I’m a reformed shopaholic, and I’d be embarrassed to have to account for all the money I’ve spent online in the past 15 years. I think that makes me a bit of an expert on what makes a great shopping cart. An online store is only as good as its shopping cart. A website may be super attractive and slick, but it must also provide customers with a hassle-free, and safe experience. I have, on many occasions, switched to a different shopping site because I was annoyed by a hard to navigate shopping cart. I won’t go into online security because that should be a given. Here are five things that make or break a shopping experience from the viewpoint of a consumer.
1. Large Thumbnail Images
When I get close to checking out, I like to see exactly what is in my cart. A clear image of the product, with a description, price, and quantity should be visible.
2. Editing Should Be Simple
I want to be able to click on the thumbnail image and change the size, color or quantity easily. There should be an Update button so that I can refresh the shopping cart after I’ve made any changes. I don’t want to have to search for little circular arrow icons. QuickLook cart editing is a great feature because it allows customers to make changes to items without really leaving the shopping cart.
3. Availability And Backorders
Please don’t let me continue with my purchase if the product is unavailable. Just recently I ordered an adorable set of earphones for my toddler from ToysRUs. In the shopping cart I could see an image of what I wanted but what arrived was completely different. I called in and reported the problem. The customer service rep told me that it is their policy to sub something else in when the product is out of stock. I was irate, but they made their sale in the end because the headphones I ordered were not being restocked so I chose to keep the ones that arrived. However, I won’t be shopping on their site any longer.
4. Shipping Calculator
It is great when I can see the shipping charges before I have to start filling out all the billing fields. Often there is an incentive to spend a little more to get free shipping, and it’s nice to see that before getting knee deep in the checkout process. I like it when there is a “Continue Shopping” link on every page so that I can go back and make changes without losing everything I have entered into the billing and shipping fields. It is a real joy when I return to those pages and the fields are still populated with my data.
In the past, I was much more of an impulsive shopper. Now my budget simply doesn’t allow it. My version of window shopping is to put things in my cart and then come back to it several times before I make a decision. It’s nice when there is an option to save items in a wishlist for later. For example, on Amazon, I always have several items “saved for later” and with one click I can add them back into my cart. I do this because occasionally I am about to place an order and need to add just one more thing to get free shipping. Rather than randomly go shopping for something, I can select an item I was already planning to buy.