Hello there! I’m back with another episode of Coffee Break Blogging; Episode 125. It’s amazing how these episode numbers just stack up so quickly! 🙂
In the last episode, we talked about how to take credit cards on your site. But, the next question is… how do you actually accept the order?
That’s where the shopping cart comes in. And, there are a TON of these things out there to choose from.
But, what kind of shopping cart do you really need?
In this episode, we’ll discuss:
- The different kinds of shopping carts
- In which circumstances you should use each kind of cart
- Different options for keeping things SIMPLE, especially when you have just a few downloadable products to sell
- An overview of the hosted shopping cart systems and why you may want one
- The benefits of using a membership site platform as your shopping cart
- Exactly how I do it at the Blog Marketing Academy
The shopping cart market is huge with lots of competitors. This episode of CBB will help you find your way through it all.
So today we are going to talk about Shopping Carts and how to go about choosing a shopping cart.
In the previous episode we talked about how to accept credit cards in your blog; definitely something that is going to be very important if you want to make any sales. But the other component of that that you are going to need to look into is the shopping cart system which is the software that your visitors are going to see when they try to go and buy something; your checkout pages and that type of stuff, it is the software that actually interfaces with the whole credit card system and makes it all work… this is your shopping cart system.
And so we need to talk about that and how to go about actually selecting one of these bad boys. And we are going to go over a lot of different options today. I’m not going to go over them in a ton of detail because you are smart, you can go check out their website, anyway. I am just going to go and kind of walk you through some of the options.
So the first question that we need to ask is… Do you need an actual shopping cart?
The Different Kinds Of Shopping Carts
The word “shopping cart” is kind of a vague term. But it does delineate down into a couple of different categories. You got the type of shopping cart that as information marketers typically use. Now if you look at information marketing, you know… You’re just selling a course or an eBook or something like that, typically the person is buying one thing at a time. And they might have some up-sells and that type of thing, but essentially it is a pretty linear transaction. The person reads the page or they watch a video and says “Yep, I want to buy that” they click the button that says “Add to Cart” and then they begin the checkout process to buy that thing. Now the other type of shopping cart is the one where you literally have a real Shopping Cart. At the cart you can add multiple items to that cart and you can checkout and buy everything collectively.
Now, those are two different kinds of systems. And you need to look into this and look into what your intentions are going to be. Typically speaking, the multiple items style of shopping cart is really only going to be applicable if you are in the eCommerce business; if you are selling physical goods and that type of thing, something along the lines of Amazon where you can add multiple items to your cart and then buy all of them on one transaction. If you are not in that type of business, you do not need the style of shopping cart that is designed to do all that. You do not need the type of shopping cart where they are going to look at an eBook and then go “Add to cart” and then there is an option to go “Continue shopping” and add a bunch of other things to their cart because you are probably not going to do that when it comes to courses; it is not the way it works.
I am not going to talk too much about the eCommerce side because generally speaking, I do not train people to set up eCommerce sites. It is just beyond the scope of the Blog Marketing Academy. So the rest of what I am going to talk about here is going to be applying primarily if you are selling digital products.
And there are 3 different ways to go here…
For Single Downloadable Products
The first one is going to primarily apply to you if you are selling single downloadable products and if you do not have a heck of a lot of things to sell. These are outsourced solutions which mean that you are basically hiring these companies to not only process the order for you, but generally speaking, they are also going to deliver it for you as well. So if you get confused by how do you deliver the eBook to somebody when they buy it. You know… Do you setup a secure site, how do you handle logins and all that stuff. The mechanics of all that just make you go cross-eyed; well, that is where these types of companies come in.
These types of companies would be the likes of Gumroad… there is a company called PayLoadz.com. I’ve never used that company, by the way, but that is what they do. They sell digital goods. Then another one is e-Junkie. There is ClickBank.com; some of these guys… And what they are, are outsourced delivery mechanisms where they process the order and in many cases will deal with the customer support stuff for you; not like answering specific questions, but if a person wants a refund or something, these companies will just do it and they handle the delivery in secure fashion to the people who buy it.
Now in exchange for offloading all that hassle on to them, you are going to pay more. You will pay more with those companies than you would if you are processing the transaction in-house. It is because you are paying that extra for all the other services that they are providing. They are delivering the thing to them and they are handling a lot of the back end stuff. So from your perspective on your site, all you are going to need is a sales page and then a “Buy” button link and then it goes off into these people’s companies like Gumroad or e-Junkie or PayLoadz or ClickBank or what have you and they take care of everything over there.
And so you are paying extra for that. I think with ClickBank; I haven’t used ClickBank in years, but I want to say that you are paying like 7-8% of transaction to the whole thing. PayLoadz I think has a flat monthly rate plus a percentage of transaction. Gumroad I think is just a percentage of a transaction but it is higher than a typical credit card. I think it is more like about 5%. So you are going to pay more for these but they are convenient. And they are good options if you are in a situation where you do not have a lot of products to sell. Let’s say you just got one eBook right now or maybe one online course and that is kind of your main game; you do not need a lot of upsells or any of these fancy stuffs, go check out some of these companies like Gumroad or e-Junkie. I don’t like e-Junkie a heck of a lot but Gumroad is nice and clean, they got a really simple checkout process and it makes selling things pretty darn simple.
For Selling Higher Volume Of Info Products
This is definitely going to be beefier and will not apply to everybody listening right now because these are the shopping carts that are great for selling information products but they also come with a more significant cost; they are generally designed to run higher volume and things like that. So these are good for higher volume; people making many different transactions. Generally speaking they are going to have multiple things on their product line because most of these options have the ability to do one-click up-sells or they buy one product and then you say, “Hey, you want to add this to it” blah-blah-blah and in order to do stuff like that you need to have other things to sell, you can’t be a one-trick pony. And so if you are a more developed business, these types of cart make a lot of sense.
The other good thing about this is that they do allow you to offload that responsibility. Just like Gumroad or e-Junkie or these guys who take care a lot of back end stuff; it is the same with these hosted shopping cart systems where they take care of the secure transaction as far as putting the security and place where the credit card transactions are secure. They take care of the checkout pages; they have got all that setup for you. So it is a lot more hands-off. It is a lot simpler to use these things because they are taking care of a lot of that grout work for you. Typically, also, with these shopping cart systems is that they also have transaction management built-in. So if you want to go and refund somebody, you log-in to the shopping cart, you take care of that, you can see people’s transaction history… All that back end stuff is all dealt with by these hosted shopping carts.
Now let’s name off a few to kind of give you an idea what I am talking about…
There are those that are attached to a CRM which is a Customer Relationship Manager; in other words a big email list that has got tagging and all that. And the two big ones are InfusionSoft and Ontraport. Ontraport is the guy that I use. InfusionSoft is a very popular company. Both of these companies got your email list and all the database capabilities that go along with that. But on top of that they will also process transactions. So if somebody comes and they buy, you can process the transaction and everything right through Ontraport and the emails, all those on the Ontraport, you got all the marketing capability. It is a real powerful combo. But because these systems are not cheap at all, you need to have a business of a certain caliber before you would probably want to buy something like that. So it is not necessary for most of us but those are 2 different options; InfusionSoft and Ontraport.
Another one that I have used before is called NanaCast. It is actually a really nice shopping cart; with a caveat. Last time when I was using it, the design of it was not that great. It looked like it was built in the 90’s. And for all practical purposes, it might be that way now; they might not have made it any better. That being said, it is one of the most flexible and powerful shopping carts that I have used in a long time. It is a really nice shopping cart. You just have to get around the fact that when you are actually using it, it is not that pretty. So that is Nanacast.com, really nice. I was paying $99 a month to use it. So it is not cheap but it is not as expensive as InfusionSoft or Ontraport. But it does not have any email capabilities or any of that. It is strictly for handling transactions, processing transactions securely, that type of thing.
Another one that is really popular is called 1ShoppingCart.com; very well-known and I think the company is web.com, so it is a big company behind this and many people use them and it gets along just fine. I think with 1ShoppingCart you can actually do the other style of shopping cart where they actually add more multiple items to the cart and the whole nine yards; it is just that most of us are not probably going to be doing that.
A competitor of 1ShoppingCart is called PremiumWebCart; has a lot of nice features, I have not used them personally but I know that when I was shopping around I was checking these guys out. So you might check out PremiumWebCart. I think it is just premiumwebcart.com.
And another one, it is getting more popular is called Sam Cart at samcart.com. Now this is setup by people who are very familiar with information marketing. They have got beautiful one-click upsell capability and a lot of really cool stuff. And I have there is a lot of power with SamCart but I have not used it personally.
And there are tons of other ones out there; this is just to name a few. But the whole idea here is that you are offloading the responsibility for having a smooth checkout process to these companies. So if you want to just basically let somebody else deal with it, that is where these hosted shopping carts come in.
Shopping Cart Attached To A Membership Site
Now, I want to talk about one other option and it goes along with the episodes that we have been talking about here in Coffee Break Blogging for the last few; specifically, membership sites.
Now why do I mention Membership Sites as a shopping cart? Well, when you get right down to it; that is kind of what they are. If you go back to Episode 122 where we talked about 6 Reasons why you should create a membership site, one of the points that I made there was that you can sell anything, essentially, via a Membership Site platform, especially if we are talking about digital. And even if you are selling an eBook or something, you can sell it via a membership site platform. And in fact, you might even want to explore not delivering it as an eBook but deliver it as a small mini-course instead, protected by your membership site software.
And so if you are in the information business, it makes a lot of sense in my mind to not use some third-party shopping cart system like we just talked about, but to actually do it as a membership where they give an account on your website and then anything they buy from you automatically gets added to that account. It just seems nice and clean to me. Now the other thing is that with these systems it is a little bit more “do-it-yourself.” It is still pretty simple but it is not as if you are throwing all responsibility off onto another company and therefore paying them monthly for that privilege.
With a membership site platform, especially in the context of WordPress, which is what most of us are using; you control it because it is tied right to your blog. So these people never leave your blog, they are not going to some third-party checkout page in most cases; they are going to stay on your site and they buy anything via your shopping cart system, which is actually your membership site.
Now, to name off a few options here, I am going to start off with MemberMouse because I am a huge fan of MemberMouse and this is actually what the Blog Marketing Academy is built on top of. Now, with MemberMouse I can sell any one-of product I want. I can sell any membership. I can sell any damn thing I want. And it is all through my own checkout process customized for the Blog Marketing Academy and it is all right there on my website, so I control the entire experience. I am not offloading them on to somebody else’s checkout page.
Now the flip-side of that is of course I am responsible for that checkout process. I am responsible for what it looks like, I am responsible for providing security for it. Now the security is easy, actually. I host with the WP Engine and I just go and I buy what is called an SSL Certificate. That is for Secure Socket Layer Certificate and I buy it from them. It is easy; all web hosts sell these things. And they will hook it up for you, too. So, all that means is that you can have any page on your site be secure just by turning the URL into https rather than http. And so that is the way I do it. When I send people out to my checkout page, that page is designed to be secured which means that any information that people provide on that page is going to be sent securely.
And then, my system is integrated with Stripe for credit card, and all that information gets securely communicated with Stripe. And in fact, my server has never even see anybody’s credit card information. It goes directly to Stripe and Stripe maintains all security for that. But I control the entire checkout process this way. And that is with MemberMouse. I could sell an eBook that way, if I wanted to; I can sell any membership I want in any format, I can sell any one-of product I want of any price point and I can do it all in MemberMouse. And the beauty of it is that I can provide one global account that anything that they buy from my company appears under that account, which is just easy for people.
Few Other Ones
WishList Member is a very popular out there for memberships and you can do the same thing. I believe it integrates with Stripe, now; integrates with several others, too. And you could sell one-of or recurring. I mean you could sell anything you want, essentially, with WishList Member. DigitalAccessPass is another one; MemberPress is another one… There are a lot of these out there. And this happens to be the way I prefer to checkout or shopping cart “system” on my site, is to do it using a membership site platform.
With MemberMouse, specifically, if you want to do one-click up-sells like the fancy guys like NanaCast and Sam Cart and these guys will do, then MemberMouse allows you to do that. You can do one-click up-sells and it is beautiful. It works just as well as those big hosted systems; and that is with MemberMouse which is what I use in my business.
So that is basically the lay of the land in terms of shopping carts. I don’t want you to get that confused by it; there are a lot of options out there because anything out there in the internet, every business is going to need, you are going to have a lot of people trying to provide it. So you go out there to look for shopping carts and you are going to find absolute tons of them.
So what you need to do is evaluate it from “What are your needs.” What are your needs? If you are just going to be selling one thing or maybe two things and you are not looking to do up-sells and stuff like that, you do not want to deal with the mechanics of delivering things to people securely; go check out some of these simple ones like Gumroad or e-Junkie or even ClickBank if you want, okay? If you are running more volume and you want to have more complicated up-sell sequences and all that kind of stuff, check out one of these hosted shopping carts like the kind that we have talked about.
The price points vary and you are going to probably want to run some volume before you are going to want to pay that monthly expense, but you get what you pay for. But if you want infinite flexibility, then check out one of these membership site platforms and I would highly encourage you to check out MemberMouse, specifically; and it is only because it has got that really nice one-click upsell capability which a lot of the other membership systems just do not have. And MemberMouse is just clean. It gives you the same kind of capabilities in many cases as these more expensive hosted shopping carts but you can do it all in-house all in your own site.
Alright, so there you go. Hopefully, you found that valuable. Hopefully, I provided a little bit of clarity there on shopping carts. In the next episode we are going to jump right back into the dedicated membership site theme where we are going to be talking about how to deliver on a recurring membership.
So, I’ll see you then! 😉