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A custom shopping cart solution
Online Shopping Cart
Simplicity - Why you should consider a custom online shopping cart
Solutions like Shopify can be good for some online stores - Shopify Online pricing starts at $29 USD per month up to $299 USD per month. They have a starting transaction fee of 1.75% + 30¢ AUD to 1.4% + 30¢ AUD for online Australian credit cards.
Calculating Shipping Rates with Shopify
- Flat shipping rates
- General rates
- Priced-based rates
- Weight-based rates
- Calculated rates
Shopify: Adding multiple package types is available only for stores in the United States and Canada. If you are outside the United States and Canada, then you can add only one preferred package type.
Calculating Discounts with Shopify
Discounts and coupons offer incentive for shoppers. They are complex, Shopify has detailed help on applying coupons and discounts.
You can specify the following:
- the dates for which the code is valid
- the number of times that a code can be used
- a minimum order amount before the code can be used
- which products, collections, or variants the discount can be applied to.
Shopify also include customer eligibility, where you can specify Everyone, Specific groups of customers or specific customers.
Various payment options
There are various payment options like PayPal, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay and at least 40 Payment Gateways supported in Australia eg eWAY Rapid 3.1, SecurePay (Australia) and Authorize.net.
Themes and Product Media with Shopify
You can purchase themes with Shopify, and within those themes there will be various media options like Images, 3D models (selected themes) and Videos.
Creating videos is a time consuming task - we analyse this in our article Web Video Marketing.
Shopify vs Stripe
Shopify is an ecommerce platform. Stripe is a Payment Gateway that can be connected to various applications. You could setup Stripe and use if for various aspects of your business, not just your online shopping cart. The complexity of Shopify absolutely requires good general web skills. Whether that is the website owner or an employee is a decision to make.
WooCommerce is built on top of WordPress - a recipe for a slow site since WordPress has issues. In some cases you could wait an extra 5 seconds for a page to load. Just check the number of searches on "Fix a Slow WooCommerce Store". A good strategy before engaging any platform is to search on existing problems and check issues existing users have.
- a fast custom shopping cart
If the primary source of sales is going to be via a search engine like Google, having your site designed for SEO from the outset is important. There is a difference between a site with tacked on SEO and one designed with SEO in mind.
W3C validation Errors and Site Speed
We analysed one page from an example in Shopify put it into a W3C validator which revealed error after error in the code. Refer to our SEO Page - Website Migration Guide on validation techniques and other structural issues sites need to overcome.
It is safe to say many Shopify sites would be full of errors. For that matter it is hard to find a WordPress site that validates properly. These may not stop the site from functioning or selling, however it will not function or sell as well as a site with cleaner optimised code and few errors.
Making a shopping cart simpler - less is more
With a custom online shopping cart that uses one payment solution like Stripe.com, your online shopping system can be so much simpler. The site structure is designed around your products not the other way around where your products must fit a set structure. It is less complicated and can really look good because the theme is customised to suit the shopping experience. A shopping experience needs to inspire confidence, removing any obstacles to a person purchasing. Choice paralysis is a well known phenomena, where more choices leads to being less likely to take action. Psychologist Barry Schwartz, calls this choice paralysis. He argues that more choices make us less likely to take action, and to be less satisfied with our eventual decision
When things go wrong - one of the difficulties of developing a shopping cart is tracing the process and being able to make updates when the system is live. When a system is live any change must be tested via a live order. A fraudulent attempt may be made, or a person may abandon the shopping cart screen and return a day later - you need to be able to recover from this gracefully and securely. You can pick up the phone and discuss any issue with the developer of the system - us. We can trace every step of a transaction, with the latest Stripe Payment Intents API you create a traceable path from the outset.
Custom Security we can add custom security on top of the considerable security provided by SSL and Stripe. Denial of service attacks can be annoying, custom code can dramatically reduce these. Stripe is constantly evolving security procedures, and recommends best practise techniques for reducing fraud.
A major benefit of limiting the options on your online shopping cart is that the need for constant updates due to changes in APIs is dramatically reduced.
A major benefit of limiting the options on your online shopping cart is that the need for constant updates due to changes in APIs is dramatically reduced. Stripe is still supporting much of its original legacy code, meaning if you created a shopping experience 5 years ago - the code still works today. Other providers send an email like "Payment System no longer Supported" - you have to rebuild the system.
Updating your site design
Some of our sites have had 4 complete redesigns but still maintain the core structure created over a decade ago. We can update your entire look and feel without wiping out original pages or structures.
Features of a custom shopping cart
Many of the features listed below occur in off the shelf shopping carts like Shopify. However to avoid being overwhelmed with detail, we modify the features to suit your products.
We would create the image uploads at the ideal size for the presentation of your product. Not every product is sold via a shopping cart, take for example the purchase and download of an eBook. In most cases this is a once off purchase for one product only.
Some shopping carts do not automatically refresh total calculations, they require the purchaser to understand the page is not sophisticated enough to make that calculation on the spot and there is an update cart button for that, so that the totals can be calculated correctly.
- Varying prices styles and sizes
- Indicate out of stock items
- Vary how payment is received (e.g. login or straight to payment)
- Secure system more difficult for hackers to guess logins
- Varying delivery calculations depending on location and product
- Design to best match how a shopper prefers to browse
- Group products how it suits your shoppers
- Manage Photo uploads to suit your business
- Instant shipping cost calculations and updates to totals
- Coupons discounts and special time limited offers
- Up to date security and SSL setup
- Generate a pdf invoice, update and replace it automatically or download and edit it (Adobe PDF online)
- Generate bulk default photos
- Generate bulk product updates
Some examples of sites with a custom shopping cart-:
Latest value add upgrades to our shopping cart
Add or remove items, adjust quantities and update pricing without needing a refresh button. Have an image of the item for sale. Allow amalgamation of products and stock control.
Differentiate between items with shipping and those that do not ship. Allow options for calculation of shipping and different providers. Allow address updates and confirmation at any stage of the process. Provide updates and tracking.
Coupons and Discounts
Provide coupons and discounts that can be applied with immediate results shown to the purchaser. Differentiate between products that have a discount and those that do not.
Provide secure payment options tailored for the location or preferred option of the customer. Produce an invoice and update if necessary. The ability to trace a transaction in its entirety and allocate an order id to the payment system.
We setup advanced Google Analytics for SEO and monitoring of visitors behaviour.
SEO value of Shopping Cart
Design the Shopping Cart to be enhanced for SEO. The Shopping Cart is not an add-on it is integrated into the entire structure of the site from an SEO point of view. Products provide infinite SEO possibilities. The site accounts for suppliers and categories or styles.
Additional fields are added to allow HTML content to be added to the product listing. HTML allows you to add titles, bolding, any content you see on a webpage.
Advanced Custom Product Management
- Add multiple images automatically named to add SEO value
- Update products details quickly with multple filters
- Help with creating scripts to add products in bulk
- Work directly with the developer and SEO of the shopping cart
Computers are very good at doing the same thing millions of times - so why should you?
Managing Complexity in Processing Payments
A custom shopping cart liaises directly with the customer and the Payment Gateway. There has been an explosion of new payment methods with options like Afterpay.
Managing the constant changes requires a system that can adapt to changes. Recently Stripe announced to members of its Developer Digest its new Payment Element -:
"The new Payment Element lets you build a custom payment flow that supports 18+ payment methods with a single integration."
Integration of this new system is quite easy if you have been working with Stripe systems because it is based on previous versions and integrates "Webhooks" which are a means of receiving staggered information from the Payment Gateway. So in our case we could quickly upgrade systems to accept multiple payment types and had pre-made test examples to adjust and work with.
About the author
Philip Hoile has lectured at Griffith University in e-business, advanced e-business, e-commerce and User Interface Design. A web developer since 1996 specialising in programming website Content Management Systems.
My interest in web marketing stems from a desire to improve client outcomes.
Disclaimer Information is presented here that may go out of date or expresses an opinion. This does contain information from sources I have an association with (i.e. I use their services)
Payment Gateway Articles
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Online Shopping Cart»
Instant Payment Gateway»
iPhone Payment Gateway»
Payment Gateway Comparison Tool»
Payment Gateway Case Studies»
Setting Up a PayPal Account»
How to setup a Shopping Cart with Paypal»
Currently Stripe is my go to payment gateway
Shopify vs Custom Shopping Cart Google Speed Test Comparison
Analysing a site can include performing speed tests. The Overall Score is an indicator of all factors into the speed of a site. In this comparison we analysed two product pages. One from a typical Shopify site and one from our own custom product page for a wine store.
First Contentful Paint
First Contentful Paint (FCP) marks the time at which the first text or image is painted. FCP measures how long it takes the browser to render the first piece of DOM content after a user navigates to your page. Images, non-white canvas elements, and SVGs on your page are considered DOM content; anything inside an iframe isn't included.
0-1.8 Green (fast)
1.8-3 Orange (moderate)
Over 3 Red (slow)
Time to Interactive
Time to interactive is the amount of time it takes for the page to become fully interactive.
0-3.8 Green (fast)
3.9-7.3 Orange (moderate)
Over 7.3 Red (slow)
Total Blocking Time
TBT measures the total amount of time that a page is blocked from responding to user input, such as mouse clicks, screen taps, or keyboard presses. The sum is calculated by adding the blocking portion of all long tasks between First Contentful Paint and Time to Interactive. Any task that executes for more than 50 ms is a long task. The amount of time after 50 ms is the blocking portion. For example, if Lighthouse detects a 70 ms long task, the blocking portion would be 20 ms.
0-200 Green (fast)
200-600 Orange (moderate)
Over 600 Red (slow)
Cumulative Layout Shift
Cumulative Layout Shift is the annoying moving of content as you are reading a page. Unexpected movement of page content usually happens because resources are loaded asynchronously or DOM elements get dynamically added to the page above existing content.
0-0.1 Green (good)
0.1-0.25 Orange (needs improvement)
Over 0.25 Red (poor)
Pingdom Performance Grade
Pingdom is another speed test tool designed to help analyse site speed issues.
The number of requests from the Shopify site are another indicator of the sheer number of objects loaded.
Note in this test load time is affected by the location of the servers. Sometimes there is up to 2 seconds difference depending on where the site is hosted.
Also worth noting is the Shopify site is loading 4.6 mb compared to 622 kb, however this also points to the inefficiency of some Shopify sites or the developers creating them.
Speed Test Comparison Notes
We have compared Google Speed Tests and a Pingdom Speed Test on two pages, one a typical Shopify site and another a Custom site. Both sites are displaying a product for sale. However the performance is dramatically different.
The URL of the Shopify site has not been shown. The Custom page was from our client Ilya vineyards Adelaide Hills.
The benefit of systems that use plugins is they are quicker to develop and may have more features. A custom website may cost more and take longer to develop.
Shopify Introduced a Speed Score
Several factors impact a (Shopify) online store speed, including the following:
- Third-party libraries and services
- Analytic libraries
- Theme code
- The number and size of images and videos
This speed comparison is not to condemn one platform or system, it is to help explain why certain products will perform a certain way. The choice is yours.
These figures are also related to Core Web Vitals "A set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability, to help site owners measure user experience on the web."
A full stack web developer with SEO skills will produce a more efficient and effective site.
A Gold Coast SEO and Web Developer