If you are looking for a shopping cart solution for the first time, or are thinking about finding a new solution to your current one, it’s a jungle out there. There are so many different possibilities, ranging from the most basic to extremely complex. Much depends upon your needs, of course, as someone looking for a cart that will handle a product line that is only 1 or 2 possibilities will likely have fewer “must haves” on their feature list than someone with a site that sells a variety of different items in different categories. Other variables could involve what type of shipping is involved — online only (downloads, etc.), off-line physical shipping, or a combination of both. Even within shipping options, you may need a cart that can handle foreign currency and foreign shipping issues, which can limit your choice of solutions.
If you want to find out what current users and competitors of specific shopping carts have to say, as well as the point of view of the company behind the cart, one good place to look is Practical Ecommerce’s site. Obviously, it’s a great site for a lot of information, but since August of 2008, they have had a feature called “Cart of the Week” that focuses on shopping cart solutions. They interview a representative of the company who developed the cart, along with a business currently using the cart or a competitor of the cart, and others. It’s a great spot to find out what an actual user thinks are the strengths and weaknesses of a specific cart (in addition to the “company line” about the cart’s features) and that is the really attractive thing about this weekly column. As well, they always include is an analysis of the cart’s PCI compliance features, which we all know is extremely important in today’s ecommerce world if you want to be a responsible merchant and build trust among your customer base.
The latest cart featured is LiveMerchant, which has been around since 1999 — an incredible amount of time in the online world. And just as an aside, when Practical Ecommerce first began this weekly column, they estimated that there were over 300 shopping cart solutions available. Today, they have increased that number to 500. Wow.