Website, Cart, and E-Mail – How to Tie It All Together

To sell your product online effectively, you need a website, a shopping cart, an e-mail marketing service, and a merchant account.

For an economical solution, many people uses Paypal in lieu of a Shopping Cart and Merchant Account.

What does each of these services do?

Web Site – the place on the Internet where a person interested in your product goes to learn more about your business and your products.  They can initiate the purchase process by clicking on a buy now button on your site and, therefore, initiating the interaction with the Shopping Cart (or Paypal).

Shopping Cart – a service like Premium Web Cart* takes the contact and payment information of your buyer, processes the payment by interacting with your Merchant Service or Paypal, and completes the order.

E-Mail Marketing Service – such automated services as AWeber* and MailChimp* will process subscription and cancellation requests to mailing lists, send e-mail messages such as an autoresponder, newsletter, or blog broadcast to a list, and track the open and click rate of your subscribers.

They ensure you comply with CAN-SPAM laws, improve your delivery rate, and may integrate with your social networks, web site, and/or shopping cart.

Merchant Service – A merchant service processes credit card transactions and deposits money into your bank account.  With a merchant service, you can manually process cards on the phone or online, or through your shopping cart.

The shopping cart and merchant service interact through a gateway such as

Can I use my Shopping Cart’s Email Service?

Yes, however, I have not found any shopping carts with an email marketing component as full featured as that of a stand alone service.  Remember, their business is a shopping cart, not an email service.  They email marketing components were developed as an after thought.

For example, 1ShoppingCart, sends autoresponders out early in the morning.  A recipient’s email box gets filled with other emails sent after yours before the person even walks up.  Also, it takes 10 minutes for it to send a test email and they use several mail servers with different domain names which may cause some emails to end up in the Junk Box.

Finally, there are some uses to the shopping cart’s email service such as sending a broadcast message to only those customers who purchased specific products.

What are the benefit of a shopping cart over Paypal?

Paypal can process the sales of an order without the business needing a merchant account, send the purchaser to a custom thank you page where they can download the product or register for a member site.   It is a basic cart.

A shopping cart can do much more.  It…

  • Keeps track of all customer information and product purchases to review your most valuable customers and most popular products.
  • Some credit card companies do not allow customers to make Paypal purchases or flag them as possible fraud.
  • Automatically computer sales tax and shipping fees.
  • Foreign customers may not be able to use Paypal to complete their transactions.
  • Some customers do not like to use Paypal because it is perceived as unsafe.
  • Reward and track referrals through the use of affiliate programs (depends on cart).
  • Send an email with a special offer to a segment of your existing clients or to those that have only purchased your introductory products.

Shopping carts can assist with order fulfillment.  The features available depend on the cart you use.

  • For digital products, you may be able to upload your documents and have the cart display a secure page with download links.
  • For paid membership sites, it can link to the registration page of your membership site so your customers can automatically register an id and password and gain access immediately.
  • For tangent products that need to be shipped, it can send you or your fulfillment house the information  necessary to process and ship the order.

How do these services work together?

Click to Enlarge Image

Below is the purchase process.  In parenthesis, you can see which service is used for the step.

  1. A visitor goes to your web site to learn more about your products (Web Site)
  2. The visitor determines they want to purchase a product and clicks on a Buy Button (Web Site)
  3. The Buy Button is a url that takes your customer to a cart page (Shopping Cart)
  4. The customer choose to return to the products page and continue shopping (Web Site) or finish the purchase process, known as checking out (Shopping Cart)
  5. After the customer fills out their contact  and payment information (Shopping Cart), the credit card transaction is processed (Merchant Service, Paypal, etc.)
  6. If the transaction is processed successfully (Merchant Service), the customer is taken to a receipt page (Shopping Cart), a product download page (Shopping Cart or Web Site), or a custom thank you page (Web Site).
  7. If the transaction is denied (Merchant Service), the customer is taken to a page explaining that the credit card has been denied (Shopping Cart).
  8. Upon a successful purchase (Shopping Cart), the customer’s email address is added to a customer mailing list (Email Service) or a specific auto responder pertaining to the product purchased (Shopping Cart/Email Service).
  9. Upon successful purchase, a receipt is e-mailed to the customer and, depending on the product, a link to a web page where they can download their products.  (Shopping Cart)

This article is by Ricki Steigerwald

Ricki is our lead Wordpress developer and Owner of Just2Technical. She has been working with Wordpress since 2007 and has over 20 years of formal web development experience. She works with both simple informational Wordpress sites and large complex stores and paid membership sites. Read Ricki's Full Bio


  1. Roys on May 5, 2011 at 6:55 am

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    • Ricki Steigerwald on May 5, 2011 at 8:11 am

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