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February 14, 2008 | eCommerce , Merchandising , Site Design and Management | WineDirect Admin

It’s Just Shopping

Heard something brilliant the other day when I was discussing ecommerce “best practices” with someone at the office. “It’s just shopping” she said. And it all makes sense. We all know how to shop in the real world (and know what we like and don’t like about certain stores), so why should an ecommerce shopping cart be any different?

Over the years, I’ve heard and read so many different articles with different views on how the cart should work on a website, and what are the “best practices” today. Not last month. Today. Well, considering how much time I spent building ecommerce sites, and how much money I spent shopping on ecommerce sites, I’d like to throw my 2 cents into the mix. Here are my top 10 “how the shopping cart should work”.

  1. Use a dynamic shopping cart

When you’re grocery shopping, you wouldn’t want to be sent straight to the cashier every time you put something in your cart. So don’t take the customers away from where they are when they click the “add to cart” button. Let them decide where they want to go next.

  1. Allow quantity when adding to cart

There’s nothing stopping you from putting 2 bags of marshmallows in your cart, so why should it work differently on any website?

  1. Include a store navigation accessible from anywhere in the site

When you’re ready to move from the produce section to the frozen meats, you don’t always go back to the store’s entrance and start over do you?

  1. Include related products on product pages

Not on the shopping cart page. Not on the review your order page. On the product detail page. That way you know the ketchup and mustard are both condiments (related), and you don’t end up seeing one of them sitting next to the paper towels.

  1. Forms should be top aligned

UI studies show it is easier and faster to fill out forms if the names of the fields are directly above them. So you work on the form from top to bottom, rather than left, right, left, right, left right, … You get my point.

  1. Specify optional fields, not required fields

Most fields are required anyway.

  1. Shipping address should be an optional step

9 out of 10 customers ship to the same address as their billing address. Don’t put up the entire shipping address form just to intimidate them. The less work they have to do, the more likely they’ll actually finish the checkout process.

  1. Ability to save carts

I know you can’t do this in the grocery store, but don’t you wish you can? So you can put together your cart for next week’s grocery since you’re already in the store, and all you have to do is to come back next week to the store and pay for it.

  1. Large buttons

I love it when I get to Home Depot, all I have to do is look up and know exactly where I am suppose to find what I need and pay for things when I’m done. Make your “add to cart” and “checkout” buttons stand out. Please.

  1. Beauty is important

White space is good, but too much of it is bad. Wouldn’t a badly designed site and checkout forms make you a little uncomfortable? Maybe it’s not a legitimate site? Maybe it’s not secure? Maybe I should go to someone else whose store “looks” better?

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