Creating a great online shopping experience - Part One: The online shopping cart

Check out our simple tips to find out what essential features you need to include in your online shopping cart!

Man working on desktop computer in a warehouse.

With the ease and convenience of the internet, more customers are looking at shopping online by taking advantage of making purchases from the privacy of their own home.

If you run an online business, you’ll want to take advantage of this trend and deliver a great customer experience—but first you'll need to offer a seamless shopping experience through your online shopping cart.

What is an online shopping cart?

An online shopping cart acts like a dressing room in a clothes shop, or a shopping trolley in a grocery store! It’s a holding spot for a customer to place items in the cart while they browse, before making the final purchase.

The customer can use the cart to:

  • review their selections
  • check details, such as sizes or colours
  • compare items
  • delete items as required to ensure their final purchase is still within budget.

Features of an online shopping cart

There are a number of features that an online shopping cart offers that you can’t get from your traditional shopping cart in a store! Here are some examples:

  • List of items - the online shopping cart provides a list of the items that the customer has selected while keeping a running subtotal.
  • Add and remove options - the customer can add or remove items without having to delete the entire order.
  • Easy review for the seller - the cart allows the seller to easily see everything a buyer orders, and keeps track of what items are selling.

Benefits of a shopping cart for your ecommerce website

An online shopping cart is an important part of your ecommerce business! Here are some of the benefits:

  • Allows customers to purchase your products anytime and anywhere!
  • The ability to track and analyse buyer behaviour, such as the time it takes to make a purchasing decision, and the frequency of purchases from your business.
  • The customer can browse your store at their own leisure and purchase the items they want.
  • The online shopping cart is connected to an online inventory system so you’re able to see if you have enough stock on hand to fill orders.

8 essential items to include in your online shopping cart

You want to make sure you create an online shopping experience that’s easy and clear to use. The shopping cart needs to do more than just provide a list of products, the cart needs to assist the customer to make decisions on their way through to the checkout.

Here are a few things to consider when designing your shopping cart:

  1. Display the mini-shopping cart symbol in the right hand corner of the website. This is standard practice and most customers should know to look for the cart in that location.
  2. Have a dedicated web page that displays the full cart, including all their items, to help customers with their purchasing decision.
  3. Use quality images of your products. Images should be large enough that the customer is able to identify the key elements of the product.
  4. Include the exact product name and list the customer’s chosen features including:
    • their chosen size
    • the colour they picked
    • the number they want to purchase
    • both total and itemised prices.
  5. Use call to action buttons. 'Add to cart’ buttons are simple, and provide your customers an easy way to add products to the cart. They offer an option for the customer to continue shopping or browsing, instead of sending the shopper straight to the checkout page.
  6. Have a ‘counter’ on the cart to highlight the total number of items a customer has in their shopping cart.
  7. Provide a drop down menu to display all the items in the shopping cart. This means when the customer adds a product, this list will increase and confirm the customer’s addition.
  8. Ensure the customer has the option to either change the quantity of an item to zero or delete an individual item from the shopping cart without rejecting the entire sale.

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