There have been a few stories lately about some shopping carts having “back doors” in them that could, if exploited, make your site vulnerable to hackers. Make sure you have the latest version of a shopping cart, so any known security holes are fixed. Also, do a search of the newsgroups and see if anyone is talking about the software. You could get a heads-up on any problem with the software before you commit.Do You Even Need Shopping Cart Software?
Here is a radical idea to consider: Is your inventory small enough that you don’t even need a shopping cart? Many Internet marketers will tell you that any size inventory needs shopping cart software. I used think that way to before I married my wife.
Check out this form.
It is part of a site my wife started before we were married. Even by my wife’s own admission, the form is unpretty (the site is too). The form puts everything she has for sale on this site (23 products) on one long page.
But despite its unaesthetic look and the fact it bucks conventional thinking, this little form generates a significant amount of our income every month. Here is why I think it works:
- It is suggestive selling at its most basic level no fancy recommendation engines or databases here, just a group of complementary products put together by someone who knows what her customers need. (We’ve found multiple-item orders are the norm on this site.)
- It mimics a direct mail form direct mail marketers have trained people over the years to fill out forms to complete the sales process. As a result, they are comfortable with that process and this form is just an online version of that.
- It is the poor person’s version of Amazon.com’s one-click buying there is just one step in the transaction, not multiple screens a customer must navigate to complete the sale. The fewer steps customers must go through, the higher the closing rate.
Obviously, this can’t work for huge inventories of products. If that is your situation, then you have to go with a shopping cart of some kind. But if you have a limited inventory, it is possible you don’t even need to monkey with a shopping cart.
What about shopping carts for that small business that happens to be a service provider? If you find yourself building a web site for a dentist, doctor, chiropractor, personal trainer, hair salon, photography studio, architect, contractor, cleaning company or other small business that provides a service, check out http://www.serveclick.com. It’s affordable software ASP-delivered that lets you add real-time appointment scheduling functionality to the site. (Thanks to an alert reader named Jackie Engel for pointing out this product. And giving me the verbiage to describe it, too!)
So How Much Should You Pay?
Well, most shopping cart software ranges from free to about $500. A great place to find a good selection is at
The CGI Resource Index.
So, if we subtract $500 from our budget of $4,000, left over after last week’s buying spree, that leaves us a budget of $3,500 going into next week, when we’ll address how to handle that in-bound email from customers.
See you then!