With more and more people turning to shopping online, it is important to e-retailers to stay up-to-date with all of the latest technology and functionality related to e-commerce.  Shopping carts now days are becoming more sophisticated with payment options, shipping options, product variations, user reviews, sell-up/cross-sell, and social sharing.

If you are a e-retailers you are probably dealing with the never ending battle of improving your cart or in the process of integrating a completely new cart to your site.  From my experience there are 5 musts that you definitely need to have when choosing a shopping cart.

1.  Dynamic Meta-Data

This is especially important for e-retailers who have hundreds or thousands of products.  The last thing you want to do is have to manually craft each title and meta tag for every product.  So in order to keep every products meta data unique for lots of products, you can dynamically pull in the products name, category and business name into the title tag.  You can then take the product description and pull it into the meta description tag.  This will help optimize for the long-tail and remove any opportunity for duplicate content.

2.  Multiple Image View & High Resolution

One major down-fall to buying online is the inability to be able to touch and feel the product you are looking to buy.  So in order to resolve this issue and help users picture what it actually looks and feels like, you should have multiple product images and angles.  This gives the user a sense of tangibility and makes them feel like they are right there at the store.

3.  Newsletter Integration

For e-commerce sites, your existing customers are vital to the success of your business.  Existing customers are much more likely to continue buying from you if they had a good experience before.  The reason is that they have already built a relationship with you and are comfortable with your brand/products.

Making sure that when someone purchasing, you give them the option to be signed up for your newsletter is HUGE.  This gives you the opportunity to re-market to them time and time again.  Sending them emails about complimentary products, specials, promotions, holiday sales, new products and product news  is a large component of driving existing customers back to your site and re-purchasing.

So make sure your shopping cart has the ability to either feed into a e-mail marketing system like AWeber or MailChimp, or has the functionality built-in to the cart.

4.  Shopping Site Integration or XML Data Feed

You have probably noticed when you do a search for a product in Google, Google will pull in results for their product search engine.  Since these results are at the forefront of the SERPs, you want to make sure you are listed there.  How do you do this???  Use a shopping cart that integrates with Google Product Search or creates a XML feed of your products that you can easily upload to Google.

You have also probably seen sites like Amazon, ShopZilla, Shopping.com and other comparison shopping engines are getting high placement in Google results as well.  So you want to be able to syndicate your products onto these sites for massive product exposure.  Many of these sites allow you to submit a XML data feed, so again this is another important reason why your cart should be able to integrate with these other shopping sites.

5.  Payment Options

With more people shopping online, more people are using various payment methods to purchase products.  So make sure you give the user all of the mainstream options for buying online.  Credit cards, Google Checkout, Paypal and Pay Later are all important options to have which will cater to all online shoppers.

BONUS.  Single Sign-On

The last thing you want to do is have a ready to buy customer, leave, because they had to create a profile before they purchase.  Give users the option to either Register, One-Click Sign-On like what Amazon does, or Buy as a Guest.  This can give the user an option to buy without having to sign-up.