DIY Shopping Carts – Should You?
The concept of DIY (Do It Yourself) shopping carts for a veterinary website pop up from time to time. The question is: Should a hospital do a shopping cart themselves or outsource it to a third party platform being offered in the marketplace? Either way, shopping carts tend to be tricky because there is no straightforward or easy answer to using one solution or the other. The first place to start is to look at resources and expectations for the cart.
- Who does the fulfillment for the shopping cart? Meaning, who puts the actual product in a box and ships it? If the cart is done in-house, who would be the person who watches for orders, packages them, and makes sure they are shipped? Does the hospital have inventory space to make shipments and an area to do the packing of the order?
- Is there an employee on staff who is comfortable with online technology, is a problem solver, and is willing to keep educated on the changing cart software marketplace?
- What are the business owner’s expectations for profit margin on the items being sold online?
- Where do the product images come from to use for the cart? Who owns the images? If not the hospital, is permission needed to use these photos?
- Is the expectation to use one cart or two, with one being in-house and one being a third party? If two, that may be confusing to the pet owners—better to stick to one cart.
Most of these questions are answered rather quickly when a third party vendor is utilized. The shipping, inventory, and money processing is all done by this provider. Typically, the hospital has the option to choose what products are offered in the cart, the price they are sold for, or the profit margin they want to gain. The provider charges a set monthly fee or a percentage based on items sold as payment for providing and managing the cart. The upside is that everything is done for the hospital. The downside is that the practice makes less money per item or purchase by a pet owner. What should a hospital know if they manage the cart in-house?
Managing a Cart In-House
There are multiple options online to create a DIY online shopping cart. These can be found by simply doing a search on Google for “shopping cart software.” Typically, these options charge a monthly subscription fee to use their software. One of the most popular ones is Shopify (www.shopify.com), which will be the main focus for this article. To start, keep the following in mind:
- Even though the software has been created, it still needs to be set up and programmed for your business’s needs. This could take a few hours to a month of full-time work to get it the way the veterinary hospital needs it. Why? Because there are many choices to make, such as the theme/design and functionality, including where sales tax needs to be collected.
- Shopify has an app store that works like the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. There are many additional add-ons that can be downloaded and incorporated into the store. It helps to diagram out how the cart should run before nosing around in the store. Just like any marketplace, it is easy to purchase “cool” sounding enhancements that are unnecessary (https://apps.shopify.com).
- People have made it their careers to be Shopify Experts. Meaning, they can be hired to set up the store, if desired. There is a marketplace for these experts where skill sets and pricing structures can be browsed. If this is the route a business decides to go, a budget should be set and timeline defined before talking to an expert.
- All information needed should be gathered before getting started, such as photos, descriptions of products, and pricing.
- Shopify has a robust help center with various options to find answers to problems (https://help.shopify.com/en). There is also an academy to help make your cart successful (https://www.shopify.com/academy/). More information can be found on the front page of Shopify under the “Learn” dropdown tab, including Guides and Forum options.
Then, take a deep breath and dive into the DIY process of creating the hospital’s shopping cart. Every tab, option, and hyperlink in the backend of the shopping cart should be clicked. There are multiple places where choices need to be made to have the cart work properly. Testing of the shopping experience is a must from start to finish. When satisfied it is set up correctly, it should be tested on a person who has very limited experience with online purchasing. If the test subject can use the cart flawlessly, then it is good-to-go.
Someone in-house should be watching the online store every day. Remember, this includes setting up Google Analytics and Google Console and keeping track of trending data. Plus, how the store should be marketed needs to be considered. People cannot buy if they do not know the option exists.
If Shopify is not the provider chosen, look for people who can be hired to fix problems, and how the subscription pricing is set up for the software. Is it a fixed monthly cost or is it by volume? Are there upgrade options available, like selling on Amazon, if that is a consideration down the road?
We love to market shopping carts, either DIY or through a third-party provider. Our results are proof in the pudding with high click-through-rates and tails streaming through the doors. Want to see more tails come through your door or to increase your average transaction charge? Give us a call and we will help make it happen. Beyond Indigo has been conducting internet marketing for 22 years. Our CEO and COO have each been working in marketing online for 24 years. Our team knows the old and the new, as well as how to generate revenue and tails through the door. We focus on results first and discuss costs second. We are committed to staying up-to-date with the changing online environment, such as ADA compliance. Plus, we are Google Ads Partners, and we know how to build Google mobile-friendly and fast websites.
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