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Shopping Carts

Informally, the shopping cart is the collection of items to be purchased. More accurately, we are considering the creation of a sales order, which in turn is a purchase order that has been accepted by the seller. Web shopping carts, purchase orders, and sales orders are alike in that they contain header data and line-item data. The header data includes information about the buyer, such as bill-to, sold-to, and ship-to, and the line-item data contains information about the items, such as stock keeping unit (SKU), quantity, price, and requested delivery.

Server-Side Shopping Carts

When the partially completed sales order is stored at the commerce server, it is known as a server-side shopping cart, as shown in Figure 16-1. Most Internet commerce systems use server-side shopping carts. The cart is kept in a database or a file, or even in memory, and is indexed by the user ID or some kind of session identifier. Most of the time, a user will have a single cart, but the complexities of the potential process flows through the system sometimes require more. In Open Market's Transact, for example, a user may have up to three carts: a temporary cart created by a catalog server, a session cart containing items selected anonymously, and a user cart containing items selected during a period when the user was authenticated. The various flows eventually merge these three carts before the transaction is complete.


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