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Do You Need a Shopping Cart Partner?

When it comes to implementing a shopping cart on your site, you have several options. You can

  • Build your own shopping cart from scratch. This is expensive and time consuming, but it provides you with a totally customized solution that exactly matches the look and feel of the rest of your website. Plus, with your own shopping cart, there are no ongoing monthly or usage fees—although you'll still have to pay PayPal or another firm for payment processing.
  • Partner with a third-party shopping cart service. These services offer ready-to-run shopping cart/checkout systems that can be somewhat customized in look and feel to match the rest of your website. Integration with your site is less costly and time consuming than building your own system from scratch, although some programming is still necessary. (The integration of the shopping cart with PayPal, however, is typically seamless; it's integrating the cart with your site that takes a bit of effort.) You'll pay a set monthly fee for the use of the shopping cart, a fee per transaction or one based on your transaction volume, and payment processing fees.
  • Use the PayPal Shopping Cart. This is the easiest solution to implement. All you have to do is generate and insert Add to Shopping Cart button codes for each SKU on your site; PayPal handles everything else. There's no integration programming necessary (beyond the button codes, of course), and no additional programming needed on your site. You don't even have to pay for this service; the PayPal Shopping Cart has no setup fees and no ongoing monthly fees. (You do have to pay PayPal's normal payment processing fees, of course.) The primary downsides are that you send visitors away from your site for the checkout process and that PayPal's checkout pages aren't as specific to your brand or company as custom-built checkout pages.

Where do you go to implement each of these solutions? It depends on which choices you make.

Building It Yourself

If you want to build it yourself, you'll need to contract with a website development firm—typically the same folks building the rest of your site. Make sure you're dealing with a firm that has experience building e-commerce sites and systems.

Finding a Shopping Cart Partner

If you want to go with a third-party shopping cart, there are many firms you can partner with—hundreds of them, in fact. Make sure that the shopping cart you choose integrates with PayPal, of course; in fact, many third-party shopping carts come with PayPal functionality built in.

More specifically, you need to make sure the shopping cart integrates with the PayPal product you've chosen for your business; you still need to choose between Website Payments Standard, Website Payments Pro, and the other services. Once you've ensured this compatibility, it's a matter of selecting the features, functionality, and price that work best for you.

Where can you find a shopping cart partner? PayPal maintains a list of compatible shopping carts in their Partner Directory. Go to the Solution Types pane and check Shopping Cart; PayPal now displays dozens of shopping cart providers, as you can see in Figure 4.2. You can sort the results by distance, company name, or PayPal partner level (Platinum, Gold, or Member.) Click through to learn more and contact any given company.

Figure 4.2

Figure 4.2 Browsing for shopping cart partners in the PayPal Partner Directory.

Selecting the PayPal Shopping Cart

The PayPal Shopping Cart is available with Website Payments Standard. When you sign up for your PayPal account, this is the solution you want to choose.

Once you've signed up, integrating the PayPal Shopping Cart into your site is a simple matter of generating HTML code for an Add to Cart button for each SKU on your site, and then inserting that code into each product page. (Figure 4.3 shows typical results.) You'll also want to generate code for and insert View Cart buttons, so that your customers can check out and pay when they're ready.

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.3 PayPal Add to Cart buttons on a typical product page.

Once all the buttons are generated and inserted, and you take your new product pages live, your shopping cart is also live. Since all the processing occurs on PayPal's site, your setup work is now done; any customer who makes a purchase will use the PayPal Shopping Cart.

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