What is the best shopping cart?
Again this is a very similar question to the previous FAQ question "what is the best ecommerce solution
", with a similar answer, but in some ways this is an even worse question to pose since it is a leading question that already implies an answer and narrows down the choice of solution, often unnecessarily.
In the previous FAQ we mentioned that asking what is the best ecommerce solution is very akin to asking "what is the best form of transport". Asking what is the best shopping cart is similar to asking what is the best form of road transport, when you might really want to be crossing the sea.
A shopping cart is one feature of an ecommerce system/solution. It is there to manage placing products in a basket and providing totals for orders and that is about it. Unfortunately the term shopping cart or shopping basket system is often wrongly used to describe overall ecommerce systems or solutions. Some ecommerce systems don't even need shopping carts, e.g. websites using PayPal buy now buttons.
A good advanced ecommerce system will provide shopping cart functionality, but that will only be one of the many features it provides. A fuller list of functions would include:
- Product and category content management
- Category and product browsing and search
- Search engine friendly and optimised layout
- Order processing and fulfilment admin system
- Shopping cart/basket
- Stock control
- Marketing offers management
- Postage and shipping calculator
- Customer relationship management
- Customer registration, login and order status tracking
There are shopping cart systems out there, like PayPal basket, that just focus on shopping basket functionality, there are others like RomanCart which try to do other things more associated with advanced ecommerce systems. In both cases, both of these shopping cart systems are external cart systems, whereby you send your visitors off to an external basket site to view the basket, and because of this there are limitations of this approach which you do not get in more advanced integrated ecommerce systems (e.g. product and category content management, category and product browsing and search, integrated onsite basket).
So if you ask the question what is the best shopping cart, you are already limiting your choice and saying you don't need certain features that are usually vital for ecommerce solutions.
If you are thinking about getting into ecommerce, the best question to ask anyone is "Here are my detailed requirements (including what I want to sell, to who, and how), can you recommend an appropriate ecommerce solution that will meet my needs?".