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What Is A Shopping Cart?

When you’re wandering through the aisles of the grocery store, you generally use a shopping cart to hold your various purchases, from brownies to prunes and everything in between. At first glance, an eCommerce shopping cart isn’t a lot different, but of course an online shopping cart can do a lot more than a simple metal basket on wheels.

Unlike a grocery store shopping cart, your eCommerce shopping cart is more than a place to hold things you’re ready to purchase — it’s a complete eCommerce order management system. Sure, they look like a place to simply store items for future purchase to the consumer, but on the retailer’s side, this fundamental tool is key to order fulfillment.

Having a shopping cart that is simple to use for customers while still providing the key features that you are looking for is one of the keys to a successful purchase and repeat customers.

What a Shopping Cart Really Does

It might make it easier to think of your eCommerce shopping cart as a warehouse with an interface that allows customers to choose the items they want to purchase. Your shopping cart goes beyond being just a container in the virtual world — it actually houses all the information on each item you have for sale.

Let’s say you want to open an online store selling unique dog collars. Your shopping cart will house the information on each model of dog collar you have to offer, the number you currently have in stock and the descriptions of each dog collar for display on your website. It also acts as a payment gateway, accepting data from customers about their chosen payment methods and passing it to a payment verification system.

Once the payment has been verified, your shopping cart takes over other product distribution duties, like sending an order to your warehouse agents to pull particular items, pack and ship them to a particular address. If you’re still operating out of your living room, that order just comes back to you, but it could go anywhere you want to route it, allowing for unlimited expansion.

Online Shopping Carts are User-Friendly and Effective

Going back to the grocery store comparison, your shopping cart acts as shop, cart, checkout and bagger. It takes your customers through the whole process of purchasing from your store simply and provides for packaging and distribution of their items. Depending on your marketing efforts, your shopping cart can even accept customer information for catalog distribution or other advertising blasts.

Although this technology does a lot all at once, it’s a lot more user-friendly than it sounds. Getting started with a shop online is much easier than it has been in the past, largely due to the maturity of eCommerce order management systems. We may still call them “shopping carts,” but the simple eCommerce cart does so much more for your web-based business, allowing you to automate the entire purchase process from item selection to product distribution. It’s the best way to give customers what they are looking for in a way that isn’t cumbersome or complicated for either party.

September 11, 2014
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