March 8, 2010
Any e-commerce application needs a good shopping cart to handle any purchases and payments for subscriptions. Of course you want the best shopping cart you can get for your blogs or websites, but there are so many options online, all promising you the world, that it can get confusing. Still wondering what a shopping cart is on website?
There are several points to consider, but the simplest description that all of us will recognize is the shopping cart in grocery stores. While that one has squeaky wheels and gets pushed up and down the aisle, the shopping cart on your website is a set of scripts that track what your customers buy so they can pay for the entire selection with one click.
All the shopping cart does is keep track of any items you have placed in it for purchase. Without a shopping cart your customers would have to pay individually for everything they want to buy. After your customers press the “Buy” button on your site, their transaction is transferred to a payment processor to collect the money owed, send it where it belongs and enables the download if required.
It’s not quite that simple, but it is a quick explanation of what happens behind the “Buy” button. There are several processes that are sending and receiving the request for payment on a mouse click that ends with the download instructions for your customer. It gets confusing when you start searching for a shopping cart for your own sites. A simple search will probably send you several hundred choices, all claiming to be the premier shopping cart for your needs.
An excellent choice would be PayPal’s shopping cart. For several reasons, using PayPal’s shopping cart will streamline your customer’s payment processes by letting you accept credit and debit cards and direct bank account payments. Some benefits for your customers include purchasing more than one item at a time and paying for them with a single click of the “Buy” button. It’s good customer service. You don’t want to irritate customers ready to spend money with you.
Other PayPal benefits for your customer include the ability to browse your entire collection of products and check out a list of what they bought before they click on your “Buy” button, which gives them the opportunity to modify the list. Ease of installation which does not require knowledge of CGI scripting is one big advantage of PayPal’s shopping cart. Opening an account is free of up-front costs and you are charged the same fees charged when you get other PayPal payments.
To find the fee schedule, check out the bottom of any page, even the log in page, for a link to “Pricing” or “Fees.” Some of the technical benefits of using PayPal’s shopping cart include being able to set shipping rates, if necessary, and tax rates. You can let your customers make donations to charities of their choice. You can easily convert your “Buy Now” buttons into “Add To Cart” buttons to make multiple purchases seamless to your customer.
Their free 410-page PDF, “Website Payments Standard Integration Guide,” has all the in-depth information you might need about using “Buy Now” buttons included. You can find a comprehensive list of services on PayPal when you click the tab, “Merchant Services.” If you click on the tab, “Products and Services,” you will find a link to the ebook. For your business records, PayPal will keep detailed transaction records on their website for your use when you need them.
You will also find details needed to integrate PayPal with your site, including how to pre-populate your customer’s sign-up forms. It might be a good idea to download their free PDF User Agreement for your records. You can find a link to the document at the bottom of almost every page on the service. Look for “Legal Agreements” and click that link. PayPal is easy to use with whatever application you need. It has been time tested for a longtime as eBay’s payment processor.
Besides being highly recognizable as something that a lot of people use already and have a comfort zone with, another undocumented benefit of using PayPal’s shopping cart is your own peace of mind in knowing that your business income is in good hands.
Kathy Dobson is a free spirited business owner and entrepreneur dedicated to helping others achieve financial and personal freedom through Internet marketing with an emphasis on membership sites.