Shopping for a Shopping Cart? Make Sure you Weigh your Options
If you sell more than a handful of products on your website,
you'll need to add what's known as a shopping cart. This is a
function that allows your customers to pick out the items they
want and send them to a "cart," which holds onto them until
they're ready to check out. The program then totals the order
and adds any applicable taxes and shipping charges.
So how do you add a shopping cart to your site? There are
three different options you can choose from.
1) Link out to a third-party service (hosted)
2) Buy your own software and do it yourself
3) Download a script and configure it to your needs
Let's examine each option separately and the pros and cons
involved with each:
THIRD PARTY/HOSTED CARTS
Third party cart services are easy to set up; you can be running
in a matter of hours. They require no software to
buy or install, but usually charge a monthly fee.
Most include a secured server and a merchant account option,
if you don't have your own. This is a relatively inexpensive
solution for small businesses.
1) VCart.com: http://www.vcart.com
Free to try for 30 days then you pay 90.00 for 3 months,
150.00 for 6 months or 1 year for 249.00. Supports
1 to 10,000 products- No CGI to configure and you can
use your existing merchant account.
2) FreeMerchant: http://www.FreeMerchant.com
Prices range from 19.99 to 40.00 per month with a
30 day free trial. Build your store using their web
3) Yahoo Store: http://store.yahoo.com
You can't go wrong with Yahoo's expert reputation.
Easy to build your store on their servers using a
point and click interface. You can even upload your own images.
Cost for up to 100 items is only 100.00 a month.
You can also use your existing merchant account or
apply for one through them.
4) Marketers Choice: http://gta-tech.com
Believe it or not, this one is free. Supplied by
Marketers Choice, this cart calculates totals,
taxes, shipping charges and notifies you of new
orders automatically. Follow the wizard for easy
set up. You need your own merchant account but they
supply the secured server. So what's the catch?
they try to get you to upgrade to their 150.00 a
year package, which is an option. If you continue
to use the free one the only trade off is they will
display business related ads on all of your cart
If you're at all good at programming with CGI, there
are limitless scripts you can download for free or
low cost. If you're all thumbs you could hire someone
to configure the script for you. One of the best online
programmers I know of is David Black. He's fast, reliable
and his prices are fair. You can contact him at
1) CGI EXTREMES: http://www.cgiextremes.com/Scripts/Shopping_Carts/
You'll find a variety of CGI shopping scripts here ranging
from free up to 300.00 in price. They'll work on a
variety of platforms. Each one is rated on a scale
of 1 to 10 for guidance in selection.
2) CGI Resource Index: http://cgi-resources.com
To find the goodies here you'll need to drill down to
the appropriate category. Click on programs and scripts,
then Perl, then shopping carts.
3) PERLSHOP: http://www.arpanet.com/PerlShop/perlshop.html
This CGI script is for sites hosted on a Unix system.
It is free to use with their logo on the pages.
4) PAY PAL SHOPPING CART http://www.cstafford.com/ppalstore.shtml
Check out this free CGI Shopping cart script that passes
all of your credit card sales over to PayPal for easy
1) SALES CART: http://www.salescart.com/
Specifically for FrontPage users. Cost is 179.00.
Easy to set up using their step by step wizard.
2) PDG SHOPPING CART http://www.pdgsoft.com/cart.htm
Completely customizable to fit your needs. Integrates
easily with FrontPage software or Dreamweaver. You can
also use this cart to set up your own associate program.
Works on Unix, NT servers and others. It is a little
pricey at 750.00, but worth it for the features you get.
3) Your E-Ware: http://www.youreware.com/home/
Fast and easy to use, with a low price that gives this
software an edge. It will hold up to 2,500 products in
up to 20 product categories. Works on Win 95.98 and Mac.
Download the free demo and take it for a spin. Final
cost is under 100.00
There you have some of the various options to choose from
when setting up your online storefront. Before jumping
into the e-commerce waters, make sure you weigh your
options and choose the one that best fits your needs
and your budget.
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Written by: Merle
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