At the very core of an online storefront is the shopping cart system that enables customers to find and purchase products and services.
The system allows customers to acquire a list of items for purchase by placing items into a virtual cart. At the checkout the software will calculate a total of the invoice with any applicable taxes, including shipping and handling.
Currently there are three different types of shopping cart systems that are built to better suit the needs of ecommerce stores; ordering systems, online storefront building systems and specialized systems. An ordering shopping system is the most basic that makes it possible to select and purchase online. For larger store offerings, a Storefront building shopping cart system combines all of the features of an order system combined with contact management system (CMS). This allows you a greater level of control over your store content. However, if your ecommerce store offers business to business (b2b) solutions then a specialized ecommerce shopping system would likely be the best fit.
Such shopping systems typically include a database, a storefront, and an administrative area. The database stores customer data, order information, product details, etc. A storefront displays this information while an administration area allows a business to manage the ecommerce store. Storefronts should include a store catalog that is presented usefully and is pleasing for customers. Good administrative functionality should be easy to navigate, manage modules, assign options, and flexible to manage multiple shipping needs.
Many online ecommerce store builders will offer either a licensed or hosted shopping cart system. A licensed shopping cart system can be downloaded and installed on a web server often associate with a onetime fee. Since the merchant will own the license the system can be hosted on any web server. A hosted system can never be downloaded but is hosted instead through a service provider and requires a recurring fee or nominal percentage of sales.
Merging the shopping system with your ecommerce store can be easy. Shopping systems are typically able to create dynamic pages. These pages are generated using information in real time from the database that contains product information and store settings. For example a "Discount" page could have contained a link to a page created by the shopping cart that shows discounted products for that day or month. Some system use pre-formatted templates to display ecommerce information. Other shopping cart systems do not use templates and allow for a custom more unique graphical interface design.
A good shopping cart system enables both the ecommerce store and customer to participate in business with each other. Without it, ecommerce would not be possible and once you have set up the right shopping cart system, then you can make money online without too much fuss.