12 Essential Features You Should Demand from Your Ecommerce Shopping Cart

There are a ton of eCommerce Shopping Carts to be found by doing a simple Google search. The one you choose will have profound implications for how you run your business. We have identified 12 key features you should be looking for in an eCommerce Shopping Cart.

1. The cart should be able to perform a single page checkout. The more pages there are and the longer each page takes to load, the more opportunity your customer will have to change their mind and abandon the cart. When loading web pages, major internet firms (e.g., Google, Amazon, eBay, etc) have found that even an increase of less than a second has decreased their revenue. You need a cart that presents the checkout page to the customer quickly and accepts all of the required billing, shipping, payment and terms of service information on the same page.

2. Coupons give you incredible flexibility in pricing you product for targeted marketing segments. By using coupons you can change the price of a product temporarily. Coupons should also be able to change the price of a recurring product (e.g., membership site). And you should be able to restrict a coupon to a specific product if you desire.

3. Customizing the Look and Feel of your cart should be easy – even for non-programmers. You customers should feel as if they are still on your website when they are checking out with their items.

4. Web Forms capture potential customer data and automatically sign them up for an email list. The ability to easily create them with just the data you want to capture is essential. You also want the capability to completely control what they look like and how they are presented on the web page. Are they in-line with the web page content, or do the “hover” over the page? Finally, the ability to add them to your web page with 1 line that is copy and pasted should be required.

5. Recurring products are the life blood of many sites today. Whether you are charging for an online membership or an offline subscription product, having the flexibility to setup an initial trial period followed by a recurring charge is essential. And then coupons should be able to discount either the trial or recurring portion – or both at the same time.

6. Email list management is a minimum. What you really want goes beyond simple list management. You want an integrated systems that move customers from one list to another based on their actions. For example, if a person is on a prospect list and they purchase a product, you want them automatically moved to another list once they have purchased.

7. Multisend is the ability to send an email to multiple lists in your system at the same time. The important part of this feature is you do not want to send duplicate emails to a single customer. For your customers on many lists, they should only receive 1 email. As easy as it sounds, that last point is actually hard for most solutions to get right.

8. Split testing to your lists is critical in today’s over marketed world. Split testing allows you to send a test message to a subset of your list and a control message to the remaining list. Having the ability to easily split test and track the results is a great tool you can use to test changes to your marketing message.

9. Offline communications are just as important, if not more so, than online communications. Maintaining a relationship with your customers is the key to sales. You want an eCommerce solutions that allows you to manage offline activities (e.g., post cards, outbound calls, etc) to your list just as easily as online emails.

10. Advanced affiliate management includes features to track affiliate clicks and resulting sales, commission plans to pay affiliates, and “tools” (e.g., emails, banners ads, tweets, etc) that you can give your affiliates to promote your product. This just scratches the surface of what you want when managing affiliates which for some companies is the life blood of their sales. Advanced eCommerce systems tie the coupon system in with affiliate tracking. For example, when the coupon is used (e.g., YOURNAME could be the coupon code), that sale is automatically tied to a specific affiliate. The use of coupons drastically reduces the need to use tracking codes.

It is important to understand that tracking codes are cookies placed on a user’s computer to track which affiliate a customer came through. The dirty little secret is that cookies are flaky. Users can turn them off, delete them or for a variety of issues, they never get tracked. When using tracking coupons, the affiliate will always get credit for their sales. And users will enter the coupon code if they get a discount with the coupon (even if it is a small one).

11. Membership management is critical if you run a subscription membership site. The basic feature is to add a new member. But what you really want is full life cycle management. When a user cancels their subscription or billing is denied, their membership should be canceled automatically. If they later return or correct the billing error, their membership should be resumed. You want an eCommerce platform that will handle all of these details automatically and is integrated with your membership software.

12. The relationship you have with your eCommerce Shopping Cart provider is critical. You are trusting key pieces of your business to them. Whether is a hosted solution, or one run on your own hardware you need to have confidence in their ability to maintain and extend the system to best meet YOUR needs.

Check out RedOakCart.com