A shopping cart is the software component of an e-commerce system that enables online consumers to select items for purchase, often allowing customers to designate desired items well in advance of their eventual purchase.
While shopping cart mechanisms generally offer a means of receiving a customer’s payment information, online credit card and debit card purchases are not handled by the shopping cart software itself, but through a third-party secure payment gateway that facilitates the secure transfer of sensitive data between a website and the acquiring bank.
Shopping carts typically consist of two basic components: an online storefront accessed by visitors and customers, and an administrative component used to manage the online store. Product information is usually stored in a database that is accessed in real time by the shopping cart software. In such cases, the web front end of the store often has web pages that are dynamically generated by the shopping cart software based on the current information stored in the database. Administrative functions and options vary widely from one shopping cart application to another, but generally give store administrators the ability to add new products and edit existing ones, offer discounts and manage prices, manage shipping options and other basic functions.