Online shopping carts are the reason e-commerce has exploded in recent years. They provide a convenient way for customers to select the items they want and check out without stepping foot in a store or getting help from an employee.

E-commerce carts are an integral part of your online store, so it’s important to understand how they operate. In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How e-commerce shopping carts work
  • What features your cart should have
  • How online carts increase conversions and improve digital marketing

What Are E-Commerce Shopping Carts For?

Shopping cart boxes

An e-commerce shopping cart is a type of software that enables customers to make purchases online. It calculates the purchase total, tax, discounts, and shipping and allows customers to make their payments.

The software then notifies the retailer of the orders so they can fulfill the customers’ purchases. The cart software will also notify the payment processor so they can finalize the transactions.

How Does an E-Commerce Shopping Cart Work?

An online shopping cart is essential for customers to conveniently store and manage their potential purchases while browsing your digital shop. The best shopping cart software provides an efficient and hassle-free online shopping experience.

Adding and Managing Products

A cart serves as a receptacle for customers to put their potential purchases in at its most basic. At this stage, an e-commerce cart is functionally the same as a traditional cart. It allows customers to save what they want while they continue their shopping.

Effective e-commerce carts will allow customers to update their items easily. They can remove things they’ve changed their minds about, update the quantity, or make changes to the size or color of the product, if applicable.

Providing this flexibility gives your customers control over their digital carts and improves their online shopping experience.

Purchasing Products

When your customer decides they’re ready to buy, they will click on the cart icon to view their products. Your shopping cart software will calculate the total purchase price, including taxes and any applicable discounts. The shopper will be prompted to provide their name, address, and payment information, such as a credit card number.

Once the customer provides their address, your cart software will calculate the shipping cost and update the total purchase price. Your customer will have a chance to review everything, make any last-minute changes, and then complete the purchase.

The e-commerce cart will relay the inventory and customer information to your business and the payment information to the appropriate payment processing vendor. This allows your company to start working on the order fulfillment and notify the payment vendor to finalize the transaction.

Depending on your software, the cart might also email the customer a receipt for their purchase.

What Features Should Your Shopping Cart Have?

Workers graphic

E-commerce cart features vary considerably between providers. Before you compare options, it’s important to know what features you want for your business.


With the rise in cybercrimes, it’s no surprise that customers are concerned about their digital security. You can make them feel confident about their online purchases by providing cart software that prioritizes security.

Features such as 256-bit encryption, an SSL certificate, and PCI Compliance Level 1, which protects credit card data, are effective security measures that will keep your customers’ data safe.

Abandoned Cart Saver

Customers abandon nearly 70% of online shopping carts. There are myriad reasons this happens, from mobile optimization issues to concerns about pricing. It may even be something out of your control, like the customer’s pet distracting them.

Regardless of the reason, you can win back some of these sales with cart software that saves these abandoned purchases. You can set up your marketing software to send email reminders to customers about the items they left in their carts or offer them a discount if they complete their purchase.

User-Friendly Design

Customers will not hesitate to ditch their carts if your software is frustrating to use. Look for an online cart that has an intuitive, attractive design and a simple payment process.

Display Local Currency

One of the benefits of e-commerce is that it allows you to operate globally if you choose. If international sales are right for your business, look for cart software to display prices in the customer’s local currency. This increases user-friendliness and makes it simple for your international customers to decide if the price is right.

Mobile Optimization

Mobile shopping has exceeded computer-based online shopping, so you must optimize your online cart software for mobile. If the text, images, and buttons become tiny on a cell phone or customers have to scroll horizontally to view everything, they’re likely to abandon their purchase.

How to Choose Shopping Cart Software

Once you’ve decided which features are most important to your e-commerce business, the next step is to compare pricing and options among online cart providers. To help you start your search, we’ve highlighted several highly rated shopping cart providers. For more in-depth information, you can read ourfull reviewsof each provider and find many more potential cart options.


  • No monthly fee if you use their payment processing
  • Integrates with many popular e-commerce tools such as PayPal and Mailchimp
  • One-page checkout
  • Abandoned cart saver


  • Integrates with many payment processors such as Stripe and PayPoint
  • Abandoned cart saver
  • Open-source software
  • No coding experience required


  • Multistore management
  • Inventory management
  • Simple point-and-click setup
  • Supports multiple languages


  • Many customization options
  • Product filters
  • Live support
  • Free trial

How Can Shopping Cart Software Increase Your Conversions?


Shopping cart software can give you incredible insight into your customers’ behavior and allows you to reach out to the owners of abandoned carts. Behavioral analytics can help you recognize patterns and spot potential problems.

Do your customers often change their minds about purchasing once shipping is added? Consider offering a free shipping promotion.

Are your customers abandoning their carts when they move to the second page of the checkout process? You may need to find cart software with single-page checkouts. Analyzing customer behaviors and making appropriate changes can dramatically improve your conversion rate.

Abandoned cart savers also improve conversions by focusing on customers who’ve already shown their interest in your products. It’s much easier and more cost-effective to convince these shoppers to complete a purchase than it is to attract brand new customers to convert.

In addition to analytics and cart saving, your e-commerce cart software can increase conventions by simplifying the checkout process. If your customers begin the process and encounter any type of hassle, they’re likely to give up.

But if you’ve done your research and chosen a quality provider with a smooth process, your customers will rarely encounter obstacles. You’ll see a higher rate of conversion and have more satisfied customers.

How Can Shopping Cart Software Help With Your Digital Marketing?

Many e-commerce shopping cart providers offer additional features that can help with your digital marketing efforts.

  • Built-in SEO tools make your site easier for customers to find.
  • Collecting customer information such as names, emails, and purchase histories allow you to personalize your email marketing.
  • Integrating with third-party marketplaces increases your audience reach.
  • Remarketing allows you to target individual customers with advertising that features items they’ve interacted with on your site.
  • Review collection tools make it simple to increase the effectiveness of your product detail pages by capturing customer reviews via email.

Selecting cart software may seem overwhelming at first, but with the above tips and suggestions, you’ll be able to make educated choices that will benefit both your customers and your business.