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  • Writer's pictureTingbin Tang

Design an Effective Cart

It might be hard to believe that the average shopping cart abandonment rate is about 69.89% on PC and 78% on mobile.” (Source: baymard.com/lists/cart-abandonment-rate) Why so many customers will give up after putting items into the cart? How can we improve the cart conversion rate? What are the differences between a physical cart and a virtual cart, especially cart in a mobile app? How can we take advantage of these differences?

Do we see such things happen for offline shopping? Very rare, right? Why? Maybe because people have invested so much efforts to get to the store, spend time to look around and pick items into the cart, wait in line… Even though some people may not check out everything in the cart, but there are not that many people will give up their cart, right?


1. Price issue, too easy to compare price and switch store online


One explanation for cart abandonment is about the price, that customer think the price is high, then they give up shopping, especially since it is much easier for a customer to compare prices online (PC and/or mobile). Yes, it is true, that compare price online is easier than offline, so how do we deal with this?


I have interviewed some customers. Yes, it is true, when we ask a customer, he/she might tell you that price is an important factor when they make a purchase decision. But in reality, customers do not always compare the prices. Most customers end up rely much more on one app and “forget” about others. If one brand has already won the trust, customers will feel comfortable just directly purchase from this seller/platform, without bother to search and compare on other sites. Many items in Costco do not have the cheapest price, but why customers still willing to make purchase there? It is because the perception of both price and value it brought to customers, hence it has won the trust.


When designing the cart, considering the price and value factors, besides tell customers how much they are going to spend, tell them how much they have saved; besides tell customers how much they owe, tell them how many they gain, e.g. 3-year warranty, free accessories, free membership, etc. If the customers are really price sensitive, tell them how much lower compared to others; tell them about our price match policies; etc. Most importantly, through service, through long term word of mouth and quality delivered, ensure the value, build the trust.


Some customers like to put items in the cart or Wishlist to compare the similar product prices and watch price updates or deals for intended items. Clearly design and deliver such info in the Cart will also greatly increase the cart conversion rate.


2. Shipping cost?


Yes, shipping cost will affect customer’s purchasing decision, because it has been treated as an “extra cost”, compare to offline shopping, even though offline shopping may also cost gasoline mileage and time, but many customers just did not notice that part. So how do we conquer this shipping cost concern, and maybe even take advantage out of it?


First way to do it, is to reduce shipping cost, by best mathematic calculation and algorism, maximum each delivery efficiency and reduce cost; or develop robotic technologies and UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) transportation technology. Some companies start to develop the Uber for shipping service, best utilize idle resources, many commute people or driver can be a part time deliveryman, that is also a great solution.


Besides different ways to reduce costs, some companies set up free shipping police with order amount requirement, which actually have turned this disadvantage into an advantage, to encourage customers to purchase more. So, in my design, I also clearly visualized the free-shipping threshold, to encourage customers to put more items into the cart.


3. Human touch?


Have you ever purchased an item only because the shop assistant was too nice, and you just feel embarrassed not to buying anything? Hence you end up purchased some items that you did not really wanted? When I was in college, my pals and I often go to one restaurant only because the clerk there was so pretty, and we want to be there to see her sunny smile. However, for online shopping this might become a missing element, since we are facing a cold screen, instead of a smile face.


It does not have to a person presented to provide a human touch; there are ways to enhance the touch and interact between the company and its customers. First, communication. Many companies still using MailChimp or similar tools to send group emails for communication with customers and end up in junk mail and cause dislikes. Some companies use SMS or phone calls, may become even worse. A lot of companies use notifications and got ignored. So, what is the best way to communicate? In my design, I always propose to have an in-app message feature, and we need to be relevant and personalized. I think message should be a standard feature for most services, and it does not have to be a social networking app like Facebook or Snapchat to have a chat function. All the notifications, customer services, package tracking, product inquires, even price negotiation if needed, can be in the message section. Customers can simply talk to a customer service representative just like they chat to a Facebook friend; customers can track a package delivery status just like asking a service person instead of entering package tracking number and click search; customers can directly inquire a seller to ask about product specifications, and seller can even send a discount code within the chat… Good communication is always a great way to remove worries, reduce misunderstanding, and enhance relationships.


Another way to enhance human touch is to interact. Even two old friends, after apart for a long time without interact, may become alienated; for relationships with customers, it is the same. Promotions, campaigns, events, flash sales, reverse bidding… An e-commerce platform also needs to have all kinds of interesting events keep happening to stay fresh and interact with its customers. Only thing is that we need to make it relevant, so customer would not be bored. As for cart, we shall display the new discounts, events associated with carted items.


4. Coupon


Some companies put Apply Coupon at payment page, I disagree. The main purpose of coupon actually is not to help customers save money; but to encourage more sales. So, in my design, at the bottom of the cart, there will be coupon area. And it is not just a box for customers to enter coupon code to save money, but a display of all the available coupons. And they are color coded.


For coupon available with carted items, customers can directly click and apply coupon; for coupon valid during this period of time, but customer have not put those related items in cart yet, customers can click to add the item; or if the coupon is valid at the moment and only for a group of products, customers can also click to check all related items. Some people may question here, wait, are you leading customers to jump out of the cart? Will that make them not coming back? No, you worry too much, I am sure as long as we have what they need, and we have customer trust, let them spend more time browsing more items would not reduce conversion rate. Instead, it will increase sales volume.


Of course, we do not want the cart list page to be too long, so these coupons will be displayed horizontally as a carousel. So, customers can just swipe left or right to view them.

5. Cross-sales


Besides the coupon can be a way to encourage more sales, there are ways to do cross sales in cart as well, it does not have to be at the product page. Even in the cart, we can have recommendations for related accessories to carted items, based on customers’ carted items, purchasing and browsing history, recommend what he/she might like. In order to NOT interfere with cart main function, these recommendation field will be at the very bottom of the page.


Even at each item, I enabled customers to find similar items. Since I do not want to interfere cart main function, this feature is hided with swipe action, with a little hint to notice customer.


6. Recurring order


When customer set for recurring order, which means good pre-sales for a long term; which also means customer have put a strong trust and rely on with the platform. So, the cart should also be easy for the customers to set up for recurring orders.


Some companies put Set Recurring Order feature at product details page, or at the payment page, I also have different opinion. At the product details page, we want customers to quickly drop something into the cart; they do not have to stuck there and wondering which button should I click? Direct by? Add to cart? Or Set Recurring Order? At the payment page, means make all this order repeat monthly, or some other terms. However, what if customer has many items in this order and only want to set up one or several frequent daily necessities to be recurring order? So, in my design, customers can easily set up for recurring orders at the cart page, when he/she swipe each item.

7. Other concerns


Return is a big concern for many customers. So, if the company has a free return policy, for sure deliver the message.


Delivering time is another concern. In the cart, for each item, we should clearly show to customers the estimated delivering date.


For out of stock products, some companies just do not allow people to make purchase for those items, for they cannot make sure when the items will be restocked; some companies like Amazon will provide an estimated shipping date, and customer still can continue purchase, but be aware of the shipping status.


Some other customers may also have more diversified needs. For example, they may want to do a cost sharing, some business customers may like to be easy for company reimburse, or tax issues, etc. These can be slowly put into consideration when such customer base is growing.



Some designers like to emphasize more on efficiency for cart design; and they may concern about the efficiency with my design. I have been observing many customers. There are a large number of customers actually visit shopping app a lot, e.g. 2-3 times a day or even more frequently. Besides browsing and searching products, they may also spend time reviewing all the carted items before they finally decide what they need and proceed to make a payment. So, the cart conversion rate does not show as Inversely proportional with time spend on time; instead, it may even show as positive ratio, together with sale volume. Besides, more features of design, does not mean risk the efficiency, with right consideration of all the details, for customers who want to make a quick order, it will still be very simple and easy.


At the end, our purpose is to make more sales, is not it so true?

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