Choosing Top Shopping Cart Software

It is a good idea that you are reading this article. It means that you are actually putting some serious thought into which shopping cart you choose. Some people will simply go in head first with a shopping cart that they are unfamiliar with just because they are in a hurry to get their website up. However, this is a very important step. It can make or break you later on down the road. Below are some things to think about when making your choice for which shopping cart is right for you.

Easy to Maintain

Even though you may be only selling a few products upon the release of your site, there is no telling at this point whether you might have a desire to add other products in the future. If this is the case, you do not want the process to be extremely difficult for you, or something that you have to dish out more money to make happen. The purpose of having a quality shopping cart is to be able to do these types of things pretty easily as well as making the ordering process simple for your customers.

It Has the Features that You Need

One of the biggest priorities in choosing a shopping cart is that you must have one that meets your needs. There are many people who take a look at a shopping cart, they buy it, and their intentions are to modify to fit their needs. However, with the vast amount of shopping carts on the market, you should be able to find one that meets most any need right out of the gate. The only exception would be if you just had some idea that was so unique that it would almost have to be custom built. Then, I would consider having your shopping cart built from scratch, not purchasing one with the intention of having it modified.

Not Too Bloated with Unnecessary Features

Having all the features you need in a shopping cart is priority over finding one that has too many. However, you still want to find one that is not overly bloated with features you will never use. This just makes maintaining your site more complicated. As well, the shopping cart may have questions and other things that are unnecessary during the ordering process. These are called bloated questions and should be avoided when possible. For example, if your product is sent via email or available to download, then you probably do not need a shipping address. If you can find one that meets your needs, then stick with that one. Too many features is not a good thing.

Good Customer Service

Although you may have found a shopping cart that has everything you need, there is still one key thing you should be looking for before making a purchase. You should verify that the developer of the script has good customer service. Although many popular developers will have forums and you can see how active they are, others may only take questions via email. If this is the case, simply send an email to them and ask them a few generic questions about the shopping cart. You can evaluate their response and determine whether it is sufficient. It will be a good indication of what you can expect as well if you run into a problem of any kind after the purchase.

Updated Regularly

This is not always a requirement, but it is something just to take a quick look at. Almost always any script will have some problems with it. It may have a few features that are not working properly or some processes that could be done better. The best of shopping carts are no different. Typically, a shopping cart in beta stages or one that has not been updated for a very long time may be okay, others may have problems that are not being addressed. You should verify with the developer selling the script how often the script is updated with new features or fixing bugs. This is also a good indication that if you have a problem, it might be addressed by the developer quickly.

How Smart Shopping Leads To Better Health, Even On Budget

Smart shopping starts with a grocery list. By shopping with a grocery list, you not only realize cost benefits, but you save time, make healthier food choices and become more conscious about the things that are important in your life. We’ve all experienced going into the grocery store to pick up that one thing, then leaving the store with a trunk load of items, many of which we could have done without. Well this can easily be avoided by shopping with a list.

First, when you make your grocery list you should do so after having taken inventory of what is needed around your home. Other things to take into consideration are your budget, what you deem to be a priority and future planning. With all these things in mind you can set out to create your grocery list. Now that you have your list you can decide where to do your shopping. This should primarily be based on competitive pricing, which is why another good practice is to scan the local newspapers and sign up for newsletters and alerts with the local grocers or food manufacturers for coupons and sales.

Next, after you’ve made your list, gathered your coupons, and decided where to shop its time to do the actual shopping. When it comes to grocery shopping smart planning is key. However, it can at times be challenging because not only are you attempting to realize cost savings, but you also want to make healthy food choices and herein lies the challenge. This is where smart planning, difficult decision-making, budget and grocery lists all come into play simultaneously.

For instance, say you’re looking to purchase ketchup. You see that the store brand ketchup is on sale for an unbeatable price at your local grocer. However, you also know that it’s over-ridden with high fructose corn syrup and other nutrient dense ingredients that you prefer to do without. Meanwhile, the organic ketchup is also on sale at the health food store, but cost a dollar more. What do you do? You’re on a tight budget, but at the same time you’re determined to change your eating habits for the better and ketchup is on your grocery list. Well, it comes down to what’s more important, money or your health. In the end, you realize that you can’t buy good health and without it you cease to be so you purchase the organic ketchup and feel good about your decision. After all, you didn’t stray from your list and you still realized a cost savings, which was actually two-fold. You saved money on the retail price and a future trip to the doctor or on prescription drugs needed to treat a health problem which was the result of a poor diet.

Smart shopping is not just about grocery list and coupons, but it’s about making healthy choices and careful meal planning that in the end save you more than just money. Smart shopping is essentially about making you a priority.

Priority Mail Open and Distribute For Drop-Shipping

Are you familiar with USPS Priority Mail Open and Distribute? For some mailers, Priority Mail Drop Shipping is a well kept secret that they are not aware of, and as a result they are missing out on some great opportunities to improve delivery and reduce costs.

For those of you not familiar with this service, it is technically termed Priority Mail Open and Distribute (PMOD) by the United States Postal Service (R) (USPS). It is a method of drop shipping mail to additional postal entry points using Priority Mail as the shipping method rather than more traditional methods such as truckload, less-than-load (LTL) or air freight. The same service is available using Express Mail Open and Distribute (EMOD), although it is more expensive due to the quicker delivery time (next day service).

Regardless of which level of service is used, Open and Distribute is a pretty smart way to drop ship to entry points with smaller volumes of mail which make the more traditional shipping methods cost prohibitive. It works by entering the mailpieces at their normal postage prices (e.g. Periodicals, Standard, etc.) and then placing those trays or sacks of mail into Priority Mail sacks for delivery to the postal entry point.

By using special sack tags, these Priority Mail sacks are identified to the USPS as containing drop shipped mail, which the USPS then opens and distributes the sacks inside as they would normally be routed. The Priority Mail postage is paid on the weight of the mail inside the PM sack (and tare weight of the sacks/trays inside the PM sack), and essentially replaces the shipping charges that would have been charged by freight carriers if the more traditional shipping methods had been used.

Automate PMOD

In the past, this process was very tedious because this mail had to be manually separated, manually tagged with the PMOD tags, and postage statements were manually generated. Now, however, there are software solutions that allow these functions to be automated to the point that it is much more time and cost effective to use PMOD.

How can mailers take advantage of PMOD? There are three major benefits to using PMOD:

1) If you are experiencing delivery delays to remote or distant locations (e.g. Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico), or any location for that matter, PMOD can be a great way to shorten the delivery time. Priority Mail has delivery standards of 2-3 days, so the mail gets entered into the postal entry points much more quickly than if the mail was locally entered at the printing plant or letter shop.

2) You can take advantage of drop ship discounts even for entry points with low mailing densities, such as Butte, MT or Fargo, ND.

3) You can mail at the less expensive Standard rates, but get very close to First-Class delivery standards if you use PMOD to drop ship to additional entry points.

Your mailings can be easily analyzed to determine whether PMOD will be beneficial for you to use. Using a Mail.dat file, you can process this file through post-presort Mail.dat management software in a “quick plan” mode. This will allow you to see all the possible drop ship entry points for which your mailing would qualify. You can then go a step further by applying freight charges to the entry points with significant mail volumes. Any entry points with small volumes can then be exported into PMOD software to determine the estimated cost of PMOD shipping.

If you do not have post-presort mail.dat management software, you can ask your printer/mailer to perform these analyses for you, or you can contact a provider of this type of software to request a demo or trial of the software. If you have been hesitant to use PMOD in the past due to implementation concerns, or if you are completely new to PMOD, you owe it to yourself and your company to check out the possibilities of this great USPS program.