A premium web cart versus a standard web cart, which way should you go with your ecommerce business?
How you make this decision can literally decide the short term and long term future of your online business. This decision extends far beyond the simple layout of your website, it actually affects your entire marketing and sales strategy.
So let's compare the basic concepts of a premium web cart and contrast these virtues to a standard web cart.
Standard Web Cart – Just The Basics
When people first decide to get an online business up and running, they're often thinking about 1 thing and 1 thing only: how do I sell my widget and collect the payment?
But along with the excitement of the new business prospect, there's the accompanying fear that goes along with any new start up. Fear of failure, fear of losing money, etc. So at this point in the decision tree, the new online merchant starts looking for online shopping cart software that will get the basic job done at the lowest cost possible.
Free shopping cart software suddenly looks like the obvious choice and for some online businesses it will be the best choice hands down but for others it can be a costly mistake they never recover from.
Standard Web Cart – Positive Attributes
- Cost – Free shopping cart software pricing is really hard to beat.
- Simplicity – Since there are few options with free software it's usually easy to set up.
- Availability – All you need to do is download it and get started.
- Large User Base – This is a double edged sword but at least you know the "good and the bad" of the system based on actual usage of others.
But as the old saying goes; "there's no free lunch in America".
Standard Web Cart – Negative Attributes of Free Shopping Cart Software.
- Flexibility – What you see is what you get … literally. If you want something different then you need to hire a professional programmer to make the changes for you.
- Support – The software is free but the support will cost real money. There are usually large forums of people that will help answer your questions but it is a "forum" format with no guarantee that anyone will respond to your question or in what time frame the answer will be forthcoming. So if you have a pressing question, you'll need to pay one of the professional support companies to answer you questions.
- Installation – For the technically profitable, this is usually not an issue. But if you're not comfortable with FTP, setting "permissions" or linking MySQL databases, then you will need to hire a professional to assist you with the installation of the free shopping cart software before it'll actually do anything.
- Large User Base – Do you really want your business looking and acting like thousands of others out there?
- PCI Compliance – Just as the desktop auto responder programs fell by the wayside 8 years ago, these stand alone programs are not PCI Compliant and with the crackdown of the credit card companies on the rise, once your business hits their "radar screen", you 'reiable for up to $ 10,000 per violation.
- Looking Small – Last but not least, you spend a lot of time and effort to look like a "polished" business with a positive web presence. But as soon as your customer adds their product selection to the shopping cart, the illusion is broken and you've just screamed out "Beginner, Amateur, Small" in one action. It's the same as using PayPal as a payment processor because they're free … it's the tell tale sign of a beginner business.
Premium Web Cart – Advanced Shopping Cart Software Solutions
This is where you really need to decide if you're ready to be in business or if you're really looking for a part-time hobby. Because a hobby business is well suited for free software as you're not really expecting to grow the business nor are you expecting to make a full time living from the venture.
But if you're trying to create a real business, then you need to look and act like a real business coming out of the gate. Think about how an offline business is started; lets take a pizza restaurant for example.
The business owner opens their pizza restaurant in a location and building that is well suited to support the business long term and for profitable success. The reality is that they lose money up front as they incur the expenses to pay rent, outfit the restaurant with tables, chairs, decorating etc.
They do this because they know that trying to start their business in the cheapest location and the cheapest building is going to result in very few customers.
Starting an offline business without a proper location and appropriate outfitting is not a "stepping stone" to success, it's a path to assured failure. And an online business is really no different.
So let's look at the positive and negative attributes of using a "premium web cart" for your business.
Premium Web Cart – Negative Attributes:
- Cost – It's not free to start and will never be free. You will pay for the service for the life of your business just as you pay for electricity, internet service, and cable TV month after month. Cost is the single negative associated with a premium web cart.
Premium Web Cart – Positive Attributes:
- Increased Revenue Per Customer – A premium web cart will typically have multiple up sell mechanisms that effectively get your customers to buy more from you per transaction. Think about McDonalds and "would you like fries with that" … it works very well and is something all online merchants should be doing every day.
- Affiliate Systems – Having an army of affiliates selling your products is the greatest sales force known to modern man. You pay them nothing until they create a sale and put cash in your pocket. An online business without an affiliate program is selling only a small percentage of its capacity.
- Ease of Use – Extensive video tutorials and top rated customer support. When you need help, you now have a true expert to help you.
- Upgrades and Installation – All automatic and included.
- Complete Systems – Creating a system in a piece meal fashion means you will have multiple programs all running independently of each other. A premium web cart solution will place all your systems under one umbrella.
- Multiple Websites – It's very likely that you'll have more than 1 website / revenue stream so you'll want a system that allows for this expansion. Not many systems will allow this but the best ones will.
- PCI Compliance – Do not risk your money and possibly even your business. At $ 10,000 per incident, all it takes is 10 stolen credit cards from your system and you could have a $ 100,000 bill in the mail.
If you want people to treat and respect your business like it's a real business then you need to treat your customers as they expect to be treated by a real business. You never see a name brand business using free shopping cart software or PayPal as their primary payment processor and either you should. You can find a premium web cart solution for about $ 30 – $ 40 so invest the $ 1 per day and look like a real business. Your online business success will depend upon it.
A premium web cart or a standard web cart, which fork in the road will you follow? How you answer this question is likely to determine the long term fate of your ecommerce business. Discover how "free shopping cart software" can cost you more than just lost sales, it can easily cost you a lot more than you possibly imagined!