Shopping Cart Components
A shopping cart has the following components that facilitate the order and transaction processes: storefront and administration.
- Storefront is the area of the online shop that you access where you can browse products by different categories and you can perform various product searches. There can be several types of pages displayed on a storefront, such as categories, products, bestsellers, on sale, and so on. The store database saves the information on the pages and it is then dynamically generated by the software. In most cases, the merchant is able to modify and update the look of the storefront in ways that best match the website in terms of color, text fonts, or general appearance. The pages that are controlled by the shopping cart software used by the online store usually don’t allow for much control.
- Administration is the area of the online store that is accessed by the merchant to manage the store. Depending on the sophistication level of a shopping cart, a merchant can choose the amount of store management features he or she can operate at any given time. Some merchants prefer shopping cart software with less complexity than others, but it is always important to keep customer experience on top of the priority list. Generally speaking, a store manager should be able to add products, edit product features or prices, add and edit categories, discounts, shipping and payment settings, and manage orders accordingly. An administration area of an online store can be accessed by the merchant through a web browser (web-based) or it can also be accessed through the merchant’s desktop through an application that runs on his or her computer (desktop-based) and transfers all changes onto the storefront component of the shopping cart.
Shopping Cart Software Types
- Open source software is released under an open source license. It is often free of charge. It allows the merchant to access and change the source code of the entire online shop. This type of shopping cart software needs to be hosted with a web hosting provider.
- Licensed software can be downloaded and then installed on a web server. A one-time fee is usually paid by the merchant. The merchant then owns the license to the software and can host on any web server providing that it meets the software requirements.
- Hosted service is provided by a hosted service provider and thus is never downloaded by the merchant. It is also called application service provider or ASP, and the merchant usually pays a fee on a monthly or annual basis. The vendor offers several predefined templates that the merchant can select from and customize to match the look of the website. Some merchants avoid using the application service provider model because the predefined template often limits how much the user can modify the appearance. However, there is an advantage to this limitation as the vendor keeps the software up to date and consistently monitors for security issues. Sometimes, hosted service carts charge the vendor a percentage of the sales.
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard Compliance
There is a set of regulations known as the PCI security standards that are set to safeguard the security of payment account information. These regulations define the best practices for handling sensitive information over the world wide web. Some members of the council that monitors these regulations, such as Visa Inc., have their own requirements that a merchant can only use shopping cart software providers that are on their list of PCI-DSS-validated vendors.