Question: How much does a free online shopping cart cost?
Answer: About $5,000.
Companies give away free samples to demonstrate the quality of their products. They expect that satisified samplers will return with open wallets. Whether the sample is cookies or software, it allows the potential customer to try the product on for fit and comfort.
And some products are just free. Companies give away free software tools to expose a targeted audience to the company’s product line. We do that with Ping Pilot, our free web host uptime monitoring tool.
A Question of Scale
There once was a guy who opened a box of cookies and discovered that they were stale, right out of the newly-opened box. He sent them to the cookie company with a note: “Dear Cookie Company, These are stale. I want my money back.” A few weeks later he received a package from the cookie company with two boxes of cookies and a letter. The letter said, “Dear Mr. Cookie Buyer, We’re so sorry about the stale cookies. Here are two boxes to make up for your loss.”
Mr. Cookie Buyer realized that he’d stumbled onto a way to double his money for free. To capitalize on this new information he went to the car dealer and bought a Jaguar. He then promptly sent it to the auto manufacturer with a note: Dear Jaguar, This car is broken. I want my money back.” A few weeks later he received a package with a letter in it. The letter said, “Dear Mr. Jaguar Buyer, What do you think we are? A cookie company?”
An online store might not be a Jaguar, but it’s certainly not a cookie.
An online store is not a simple piece of software. A good online store is not just a shopping cart and some product pictures. It’s a merchant gateway to accept credit cards, a secure server interface, fault-tolerant business web hosting, website design, flexible tax calculations, offline and realtime shipping calculations, multiple product variations, a stock monitoring system, different prices for wholesalers, a newsletter, discounts, search engine marketing and a constant eye on ROI.
Question: Can ecommerce companies really afford to give away their shopping carts?
Answer: Yes. They just can’t afford to give away the merchant gateway, the secure server interface, the fault-tolerant business web hosting, the website design, the flexible tax calculations, the offline and realtime shipping calculations, the multiple product variations, the stock monitoring system, the different prices for wholesalers, the newsletter, the discounts, the search engine marketing, the eye on ROI…
If it looks too good to be free, it’s probably not free.
To learn more about a comprehensive eCommerce marketing product that includes a search-engine-optimized online store, e-marketing tools and a focus on converting visitors into customers, please visit us at SiteXL.