If your website has an e-commerce component, you’re undoubtedly always looking for ways to increase your online sales. Finding ways to drive more targeted traffic to your site is important, of course. But so is the design and user-friendliness of your buyer checkout process. And that’s where shopping cart best practices come into play.
The overall idea is to make it as quick and simple as possible for your site visitors to complete their purchase. If you’ve built effective sales funnels into your site that usher users along their buyer’s journey, your checkout process really just needs to run smoothly. Because by that point, users should be sold on their purchase, making it yours to lose with unnecessary obstacles.
So, follow these shopping cart best practices to avoid losing customers at the last minute—or, abandoned carts, as they’re commonly called—and to boost your e-commerce sales.
Tips for a Good E-Commerce Shopping Cart Experience
- Shopping carts must be completely mobile friendly today, or you will lose a lot of sales. Period.
- Make sure it’s really easy for users to find the shopping cart checkout page through the top-level navigation.
- Your shopping cart page URL should start with https:// to indicate that it’s a secure checkout.
- Don’t include spammy or overly salesy images or copy on your checkout page (or anywhere else, for that matter). You shouldn’t be trying to sell at this point. If you are, it makes your site seem less trustworthy.
- Accept multiple forms of payment. The more, the better. And that doesn’t just mean credit and debit cards; accept at least one or two web-based or app-based payment methods (e.g., PayPal, Google Pay, MasterPass, V.me, etc.).
- Keep the checkout process as short and simple as possible. Break things up into little steps; people get deterred by long forms to fill out.
- Don’t require people to create an account or log in to complete a purchase. If users can create an account on your website, offer a “check out as guest” option for those who don’t want to take the time.
- Clearly and prominently display the total number of items in the shopping cart (on the shopping cart icon, and on the shopping cart page).
- Give a confirmation message whenever an item is added to the shopping cart so that users aren’t left wondering if it worked.
- Don’t automatically send users to the checkout page if they add an item to their cart. It’s annoying and can prevent them from buying more items (or anything).
- Provide a simple summary of all items on the shopping cart page, including images, names, short descriptions, prices, and quantity. If you sell variations of a product (like different colors or sizes), make sure the thumbnail and information on the checkout page reflects the specific item the customer wants.
- Make it easy for users to delete individual items from their shopping cart. People sometimes get click-happy and add more to their carts than they realized. Then, when they see it all (and the subtotal), they can get buyer’s remorse before even completing their purchase. But if they can easily shed some items, they’ll probably do so instead of just abandoning the cart entirely.
- Also provide the ability to change the quantity of each item from the checkout page.
- Show the total cost clearly, and don’t add surprise costs at the time of checkout.
- Give people a “save for later” option. A wishlist feature is nice, too.
- There should only be two calls to action on the shopping cart page: one to continue shopping, and one to check out.
- Consider offering a coupon code for first-time buyers. This adds an incentive, and also helps nudge users past their natural initial distrust when shopping from an unknown online source.
- But if you have a field for promo codes, don’t make it too prominent. Users can easily get the sense that they should have a promo code because it’s standard for your e-commerce site. Then, when they don’t have one, they believe they’re overpaying and are likely to abandon their cart. This is one of the more subtle shopping cart best practices, but it’s important.
- When possible, build the cost of shipping into the cost of your products and state that shipping is free. People increasingly expect free shipping these days, and they also don’t like to see their total cost go up at the end of the checkout process.
- Give users one final chance to review their order before completing the purchase.
- Include a thank you page after a customer places their order. It should thank the buyer, offer confirmation that the order was completed, provide an order or tracking number, let them know what to expect in terms of when their order will be shipped and arrive, and give them a way to contact you with any questions or concerns.