Online shopping cart software with tax and shipping
Online shopping cart software has come a long way in a relatively short period of time and today's e-merchant can expect basic tax and shipping calculations as standard. However, not all shopping carts are born equal. As the marketplace becomes increasingly global; storekeepers now demand greater sophistication form their software.
The assistant secretary for tax policy, Pam Olsen, once quipped that "tax simplification is complicated stuff", but it doesn't have to be. Because taxes are levied at varying rates, depending on which state the transaction is carried out in, software typically calculates tax based on the customer's ZIP code. However, things get slightly more complicated if the merchant has distribution points in several states or wants to do business in Europe . Because laws constantly change it's a good idea to invest in a versatile shopping cart that will accept plug-ins, such as taxware.com.
Once you've got over the tax hurdle you'll need to think about shipping. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the wealth of calculators to choose from, although in reality they are easily broken down into two basic categories. The more archaic calculators base shipping costs on data supplied by the merchant (pulled form a database) while up-to-date shopping carts draw real-time costs from the leading shipping companies, such as UPS , FedEx and DHL . The latter have many advantages and even if you intend to ship the products independently - you'll have a working figure of the approximate cost.
Shipping costs can be calculated according to a number of variables, including: total order value, weight, size and delivery method. Most online retailers agree that 'weight' is the most important factor, although it's a good idea to invest in a shopping cart that offers 'customized shipping options' to help cope with 'awkward' orders (such as oversized packages or fragile goods). A growing number of online shopping carts also allow you to send personalized 'shipping confirmation' emails to your customers and to track the order through each stage of the shipping process.