If you’ve just got started with your e-commerce business, you’re probably thinking about all of the moving parts you need to launch. Aside from an e-commerce platform, you’ll also need the best shopping cart software to enable online payments and keep customers happy.

Key Takeaways

  • Shopping cart software allows customers to select, reserve, and purchase products from your e-commerce store, they can either be self-hosted or come built-in to hosted e-commerce platforms.
  • A shopping cart that’s PCI compliant — one that keeps your customers’ personal data secure — is an absolute must, they are globally recognized standards that govern secure payment processing.
  • The average abandoned cart rate is 81% — this is a huge amount of potential customers who are adding items to their cart and exiting your website before purchasing them, the best shopping cart tools have abandoned cart recovery features, such as follow-up emails, which allows you to contact those customers and nudge them to remember they have items in their basket.

How Does Shopping Cart Software Work?

e-commerce shopping cart
Source: Labsnews.com

Shopping cart software allows customers to select, reserve, and purchase products from your e-commerce store. Shopping carts can either be self-hosted or come built-in to hosted e-commerce platforms.

Most shopping cart software works in the following way:

  1. Customers add products to the shopping cart.
  2. Once they’ve finished, customers head to their basket to review their order.
  3. Customers can adjust their order and choose their payment method.
  4. The shopping cart calculates shipping rates, taxes, and any discounts automatically, and adds or subtracts them to/from the final price.
  5. Customers review the complete order and add their payment, shipping, and billing information. They’ll also usually be asked to either create a customer account or to sign in as a guest.

What Features Should the Best Shopping Cart Software Have?

While some shopping cart features will come under the “nice-to-have” and optional category, there are some that are must-have items if you want your e-commerce venture to be a success. Below, we go through eight must-have shopping cart features for you to cross-check against any potential shopping cart vendor.

PCI Compliance

A shopping cart that’s PCI compliant — one that keeps your customers’ personal data secure — is an absolute must. PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards) are globally recognized standards that govern secure payment processing. Any shopping cart platform that’s PCI-compliant has gone through a high level of testing to gain this status.

Choice of Payment Gateways

Offering a choice of payment gateways to process card payments is another key shopping cart feature. Your payment gateway needs will be different from those of another business, so you’ll need to look into which serves your business best. Once you’ve chosen one, make sure the shopping cart platform you choose supports this payment gateway.

woman infront of a laptop holding her card
Source: Nerwallet.com

Customizable Shipping Rates

Depending on your customer base, you might want to offer customers in different locations varied shipping rates. For example, shipping to a customer in your state shouldn’t cost you the same as shipping to a customer overseas.

Flexible and customizable shipping rates allow you to tailor shipping costs to each customer. Robust shopping cart tools will offer location-based pricing, weight-based pricing, and tiered pricing.

Automated Tax Deduction

State and country laws vary widely as to what goods are subject to tax, and how much tax goods are subject to, which means manually calculating tax rates is near-impossible. An efficient shopping cart will offer features that calculate taxes automatically based on each customer’s location.

Abandoned Cart Recovery

The average abandoned cart rate is 81% — this is a huge amount of potential customers who are adding items to their cart and exiting your website before purchasing them. The best shopping cart tools have abandoned cart recovery features, such as follow-up emails, which allows you to contact those customers and nudge them to remember they have items in their basket.

Customer Profile Creation

Creating customer profiles is key to retargeting customers and developing relationships. Many shopping cart platforms track and capture customer information such as purchase habits and preferences to influence email marketing campaigns and communication. This level of personalization is key to delivering relevant communication, discounts, and offers to encourage repeat sales.

Local Currency and Language Compatibility

If you’re planning to sell internationally, you’ll need a shopping cart that can display prices in customers’ local currency. The platform must also be able to translate and display your website in different languages.

Data and Analytics

Shopping carts should be able to give you access to customer data to help you optimize the customer experience, your product offering, and your retargeting activities. For example, as well as offering you abandoned cart information, you should also be able to view your most popular products and generate a multitude of reports.

How To Choose the Best Shopping Cart Software for Your Business

Whether you’ve built an e-commerce website from scratch or you’re planning on using an e-commerce platform with a built-in shopping cart, it’s still important to choose the right shopping cart software to support your business needs. Below, we’ll go through what to consider before committing to a shopping cart tool, and three of the best shopping cart software solutions to help you get an idea of what’s on the market.

What To Consider When Choosing a Shopping Cart Tool

Now you know what features to look out for, you’ll also need to know what other factors should influence your final choice. Since there are so many shopping carts to choose from, we’ve put together this list of extra factors you’ll need to evaluate:

  • Software as a service (SaaS) or self-hosted shopping cart: Self-hosted shopping carts require you to host the site yourself and require some past experience in development. SaaS solutions on the other hand are maintained by the vendor.
  • Feature set: We’ve already gone through the must-have features you need to look out for, but depending on your unique needs, you might also need extra features, such as order management, shipping integrations, and social media integrations.
  • Running costs: Every shopping cart comes with its own pricing plans. Of course, the higher the costs, the wider the feature set. Take care when selecting a pricing tier or plan: you may not need all of the features on offer, and you might end up paying for unused functionality.
  • Customer support: As your shopping cart facilitates customer payments, you’ll need to be mindful of the level of customer support offered by each vendor. Do they offer 24/7 support, or can they only fix issues from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.?
  • Ease of updating and scaling: As well as the costs involved in adding extra features as you grow, you’ll also need to investigate how easy it’s to scale the platform.

To give you an idea of what different shopping cart solutions offer, we explore three leading shopping cart tools below.

Shift4Shop

Previously known as “3dcart,” Shift4Shop is an e-commerce service that helps business owners build their online stores and manage their shopping carts. There are several pricing tiers to choose from, including a free tier, which makes it easy for those just getting started to grow their business without the burden of high costs.

All pricing tiers include the following features:

  • No additional transaction fees
  • 24×7 tech support
  • Built-in blog
  • Domain registration
  • Facebook store
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Shopping cart
  • Secure web hosting
  • 100-plus payment providers
  • Unlimited orders
  • 50-plus mobile-ready themes
  • Application programming interface (API) access

An example of a shopping cart powered by Shift4Shop.

shopping cart powered by Shift4Shop
Source: Shift4Shop

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is a hosted shopping cart that has no transaction fees within its pricing plans, and also offers prenegotiated PayPal card processing rates. Pricing starts at $29.95 per month and offers unlimited products, file storage, and bandwidth as well as unlimited staff accounts.

Other features include:

  • 24/7 tech support
  • Abandoned cart saver
  • Customer groups and segmentation
  • Multicurrency option
  • Professional reporting tools
  • Real-time shipping quotes
  • Coupons, discounts, and gift cards
  • Single-page checkout
  • Mobile responsive website

An example of BigCommerce’s abandoned cart saver feature.

BigCommerce's abandoned cart saver feature
Source: BigCommerce

AbanteCart

AbanteCart is an open-source e-commerce software platform for business owners to manage their e-commerce stores. Its multistore feature enables users to manage more than one store from within one platform.

Its features include unlimited categories, images, products, and orders, so you can be sure that the solution is still affordable as your business grows. Even though the platform is open-source, it requires little to no coding experience to get an e-commerce store up and running.

An example of products within AbanteCart’s open-source shopping cart solution.

AbanteCart's open-source shopping cart solution
Source: AbanteCart

Delight Customers at the Checkout With the Best Shopping Cart Software

There are many factors to consider when deciding which shopping cart is best for your e-commerce business’s needs. One of the key choices you’ll need to make is whether you go the self-hosted route or rely on an in-built shopping cart. Whichever route you go, we’ve reviewed over 60 of the best shopping cart solutions on the market to help streamline your decision.