Retail-based shopping carts can be great solutions for businesses trying to sell online. But for service-based businesses, sometimes they aren’t doing any favors.

The ecommerce industry is ever-growing, and in many ways, has helped level the playing field, enabling smaller businesses to capture online business and compete with retail giants. However, service-based businesses have been at a disadvantage in this arena, especially when it comes to website and shopping cart solutions available. Why? Because they’re built for retail.

Trying to use the standard mix of shopping cart solutions to generate signups, appointments, registrations, donations, or RSVPs involves jury-rigging product-focused platforms to sell services. The result is often a disjointed and clunky customer experience, as well as a disconnected silo for the business.

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When trying to fit a retail-shopping cart for services, business owners experience these three common challenges:

1. Retail shopping carts are outfitted for item details, not service details

While traditional shopping carts may tie in size and color, they can’t ask for service details such as skill level, service preferences, a child’s name or allergies, or service location. This ultimately takes away from building customer-merchant relationships and rapport, a crucial element of customer retention.

Service platforms provide options like registration forms, custom fields, and enrollment options that allow businesses to collect more information about their customers. In turn, business owners can gain valuable insights to build customizable reports – and more personal connections with their customers.

2. Retail shopping carts are focused on transactions versus customers

Traditional, transaction-focused shopping carts can bring about new headaches when trying to reconcile sales with customer records and other business platforms (like billing or accounting solutions). One example is that they lack customer insights for a business’ best customers, not simply their best products.

A complete service commerce platform connects business owners and their staff with the people they do business with. With service-focused ecommerce technology, businesses can not only handle online orders, but also customer reconciliation, payment processing, recurring billing, and business insights and reporting – all in one spot.

3. Retail shopping carts offer one-time checkout versus recurring billing options

While a traditional online shopping cart provides a way to pay for a one-time item, service businesses often want a way to sell ongoing services. Think about it: customers don’t want to pay for weekly lawn maintenance, monthly gym memberships, or quarterly classes every time they use the service. And businesses don’t want to collect payments that way, either.

Instead, service platforms provide an array of features that make buying and selling more convenient:

  • Subscriptions allow businesses to process recurring billing, taking the hassle out of one-time payments.
  • Appointment scheduling provides customers the opportunity to book and pay for services in advance.
  • Prorated payments dynamically adjust the amount due for customers who start a service past the initial installation.
  • Payment plans allow for more affordable service options for customers who can’t pay in full upfront.

Exceptional customer experience starts with knowing your customers

An ecommerce website opens up your business to a much wider audience. But, be cautious when contemplating a retail-focused solution for your service business. Service-based businesses need a selling platform that’s built specifically for them, and their close relationships with customers.


PaySimple’s new Online Store allows business owners to sell services in a way that is tailored to their needs, and benefits both businesses and customers. Provide the online shopping experience customers are used to with retail, but save time with a platform that’s made for services. A complete service-commerce platform can offer relief from the time-consuming details of running a business, while providing more predictable revenue and new customer growth.

Sarah Jordan

Sarah Jordan

Sarah Jordan is the VP of Marketing for PaySimple, the leading provider of service commerce solutions for SMBs. At PaySimple, Sarah leads the company's brand, acquisition, lifecycle, and product marketing strategies, and has been an integral player in growing the company from a fledgling startup to a leading SaaS platform, serving over 15,000 businesses across the country. She loves live music, being outside, great food, and hanging out with her husband, little boy, and dog.

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