Shopping Cart

A shopping cart is used when shopping online to store certain products there without having to go back to them before making a purchase. In e-commerce, the term shopping cart refers to an overview of all items that have been stored there for purchase. The term itself is derived from everyday usage and its function in online shops is the same as in a supermarket: to transport the goods to the checkout. You can place the desired items in the shopping basket or shopping cart in order to buy them later.

Shopping cart

Functions of the shopping cart in online shopping

Being able to put the desired items in the shopping cart makes online shopping much easier. The buyer has the option of skimming the website first and, if interested, placing a favorite item in the shopping cart. The stored products are saved there in a clear list. Before the purchase is processed, the buyer has unlimited time to look at the items again and, if necessary, to remove them again or to change the preferred quantity. The purchase only becomes binding when you decide to complete the purchase – this is usually done via a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Order Now’ button ( call-to-action ), which waits for the user to click at the end of the purchase process .

The shopping cart stores the products stored there for the entire period in which the user is on the website . This is usually implemented using so-called cookies and special scripts; the cookies can be session-dependent. This means that the user spends a certain amount of time in the online shop to look for products there. Both the server on which the web shop is running and the client or the user’s browser exchange data during this time (e.g. by clicking on links ). Through session IDs and cookies, the server knows that the current user has already placed goods in the shopping cart.

If cookies were not used, all data would be lost as soon as a particular website was clicked on. Cookies are used here for usability and are essential for sessions, forms and shopping carts in order to generate simple user interaction. In reputable online shops that value data protection, such session-dependent cookies are then deleted.

The shopping cart design

The design of the shopping cart and the process leading up to the order are essential for successful sales.

Factors for shopping cart abandonment

In January 2014, konversionsKRAFT published an infographic on the subject of shopping cart design and found that, according to a US study, 67.89 percent of visitors to an online shop cancel their order in the shopping cart. The experts cited the following as the most important reasons for dropping out:

  • too high shipping costs
  • too little willingness to buy
  • Use of the shopping cart as a notepad
  • no display of shipping costs
  • no guest order possible
  • too large/complex checkout
  • Desired payment option is not available
  • too long shipping time

Characteristics of good shopping cart designs

Good shopping cart designs with high conversion should combine the following characteristics:

  • Overview of the process (e.g. display of the following steps in the checkout)
  • detailed information about the content of the shopping cart and the selected item quantity
  • Indication of availability
  • Use of shortage (e.g. indication when only a few items are left in stock)
  • Specification of a specific delivery date
  • The voucher field should not be placed too prominently in order to avoid order cancellations due to the search for vouchers
  • Use of a continue shopping function (user returns to the previous product page)
  • Information about the most important arguments and advantages that speak for shopping in the shop
  • Integration of trust elements, e.g. B. Trusted Shops certification, Stiftung Warentest seal, TÜV certification
  • Display of the standard sender and offer of alternatives
  • Information about offered payment options already in the shopping cart
  • Reference to the encrypted transmission of data and data security
  • Display of strikethrough prices for reduced items
  • Display of contact details for the clarification of short-term questions

Examples of shopping cart designs

Example 1: OTTO

The mail-order company OTTO has put a lot of effort into designing the shopping cart. The shopping cart is extremely clear. Thanks to the product image, article name, colour and size, the customer can see exactly which products he has selected. The unit price is displayed as well as the total price according to the selected number of items. The customer finds out when the item will be delivered, how high the shipping costs will be and which steps will follow during the checkout process. Information on the payment options can be found on every page of the shop in the footer.

The Sanicare pharmacy also informs customers about important aspects in the shopping cart. For example, the potential buyer will find images of the checkout process, the advantages of the company, information on the delivery time, the unit price, strike-through prices and shipping costs. However, the shopping cart looks very overloaded. At first glance, the eye has difficulty finding its way around and discovering the necessary information right away.

Tchibo also has a positive example of the shopping basket design. The shopping cart is clearly laid out, but there is no missing important information from the checkout process to the delivery date and shipping costs. Information on the service and free delivery will also follow further down the page.

Importance of SEO

How the user perceives an online shop sometimes depends on how easy it is to go from selecting a product to completing the purchase. Many online shops have potential for optimization in these areas, because users abandon the majority of purchases on the Internet. There are many reasons for this, but the path from selection to payment should require as few steps as possible while still offering the most important functions. These processes definitely fall into the area of ​​search engine optimization, namely on-page factors such as clarity, usability or interaction patterns.

The user wants to be informed quickly about the ordering process, payment options or delivery conditions. He also wants to make as few clicks as possible to buy a product – the same applies to the form data that he has to enter. Vouchers and discount codes can best be integrated directly. On the other hand, captchas and similar obstacles should be avoided. The interaction between the user and the online shop should therefore be based on the user and his needs. Otherwise, there is a risk of the purchase being cancelled. The shopping cart is a particularly important part of the conversion funnel, where many users decide for or against an offer.

The questions of when, where and why a user cancels a purchase can be answered at least approximately using various means. In this way, click paths can be analyzed to find out which path the user took before abandoning the purchase. Individual pages from this path can certainly be improved in terms of usability.

In particular, the last pages viewed provide information about the cancellation of the purchase: Are the facts of the order, payment and delivery explained simply and understandably? Can the user enter their data with little effort or are there technical hurdles in their way? The shopping cart is the center of all these questions, because products are bought from here. But the websites or scripts that follow after the shopping cart complete the purchase – again, it should only take a few clicks to complete the purchase.


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