By Pam Hogan

Google the phrase “shopping cart” and you will get 946 million hits. To say there are a lot of directions you can take when it comes to selecting this ecommerce tool is an understatement.

However, it’s very important that you know what you’re looking for in a shopping cart system so that you will be happy for years to come. This is one element of your ecommerce that you don’t want to have to swap out any time soon.

So many people get lulled into the great offers of free shopping carts that abound. You’ll see ads that mention design combinations, and the ability to take all credit cards, the fact that you can make changes quickly and easily. Now when I see descriptions like this I hear the line, “where’s the beef?” These are features meant to impress but in truth they are just fluff. So, be suspicious when you read features describing a shopping cart system and there’s no meat to it.

So, how do you evaluate a shopping cart? Below I have provided you with five elements to consider.

1: Can it handle the delivery of digital products? If you think you might want to sell an ebook or special report or some other digital product then you need to make sure your cart can handle the delivery of soft goods as well as hard.

2: Some carts limit your ability to alter your pricing which means you won’t be able to create a special offer without some act of congress.

3: “Time is money” is an expression that never gets dated. You don’t want to have to reenter information from your shopping cart to your accounting program. Instead, you want to evaluate the shopping cart you’re considering to be sure that it integrates with your accounting software. Otherwise, you’ll be doing far more work than is necessary.

4: Would you like fries with that? This is a question most of us have been asked at some point. If you answered yes, you bought the upsell. Upsells are the easiest way to make extra money without doing extra work. Isn’t it easier to sell french fries to someone who just bought a hamburger than it is to find someone from off the street who wants to buy your fries? Of course it is which is why you want a shopping cart that can handle sophisticated upsells.

5: If you haven’t yet put up your first website it might be hard to imagine that one day you may have several sites. But the truth is that online shoppers respond better to masters than Jacks of all trade, which is why the people making money online have a site dedicated to a niche, talent, or field. You too will probably have more than one website in time which is why you want a shopping cart that you can use on an infinite number of sites without them being tied together in any way. Following this tip can save you a lot of money and headache in the future.

Evaluating a shopping cart may seem overwhelming because it’s a piece of software that most of us don’t think about until we need it, and even then we’re not entirely sure of everything it’s supposed to do. So, bear this in mind there is a reason why the shopping carts hosting companies offer with their hosting plans are free. Free doesn’t buy you much, nor does $9.99 a month. On the other hand, $59 or $79 a month should put you in possession of a sophisticated cart that can do amazing things for your business. It’s well worth taking the time to look under the hood and kick the tires when it comes to the shopping cart.

For a complete checklist for evaluating a shopping cart I would like to offer you access to the FREE ebook “How to Pick a Shopping Cart that Makes Money.” Get your copy from http://www.TheRightCart.com where it’s always free.

Pam Hogan is a best-selling author and nationally recognized trainer who enjoys helping other business owners use ecommerce to expand their enterprises.

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