A shopping cart is software used in electronic commerce transactions. It is also referred to as the shopping basket or simply the basket. It is used to assist people to purchase goods and services online. Its main feature is that it allows a customer to add up a list of the items they want to purchase, calculates the total of the order (shipping and handling fees inclusive) and any applicable taxes. There are two types of shopping basket; licensed and the hosted type.

Licensed shopping software is first downloaded and then installed on your web server. The download is mostly available at a onetime fee, though there are quite a number of websites offering free downloads. This type is mostly preferred since the seller owns the license after purchase and can install it on any server that is compatible and meets the specifications. It is also possible to customize the application to meet the various needs of the product/service that is on offer.

The hosted type is not downloadable; rather it is offered by a hosted service provider and paid for monthly or annually. Another variety charges an extra fee as a percentage of the total sales made. The disadvantage of this category is that customization of the application is limited to pre-set templates which limits the user as to the options available. However the merit is that the provider keeps it up to date with additional features and security patches additions.

An ideal cart offers a series of features for the online customer and vendor. First it offers a database that stores information such as product particulars, order information and the customer details. It stores this information in such a way that it is secure and at the same time, easy to access to the relevant institutions and individuals. Secondly, it offers a front to exhibit the products /services in stock. The interface should provide the products on offer, search page, checkout option and customer-vendor interaction area. Thirdly, an effective shopping basket software should give the administrator an option that allows him to manage the product/service on offer. The management area should include provisions for editing of product details including pricing, shipping and handling terms and promotional offers when available.
A shopping basket offers an efficient ecommerce tool for conducting transactions. Amongst others it offers auto-respond, ad tracking, credit card processing, product management, downloads and customer support options. These are just a few of the advantages that you gain while using a cart in your online business transactions.

Eric Lewis has more than 5 years experience in copywriting. Presently he is writing articles about ecommerce and shopping cart.


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