If you want to sell a product or service online, there are various methods available to you. You may have heard the term “shopping cart” before, but what exactly is it? After reading this article, it’ll all make sense to you.
A shopping cart is a generic term that simply refers to the presence of a payment system in some form, on a website. You need to know the different options of shopping carts since they vary in cost of implementation as well in the image they convey.
The following is a list of shopping cart options, from least expensive to most:
1. No shopping cart at all. Although technically this shouldn’t even make the list, it is worth mentioning. The cheapest method is not to accept payment online at all, but instead have a payment form on your site that your customers can print, fill out, and either fax or mail to you with their credit card number or check. (Or they simply call you to place an order over the phone.) This costs little to nothing to implement, and also looks unprofessional, but may work well in certain situations.
2. Payment via Pay Pal. You customers select the items they want on your website, and when they click on the “pay” button, your site takes them to Pay Pal, where they can pay with a credit card or their Pay Pal account. This method is convenient for many of your customers who may already have a Pay Pal account, and the cost of paying your web design company to set it up is very affordable, maybe $100-$500 depending on how many products you have and the complexity of shipping calculations required. It is not the most professional looking, since your customers have to leave your site to make payment, but can work well in many cases.
3. Payment via a 3rd party payment gateway. This method is similar to using Pay Pal, except that instead of Pay Pal, your customers pay on another 3rd party website. The reason to use a 3rd party website is that it will provide a secure and encrypted payment, giving your customer piece of mind, and act as the credit card processor. This website can often have your logo on it and other features which make it look just like your website. An example of such a gateway is Linkpoint Connect. Many customers may not even realize that they’ve even left your site, and after paying you can set it up so they return to your site. This is more professional looking than Pay Pal, but costs a bit more to implement.
4. Payment on your site. Using this method, a payment system is implemented on your site to accept credit card payments with a secure and encrypted process. The customer never leaves your site, making this the most professional-looking method. There are many shopping carts available, or your web design company can develop a complete custom cart for you. The cost to implement this is the highest of all the methods, and may range from $750 to several thousands, depending on how much customization is needed, the number of products you have, and other features you need.
Keep in mind that any shopping cart will have recurring costs of $20 to $30 per month which is paid to the processing company, and sometimes a one-time set-up fee of $25 to $200 as well.