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Dan Cole

Shopping Cart design?

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I was just looking at my shopping cart (Bootstrapped Version) thinking that there is probably room for improvement.  I started poking around the web for best practices and couldn't come up with anything I really liked.

I'm thinking that some of you have been down this path already and wondered what conclusions you came to, if you developed a better "cart" etc. 

 

I'd welcome your comments...as this blog article suggests..."Shopping baskets (or shopping carts) are a key part of the customer journey when shopping online. They are a gateway for visitors into your checkout process."

https://econsultancy.com/blog/7106-shopping-basket-best-practice-from-asos/

Can we do a better job with our osC shopping cart?

Dan

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My needs from a shopping cart are pretty basic, so i don't have anything in particular I would like to see added at this time. However, I think it would be a great idea to have a forum, where members can suggest features. The developing team can then mark these suggestions as "rejected" or "plan to implement".

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Trying to think of how I use a real-life shopping cart, and what could be carried over from that to a virtual cart. One of the things with a real cart is that I can pull an item out of it and compare it to something on the shelf (list of ingredients, etc.). A virtual cart that makes it easy to compare at least two products side by side would be super. If I decide to swap, it's only polite to put the original item back on its original shelf (a lot easier with a virtual cart). You might keep the original quantity, but make it easy for the shopper to see that and change it, especially in cases where one is single items and the other comes in packs, for example. You don't want to annoy a customer who wants 6 of an item, had originally put 6 of item A in the cart, and then swapped it out for a six-pack of item B -- and then they end up buying 6 six-packs of B!

 

When listing what's in the cart, in real life it's usually a visual sweep of what's there. Perhaps the cart listing should include a thumbnail photo of each item? If the quantity is greater than one, do something (like a stack of images) to clue the shopper that they have multiples of that item, in addition to prominently displaying the quantity next to the photo.

 

I wonder how often people actually change quantities on items in the cart? Much easier with a virtual cart, to be sure, but probably still unusual (at least for me). The ability should be possible, but doesn't have to be "in your face". The same for zeroing out the quantity (remove from cart) -- more often done if you decide to substitute another product. What about changing attributes on a product in the cart, rather than having to take out all the red cups and putting in green cups (like as a completely different product)? What if you had just red cups, and decided to change part of them to green -- that would be splitting an item in the cart. What if you had red cups, and wanted to add green cups without going all the way back to the item display and starting over with green (as a new product)? What happens when there are multiple attributes (size, color, other variations) with a product? How about different stock quantities for different combinations?

 

This brings up the question of when items are deducted from stock. The ASOS example seems to reserve an item for you for a limited time, so it must be deducting as soon as the item goes in the cart. That's like real life, to the point where shoppers abandon a cart before checkout! You would definitely need to detect abandoned carts as early as possible, but I'm not sure if a pop-up alert is possible if the page is no longer up. Some search engines and comparison services may load up their carts and then abandon them, so you need to return stock to shelves as soon as possible. The alternative is to wait until checkout to deduct stock, but that runs the risk of a shopper getting to checkout and then being told that a certain item is out of stock! That's not a way to make customers happy, so I would deduct as soon as the item goes in the cart, and recover carts that have had no activity for a given time. Perhaps you could return items to stock, but keep a ghost image of the cart as a sort of "wishlist" or "shopping list" to repopulate at the press of a button. If you have a customer account/ID, it can be stored in the database, but guest shoppers might have it left as a cookie. There is a hazard in either case, but especially as a cookie, that someone else could be exposed to what you were shopping for, with embarrassment resulting.

 

Should the same product with different attributes (e.g., colors) be grouped in any way, or even handled as a unit? Say I have red cups and green cups. Should they listed as two completely separate items, each with their own quantity and remove controls, or should there be a "cups" entry (and extended price) with subentries for red and green? The generic (SKU level) "cups" would stick around unless all colors were zeroed out, but it could have its own "remove" control.

 

Language: a shopping "cart" in the US is often a "trolley" in Britain (I don't know about other English-speaking countries). "Bag" is sometimes used, as in the ASOS example, but that would be confusing to US customers who think of a bag is as something to put products in after purchase, to take out to the car. "Basket" implies that only very small stuff is being purchased, and might subtly push a customer to limit their purchases. Of course, we've all had the experience of pushing a hypersized cart around the grocery store when we only intended to grab a few items, but if I pick up a hand basket, I almost inevitably end up overfilling it! Maybe enormous carts are intended to hint that we should fill them?

 

Shipping options and costs are always a potential problem, and unexpectedly large charges are a major cause of carts being abandoned. If this is a guest checkout, you will often have no idea what shipping costs or sales taxes (US) will be until a shipping address is given at checkout. Allow the guest to give a shipping address early in the process, so they can keep track of shipping costs as they shop. If this is a returning customer with an address on file, you could assume they will be shipping to that address (give the cheapest shipping and the appropriate sales tax) unless they give a new shipping address (e.g., as a gift). It can get messy fast. Do any carts let you split your order, part to be shipped one way, and the remainder another way? Also don't forget that some jurisdictions may limit merchandise that can be shipped there (e.g., knives and other weapons), and some carriers won't ship certain hazardous items. Some items are big enough to ship in their own boxes anyway. Giving the customer an option to split the shipment so they can get some items faster or cheaper might be appreciated, although it could make the code and interface quite complicated! The same goes for shipping to different addresses, such as for a number of gifts under one purchase.

 

The cart listing should include a thumbnail photo, quantity, description, attributes, base price, +/- costs, extended price, and shipping cost or additional amount (per item); and the running subtotal, any overall shipping costs, and any taxes. Shipping costs and taxes may not be known until the customer supplies a shipping address, which might be different for different items! It should be easy to change quantities, compare on-shelf items to those in the cart, swap items, and remove items from the cart. If a customer has per-item coupons or credits, they should be able to specify them as soon as they put them in the cart, and those discounts be shown in the list. If there are promotional pricing schemes (e.g., buy 2, get 1 free) that should show up in the listing.

 

When checking out, be sure to tell the customer what they are saving with sales prices, coupons, discounts, loyalty cards, etc., to give them a warm feeling about shopping with you.

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I believe that the checkout process with the standard oscommerce setup is not that bad if left alone. There are a few things that could be better.

 

The shopping cart page as standard is a bit basic. It should really show shipping costs so the customer knows what their total costs will be. Its generally too late to tell them the shipping costs once they have to create account and choose a payment method. Customers will be lost. It should be easy for a customer to adjust the quantity required. The use of up or down arrows and an update button does seem to work. If the total stock quantity is also shown that would make it even better. The buttons should be easy to see and should be properly named. If customers do not know what a button does they will ignore it, or press it and hope it was what they wanted.

 

I remember reading somewhere that lots of people want to see what is in their cart when products are added, so whether to show the cart or not is really down to personal preference and choice. Its alright to show it as long as there is an easy way to get back to the products or listing that was last viewed by the customer.

 

I also feel that its too late to introduce things like cross sells at the cart page. That should all be done at the product page. I generally ignore information if it is presented on the cart page, but that may be just me.

 

Correctly naming the buttons through out the buying process does influence customers. In the EU there are regulations on what can and cant be written in the buttons. You have to make it obvious that people are going to have to pay for an item and things like that. Making the buttons obvious will make them easier to see on the page and make the final call to action button larger.

 

I do think that the more you read the more confusing things can become. There is no real right or wrong way to do things, and everyone will have a different idea on what works. I altered my shopping cart and checkout pages to suit what i believed my customers wanted, based mainly on what I would want on the pages. I also had some good feedback after using the recover cart sales addon. Its not so long ago that everyone wanted a one page checkout, and now it appears its best to have the info split over a few pages, but not to many. Whatever you choose has to keep things quick, and simple. I once visited the vistaprint website to buy something and they had a 25 page checkout. I got fed up part way through and went somewhere else.


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Regarding changing quantities, I was looking at a change of quantity of a product already in the cart. Obviously, while putting something into the cart, it must be easy to adjust the quantity. My comments were oriented more towards the shopping cart contents page, where it is less likely that the shopper will have a major need to change quantities.

 

Some merchants will be willing to show stock on hand, and others may wish to hide that information from competitors, so it should be configurable. I agree that you don't want to overwhelm a shopper with huge amounts of information, but they should have an obvious and intuitive way to get to the information they need.

 

Running total shipping costs and taxes should be shown, so the total bill isn't a shock. If you know the shipping address, you can show the lowest shipping cost (unless the shopper has already selected a faster/more expensive method) and the sales tax (show the ZIP code or postal code being used). If no address is known (a guest shopper, or not yet signed in), a big red UNKNOWN for shipping and taxes (and provide an obvious way to set the shipping address). Multiple shipping addresses (as for gift shopping) would be a bit complicated, but could be done (sort cart contents page by shipping address).

 

Cross selling and upselling probably do belong more on the product page, as when the shopper has already made the mental commitment to buy something by putting it in the cart, they will be annoyed to have the store suggesting some other purchase (instead/in addition to). It certainly is possible to suggest *sells on the cart contents page or even at the beginning of checkout, but don't come on as too pushy. It can be annoying to be urged to spend even more after you feel you've spent quite enough filling your shopping cart! Does "cross selling" include "other shoppers have also bought..."?

 

At any point, when the shopper is taken to the cart contents page or to another product on cross/up sell, it should be easy for them to get back to their starting point (product). A shopper may be working their way through a written or mental shopping list, and be annoyed to lose their place in a store with many categories and subcategories. Imagine pulling a box of cereal off the supermarket shelf and putting in your cart, and suddenly you find yourself in the dairy section in front of the milk (or produce in front of the bananas). You were going to get to the milk -- it's on your list -- but first you were going to get another box of cereal. Now you are going to have to push your cart all the way back to the cereal aisle!

 

That brings up a thought -- what about navigating the store, something more than a list of categories. What if you had a map of your virtual store (looking like a real store), with thumbnails of categories, and you could click on a category name or picture and then see subcategories expanded, something like a tag cloud? Would that make finding your way around easier, and encourage more purchases, than with a tree-structured category list?

 

There's not going to be one right way to set up a shopping cart page, so the pieces should be configurable by the store owner and (to some extent) by the shopper. The same goes for whether to display the cart as each item is added -- give them the choice.

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I like the linked article on the 300 million form change.  It makes sense and I think Burt (Gary) is on to something with his Optimized Checkout.


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@@John W

 

I like the linked article on the 300 million form change.  It makes sense and I think Burt (Gary) is on to something with his Optimized Checkout.

 

You lost me there John....300 million form change?

 

Dan

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Reviewing the check out /shopping cart strategies link I posted above, no particular order,  this would be my initial wish list.  What would you like to see?

 

Let the user update quantity or remove from cart – while they’re still on the checkout page. Here again, the more times they have to hit the back button (or look for the cart icon) to go where they want, the more chances they’ll simply give up and drop the process altogether.

Show the final price before checkout – More and more e-commerce sites are incorporating this feature to help prevent orders from being lost due to the customer’s idea of a perceived price increase in the form of shipping/handling/tax fees.

Detail shipping methods on the checkout page – Don’t wait until after they enter their shipping address to let them know which options you accept.

If you're using rewards or discounts they should be entered at this point so the final cost can be determined.

Confirm that the item is in stock/available – No one wants to get all the way to the order page to find out the item is no longer available.  Thankfully, most carts have inventory tracking built-in to the ordering process.  If an item is on backorder, allow the user to enter their email address to be notified if/when it’s back in stock.

Add checkout buttons to the top and bottom of the page – The less time that customers have to spend looking for them, the sooner they’ll take action

Include credit card logos and security seals – Let shoppers know your site is a secure, trusted place to do business.  Popular security seals include Verisign and BizRate.

 

Dan

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@@John W

 

Thanks John...I hadn't noticed that link.  It's an excellent read and really should get you thinking about how your customers interact with your website.   I got a whole new understanding of the no account issue.   

 

Dan

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Hopefully those that are working on the new version of oscommerce have seen that article as well.


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Get the latest Responsive osCommerce CE (community edition) here

It's very easy to over complicate what are simple things in life

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@@14steve14

 

Hopefully those that are working on the new version of oscommerce have seen that article as well.

 

I was thinking we could lend a hand and maybe help move things along by developing a list of those items we think important. Perhaps we could even toss together some code and/or content modules along the way. 

 

Were there items on that list you'd like to see added?   

 

Dan

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