Hosted shopping carts provide an all-in-one solution for your business and allow it to be transferred to the digital rails quickly. With the advancements of Internet and information technologies, it has become much harder to choose from multiple options that have appeared in recent years. And with the nowadays hosting technologies, you can easily get overwhelmed by the range of various solutions that different shopping carts provide.
A shopping cart hosting is a unique solution that provides you with hosting for your website through the servers of a shopping cart provider. As a business owner, you do not have to install or download all the e-commerce software as it is being taken care of by your shopping cart provider. By using a hosted shopping cart solution, you get the same level of personal service as you would with a web-developer, while at the same time using the great power of hosting from the shopping cart itself. It also includes the detailed control panel, which allows you to upload and promote your products, to set you discounts and deals, upload any necessary product information, add unique content to the website’s blog, determine payment options and shipping methods, etc. There is no need for you to be bothered with any code or concerned about the security of your web store. The shopping cart hosting platform does that all for you.
The Benefits of Using a Hosted Shopping Cart Solution
First of all, a hosted shopping cart solution is an easy way to make your first smart business decision that will ensure successful sales in the long run. Hosted shopping carts provide a top-notch level of customer support and always take care of the server side of things, allowing you to focus directly on achieving your business goals.
Secondly, you can quickly pick a design for your website by choosing from dozens of templates available. Style and personalize it however you want and configure the necessary things you need for setting up your shop in no time. The only sweat is in adding your products to the site, uploading the images, selecting the payment and shipment options as well as making sure that your website is rich with compelling content.
Thirdly, there is no need to overpay for your server – you can pay just a monthly subscription fee for the time you want your website running. The monthly fee includes hosting, access to your admin’s panel and 24/7 customer service.
Also, you can avoid any security concerns, by choosing a hosted cart to build your store’s website. The constant security of your site includes a lot of updating and research. There is no need to be bothered with it anymore - you can trust the work of professionals.
Lastly, by choosing a shopping cart, you receive an enormous amount of customer support. As they are making tons of websites, your site’s bug may not be a unique case to them. By managing a large number of shopping cart websites, companies get those bugs easily fixed for you.
Universal Features That Any Hosted Shopping Cart Platform Has to Have
Now that we have determined the benefits of using hosted shopping carts for growing your business, look at some of the core features that will allow you to sell your products on the Internet successfully.
Large and Functional Product Images. When buying any product online, a customer wants to have a look at it to discover its features and quality. Product images will allow you to do just that while also being one of the most effective ways of communication between you and your customer on the website. It has to be a “must have” for a shopping cart integration to allow you to upload high-resolution product images, and it is customers’ only opportunity to see the product and get impressed by it. Another important thing is that these pictures can be resized to your needs since the bigger (and the clearer) the image is the better. Look for the carts that give you the opportunity to have product zooming.
Product Review. Product reviews have shown their beneficial influence on the conversion rate as research suggest that more than 70% of Internet buyers, trust product reviews posted online. It is the reviews that help customers make the product choices, and to provide them with that, you have to look for a platform that allows you to include instant product reviews or at least has a way to implement some third-party product reviews programs.
Easy Navigation. Take care of your customers by offering them the layered navigation on you commerce website. Include some filtering options, so they can find exactly what they want. Make sure that the shopping cart will provide it for you by specifying that you need it to be data-driven and programmatic.
Fast and Easy Checkout. Checkout is the final moment of the purchase and you, as the owner have to go out of your way to make the checkout process painless to your customer. Remember that clients always look for the shortest line and want to complete the final steps as fast as possible. To do that, you need to ensure that your checkout form has very few fields and is located on a single page. By doing this, you will promote the user-friendliness of the website and allow for better conversion rates.
Deals and Discounts. Deal shoppers love to use their coupons. With multiple services that can provide coupons, your website has to be adapted to receive them and promote special deals. Special deals along with the features we have previously highlighted will result in a pleasant customer experience and boost your sales in no time.
Having the must-have features covered, let’s move on to looking at the most widely-used hosted shopping carts out there.
If you are striving for a perfect balance between the convenience of setting up and having the control over your website, then, Shopify is the best platform on the market. It is highly valued in the community for providing as much control as possible before opening your server. If you are a small business owner, the first thing you will notice about Shopify is their great support base, which offers you a great variety of tools to alter your store. Another great thing is the presence of their AppStore, where you can find useful plugins for creating and customizing your website. Despite all of its great features, Shopify lacks the content-marketing feature, which has become a big deal on the market. It is only with content marketing you can double your conversion rate thanks to customers becoming more educated about your products and therefore, more willing to buy it. You should definitely sign up for their free trial and see whether this hosted cart solution is the right fit for you.
Among other shopping carts OpenCart has been very prominent for gaining immense popularity on the market. Its clients value Opencart for the top-notch security protocols that do not allow any of your data to get lost, while keeping track about any activity on the website. Another great benefit is the availability of content marketing as well as SEO-optimization for any article that you post for the product. For the price that you pay, you will also get an official forum that allows you to avoid any obstacles in creating your website as well as receive a quick support response. The platform is flexible and very easy to use. It can be adapted to any web-hosting and provides a perfect and inexpensive solution for all your e-commerce needs.
If you want to set up a store’s website right out of the box and don't want to bother with a huge amount of options available, then, PinnacleCart is the best choice for you. New and bright templates, various marketing tools, great SEO make PinnacleCart best for an online-only shop. It can also be credited for providing a 14-day free trial, giving small businesses a chance to set up a store and test transactions. Thanks to it, you can select from 30 different payment gateways, as the platform does not charge any setup fee. Compared to Shopify, they are a much cheaper option, as they do not have any hidden fees. However, smaller packages provide the lesser amount of bandwidth and disc storage, which can damage your website’s capacity.
UltraCart is the best option in case you want your website to be loaded with features, while at the same time not bursting your budget. This shopping cart hosting comes with a great number of tools that will help you make more sales; it is built on enterprise-level hardware, and it always takes care of any updates, security concerns or technical aspects. Just like any other platform, it supports all the leading credit card processing gateways and works with many payment methods. Great customer support and technical documentation especially make this shopping cart platform stand out among others.
Magento is a huge independent company that continues to be an enterprise-level player in the field of hosted shopping carts. Customers value it for being elastic and for providing excellent support to large corporations and small businesses alike. Thanks to its open-source features, Magento is very scalable. It can be sometimes daunting to use, as it requires some basic programming knowledge. However, while being hard to manage, it is the top platform when it comes to security and customer support.
StoreFront is a hosted shopping cart platform that specializes in customized solutions and tailors them to small businesses and large corporations alike. They are valued for the ability to integrate with many third-party software packages, merchant gateways, while at the same time offering customized store designs and brilliant customer support.
A pretty basic shopping cart hosting that provides regular features like template selection, easy connection with the payment processor, secure hosting, mobile e-commerce and so on. While it offers a Multi-Store Management, it lacks any inventory, SEO or Promotions management, marketing tools and loyalty programs. It is what you get starting at $9.95 per month.
Robust hosted shopping cart. It is well known for its unique features like cross selling, gift certificate creation, discounts and deals creation, wish-lists and more. When designing your website, you can rely on the selected templates or have it designed specifically for your needs. Remember also to consult a web-designer, as Yahoo’s terminology can be tough to understand for the Average Joe.
The enterprise-level e-commerce solution that is fully open-source. It is based on .NET 4.5 with extensive use of IoC, EF, AngularJS, Liquid, MVC and many other cutting edge technology advancements. If you are to manage high volumes of items, this is the platform that can provide product catalogs with the maximum ability for marketing and promotion. This platform is a well-built solution that eliminates the problem of creating a store’s website in no time. It's modern technology will allow you to set up a website in less than an hour, bringing such incredible features to you as technical documentation, tech support and so on. Great .NET architecture will allow you to customize your website with no sweat.