Shopping Cart

A shopping cart is used in online shopping in order to store certain products without having to retrieve them again before buying. The term shopping cart refers in e-commerce to an overview of all products that have been deposited there for purchase. The term itself is derived from everyday language usage and its function in online shops is the same as in a supermarket. The goods are placed in it and get transported to checkout. You can store desired items in your shopping cart to buy them later.

Functions of shopping carts in online shopping[edit]

Online shopping is facilitated considerably with the option to add the desired items to the shopping cart. The buyer has the possibility to browse the website first and to deposit a favorite product in the shopping cart if interested. The stored products are placed there in a well-organized list. Prior to the purchase process, the buyer has unlimited time to look at the items again and, if necessary, remove them or change the preferred quantity. Only by deciding to buy will the purchase become binding, usually by means of a “Buy Now” or “Order Now” button (call-to-action), which just needs to be clicked at the end of the purchase process.

The shopping cart stores the products placed there over the entire time period the user is using the website. This is usually done with cookies and special scripts. The cookies may be session-dependent. This means that the user spends a specific time in the online store to search for products. Both the server on which the web shop runs, as well as the user’s client or the browser exchange data during this time (e.g. by clicking links). Through session-IDs and cookies, the server knows that the current user has already placed goods in the shopping basket.


If no cookies were used, all data would be lost as soon as a certain website was clicked. Thus, cookies serve the purpose of usability in this case and are essential for sessions, forms, and shopping carts to create a simple user interaction. In the case of reputable online stores that value privacy, such session-dependent cookies are subsequently deleted.

The shopping cart design[edit]

The design of the shopping cart and the ordering process are essential for sales success.

Factors causing shopping cart abandonment[edit]

In January 2014, KonversionsKRAFT published an Infographics on the topic of shopping cart design and noted that according to a US study, 67.89 percent of visitors of an online store will cancel or abort an order in a shopping cart. The most important reasons for abandoning it were given by experts as follows:

  • Too high shipping costs
  • Too little willingness to buy
  • Use of the shopping basket as a wish list
  • No display of shipping costs
  • No guest booking possible
  • Too extensive or complex checkout
  • The desired payment option is not available
  • Shipping option takes too long

Characteristics of good shopping cart design[edit]

Good shopping cart designs with a high rate of conversions should combine the following features:

  • Overview of the process (for example, display of the following steps in the checkout)
  • Detailed information about the contents of the shopping cart and the selected item quantity
  • Indication of availability
  • Use of shortage (e.g. when only a few products are available)
  • Specification of a delivery date
  • Not too prominent placement of the voucher field in order to avoid order cancellations due to the search for vouchers
  • Continue shopping option (user gets back to the previous product page)
  • Information about the main arguments and advantages that show the benefit of shopping in the online store
  • Integration of trust elements, such as trusted shops certification, Stiftung Warentest seal, TÜV certification
  • Display of standard shipper and offer of alternatives
  • Information about offered payment options already in the shopping basket
  • Reference to the encrypted transmission of data and data security
  • Display of reduced prices
  • Display of contact details for the clarification of questions

Examples of shopping cart design[edit]

Example 1: OTTO

The mail-order company OTTO has expended a lot of effort in the design of their shopping basket. The shopping cart is extremely well-organized. Thanks to product image, product name, color, and size, the customer can see exactly which products he has selected. The individual price is displayed as well as the total price according to the selected item number. The customer will know when the item will be delivered, what the shipping costs will be, and what steps he will need to follow during the checkout process. Information about the payment options can be found on each page of the store in the footer area.

Example 2: Sanicare Pharmacy

Sanicare pharmacy informs its customers in the shopping basket about important aspects as well. For example, the potential buyer will find diagrams of the checkout process, the advantages of the company, details of the delivery period, individual prices, reduced prices, as well as the shipping costs. However, the shopping cart is heavily overloaded. It is difficult to find your way through it at first and to discover the necessary information immediately.

Example 3: Tchibo

There is also a positive example of the shopping cart design at Tchibo (German coffee shop chain). The shopping cart is clearly structured, but important information concerning the checkout process, delivery date, and the shipping costs is missing. Information about the service and free delivery follow further down on the page.

Relevance to SEO[edit]

How users will perceive an online store depends sometimes on how easy the route is from product selection to purchase conclusion. Many online shops have potential for optimization in these areas, as users abort a large number of Internet purchases. The reasons for this are varied, but the path from selection to payment should require as few steps as possible while providing the most important functions. These processes are well within the range of search engine optimization, in particular on-page factors such as clarity, usability, and interaction patterns.

The user wants to be quickly informed about the ordering process, payment options or terms of delivery. He also wants to have to do as few clicks as possible to buy a product. The same applies to the form data he needs to enter. Vouchers and discount codes can be integrated directly. On the other hand, Captchas and similar obstacles should be avoided. The interaction between the user and the online store should therefore be oriented towards the user and his needs. Otherwise the purchase may get aborted. The shopping cart is a particularly important part of the conversion funnel, where many users opt for or against an offer.

The questions of, when, where, and why a user aborts a purchase can be answered using various means. For example, [[Click Path|click paths] can be analyzed to find out what path the user took before the purchase was cancelled. Individual pages from this path can certainly be improved with regard to usability.

In particular, the last pages accessed provide information about the purchase cancellation. Is the information on the order, payment, and delivery well-explained in a simple and comprehensible manner? Can the user enter his data with little effort or are technical hurdles placed in his way? The shopping cart is the focus of all these questions, because products are bought from here. But the pages or scripts, which follow after the shopping cart to complete the purchase should likewise contain as few clicks as possible to complete the purchase.

Web Links[edit]