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What is a shopping cart?

In today’s digitised world, we can go grocery shopping without wheeling a shopping trolley around the store. We can buy clothes without having to stand in changing room queues. We can even have pharmaceutical products delivered straight to our doors. The world of eCommerce is booming, and it’s more important than ever for businesses to ensure their products and services are accessible online. 

Having an online store is no longer a luxury; it’s an essential tool to remain competitive in today’s saturated marketplace. Moreover, retailers must provide customers with a seamless, integrated, and memorable online shopping experience in such a saturated marketplace.

Shopping definition 

We’re not talking about the shopping trolleys on wheels you use at the supermarket.  

A shopping cart is an essential part of a retailer’s online store that streamlines the online shopping experience. It’s software that allows website visitors to select, reserve, and purchase a product or service from an eCommerce interface. You can add and remove items as you wish, just like you would in the real world.

Shopping cart software is a fundamental part of the online shopping experience. It’s what facilitates everything in between the customer finding a product they like and completing their purchase. For that reason, implementing excellent shopping cart software is crucial for your eCommerce business.

 Types of shopping cart software

There are two main types of shopping cart: hosted and self-hosted. Let’s take a closer look at each.

Hosted shopping  

These are SaaS solutions hosted by third-party companies, usually paid for monthly. The shopping cart provider takes care of all the maintenance, server backups, and updates – so you don’t have to. 

You can use premade site templates to organise your online shop, add purchase buttons to your established website, or add the shopping cart as a WordPress plugin to begin selling as soon as possible. Shopify is the most popular solution on the market and is used by small businesses and enterprises alike. 

Self-hosted shopping

A self-hosted or licensed shopping cart is a completely customisable solution hosted on your server. This type of cart offers better flexibility, as you can select and change cart functionality and choose any additional features to suit your needs. 

An example of this type of software is Magento, which features complete customisation options and robust tools for order management and search engine optimisation (SEO). 

What’s the best option?

If you’re just getting started with an eCommerce venture, hosted shopping cart solutions are often the best option. With a hosted solution, you’ll be able to focus on other aspects of running a business and ensure that hosting or tech issues don’t get in the way. This way, you can get started immediately without having to depend on IT professionals to ensure your eCommerce enterprise runs smoothly and meets customers’ expectations. 

Large enterprises might want to consider the self-hosted option due to the increased flexibility and customisation it offers. The upfront costs of this type of cart are often higher, and they will require the skills of technical support professionals to implement and troubleshoot when issues arise.