What is an Ecommerce Shopping Cart?


An ecommerce shopping cart can be described as a software package which accepts client payments, shipping information and also enables the distribution of the relevant information to payment processors and merchants. From the surface, the ecommerce shopping cart can be easily recognized by a new online merchant. For instance, very few people may consider opening up an online store before having made any online purchases on their own.

In the process of purchasing novels and clothes from stores, you as a growing ecommerce entrepreneur must have come across a shopping cart. From the perspective of a consumer, the ecommerce shopping cart seems more than just a web form, somehow different from online registration forms or email newsletter subscriptions. This article has managed to describe the shopping cart and capture a few details regarding its main features.

True nature of a cart


A general form of the shopping cart describes a specialized CMS (Content Management System) which:

  • Stores product data
  • Transfers transactional data to a specific payment gateway or may as well begin the order processing on its own.
  • It offers an admin portal for orders, customer management and catalogue.
  • It serves as a centre for cross-selling and on-site retailing
  • It provides product categories, website information and product data display for customers.

For instance, imagine shopping at a huge store, you may take the metal shopping cart and start pushing it within the store, then come across a discount sign. You then place some few items into your cart. Ultimately you approach the casher and pay the bill.

In ecommerce, the shopping cart plays the role of a metal shopping cart mentioned above; however it also acts as the shelves, the discount sign, the building, the cash register and most of the time as the credit-card machine that communicates with your service provider bank. In actual sense, the ecommerce shopping cart can be described as an online store.

Two main types

Ecommerce shopping carts may be described as either hosted or licensed. These two terms are not quite helpful due to the fact that all the online shopping carts have some kind of license and are also hosted on web servers whether it’s in your dungeon or in Qatar. Instead of being descriptive, these terms denote the way one pays in order to use the services of shopping cart software.


Hosted shopping-cart model is SaaS (software as a service). Here, merchants pay a monthly fee in order to access the software service. The trader doesn’t select the location or configuration of the web server and cannot customize or modify the shopping cart software.

Each of the models has its own advantages. For instance, the hosted shopping carts are commonly thought to be appropriate for start-up merchants, as it makes a lot of decision on behalf of the trader and provides an elaborate interface for the non-technical shop owners. While on the other side, an advanced merchant may need the liberty associated with licenced carts that lend itself to better user experience and is somehow cheaper. There exist free licenced carts which will require a merchant to own and also maintain a server or rent it, however the software is free.

The cart to use

Generally, this article has described an ecommerce shopping cart as the entire online store. It has also managed to capture the two ways to pay for shopping carts. Having insight of what a shopping cart is and what it does can be supplemented with a clear comprehension on how it functions. For this reason, you will need to extensively evaluate each cart categorically.

However, there are several hints or tips that will assist you choose an appropriate shopping cart:

  • Sample the administration portal- Check to see if there is a sign of work-flow and if you comprehend it.
  • Have a look at other sites to see how the shopping cart is used, if you like the feel of a certain store, then chances of you liking the cart increases.
  • The cost needs to be comparative to the sale- Some carts are free while others cost a million dollars in a year.


Essential features of a shopping cart

Large and functional product images– product images fall among the most efficient and effective methods you can communicate with customers on an ecommerce platform. Actually, whenever you do online shopping, the only opportunity you have to view a product is through the product image, hence it should be impressive otherwise customers may not purchase.

Consider finding a platform that enables you to adjust the image size as big images are better. It can be of great assistance if the cart can support product zooming for instance the victorinox site.

Product review– it is vital that a shopping cart has a simple way of implementing third-party product reviews or incorporates support for product reviews. A number of successful online stores make good use of product reviews. Newegg is a good example of an electronic retailer that assists shoppers make appropriate purchasing choices.

Faceted and layered navigation– this makes it easy for customers to find what they are searching for on any ecommerce site. Such navigations divide products into subcategories that are rational and display the sub-categories as the product filters. Such a system enables customers to narrow down to an attribute that fits their preference.

Discounts and coupons– sites such as Google Deals, Groupon, Living Social, Rimbambo Retail Me Not etc. offer customers hourly, daily deals and even oodles of coupons. With such an environment, online traders should be in a position of processing discount codes and coupons, in order for the deal-crazy shoppers to get their fix savings. A good ecommerce site will have an inbuilt discount and coupon features.

Sales reporting and analytics– an appropriate shopping cart has an in-built analytics and sales reporting competence, even if the analytics originates from the integration of Google Analytics. Ensure you can easily track your product sales in details. Exporting sales report should as well be easy.

Product export and import– the same way the internet keeps on evolving and changing is similar to how ecommerce is. Some years back, it wasn’t so obvious that a good shopping cart requires good export and import functionalities, but now it is a crucial feature. Whether a client exports product data to a synchronizing inventory, the capability to transfer inventory, price or product updates from or into an online shopping cart is crucial.

Ease of integrating third-party solutions– there are a number of ways you can build an ecommerce shopping cart, which may include a modular construction which permits site owners to add third-party solutions. For instance, if you prefer using QuickBooks for accounting purposes, you can connect it to your shopping cart without spending a lot on development work. Ensure you settle for a cart that makes this process easy.


For a budding online business store, considering a good ecommerce shopping cart has the potential of boosting your business. However, due to the existence of the already established firms, it is important that you understand what exactly an ecommerce shopping cart is, how it functions and its most essential features.  For new traders, there are a lot they need to put to consideration while doing the evaluation of available software solutions.

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