How to add a shopping cart to your small business website

How to add a shopping cart to your small business website

Need help getting your products and services for sale online? We show you the basics of adding a shopping cart and payment gateway to your small business website. Even if you don’t have much technical expertise, it’s easy to add a shopping cart without changing your existing web design.

What is a shopping cart?

An online shopping cart is software that provides the necessary features for customers to make a retail purchase from your website. This may be a product, service or a download. Some shopping cart software is quite simplistic, adding only the bare essentials. Like products/services and a checkout page. Other shopping cart software goes the extra mile and includes features for you to provide your customers with an improved shopping experience.

Shopping cart frontend and backend features

The customer-facing component is often called the frontend or the storefront. It consists of the online store that customers browse. The administration side is usually called the backend, admin, dashboard or control panel. They work together to enable customers to place orders and for you to process those orders.

If you just need a simple buy and sell mechanism, any of the basic shopping cart plugins will do. If you want to explore something more advanced, here are some additional frontend features to consider:

Additional advanced shopping cart backend features to consider:

Once you have decided on what features you need and how important they are, you can review and compare shopping cart software and more easily decide on the best one for you.

Shopping cart options

There are many shopping cart options. The most popular ones are:

Payment gateway

In simple terms, a payment gateway is a system that works behind the scenes of your website to provide a safe bridge for the payments you receive from customers on their way to your bank. The job of a payment gateway is to provide extra security for the whole process and to protect you from fraud and chargebacks.

You will need to open a merchant account like PayPal or Square, which acts as your payment gateway.

When your customer hits a button to purchase one of your items, the shopping cart sends the payment to the payment gateway. The gateway finds the correct bank account or credit card company. It then sends a request to charge it for the total amount of the purchase. The bank or credit card company validates the account and makes a decision to approve or deny the charge. If the card isn’t approved, it sends a message back telling you why it couldn’t be processed.

If the charge is approved, the gateway sends a message back saying the money can be transferred and tells the shopping cart that the transaction was successful. The gateway generates a request to the store’s merchant account asking the bank account or credit card to add funds to the store’s merchant account. Typically, you can access your money within 3–7 days.

TIP: It can take a few days to set-up your gateway business account.


Bringing it all together

Before you can set up your online store you will need to have worked through all of the following.

While the online shopping cart plugin does most of the work for you, you still have to set up the pages and then manage your products. Allow about an hour to get your store fully set up. It will take just minutes to manage your inventory after the initial installation.

Good luck! Send us a link when you are done and we will promote your business on our Beyond Business Groups Facebook page.

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