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8 Commandments of A Shopping Cart Design in 2015

Commandments of A Shopping cart _feature

15 minutes in paradise are better than 5 minutes in hell.

A bus driver promises to get you to Jaipur from Delhi in 5 hours with 30 minutes of sponsored lunch break. Another promises to get you in only 2 hours non-stop. Your first instinct would most likely be to choose the second one who would get you there faster. But then imagine those 2 hours to be like a roller-coaster, non-stop, and then bouts of vomit, non-stop.

So that’s the thing about a good service. Not always would customers want fast shipping. And would that option of fast shipping be any good to you if the customer leaves frustrated from your webstore without shopping anything?

Getting a product is important but we cannot afford to overlook the significance of the whole process of “finding and purchasing” that product. Agree?

Hence today, without much ado, we bring forth 8 essential elements of a shopping cart design (that some retailers still don’t get right) derived from a recent research on the customer’s psychology and online shopping behavior.

1. What’s in the name?

In the early days of ecommerce, businesses got creative and experimented with unique names for their webstore’s shopping cart. Names like bookbag, basket, order, my gear, etc., whatever they found best for their audience, they used.

Result? Confusion!

People were not accustomed to that terminology. Hence, there were longer search times which led to cart abandonment.

What is the industry standard? Shopping cart! More than 70% of top ecommerce sites refer to their carts with this term. Rest 30% of them are packed with specialty items, which justifies use of unique terms – more personalized targeting, higher conversions.

So, if you are a usual lifestyle store, stick to the nice ol’ “Shopping Cart”.

2. The “buy-me-begging” CTAs

Survey: 41% Not ready to purchase; 27% Wanted to save and come back later

When you are picking up items you liked and putting them in your cart, does that mean you will buy them?

buy nowUsers, in a survey, said that they keep items in the cart only to sort them later, judge which ones can they purchase right now, can be left out, or moved to the wishlist. Adding items to cart is a non-committal process. Think of how you would react if with each item addition, your card got billed? The essence is that “adding items to the cart” should be an effortless activity.

A CTA of “Buy Now” can be unsettling, psychologically, as the customer might still be considering the item, and not actually buying. Buying is the final step after all.

What are your options? Add to Wish List, Add to Cart, Add to Order, Place Order, and other non-committal terms.

3. Did it move?

One of the biggest reasons of less conversion is a shopping cart giving little or no visual feedback of an item added to cart. At times, the customer wonders if the item even was added to his cart, and then goes on tapping the CTA multiple times. This is a deal breaker.

To counter this, most websites (~72%) take you to the cart page each time an item is added, which, in my opinion, is still wrong. Though this updates allows the user with the status of his cart, it also diverts his attention from further shopping to the previously bought items. Again, less conversions.

Looking for a way out? Just keep a tab on a side that displays recently added item with a representative image and price.

Shopping Cart UI

4. Do you want fries with your order?

This is the offline equivalent of asking and irritating your customers with “related items” before they have added an item to their cart. This is not only distracting but disorienting as well for the user, as he starts to wonder if he had added the item or not or did he actually ask for recommendations. It goes far more negative when this move hits his confidence of picking up an item he wanted and looking at the item that was bought by others like him and might be better.

A better approach? It would be great to go the Amazon way – recommend products after “add to cart” on the product page, and before “checkout” on the cart page.

This ensures that user has more control over his choices while appreciating the website’s effort in improving their purchase quality.

amazon cart recommendations page

5. Tell me who you are before you pick my cart?

Survey: 14% Did not want to create an account with the merchant; 11% Reluctant to give out too much information

Forget cart abandonment, an attitude like above can lead to “website” abandonment. Asking a user to register their personal information before adding any item to the cart, or requiring them to give out their email addresses before downloading a white paper, is a major deterrent to conversions.

This turns the customers off. They don’t want to give out their personal details till the time they are sure that they will be buying that particular product. They might still be browsing or comparing products and do not wish to be on any mailing lists and be a victim to junk mails. If they are asked to register earlier they tend to find a different route to access the same information.

6. Unnecessary hassle to remove an item from the cart

Survey: 11% The Checkout process was too convoluted

These are not many, but still 15% of the carts require the customer to change the product quantity to zero in order to remove the product from the cart. The process should be seamless, and hence, should be made more intuitive by giving options like Remove or Delete.

In a survey it was found that majority of the website’s place Remove/Delete link under of next to the item, while some made use of graphic icons like a trash can or an “X”. What our observation is that these icons serve their purpose well (and not leave the reader confused) only if they are clearly placed in a not-so-obscure manner or position.

7. I’m here to shop, not read volumes

While some websites have adopted a 4-5 step checkout process which displays the progress as well, there are some which require users to read long instructions educating them on the usage of their shopping cart. In my opinion, having to educate your users is a clear acceptance of the fact that your cart is poorly designed.

What should be happening here instead? The cart design should be intuitive enough, devoid of instructions, thus, avoiding the impression that “fine print” has on the customers.

8. A Long way to home

It has been observed that updating the cart, either with the quantity of the item or another item, is a hassle in some webstores. Reason being, an overflowing cart that takes up scrolls of screen and “update cart” button right at the bottom of the list of items.

Ideally, it should be at a conveniently clickable position regardless of the number of items in the cart. Look at the image below (The cart is scrollable, but the update/check-out stays at a convenient position like a sticky gum at the sole of the shoe.):

checkout cart scroll

Closing thoughts

To succeed as an e-commerce site, it is essential for the designer to keep in consideration the usability of each element for the entire shopping experience. Finding the right product, adding it to the cart, and understanding overall costs are probably the most important parts of shopping, and not the final purchase. Proper attention to these elements would ensure not only higher revenue, but willingness of users to stay or return to your site to purchase.

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