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For vendors planning a larger operation, it might be beneficial to consider a self-managed shopping cart option. Self-managed shopping carts have several advantages over managed plans like ClickBank. First, you have complete control over your process. You decide pricing, commissions, who can be an affiliate and who cannot, which payment processors to use, where to host your files, and when and if to provide support and refunds. In short, every decision is yours to make.
Most shopping carts include an autoresponder to allow you to contact your customers after the sale. You have the ability to fine-tune your sales funnel to steer buyers efficiently from one purchase to the next, promoting each one in turn and never missing the opportunity for an upsell or cross-sell. Every product you sell is housed in one convenient location, which is good if every product falls within a specific market, but probably not a good choice for the One Hit Wonder vendors, whose credibility might be damaged if buyers knew they produced a variety of products in a number of niches.
But there is a disadvantage to this method as well – every decision is yours to make. You have complete and total control. That might sound like a good thing – and for many marketers it is – but it can quickly become overwhelming if you're going it alone.
Shopping carts come in two flavors: hosted and self-hosted. Hosted shopping carts live on the host's server, as do your products. So you never have to worry about bandwidth issues, programming problems, upgrades, or server crashes. For this peace of mind, however, you will pay a monthly fee. Fees range from $30 per month for very basic service, to more than $150 per month. Some, like 1ShoppingCart, even charge extra for technical support.
Self-hosted shopping carts are installed on your server (usually where you host your website), as are your products. If you install a script that interferes with its function, you are responsible for either fixing it, or hiring a programmer to fix it for you. If your server goes down – as can happen on inexpensive hosting plans – your customers won't be able to buy from you. If your software needs to be upgraded, you will have to do that as well.
Even with all that, many people choose self-hosted carts because they only have to pay for them once. The cost can range from free to more than $2000 depending on the features, but there are no monthly fees involved. In addition, self-hosted carts can be easier to customize (since you have access to the code) and to integrate with your existing website, autoresponder, and payment processor.
Yet another option for digital goods delivery is through a membership site script. Scripts such as Amember, Digital Access Pass, and WishList Member provide easy gateways to payment processors while protecting your downloads and allowing you to have affiliates. Many marketers use membership scripts rather than fussing with a fullfeatured shopping cart. All membership scripts are self-hosted, and prices range from $150 to more than $300 depending on the number of sites for which you intend to use the script.