In this article, we'll cover:
What is a shopping cart?
In the United Kingdom, eCommerce sales account for 25.5% of the retail market. This percentage is set to rise to 33.3% by 2024. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this growth as it caused a global shift in eCommerce trends. Out of necessity, brick and mortar stores had to adapt to selling their products and services online efficiently, and businesses had to adapt their customer experience strategies accordingly.
In today’s digitised world, we can go grocery shopping without wheeling a shopping trolley around the store. We can buy clothes without having to stand in changing room queues. We can even have pharmaceutical products delivered straight to our doors. The world of eCommerce is booming, and it’s more important than ever for businesses to ensure their products and services are accessible online.
Having an online store is no longer a luxury; it’s an essential tool to remain competitive in today’s saturated marketplace. Moreover, retailers must provide customers with a seamless, integrated, and memorable online shopping experience in such a saturated marketplace.
That’s where shopping carts come in.
Shopping cart definition
We’re not talking about the shopping trolleys on wheels you use at the supermarket.
A shopping cart is an essential part of a retailer’s online store that streamlines the online shopping experience. It’s software that allows website visitors to select, reserve, and purchase a product or service from an eCommerce interface. You can add and remove items as you wish, just like you would in the real world.
Shopping cart software is a fundamental part of the online shopping experience. It’s what facilitates everything in between the customer finding a product they like and completing their purchase. For that reason, implementing excellent shopping cart software is crucial for your eCommerce business.
Types of shopping cart software
There are two main types of shopping cart: hosted and self-hosted. Let’s take a closer look at each.
Hosted shopping carts
These are SaaS solutions hosted by third-party companies, usually paid for monthly. The shopping cart provider takes care of all the maintenance, server backups, and updates – so you don’t have to.
You can use premade site templates to organise your online shop, add purchase buttons to your established website, or add the shopping cart as a WordPress plugin to begin selling as soon as possible. Shopify is the most popular solution on the market and is used by small businesses and enterprises alike.
Self-hosted shopping carts
A self-hosted or licensed shopping cart is a completely customisable solution hosted on your server. This type of cart offers better flexibility, as you can select and change cart functionality and choose any additional features to suit your needs.
An example of this type of software is Magento, which features complete customisation options and robust tools for order management and search engine optimisation (SEO).
What’s the best option?
If you’re just getting started with an eCommerce venture, hosted shopping cart solutions are often the best option. With a hosted solution, you’ll be able to focus on other aspects of running a business and ensure that hosting or tech issues don’t get in the way. This way, you can get started immediately without having to depend on IT professionals to ensure your eCommerce enterprise runs smoothly and meets customers’ expectations.
Large enterprises might want to consider the self-hosted option due to the increased flexibility and customisation it offers. The upfront costs of this type of cart are often higher, and they will require the skills of technical support professionals to implement and troubleshoot when issues arise.
Features of a shopping cart
You want your customers to enjoy a seamless shopping experience. After all, that’s what’ll keep them coming back for more! Here are some common features of shopping cart software to look out for.
When you’re shopping online, you don’t have the option to track down a store clerk to point you in the right direction. That’s why functional search filters are crucial to a great online shopping experience.
Search filters enable users to filter out what’s not relevant to them and narrow down their product options. This makes it easier for them to find the product pages they want and effectively complete the checkout process.
Often, first-time website visitors aren’t ready to commit to a purchase decision. They’re usually just checking out what’s on offer but plan to do more research before buying. It can take multiple visits for someone to place an order.
Wish lists essentially let visitors save items for later. If they’re not ready to whip out their credit card, or they’re “window shopping”, a wish list allows them to add and remove items so they can easily find what they’re looking for when they do decide to return.
Various payment options
Shoppers are 70% more likely to finalise their purchase if their preferred payment option is available and displayed. Long gone are the days of only accepting Visa or Mastercard – in today’s consumer-oriented society, customers want options.
A shopping cart should provide customers with the option to pay with their preferred debit or credit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay, and more. The more payment options you offer, the more customers you can cater to.
Your customers’ security should come first. It’s important to implement a solution that protects your customers’ identity and personal information. Shopify, for example, uses 256-bit security encryption – the same as that used by banks. Stripe is another popular payments processing platform that’s Level 1 PCI certified. This certification means it protects any credit card information or financial data that customers enter during the checkout process.
Local currency converters
A great shopping cart solution should show prices in the customer’s local currency. The exchange rate may differ depending on the payment option the customer chooses during the purchase. For example, Paypal exchange rates are usually lower than the rates one might find when completing a purchase with a Visa or Mastercard.
A great shopping trolley software solution allows the customer to see the exchange calculator during the checkout process. This way, whether they’re in the UK, New Zealand, or somewhere in between, they’ll know exactly how much they’re going to pay in their local currency.
With this in mind, your eCommerce store must be mobile-friendly. This means it should be just as user-friendly on a mobile as it is on a desktop. Mobile eCommerce allows customers to shop anywhere, anytime.
Simple user interface
A simple, user-friendly interface is vital to the success of any eCommerce site. If customers find navigating your checkout process too difficult, they’re more likely to give up and never come back. This is especially true for customers who are new to online shopping. Make it as simple as possible for customers to shop, and the more likely they are to continue buying.
Best shopping cart software
There are countless shopping cart software providers on the market today. It always pays to do your research first and evaluate your individual business needs before selecting a provider.
After all, you want to be sure you can trust the provider to provide a seamless checkout process – so it’s a good idea to check out online reviews to see how the software has performed for other eCommerce businesses.
Below are five of the best shopping cart software options around.
3DCart provides businesses with a place-anywhere purchase button for POS functionality. It offers exceptional mobile optimisation with editable code and can be scaled to any size. It’s on the expensive side, so it’s a good option for enterprise businesses as well as a one-stop solution for startups. Key features include 50+ mobile-ready templates, over 100 payment providers, and open API access.
Shopify is the best-known shopping cart solution out there. It receives consistently good feedback, easy to use, and affordable for startups and small businesses. It offers a platform for building a website and blog and other great features, including unlimited products, sales channels on various platforms, and abandoned cart recovery for customers.
If you have a small-scale WordPress website, Shopify’s Lite plan plugin allows you to embed a collapsible shopping cart that offers list, catalogue, and category functionality.
WooCommerce is best known for being the WordPress eCommerce toolkit. It’s free, open-source software that can transform your website into an attractive and highly customisable online store. WooCommerce is free; however, its functionality is limited without adding numerous extensions (at a cost).
For businesses just starting their venture into eCommerce, XCart offers a viable solution even if they’re on a limited budget. However, its target market is large businesses and enterprises. It offers a high-quality shopping cart system and an easy to navigate dashboard for updating products. However, moving beyond free features does come at a premium price.
As previously mentioned, Magento is an example of self-hosted shopping cart software. Magento offers robust tools for setting up an eCommerce store, such as SEO and order management, as well as unlimited customisation features.
If you’ve got the budget, Magento empowers you to design your store exactly how you want to. It’s not an ideal option for small businesses with limited budgets, as free version features are minimal.
What is shopping cart abandonment?
Shopping cart abandonment refers to occasions when a customer initiates the checkout process but leaves the page before the purchase is complete.
There are many reasons shoppers abandon their carts last minute. According to a survey conducted in the US by Baymard Institute, the most common reasons include extra costs at the checkout, creating an account to check out, and the checkout process taking too long.
Cart abandonment is an important metric for businesses to track when measuring eCommerce success. High rates of abandonment could signal poor user experience or a nonintegrated customer journey.
Armed with the facts about their eCommerce shopping cart abandonment rates, businesses can take informed steps to reduce the problem. Reducing this rate leads to increased sales and revenue, which brings you closer to your business goals.
Shopping cart abandonment statistics
Below are some key statistics that reflect the current state of shopping cart abandonment.
- The average documented online cart abandonment rate is 69.80%. (Baymard Institute)
- The rate is higher among mobile users, with the average abandonment rate standing at 85.65%. (Barilliance)
- Online retailers lose a whopping $18 billion a year in revenue due to cart abandonment. (Dynamic Yield)
- 50% of shoppers abandoned their cart because extra costs were too high. (Baymard Institute)
- 28% of shoppers abandoned their cart because they needed to create an account to complete the checkout process. (Baymard Institute)
- 21% of online shoppers in North America have abandoned an order solely due to a too long or too complicated checkout process. (Baymard Institute)
- The ideal checkout flow features as few as 12-14 form elements. However, the average United States eCommerce checkout flow contains 23.48 form elements. (Baymard Institute)
- Large-scale online stores can gain a 35.26% increase in conversion rates with an improved checkout design. (Baymard Institute)
Ways to combat shopping cart abandonment
Optimise for different devices
Mobile traffic accounts for 50.48% of all eCommerce traffic. Today, consumers expect to be able to shop from any device they please, whenever they want. Moreover, they expect an integrated omnichannel experience that allows them to switch from a desktop to a tablet to mobile and pick up exactly where they left off. For this reason, a mobile optimisation is no longer just an option in the competitive online retail market.
Your mobile site shouldn’t merely be a smaller version of your desktop version. Instead, it should be responsive and mobile-friendly and designed specifically for use on smaller touchscreens. Buttons and text should be large and copy limited to just the essentials.
For example, Amazon allows users to do their grocery shopping on Whole Foods Market from their phone. Amazon’s highly optimised mobile site makes it simple to do the grocery shopping from anywhere, even on the commute home from work.
Offer a guest checkout option.
Most people are put off by having to create an account to complete a purchase. Not having the option to checkout as a guest is one of the leading causes of shopping cart abandonment (see above). There’s a simple solution to combat this: offer guest checkout.
Although this means sacrificing customer data, you’ll provide your customers with the frictionless shopping experience they’re looking for. Moreover, by providing a seamless experience at the first point of sale, customers are more likely to return and create an account to take advantage of discounts and other incentives offered to those who have signed up.
Streamline the checkout process
21% of people abandon their carts because the checkout process is too long or too complicated. By simplifying the checkout process, customers are more likely to make it through to the end and complete it in one go. It should be quick and convenient, with a maximum of two or three steps involved.
Here, it’s also important to ensure that total costs are clearly visible, so the customer doesn’t encounter any unexpected fees in shipping costs or taxes when they go to finalise their purchase.
Offer the best customer support.
By providing live chat support available 24/7 throughout the shopping experience, you can reduce the chances of shoppers abandoning their carts because they don’t understand something about the checkout process. They can initiate a live chat with a single click.
Not only does this reduce the chance of them abandoning their shopping cart, but live chat support also allows you to be there for your customers wherever they are in their customer journey. This leads to higher customer satisfaction and an all-around better customer experience.
RingCentral makes it easy for you to manage your customer communications in a simple, unified interface. Take advantage of accurate call routing, SMS order alerts, and CRM integrations to provide fully integrated customer support across all departments and platforms.
Whether you’re operating a retail eCommerce store, supermarket, pharmacy, or restaurant, RingCentral supports your customers with a personalised, seamless, and memorable experience that’ll increase their chances of returning to your store in the future.
(For after abandonment) Remarket to cart abandoners (after abandonment)
Despite all the efforts you make to avoid it in the first place, some customers will inevitably abandon their carts. Remarketing campaigns are a great way to go after those customers later by reminding them about the products they liked enough to add to their cart in the first place!
You can do this through remarketing emails or retargeting advertisements. Creating a remarketing email campaign is a simple way to prompt customers to reconsider their decision to jump ship gently. Use catchy subject lines to create emails that start as friendly reminders, create urgency (through product availability, sales duration, etc.), and finally close the deal with a special offer or discount code.
Retargeted ads are 76% more likely to result in a conversion than average display ads, making them a powerful tool for drawing customers back to your website. Facebook remarketing is a visual method that’s ideal for promoting your products to customers that have shown interest. Additionally, Google Ads or BingAds allow you to retarget products or services that don’t offer the same visual appeal that can only be conveyed with imagery.
Remarketing enables you to win back those prospective customers that dropped off somewhere along their journey, combatting the sales losses caused by cart abandonment.
When it comes to running an eCommerce business, understanding your customers’ needs is the key to success. In today’s competitive world, consumers are inundated with options. To gain their trust and loyalty, your store needs to provide them with something others don’t and ensure they stay relevant by keeping up with the latest eCommerce trends.
Implementing comprehensive shopping cart software that facilitates easy checkout across devices will ensure your customers complete their purchase. When integrated with a robust retail business cloud communications solution like RingCentral, you can stay connected with your customers every step of the way.
Originally published Apr 08, 2021, updated Apr 15, 2021