Shopping Carts vs. Order Forms – Which to Choose?

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Image: | Thinking about taking your business online? If you want to start selling your products, services, or even collecting payments for conference registrations, the one thing that you do need is a way to collect the necessary information to process each order.

In general there are two ways that you can do that: Order forms or shopping carts. To choose between them you need to understand the capabilities of both – and how they differ from one another.

“What Are Order Forms?”

An online shopping order form is basically a simple form that has fields allowing you to collect the information that you need to process a sale.

It typically consists of fields such as:

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Delivery address
  • Product or service details and quantity
  • Payment details
  • Delivery options

In most cases order forms are placed within the product’s sales page, or can be accessed via a link directly from it. Once it is filled out the details will be passed on so that the order can be processed.

The main advantage of order forms is that they are really simple web forms that can be created quickly and easily. However because of how simple they are, they do not have many of the built-in ecommerce features that a shopping cart software would.

“What Are Shopping Carts?”

Shopping carts are software that are designed specifically to enable ecommerce transactions. Nowadays there are many popular shopping cart software options available, in many shapes and sizes.

The reason the software is referred to as ‘shopping carts’ is because they are characterized by the presence of a digital shopping cart. Customers will be able to add products that they want to purchase to the cart, and proceed to the checkout later where their payment and delivery details will be processed.

The features in shopping cart software can vary quite a bit. Some are complete commerce systems that run the entire backend of the website and track its stock, generate product listings, and so on. Others focus more on providing the shopping cart and checkout infrastructure.

Compared to order forms however, shopping carts are much more robust. By using them you’ll find it easier to handle elements such as tax calculations, real-time price calculations, data encryption, coupons, and so on.

“Which to Choose?”

At the end of the day it isn’t as difficult as you might think to choose between order forms and shopping carts. In fact it really boils down to just a few simple factors:

  • Number of products that are being sold

If you’re selling just a few products, adding a simple order form for each one will be easy. However if you’re selling multiple products, it will be a lot of work.

  • Number of different items that customers purchase

Shopping carts are much more convenient when multiple items are being purchased in a single order. It is difficult to replicate that with order forms, and will be inconvenient for customers.

  • Changes to product selection

Order forms are not dynamic, and aren’t suitable if the selection of products changes on a regular basis. In such cases a shopping cart is a far easier solution.

Aside from that there are other factors that you may want to take into account, such as payment processing, integration with autoresponders, and so on.


Based on what you now know, it should be clear that order forms and shopping carts play different roles. Shopping carts are a good fit for ecommerce websites, while order forms may suit individual sales, or more specific cases such as when payment isn’t required. 

At the end of the day it is up to you which you feel would be the best fit for your business.

Mahendra Bajiya
Mahendra Bajiya

Author Bio:-

Mahendra Bajiya has years of experience in content creation and SEO. Via MI Guest Post he provides a variety of services such as article writing, SEO, content marketing, and more. To get in touch you can visit his LinkedIn – Facebook – Twitter.