Shopping Cart Blues
A new application — “electronic shopping carts” or “e-shopping carts” — gained popularity in the 1990s, as more and more businesses launched Web sites. Shopping cart software enables customers to select several items from an online catalog and pay for them with a credit card or debit card.
Shopping cart software acts as front-end service. It keeps track of the items an online customer decides to buy. When the customer “checks out,” the shopping cart software passes the transaction and credit card information over a secure connection to a “backend service,” typically a payment gateway. The payment gateway then routes the information through the seller's Internet merchant account and sends approval or denial of the credit card payment back to the shopping cart software. If any one of the services is down, however, the transaction cannot be completed.
Shopping cart software is seldom easy to set up and maintain, especially for merchants who operate small businesses mostly by themselves. Often, they cannot afford to hire competent help to maintain their shopping cart system and database, and they become frustrated trying to do it themselves.