You can use traditional methods to sell products such as direct mail, catalogs, and advertising. However, if you have a great online presence, the entire world is your marketplace at a fraction of the cost of most traditional methods. To easily sell to this worldwide marketplace, you need a great shopping cart system.
Choosing a shopping cart system is perhaps the most important single decision you’ll make in your online marketing career.
This is because you will be stuck with the decision for a long time.
If you buy into a system that isn’t adequate, it can cost you money–big money–because it won’t maximize the amount of money spent by each visitor.
There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of off-the-shelf, free and alternative products out there vying for your money, time or both. And most of them are junk.
Here are 20 questions you absolutely, unfailingly must ask anyone trying to sell you a shopping cart. If you don’t hear positive answers to the majority of these questions, put your wallet back into your pocket and evaluate the next option. Don’t get stuck with a crappy shopping cart, even if they give it to you free.
If you have a poor shopping cart, get rid of it. I know that hurts, because you may have spent lots of time and money getting it going, but a bad one will cost you many thousands of dollars by waiting to replace it later rather than sooner.
Every question below is very important when it comes to having a quality shopping cart system that gets more money out of the same number of visitors.
1. Will it calculate shipping and tax?
2. Does it handle specialized shipping like FedEx and UPS?
3. Will it automatically deliver hard goods and soft goods (e-books and other digital products) in the same transaction?
4. Does it offer customizable “Return to Shopping” pages without needing custom programming?
This is important so you can send your customers to the most likely product they will buy next. Standard carts just send customers back to the main catalog, which forces them to search for related products. This is both irritating and time-consuming. Any delays in finding what they want could mean a lost sale when they finally throw their hands up in disgust and move on to your competitor’s site.
5. Does it offer customizable “Thank You” pages based on what the customer just bought?
These are pages where savvy marketers put affiliate links and other offers specifically related to the customer’s interests. When a customer clicks on one of these links and buys something from someone else, you get a commission.
6. Does it deliver receipt and confirmation e-mails automatically?
The customer wants to know immediately that the order went through. If he or she is unsure, you are going to have to field many wasted e-mails and phone calls letting the customer know everything is OK.
7. Does it allow multiple order and dropship e-mails?
In many cases, several different people in your organization and/or outside your organization need notice of an order. Again, you don’t want to have to do this manually.
8. Does it have a Web-based administration page so you can work on your cart from any computer that has Internet access?
9. Does it deliver easy output to your accounting software?
You want to be able to import and export data easily between the cart and whatever programs you have that need to share the customer and sales information.
10. Does it have its own associate/affiliate program or is it easily compatible with other major brands of associated software?
An affiliate program lets other people promote and sell your products on their Web sites. You don’t pay them unless they sell something.
11. Does it have integrated up-sell modules?
The ability to offer more related products to customers making a purchase makes me a small fortune each month. We call it, “Do you want fries with that?” If you don’t have this ability, you are leaving many thousands of dollars on the table from people who would have spent more if your cart just gave them the chance.
12. Does it have an integrated sales and prospect database?
A good shopping cart system eliminates all this hassle and potential for error and gives you instant access to your sales reports and clients.
13. Does it have broadcast e-mail capability?
Good shopping cart systems are able to manipulate your customer database instantly and send e-mails to any segment or sub-segment of your clients and handle unlimited e-mail magazines.
14. Does it have mail merge capability?
The e-mails sent are personalized to the recipients in any number of ways. Their names can be popped into the subject line and in various portions of the body of the e-mail. You can merge “what they bought,” “when they bought,” “where they live” or just about anything that will make them feel the e-mail was just for them. Virtually all studies show that mail merge gets a much higher response than plain broadcast e-mail.
15. Can it handle coupons and other discounts?
You can make a deal with Joe Blow that everyone coming from his Web site gets an automatic discount — either a percentage or dollar amount. This makes Joe look great to his visitors and makes more sales for you. Here’s a secret: Joe is your affiliate and makes money on the sale too, so he’s got a great incentive to keep your discounts and coupons in front of his visitors. Good shopping cart systems can automate all of this and also handle any quantity discounts you offer.
16. Does it have unlimited and fully integrated “sequential” autoresponders?
This is one of the most powerful features when it comes to Internet marketing. This feature follows up automatically over and over again to your clients and prospects to provide the customer care and to sell them more products and services. You can even provide free or paid e-mail courses, and each part of the course is delivered automatically.
17. Does it have ad tracking tied into actual sales?
Simple ad tracking can be had all over the ‘Net, but it is pretty much worthless unless it is tied to actual sales. This is called the “conversion ratio.” Your cart system should be able to tell you how many people clicked on a particular promotion and how many people bought. This is the only way you can determine if an ad paid off. Good carts will also automatically split test one of your sales pages against another and tell you which page sells more. You keep the page that sells more and get rid of the page that sells less.
18. Does it have a pop-up box builder?
Even though many people hate popup boxes, they work. I use them judiciously to make all kinds of offers, and I have the sales figures to prove they get more money out of the same number of people. If you know how to use them properly, no one gets upset.
19. Does it have a printable off-line order form?
Believe it or not, many people are still afraid to put their credit card numbers into a Web site. If you want to maximize your sales, your cart must take these kinds of orders easily.
20. Does it provide free training?
You’ll need training in both the basic set up of using your shopping cart and determining your online sales strategy so that you maximize the amount of money spent by each customer.
You may not understand what all the above questions mean right now, but I can assure you they are important in putting more money into your bank account.
photo credit: Toolstotal Online Shopping – Credit to https://toolstotal.com/ via photopin (license)