To try to do a comparison of the different shopping cart software packages in this small space would be an exercise in futility. There are just too many of them to even try to focus on the biggest ones. Instead we’re going to go over a brief list of features that you’ll want to look for if you are in the market for one for your business.
Eliminate the basics
Let’s first go through a list of what features you should always expect. It should, for starters, place no limits on the amount of products and categories you can create: imagine getting 90% of the way through entering in your information and discovering that you can’t go any further. It also should be as easy to use and as cheap to purchase as possible: for the former, check web reviews, as this is naturally a thing you can’t know until you try it.
Now the list
Even this is just a long list, so we’ll try to restrict it to ones that are important but that the software package you are looking for may or may not include.
- Customer product feedback – This is critical these days. Ecommerce is becoming more and more social, and one of the main elements that customers use to decide on their purchases is what others are saying. Most packages offer this, but not all. Check also to see if it supports product ratings and polls.
- Immediate shipping calculations – Only about half the packages on the market include this feature, and not all of them give you shipping amounts via different methods. Shipping rates for the United States Postal Service are common to find. For Australian and Canadian rates you’ll have to look harder. If you want Federal Express it’s even harder, and it’s rare to find the package that will give you shipping rates for DHL.
- Instant search – This is where you type something into a search bar and it makes suggestions before you even finish. It’s a wonderful little feature that we’ve already gotten used to, but only about half of the products we surveyed currently include it.
- Social bookmarking – Reference the above statement about the importance of ecommerce as a social event. The line between networking sites and shopping is so frayed as to almost not exist anymore. You’ll want this feature for now, and you’ll want it even more in the future.
- Returns – There’s one you might not think of, but is obvious once you hear it. Just try to picture working with a sales system that’s electronic and a returns system done on paper. This is another feature that you’re only about 50-50 likely to get.
- Larger images – Most of the available packages out there seem to have this, but that makes it all the more important to notice if yours doesn’t. This is when you click on a product image to bring a separate window up with a larger, more detailed picture.
Even among basics features there are still a lot more things to look for, such as site membership, coupon support, and site maps. As you are looking through each package, go through the full list of what they offer. You’d be surprised what good features exist that you may not have thought of, and what necessary features exist some products didn’t.