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What are the best online shopping carts for small business?

Last Updated | May 27, 2021

A shopping cart is a crucial component for all ecommerce stores development, greatly influencing the success of your online business. The performance of the online shopping cart plays an important role in conversion optimization for ecommerce stores by enhancing customers’ experience. A robust online shopping cart should be able to seamlessly fit with the online catalog, as well as, with the store’s payment gateway to ensure an integrated and flawless shopping experience. Any failure in the functionality of a shopping cart directly influences the revenue for the business, thereby, it is critical for all ecommerce stores to choose the right online shopping cart in line with their store’s needs.

Generally, the web hosting platform chosen by businesses also offered default shopping carts. However, since it’s a crucial component that influences the success or failure of the store, it is recommended to choose one carefully by thoroughly understand the features, functionalities, and limitations of each cart. The key considerations in choosing a shopping cart for an online business is to understand your store needs and its operational process, the tart audience, and your preferred mode of selling products/services.

There are various choices for ecommerce shopping carts available for online stores, thereby, the process of choosing the best ecommerce shopping carts starts by identifying the features you need for your store operations. Understanding your store needs is important because ecommerce shopping carts greatly assist store owners in managing various store functions including’ tracking and managing product inventory, order fulfillment, product database maintenance, maintaining loyalty programs, sales tracking, marketing campaigns, and many other features. To make things even better, some of the top ecommerce shopping carts also offer turnkey bundles bringing in customized branding options for online stores, warehousing operators, and ecommerce fulfillment services.

With such a complex set of features, it may be difficult for businesses to evaluate the true potential and functionalities offered by shopping carts ecommerce. And thereby, it’s important to not rely on big claims of the best ecommerce shopping carts, rather evaluate and compare each platform for their features and functionalities. Well, here in this blog we have come up with some important things you need to consider for choosing the best online shopping carts for small business, while also briefly comparing the features and functionalities offered by the top 5 ecommerce shopping carts.

Reasons You Need a Shopping Cart

Well, before we start comparing the shopping carts or look at some of the important considerations for choosing an online shopping cart, let’s briefly look at the functioning of the shopping cart and why you need them in the first place.

As mentioned above, various web hosting platforms offer their default shopping carts, whereas, there are also some free ecommerce shopping carts available as built-in tools with the web hosting services. However, choosing these are optional and not mandatory. However, as you can expect there is no free lunch, and thereby, while free ecommerce shopping carts may seem an attractive proposition to small businesses, they really need to look at the complete picture and how the limited features and functionalities of the free shopping carts may hamper their sales. That’s because if your customers would have to call you every time after placing an order to confirm the credit card details, you can expect losing much of the potential sales, right away.

Remember, a robust and full-featured shopping cart greatly improves your store’s reputation for customers, while also enabling stores to manage large sales volume better. An ideal shopping cart should be able to support multiple payment gateways, collect taxes, and have the feature to calculate the shipping cost, to maximize sales conversion for your store. Remember, the faster the customers are able to go through the shopping cart, the happier the customer and the greater the revenue for your business.

Shopping Cart Prices

Honestly, choosing any online shopping cart solely based on the pricing isn’t the recommended approach. When we look at some of the best online shopping carts for small businesses, we come to see that while some carts may offer advanced features, they also impose different transactional restrictions or bandwidth tiers, whereas, some of the other carts may restrict the features and functionalities of the cart based on the pricing plan.

And while most of the best online shopping carts for small businesses may offer design templates, many popular templates are fenced for the most premium plans, which compel small businesses to spend more to unlock the premium templates. Website builder application may come in handy in this case, enabling businesses to customize the free templates available with the shopping carts. Some shopping carts even offer website builder applications free of cost, whereas, others charge extra for the customization.

Similarly, some shopping carts may be available for free, however, they will charge a fee against each transaction or other important add-ons required for integration with third-party tools. This depending upon the sales volume of your store may range anywhere between USD 9.99 to hundreds or even thousands of dollars monthly. Whereas, others may come as a fixed monthly plan without any transaction fee.

Another important pricing consideration when comparing the best online shopping carts for small businesses is the type of transaction fees. Broadly speaking, there may be two different types of transaction fees that need to be considered; one that is charged by the shopping cart, whereas, the other that’s charged by the payment gateway. Most shopping carts and the payment gateway will charge some specific percentage of each transaction. Then there’s an additional transaction fee that is being charged by a few shopping carts against the usage of the app. All of this means that even before the payment gateway collects the fees from the customer, your shopping cart will be charging a certain percentage of the transaction, and once it gets collected by the payment gateway, some additional percentage will again be deducted by the payment gateway for the transaction process. All of these may add up significantly, based on the volume of sales or the cost of products/services offered by the store and thereby is an important aspect to consider.

Apart from the transaction charges, some online shopping carts also link up allocated bandwidth to the pricing plan. This means that if you are expecting a higher volume of sales, you would need to opt for the most expensive plan to ensure maximum uptime and a seamless user experience through the shopping cart. Other shopping carts still may restrict the storage (no. of product images that can be displayed) for cheaper plans, forcing you to buy an expensive plan when looking to sell a large number of products. Alternatively, some shopping carts also offer charges per product image, this may be better for small businesses, however, if you are dealing with large inventory this may add up significantly at the end of the month.

Another important aspect to consider regarding the bandwidth limit is that it can be really difficult to manage. That’s because bandwidth gets consumed fast whenever a visitor lands on the website (this includes humans as well as, search engines). Also, the number of pages visited by users in a single session consumes more and more bandwidth. This adds up significantly fast to consume the bandwidth allocation, and thereby you may need to consider a generous bandwidth allotment to feel safe and well-covered.

Important Shopping Cart Features

Now that we know about the price considerations for online shopping carts for ecommerce, let’s see some of the other important aspects/features to consider when comparing the best online shopping carts for small businesses.

As mentioned earlier, before you compare ecommerce shopping carts for features, it’s important to understand your store’s needs and requirements. That’s because each shopping cart offers different features and functionalities packed in customized pricing plans. And if you understand your needs, you will be better prepared to choose the plan offering the best value for the services.

Moving on to the comparison, some shopping carts offer better features to sell physical goods, whereas, others are more suited for selling digital products like music, e-books of services. Also, some shopping carts bring great options for data migration from other platforms, whereas, others bring advanced capabilities to handle bulk uploads for the database. Some still offer better features for inventory tracking and shipping.

Another important consideration is to check out the inventory and customer database maintenance tools. Ideally, best online shopping carts for small business should have built-in tools for the same, however, if built-in tools aren’t present check out the options for third-party tools integration and subsequent plan pricing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools are also an important consideration when choosing an online shopping cart. SEO tools enable online stores to achieve a higher ranking in search query results and thereby are important for any ecommerce store success. Ideally, the shopping cart should include various SEO tools with easy integration with Google Analytics, this will help store owners to get more insights into their store performance and make well-informed business decisions to improve ranking and traffic to the store.

Customer support is another important feature to consider when looking for the best online shopping carts for small businesses. While the documentation and tutorials may seem good enough in the beginning, these are never enough to manage daily issues, which are frequent in ecommerce stores. Remember, there will always going to be various issues that will require dedicated and instant support from the customer service representatives, ideally through call or live chat. Thereby, when choosing an online shopping cart, make sure it offers comprehensive and reliable customer support services.

Lastly, you can’t neglect the security aspect of your store. Customers today are highly suspicious of dealing with online stores that don’t offer comprehensive security features to protect their personal and financial details, which means any ignorance here will lead to a significant loss in potential sales. To start with, you need to have a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate from the web hosting provider to ensure customers the security of their information. Also, you may need to integrate some additional security tools like MacAfee Security or other being displayed as further reassurance of the customers’ information security.

Best Online Shopping Carts for Small Businesses

Now that you know all the important aspects of choosing an online shopping cart for your small business, let’s not compare some of the most-widely used shopping carts and see what each of these carts bring to the table for your online store;

  1. Volusion

Volusion is definitely one of the most recommended and widely used shopping carts for various reasons. To begin with, it brings in some tempting value proposition with its low price plans, offering high-value for money to small businesses. To make it even more tempting, it brings in robust customer support, and security features. Not to overlook great compatibility for various payment gateways for credit card processing or through PayPal. The platform also brings in various design templates to choose from, all of which are professionally designed templates optimized for mobile devices, thereby, ensuring seamless mobile ecommerce operations along with easy integration with social media platforms.

In a nutshell, volusion beings in all the features and functionalities you need to manage and run an effective online store, with pricing plans started as low as $14/month and a 14 days trial period.

Some of the features that come with the cheapest Volusion pricing plan (USD 14 per month) includes;

  • 100 Products
  • Mobile Commerce
  • Responsive Templates
  • No Transaction Fees
  • 1GB Bandwidth
  • Automatic Tax Rates
  • Unlimited Storage
  • Online Support
  • Mobile App
  • Free Slideshow
  • Social Media Tools
  • And more
  1. Shopify

Shopify ecommerce development platform is undoubtedly one of the best online shopping carts for small businesses. In fact, it’s the leading ecommerce development platform for stores of all sizes and shapes. The platform has been able to dominate the ecommerce industry for the past many years, thanks to some of the exquisite features and functionalities that it brings to streamline the store management process. Apart from the innumerous high-utility features built-in to the platform, it brings a massive repository of third-party software through the Shopify App Store which comprises over 1500 add-ons to help ecommerce stores with each and every aspect of online store management. The platform also brings in powerful security features with complete protection for personal and credit card information of buyers. Not to forget the exemplary customer support service that makes it compete with the likes of Amazon for client satisfaction.

The cheapest plan for Shopify starts at USD 29 per month with unlimited 24/7 customer support and various other features including;

  • Free trial
  • Unlimited product updates
  • Social media integration
  • 1000+ themes
  • Discount codes
  • Blogs
  • Email marketing
  • Mobile commerce
  • And more
  1. Big Commerce

BigCommerce is yet another great competitor for the best online shopping platform that comes packed with powerful features and advanced functionalities. The platform is highly lauded for its robust fraud protection feature making it a highly secure and well-protected shopping cart for online businesses. It also brings in high compatibility for integration with various transaction procedures including credit card processing and through PayPal. To further add to the attraction of the platform, Big Commerce ecommerce development offers complete mobile ecommerce solutions with responsive professional designed templates. It also enables businesses to upload unlimited products, coupled with unlimited bandwidth, and storage. The platform also offers social media integration options for Pinterest, Facebook, and Google Stores.

The cheapest pricing plan for BigCommerce starts at USD 29.95 per month offering features like;

  • Unlimited products
  • Social media connectivity
  • Up to USD 50k annual sales
  • 100+ design templates
  • 24/7 customer support service
  • And more
  1. 3DCart

3D cart is another competitor for the best online shopping carts for small businesses. However, the platform is more suited for online stores with large product inventory. The platform offers all premium features and functionalities required to effectively manage and run an online store including mobile ecommerce, easy integration with social media platforms, and others.

The cheapest pricing plan for 3D cart starts at USD 19.99 and including features like;

  • 200 products upload
  • Social media connectivity
  • No transaction fees
  • USD 25 free credits
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Up to 4000 monthly visits
  • And more
  1. Fortune 3

Last but not least, we have Fortune 3 as a competitor for the best online shopping cart for small businesses. the platform brings in all the tools and features required by small businesses to setup and runs an online store effectively. Apart from the more pressing features for effective management of stores, the platform also offers store owners the features to sell or receive gift certificates. Other features of the platform include support for affiliate programs, easy integration with social media platforms, email marketing, and others. To make things even more tempting for small businesses, Fortune 3 offers all the premium features for all of its pricing plans, the only difference is the number of product, which certainly makes it one of the best online shopping carts for small businesses.

The cheapest pricing plan for Fortune 3 starts at USD 9.95 per month and include features like;

  • 20 products
  • Social media integration
  • No transaction fee for stores using Fortune 3 credit card services
  • No setup fee
  • Unlimited customer support
  • Unlimited storage
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • And more

Final Thoughts

As mentioned earlier, the choice for the best online shopping carts for small businesses primarily depends upon the unique business needs. And while you had read the pricing and feature comparison of some of the top ecommerce shopping carts, it is clear that each platform comes with unique strengths and limitations. Some offer better features, while others offer better value for money. In the end, you would have to compare the features and pricing offered by each platform against your store needs and choose the platform that brings in the most value for your money.



Who provides shopping carts for ecommerce?

Shopping carts for ecommerce stores are offered by various ecommerce web development platforms like Shopify, Volusion, Fortune 3, BigCommerce and others. Apart from these names, there are other third-party shopping carts also available for integration with ecommerce stores.

Top self-hosted ecommerce shopping carts?

Some of the top self-hosted ecommerce shopping carts include;

  • X Cart Ecommerce Platform.
  • WooCommerce (WordPress)
  • nopCommerce.
  • paGO Commerce.
  • Magento Community Edition.
  • PrestaShop.
  • OpenCart.
  • osCommerce.

What language is used in ecommerce shopping carts?

Online shopping carts may be written in various programming languages including HTML (most popular), ASP, Java, and JavaScript

What are the types of ecommerce shopping carts?

There are two types of shopping carts – hosted and self-hosted shopping carts.

Is switching ecommerce shopping carts a good idea?

While vendors may have to bear extra cost for switching shopping carts, if required it is worth to switch to a better online shopping card for extra features or advanced functionalities.

Related Blogs: How To Configure Your Magento 2 Shopping Cart Easily


Folio3, a Software Powerhouse established in 2005, is one of the leading eCommerce solution providers for SMBs and Fortune 500. The Company has expertise in diverse industries such as Animal Care, Retail, Automotive, Food and Agriculture, and Health care. From ecommerce store design and development to full-scale ERP deployment and integration, Folio3 has done it all.