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Starting an Online Business All-in-One For Dummies®, 3rd Edition by Joel Elad, Shannon Belew

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Not All Carts Are Created Equal

Today's sophisticated applications have grown into more than simple shopping baskets for online customers. And you can incorporate quite a few tools into your shopping cart program. Your job is to figure out which features you need most, right now — and determine which features will serve you best in the long run. Before you can do either, you have to understand what's out there and what's important to use. To make this process easier for you, we divide the most sought-after features into four standard categories:

  • Back-end management
  • Customer-centric
  • Integration and maintenance
  • Promotion and marketing

Back-end management

Each shopping cart program has a set of administration tools. Although the specifics can vary among types of software, ultimately these tools give you control of your shopping cart. Here's a list of features to look for in admin tools:

  • Administrative functions: Passwords and options such as font size or number of items to display on a page are settings that only an administrator — namely, you — should be able to change.
  • Customization: Choices, choices — this factor is important when you're using a shopping cart program. The more you can change colors and fonts, for example, the more likely you are to create a shopping cart that melds with the rest of your site.
  • Exporting: Always confirm that you can export your products from the shopping cart. This feature is critical if you end up using a different shopping cart down the road ...

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