Internet Shopping Cart Databases
Internet shopping cart databases are vital if you want to effectively manage your customer orders in the present and future. Many shopping cart service providers include Internet shopping cart databases as part of the package - just make sure you can effectively use its reporting system, and be sure that the format it uses can be saved onto a spreadsheet or word processing package easily. The most popular database management systems (the programmes that make sense of the data in your database) is the free programme MySQL (www.mysql.com) which has won awards for speed, scalability and reliability, the more advanced Microsoft SQL (www.microsoft.com/sql) and Microsoft Office's Microsoft Access program (http://office.microsoft.com), which can be integrated easily into most websites and are easy to use.
When using Internet shopping cart databases, you must make sure that the information about your customer is secure. Setting up a registration system is a way of collecting data; giving your customer a registration password (or allowing your customer to select one) means you can be sure that the customer is who they say they are. To prevent it being viewed by unauthorized persons, be sure to keep the database outside of your main website folder (or webroot). If your staff members need to access the database over the net, a Secure Socket Layer must be in place.
Despite these security measures, some potential customers are still wary of buying online, and therefore disable the cookies - parcels of information that that store data about their online activity - on their computer. These are useful e-commerce tools, so take the time to explain to a customer why they are useful to your company.
When you do assemble customer data, make sure you collect useful information that is worthy of later analysis: beyond your customer's personal details, find out about the products they have recently bought, their internet behavior, how often they visit your competitors, how much they are willing to pay for a product and how long they are willing to wait to receive a product. Other information can be gathered and processed in your internet shopping cart databases too: you can gather profiles on complaints, sales enquiries, purchases, and customer responses to both on and offline promotional efforts.