Designing Usable Shopping Carts

September 24, 2010 • By

Grocery shopping, technology shopping, or shopping for living space, it can all be done online, and it is ever increasing in popularity. We all know that you can purchase a genre of items from the internet with new items being available for online purchase every day.

With that said, one of the greatest pet peeves of any online shopper is the difficulty to know what you currently have in your basket or to find the checkout link. Therefore, designing a usable shopping cart is all about usability and simplicity, as your customers need to be able to connect their shopping cart with the items they are obtaining.

Think of online shopping as grocery shopping. Before you walk into the grocery store you generally pick out a shopping cart or basket and make your way through the aisles, and on this shopping trip, you need 12 items.

You easily cruise through the grocery store and pick up the items you need and drop them in your cart or basket. Imagine not having the cart or basket with you or available as an option, you would have no place to put your groceries in which ultimately leads to you shopping less as your carrying capacity decreases dramatically.

This same principle applies to e-commerce. If you are shopping cart is difficult to find or is not really connected with the shopping or browsing experience, your customers will shop or browse less, which leads to less purchases. Therefore, never underestimate the design and layout of your online shopping cart or e-commerce website.

With that all said, we take a look at eight tips on designing usable shopping carts that your customers will appreciate and use more, increasing shopping length.

Mini Me

Online shoppers hate to have to go to a specific area to view their basket or cart to see what items are in it or not. This is like having your grocery basket in one corner of the grocery store and having to frequent back to it to drop in items or check what you already have; it is an inconvenience.

Therefore, creating a mini cart or a cart icon in the header of your website that displays the number of items in their basket that additionally links to the main cart helps customers and visitors feel connected with their basket, improving their shopping experience. With that all said, this mini cart should be disabled across the website where potential shopping can be done.

Simple Checkout Page

Having to fill out a checkout page every single time you make a purchase becomes tedious, however, a needed step. In order to break the step down to a quicker and easier less frustrating experience you need to simplify the checkout process with the following few tips.

Navigational Checkout

With just a continue button at the end of each form, your customers will not know when they will be done with filling out the information which could lead to cancelled orders. With that said, providing a systematic navigation will allow your customers to know where they are exactly in the checkout process, and how much longer they need until they finish. This method sometimes encourages customers to not cancel their order, and rather continue and finish the checkout process.

Remember User Information

Let us face it, we do not change addresses or locations as frequent as we do shop, and asking for the same address for every purchase they make is a tedious process especially for weekly or daily shoppers. With that said, instead of prompting your customers or users for the same information per order, provide them the option to store the information so at a later date, a click of a button can complete their purchase.

Make Things Obvious

One of the things any online shopper hates is having to search for buttons and required selection options. For example, I have used many shopping carts where I am in checkout, and I cannot locate the complete order button or I cannot find the shipping options to choose a suitable option over the “recommended” option.

Not being able to finalize a purchase because your customers cannot find the shipping options or complete order button is not a good sign. Therefore, make them obvious and visible to capture all potential sales and to help prevent loss of customers.

Keep Shopping

Most of online shoppers are not necessarily tech savvy, which means they become paranoid about what to do in certain situations. One of these situations is being in the basket after adding an item to it and no link to go back to the products list. Many online shoppers may assume that leaving the basket by clicking on a link in the navigation will clear their basket, which causes confusion and frustration in many cases.

Therefore, by providing a continue shopping link in the basket somewhere near the proceed to checkout link will keep your shopping cart usable and user friendly.

Registration before Checkout

Many websites will not allow their new potential customers to add products to their basket before registering to the service or site. This is something you want to stay away from at any given point in time as your users or potential customers can go elsewhere to purchase similar products. With that said, leave the registration process for the checkout process where it is more suitable.

Zero is the Magic Number

No, no it is not. Designing and or developing a usable shopping cart is all about usability and the ease to get there. Multiple shopping carts out there do not have a remove item from basket feature but instead confuse their users with just an update button and a quantity field.

This leaves a user guessing to enter zero in the quantity field to remove the item, or having them read a manual on how to use your shopping cart system, which they will most likely not read. Remember, using a shopping cart system should be as easy as putting items on a conveyer belt at checkout at your local grocery store, and not a challenge with a manual on how to fly a plane, if you get my drift.

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