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Remember those large shopping carts you use to get groceries? Those physical shopping carts were the inspiration for the coming up with the best shopping cart website design. The basic functionalities were adapted into its virtual counterpart giving online shoppers the capability to “hold” items they are considering to purchase. Using this online shopping cart they can also view, remove and add items before proceeding to the virtual cashier – the checkout page.

Online shopping cart has more capabilities. A proper shopping cart page design can automatically calculate total cost (remember when your mom will whip out the ol’ budget calculator?). It can “save” items and let you purchase later if it is still available. The one thing that it can’t do is act as your 4 wheeled kiddie ride.

Below are the best shopping cart website design and shopping cart ideas to help you come up with the best possible experience for your customers.

1. Notify the user when item is added to shopping cart

Confirmation for adding an item to the shopping cart is typically just changing the number on the cart icon. There is a risk that most online buyers, especially new ones, will miss that small number. To draw the buyer’s attention, it is best to use a secondary and more noticeable indicator to confirm that a product has been added to the cart.

An animated popup showing the product being added to the cart is a “can’t miss” indicator. User experience (UX) designers preach that online actions should mirror a real-world action. Adding an animated confirmation should generate an experience similar to a person getting an item from a grocery rack and placing it inside their shopping cart.

Include an image of the product and a list of corresponding options. Don’t overuse pop up animations. Small amounts of movement in a mostly static page will draw attention, but overdoing it will distract and possibly annoy your customers.

The shopping cart page design must consider real-time inventory. An order should not be placed if it is not in stock. Going through a buying process only to find out that the item wasn’t in stock is not good user experience.

2. Mini shopping cart (Pop Up)

Online shopping carts come in two forms. One is a full-page cart that contains all the details of a customer’s transaction. The other is a “mini” shopping cart that is essentially an icon or shortcut to the main shopping cart page. This mini shopping cart is usually located in the sidebar or above of a page.

The best shopping cart website design practice is to include both carts because they are complementary to each other. A mini shopping cart should show relevant information using as little page space as possible. The reason why it is located in top corners or sidebars is to prevent it from affecting the page visuals while maintaining a constant reminder of a customer’s actions.

A good mini shopping cart template shows the selected product details, usually via a popup, before reflecting the item, quantity and price on the mini cart icon. This allows the customer to be kept on the product page to continue shopping. It provides a customer with a quick view tool to monitor their items and how much they are about to spend.

3. Show the number of items

The cart should always show the number of items clearly. An accidental double tap or click can easily add another item without the customer’s knowledge. Most shoppers use a mobile device and they could easily miss this error.

Imagine a customer calling your hotline demanding to return a “duplicate” order. All the while telling you that no one orders two engagement rings at the same time.

Customers should be able to review and update order quantities from their shopping cart. They must never lose the option of modifying cart contents until the very last step of their buying process.

4. List product image and details

Your customer makes their final purchase decision on the full cart page. This is their last stop (Well, almost last stop, there is still the Review Page) before proceeding to the checkout. The role of the shopping cart now becomes doubly important. The shopping cart functions as a tool to organize your shopper’s items. But when they are done looking for items they want, the shopping cart’s sole function is now to lead the customers to pay for the items.

It is important that this page provides a clear summary of items to be purchased. Your shopping cart designing team should include the following relevant information:

  • Product image – The image should be large enough for buyers to identify the item. A tiny thumbnail image will not do especially when viewed from a mobile device. The image should show the item in the correct color, make an option so the user can properly review the product.
  • Product details – This includes the size, color, price, model, inscription, brand and other important details worth mentioning. Complete product description will allow the user to differentiate the item he wants to purchase from other similar items.
  • Quantity – We can’t reiterate enough the importance of showing this information clearly. This impacts the total purchase price and possibly the shipping cost.

Having all this information clearly provided on the shopping cart will allow customers to review their order before they purchase. This gives customers the opportunity to see and rectify mistakes. Lastly, include a link from each item in the shopping cart back to its product page. This way the customer has a way to review and reread the entire product description.

5. Allow customers to edit items in cart

Allow your customers to easily edit their orders on the shopping cart page itself. They should not be removed from the cart or redirected back to the product page when editing orders. You should keep them on the shopping cart page at all costs.

There are two common ways to do this in the shopping cart page design. One is through inline editing and the other is via a pop-up screen. The product image and details should be updated to reflect any changes made by the user.

Provide clear labels or icons on the actionable items. A plus (+) or minus (-) sign are universally known symbols and should be used to visualize adding or removing items.

6. Proper use of coupon fields

Coupon code fields are those little form boxes that you find near the mini shopping cart. It is a portal for customers to input a product or store specific coupon codes. These codes are normally for discounts or free items.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. You are idly shopping and when you are about to checkout you see this shiny and empty coupon code field. Unfortunately, you don’t have a coupon code. You might say “Surely this is a mistake, I SHOULD have a coupon code because the shopping cart page is asking for MY coupon code”

This little misunderstanding might lead your almost paying customer to look for this elusive code. A search that might lead them to the waiting arms of another e-commerce site.

If you want to put a coupon code, here are 3 shopping cart examples on how to avoid the “coupon search exodus”

  • You can place a clickable link for customers to search for an available coupon on the shopping cart page itself.
  • Hide the coupon code field from customers without a coupon code on hand.
  • Slightly hide or lessen the visibility of the coupon field. Users who have coupon codes will look for the form field and those without might not even know it is there.