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Universal Shopping Carts Add Convenience for Online Shoppers

This week, Charming Shoppes introduced a shopping cart – or “shopping bag” – that follows shoppers through all four of their online stores. Charming Shoppes now features a home page with a tab for Lane Bryant, Cacique, Fashion Bug and Catherines and one shared shopping cart.

Charming Shoppes' universal shopping cart, although not truly "universal," makes the online shopping experience at their four stores easier for the consumer. It allows consumers to browse and shop, click to another store, browse and shop, then click to another store and browse some more. This should encourage larger purchases; consumers don’t have to close windows or compare items and prices across different browser tabs on their computers. A shared shopping cart is shopper-friendly, requiring only one entry of credit card and shipping information.

The parent corporation should benefit by having the ability to capture more sales and not lose clients. I am curious if this is a proprietary shopping cart, built by Charming Shoppes, or if they are using a product that was purchased “off the shelf.” Either way, I can see this technology being used for much broader areas of e-commerce, with shoppers using one cart across multiple companies, not just the properties of a single retailer.

There are some great examples of online shopping carts in the real spirit of universal. Some Web sites allow shoppers to browse and shop from more than 100 online retailers, drop items into just one cart, and check out just once. Imagine going to a mall with over 100 stores, wandering in and out, finding what you need, maybe stumbling on something you can’t do without, filling a single cart and then pulling out your credit card just once, on your way out of the mall. That is the concept of a truly universal shopping cart, and what some online malls have accomplished in a global way with a simple “buy it here” button.

Internet businesses with more than one “store” should explore combining the shopping cart features of their sites. Technologies that simplify and streamline the shopping experience attract and retain customers.

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