Shopping cart software is software used in e-commerce to assist people making purchases online, analogous to the American English term ‘shopping cart'.

The software allows online shopping customers to accumulate a list of items for purchase, described metaphorically as “placing items in the shopping cart”. Upon checkout, the software typically calculates a total for the order, including shipping and handling charges and the associated taxes, as applicable.

The development of web shop systems took place directly after the Internet or the World Wide Web had become a mass medium. This was a result of the launch of the browser Mosaic in 1993 and Netscape in 1994. It created an environment in which web shops were possible. The Internet and WWW, therefore, acted as the key infrastructure developments that contributed to the rapid diffusion of the e-commerce. E-commerce describes all computer-aided business transactions. The two terms ‘’online shop‘’ and “electronic‘’ or ‘’e-shop‘’ are used synonymously. In order to enable ‘’online shopping,‘’ a software system is needed. Since ‘’online shopping‘’, in the context of the B2C business model, became broadly available to the end consumer, WWW-based ‘’online shops‘’ evolved. For online shopping systems in this context the narrower term ‘’web shop‘’ is used. No term has become solidly established for a B2C e-commerce software system. Whereas in the German-speaking region terms such as ‘’webshop software‘’ or ‘’online shop software‘’ are used, the term ‘’shopping cart software‘’ has become established in the USA.

Shopping cart software can be generally categorized into two main categories.

  • Licensed software: The software is downloaded and then installed on a Web server. This is most often associated with a one-time fee, although there are many free products available as well. The main advantages of this option are that the merchant owns a license and therefore can host it on any Web server that meets the server requirements, and that the source code can often be accessed and edited to customize the application.
  • Hosted service: The software is never downloaded, but rather is provided by a hosted service provider and is generally paid for on a monthly/annual basis; also known as the application service provider (ASP) software model. Some of these services also charge a percentage of sales in addition to the monthly fee. This model often has predefined templates that a user can choose from to customize their look and feel. Predefined templates limit how much users can modify or customize the software with the advantage of having the vendor continuously keep the software up to date for security patches as well as adding new features.
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A Shopping cart is an application that allows clients shopping on a website to accept orders for multiple products. It automatically calculates the total price including shipping & handling. Some HTML code has to be inserted in the website and the shopping cart has to be installed on the host server or on a secure server that accepts ordering information.