An eCommerce shopping cart is a software application that works in harmony with your website to provide an online shopping environment.  This software typically runs from the same computer that serves as your website’s server.  The intended function of a shopping cart is to give you a way to display your wares online, and provide the customer with a way to browse (and hopefully purchase) your merchandise.  The software works in harmony with your website to provide a seamless shopping interface for you and your customer.

Every good eCommerce shopping cart must have three things: a database, a storefront interface for customers, and an administration area for you.  The database is a storehouse of information on all the products available through your site.  You as the administrator, have the ability to alter the information contained in this database, updating it to match current data.  The customer never sees the database, but accesses information contained within it any time they want to see a particular product.

The storefront interface is an important part of the customer experience.  This interface provides a go between for the database and the customer, translating the data into a visibly pleasing display of information.  The interface takes the information the customer is requesting and generates a new page with the desired results.

The administration area of the website provides important access for you as the business administrator to make adjustments to the database.  This area allows you to manage inventory, update shipping information, process orders, etc.  In general, the administration area is available to allow you to manage your online business in the most effective manner possible.

As you shop for an eCommerce shopping cart, be sure to take a careful look at what they offer.  What type of interface do they provide for you and for the customer?  Is the software compatible with your sever?  Take your time to compare carts before you buy.

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