Shopping Cart

In the world of e-commerce and merchant accounts a “shopping cart” refers to special computer software that helps people make purchases and expedites the ordering process at an online store (e-commerce website). Shopping cart software programs permit Internet consumers to select merchandise, review all of their selections, make necessary order changes and ultimately purchase the merchandise, subscriptions or services with a credit card.

Shopping cart software allows online shoppers to place their items in a “virtual” shopping cart, which is represented graphically for them, and to input and change information as needed on their computer. When the online shoppers reach the checkout, the shopping cart software calculates a grand total for the sales at hand, including regular handling and shipping charges and local and/or state sales taxes.

The Gateway is Key

Shopping cart software usually offers a way of capturing the payment information of the customer credit card, and in this case, customers count on the software element of the secure gateway provider. This information-capturing operation is completed in tandem with a secure payment gateway to conduct truly safe online credit card transactions.

Shopping cart software is almost always made up of two distinct parts. The first one is the storefront. This is the area of the merchant’s online store that is accessed by consumers of the online shop. Category, product and other pages are dynamically generated by the software, based on the information saved in the store database. The other part of the shopping cart process is the administration or “back end,” which is the area of the online store that is accessed and controlled by the merchant to manage the online shop. Depending on the sophistication of the shopping cart software, the amount of store management features varies. On the whole, however, a store manager is capable of adding and editing products, graphic images, categories, discounts, shipping modes and payment settings, among other things. Also included in many shopping cart programs are order management features.

Setup and Operations

Certain initial setup procedures have to be completed in the HTML code of the merchant’s store website, and the shopping cart software itself has to be installed on the secure server that also hosts that website and accepts the customer’s confidential credit card information. E-commerce shopping carts are typically linked to a specific consumer via HTTP cookies. For a majority of implementations that are server-based, nonetheless, data that is connected to the shopping cart is retained in what is known as the “session object” and is manipulated and accessed instantly when the user chooses different items from the shopping cart. Further down the line in the process of committing the order, this sensitive data is accessed and the customer order is produced against the selected item, which then clears the shopping cart and erases the vital data from any active, accessible areas of the server environment.

While many of the most straightforward online shopping carts precisely provide for an item to be added to a shopping cart in order to begin a checkout process, a lot of shopping cart software provides other critical features that an online business can use to manage its online store. Important data – such as categories, products, orders, discounts coupons and customers – is typically stored in a database, then accessed in real time through the shopping cart software.