason is always lovely. The desire to give gifts is such a nice part of human nature. It is one of the many ways we can show that we care about someone, or appreciate and honour traditions.

Some people like to go out the shops and do a little window shopping first. By visiting a variety of stores, you can get a great number of ideas and it can be fun, if you enjoy that. However, it can be tiring and if you find something that needs delivery, you then have to wait and pay delivery fees. So it is good to know that there are other options and that the variety of choices is ever increasing.

Shopping by catalogues allows you the flexibility to browse at any time, it can be easier to find what you want and of course it is much less physically exhausting than traipsing around large shopping centres. Most catalogues now come in both online and printed versions so you can choose if you prefer to shop online or receive the printed copy of the catalogue. Some people just love the feeling of flicking through a hard copy of a catalogue and others like the ease of doing it all online. Either way, using a catalogue is a popular way of buying gifts.

Often the best way to start is to identify the event that you are buying for, and then decide what your budget is. The type of gift will obviously vary depending upon whether you are buying for a birthday, for a graduation, housewarming, time of sadness or even family or religious tradition. Often, online catalogues can be a great money saver so no matter what the reason is for buying the gift; you can do it well within budget. So, once you know what type of gift you would like to find and how much you have to spend, start browsing. This is often the most fun part as you can browse through several different categories all in one place with online catalogues. And with the printed version you can relax and take your time going through all the categories.

There may be some delivery options, if you are buying something as a gift then you could have it sent directly to the recipients address or have it delivered to you first. Another great thing is to look at gift wrapping and how you want to offer the gift. The way a gift is presented can enhance the gift and if you are posting, you will need to make sure it is properly wrapped to protect the gift from damage.

The best thing about gift giving, is knowing that you have made someone else happy or helped improve their life somehow. Sometimes it is just to make someone smile, other times the joy is in helping make life easier. Sometimes a gift can show that you care at times of sadness, or celebration, or the gift simply means a tradition. And finding the right gift is getting even easier with all the latest online options and catalogue shopping.

Catalogue shopping offers flexibility, easy purchasing, money saving ideas plus a huge variety, From personal gifts to practical gifts, including practical car accessories and fun garden ideas, catalogue shopping is worth a look for your next gift purchase or idea.