Owning and operating a small business can be a rewarding, satisfying, and profitable experience. It can also be a harrowing one, with you in the hot seat for every decision. Stocking, purchasing, bookkeeping, online shopping carts, banking, and customer service decisions, even if your startup is micro or nano sized, are all big choices. Making them in haste or under pressure could end up costing you time and money to do it over that could be applied with better results elsewhere. Start with one of the most critical decisions you’ll make first – your shopping cart.
Planning for Success:When You Have to Grow – Online Shopping Carts for Microbusiness
Planning for success might sound egotistical, but unless you allow room for your business to grow when the time comes to expand, it’s going to be a hassle instead of a joy. When you are putting systems in place that form the vital organs of your startup, it’s important to evaluate them with an eye to the future of the company and also to the costs in time and money required to operate. It doesn’t matter if you are a sole proprietor running a business out of your home office or garage workshop, working a day job and nurturing your startup part time, or taking the leap into full-time entrepreneurship, the shopping cart is the center point of your operation.
Cost is Not Everything:
Sometimes, going with the lowest cost solution is a good way to lose not only big bucks but potential customers. Look first for cost, but then evaluate the shopping cart service on how it will work with your business. Does the shopping cart work with your bookkeeping software? How about your inventory tracking? Can you download the data into spreadsheets? The more directions in which your shopping cart can work with your business is more time and money saved that can be put to use in other areas. However, what’s important to the business owner has to be tempered with what potential customers think of their online shopping carts and whether it is effective and efficient enough to be helpful for your business to gain more loyal customers for yourself.
Getting and Keeping the Customer:
Shopping cart abandonment is the bane of the online retailer, but it’s also a symptom of larger forces at work shaping the customer’s perceptions. It’s up to the business owner to choose a cart with the features that persuade the shopper to make the purchase. Reasons vary as to why the customer ditches the cart at checkout, but if you are seeing an exceptionally high rate, it pays to “shop” your own site. Reasons vary, according to a study by Internet Retailer done in 2014, but the top reasons given were:
- Fifty-seven percent wanted to get an idea of cost of goods with shipping.
- Fifty-six percent wanted to save the cart for later.
- Fifty-five percent wanted to purchase but shipping made the price higher.
- Fifty-one percent wanted to purchase but did not qualify for free shipping.
- Forty percent wanted to be shown shipping and handling costs earlier.
Before signing up with any shopping cart service, think about these reasons for abandoning a cart and ask yourself what features are being offered that could address these reasons? A shopping cart being left in the middle of checkout is not automatically a lost sale. Business Insider’s new study estimates that 63 percent of abandoned shopping carts are, in fact, recoverable with up to 75 percent of those customers planning to return later and complete their purchase.
Safe and Sound:
Security. It’s on everyone’s mind following news of massive data security breaches at some of the biggest retailers. When you are considering your shopping cart, consider just what makes it desirable from a security standpoint, not only to your customers, but to you.
- Administration Access Rules: Gives you the ability to restrict access to certain employees and to specify areas and functions to which they have access.
- SSL: Secure Socket Integration is the standard protocol used to encrypt and transmit secure communications such as logins and financial transactions over the Internet.
- PCI Compliant: Adheres to Payment Card International (PCI) Data Security Standards for shopping cart software.
- Payment Gateway Integration: The software will operate with your preferred payment gateway in such a way as to keep your transactions encrypted and secure.
- In-House Payment Processing: As an alternative to having to integrate your payment gateway with the shopping cart software, some shopping carts provide a merchant account and payment gateway.
In addition, certain online shopping cart services provide versatile methods for accepting payment, such as the ability to process COD orders or accept checks and e-checks. Other features to look for include the backups and restores to protect, save, and recover data, and fraud protection.
Getting a Piece of the Pie:
According to Forrester Research and Metrics.com, $248.7 billion in retail sales are forecast in 2014 for the United States alone with small ticket items leading the flood of dollars. The National Retail Federation reports that in 2014, six percent of all retail sales will be eCommerce sales, done completely online. While the fight for those dollars is a crowded one, starting your business and finding your unique pitch has never been easier. Working with a reputable, recognized online shopping cart service is the linchpin of your growing business.