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Cart Talk: Our Thoughts on Ecommerce Shopping Carts

The shopping cart. It’s not something we drag around with us anymore filling with items we intend to purchase. In digital retail, it can be more of a holding tank or a staging area. We’ve all used a shopping cart as a wish list--a place to store things we might want to buy. Someday. So we toss things in, but we’re still not fully committed.

Here are Reaction HQ, the shopping cart is a hot topic. Beyond the actual utility of the cart, we’ve been researching and debating this receptacle for items under consideration, and the best ways to help shoppers commit.

Here’s why it’s such a big consideration. According to Savvy Panda, the average cart abandonment rate is 65.23%. Even worse, the average site conversion is only 2.13%. Since we’re building Reaction with Marketing First principles to help businesses focus on generating sales and converting their customers with built-in tools and apps, what the shopping cart looks like and how it functions is vitally important. That’s why we’ve taken into consideration some of the biggest reasons customers fail to make a purchase, and here are some things we think are helpful to closing the sale:

  • Show shipping costs as early in the process as possible
  • Show product images in the cart
  • Include a large checkout call to action
  • Have a cart icon reminder in the top nav
  • Provide a quick path to edit items in the cart

There are many different ways to approach the shopping cart, of course, but we think that shopping carts on some ecommerce sites get in the way of the purchase.

The full page cart, for instance, takes you away from the page of products you’re looking at and onto a purchasing screen.Even though this takes you right into the transaction and therefore encourages you to make the purchase, it also interrupts your shopping experience and requires you to take a different action if you want to continue shopping.

Full cart

The interrupt cart is a pop-up screen that interrupts your experience and covers your view of the site.

Interrupt cart

This is similar to the full page cart but rather than taking you to another page, it merely plops the cart on top of the products. It’s still a distraction away from your shopping experience and toward the checkout process. It can also be annoying.

The mini cart is a bit of a happy medium. It’s cleaner and less distracting. You still see that you have the option to checkout, but you can also make the decision to keep browsing.

Mini cart

Some sites show you a mini cart while you’re shopping and then take you to a full page cart for checkout while some sites utilize a mini cart throughout the checkout process.

We like the mini cart option because it gives customers the opportunity to make their purchase or continue browsing. Then, when customers are ready to checkout, we take them to a full page checkout experience. We call it a cart drawer, and here's what it looks like on Reaction Commerce:

Reaction Commerce cart drawer

The reality of online shopping is that many people aren’t yet ready to purchase or they hit stumbling blocks that prevent them from wanting to purchase right now. So in order to avoid shopping cart abandonment, here are some things you’ll want to consider:

  • Make sure your carts work on mobile devices and tablets
  • If possible, give shoppers a couple payment options
  • Allow customers to save their cart or, better yet, do it automatically for them
  • Display easy options for customers who have questions about your products or services
  • Offer free shipping if possible

Shopping cart abandonment is a reality, but the good news is that following up with customers by email really does help. But that’s another topic we’ll tackle in the near future.

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