There’s a great debate in the world of B2B ecommerce and that’s about whether an ecommerce shopping cart is the same as an ecommerce toolset or ecommerce platform.
Are they the same thing?
Simply, the answer is no.
An ecommerce shopping cart is a way to facilitate the purchase of a good or service online. When I think of an ecommerce shopping cart I immediately conjure up images of a self-managed Yahoo! storefront or something similar. They are quick to set up, relatively inexpensive, and stand alone, as in they aren’t integrated with any of your other business systems. There’s nothing wrong with these shopping carts–they certainly get the job done–but as an enterprise organization, you are likely to need a more robust solution to effectively reach your customer.
An ecommerce toolset is more than a shopping cart. Certainly the toolset will include a shopping cart functionality to enable the completion of an online transaction, but that is only one small fraction of the functionality a true ecommerce toolset or platform offers. Some of the features a B2B ecommerce toolset will offer include:
- The flexability to change the look and feel of your site.
- The ability to customize how the site works.
- Customizable site taxonomy.
- Secure log-in capability for customers only.
- Robust product and customer promotions.
- The ability to cross-sell and up-sell.
- Interactive features like faceted search, comparing products, and product configurators.
- Integration to your ERP and other back-end systems.
Here’s another way to look at it. Consider one of those little mall kiosks that sell t-shirts and hand bags and hand creams from a little cart in the middle of a large open space filled with other similar kiosks. While the kiosk you are looking at might sell jewelry, it’s not likely that the experience is anything like shopping from a true jewelry store. You can buy stuff from those carts, but shopping them is rarely a full shopping experience that you get from more robust–and larger–retailers.
The same can be said of an ecommerce shopping cart versus a true ecommerce platform. While a shopping cart will let you complete the online transaction, a significant portion of the experience will be missing.
To learn more about how to maximize the success of your ecommerce site, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.