Shopping Cart Page
Your shopping cart page is the stage in your customer interaction where the physical financial transaction takes place. Its so important to understand this clearly and I see so many businesses blow it right here. Let take a moment to really understand what this stage is.
Imagine you going to the hairdressers. You’ve made your booking, you have your hair done and they whisk that cape off you showing you your finished style. Your really happy with it, you love it. Now as you stand up your thoughts change your from hair to the cost. For most customers there is a flood of thoughts that automatically go through their mind. “Did I transfer enough money into the account, which card will I use, should I buy that shampoo they have going on about for the last half an hour,” and so on. You get to the counter and look at each other….. This… right here…. IS the Shopping Cart Page! Everything that happens from here till you walk out the door is the shopping cart page. The physical exchange of money, the up sell of additional products. They even ask you for your details like phone number to book you in for another appointment in 6 weeks. So with all this in mind lets now flip the scenario to the Online Retail World and have a look at the Shopping Cart Page.
What should Appear on the Shopping Cart Page
Here is a list of the elements that should At Least be on your shopping cart page.
Clear pictures of the products a customer has added to their cart should be here. There are times when people build a cart over time and it also assures the customers they have everything they need.
The price of each item, with any applied discounts and the total should be calculated and displayed clearly here.
- Shipping and Other Costs
All costs including Shipping, Tax, Handling should be on this page. We have worked so hard to build trust up till this point and we don’t want any surprises.
- Payment Options
Payment options like PayPal, types of Credit Cards, direct deposit or accounts they have should have clearly been displayed from the very beginning and should most definitely be displayed and be consistent on the page.
- Security Icons and Symbols
Security symbols and icons are important for two reasons. They protect the information being sent between your site and the bank but they also instill confidence in your customers. Its the same as in a bricks and mortar shop. If the EFTPOS system looks dodgy or they are just stuffing cash into a plastic container you may question where your secret banking details are going.
A Progress Bar is so often over looked when designers build shopping carts. The amount of time I see this is crazy and its so important. Firstly just from a simple courtesy point it lets our customers know where they are up to in the process. Secondly it employees that part of our brain that enjoys engagement by game mechanics or (gamification). This is where our brains are rewarded for completing a task. It puts our brains in a state of resolve and feeling safe when we finish a process having known where we were at each stage. There is nothing worse than finishing a shopping cart after paying out money and wondering if that’s it? have I finished everything? is there anything else I have to do? A progress bar quite simply releases anxiety and coupled with a correctly written thank you page, leaves our customers feeling satisfied and confident.
Guest Accounts vs Sign Up
There are great points for both of these. Firstly if you force a customer to sign up for an account it makes it easier for them to create wish lists and check their purchase history at tax time. It makes a customer a part of your community and you can communicate with them more directly. You can offer them specials and discounts so it makes sense to get them to sign up. On the other hand it is a potential block in your user experience (UX) It does mean that they may decide not to buy through you and go somewhere else.
There is no clear blanket right or wrong answer but there is a right way to do it. It all comes down to philosophy and purpose. Be true to yourself as a business. What do you sell and who are you selling to. Lets look at some examples.
Example 1. Say you are an automotive parts re seller. You want return customers. Your perfect customer will buy from you 5 times a year and spend between $100 and $500 per transaction. This is a customer that will be happy to hear from you. They are looking for someone to essentially partner with. They want to know about you and what you can offer them. They are passionate about what you sell and want to be a part of your community. Its important that they feel like they are a part of it. This is the perfect time to make them sign up, even go as far as qualify them as a customer. As long as you have done most things right up to this point with your branding and positioning, a customer like this will have no problem creating an account and joining your customer list. It’s worth mentioning that at this point that if you have this kind of business you had better be providing a community and sending your customers specials and making them feel involved and appreciated.
Example 2. You are a seller of kitchen ware garlic presses. You source your goods from China and resell them online in Australia. You compete primarily on price and your item is not unique. Your customers can Google your product and come up with a few different suppliers that can deliver and offer free shipping and good pricing. The key here is to remove all blockages from the purchase. I would create a streamline payment system and even state that on your front page. Guest sign up, PayPal option for payments and take all types of Credit Cards. Even trying to create a direct marketing campaign back to these customers is not something I would recommend in the conventional way.
In conclusion, take a page from the offline would. If you walk into a shop and purchase something, think about how many words you say to the staff. Is it like a hairdresser or custom auto parts store where you will strike up a conversation every time you are there? Do you want to know more information about what your buying and do you consider them experts in their field? If your business is like this then you should qualify your customers at the checkout page by getting them to sign up. If on the other hand your products explain themselves and you are quick and convenient, make sure your whole sales funnels and shopping UX has zero blockages.
Shipping Details and Online Forms
Keep it simple. Ask any other UX or conversion expert and they will tell you, “Don’t ask for too many Details” We need to consider both types of customers here, guest and sign up. It does’t matter what kind of business you run, keep the details to a minimum.
Even if you want to send a birthday card on their birthday and you specialize in sending birthday cards, the shopping cart page is not the place to ask for their Birthday. Put that on the account page or in a widget in the side bar of your site, The shopping cart page must always be clear and clean at all times.
- company name
- buyer’s name
- delivery/invoice address
- email address
A customer is here to buy a product so let them do that. Even make sure you have a tick box to populate the shipping address from the invoice address. Forms should be simple to fill out. This is why auto populate is such a popular feature in every piece of software and browser on the planet. Filling in a form is one of the biggest blockages for most shoppers.
Now if you have done everything right up to this point there should be no reason why a customer wont feel perfectly comfortable clicking the Pay button and completing the purchase. Again make sure there are no surprises here at this stage. There should be no increases in pricing. There should be no additional charges. There should be consistent symbols for security and all payment services should be exactly the same as you offer on the front page. I always think its important to make sure you have similar names on your PayPal accounts. There is always that check a customer will think about if when they are redirected to PayPal to pay that they see the PayPal account is “Funky69dazzel@hotmail” or something completely different to what you are actually called.
So all went well and the payment has gone through. Your customers expect to go through to a page that says thank you so much for shopping with us and we appreciate you shopping with us. There are a few more things you can do here.
- You can ask them to create an account if there haven’t already.
- You can offer them discounts on their next purchase. Everyone loves a discount and there is nothing like a discount that assumes they will like the product they just bought.
- You can ask if they want to be a part of your exclusive specials club, where you create exclusive specials and only give them out to customers on this list.
- You can ask them to purchase something else related to their purchase with a one time crazy price offer that only lasts whilst they are on this page. You already have their confidence and having a special line of products they cant get elsewhere on your store is a great incentive to buy again. Obviously the shopping check out must be one click and insanely simple. (They don’t want to fill out all those fields again)
- You can ask them to share their purchase on social media channels. Its not hard to add that functionality for products that are worth remarking on.
Shopping Online is the norm today but that doesn’t mean we can just leave it alone and set everything to default. I remember the days of old when we spent continuous training sessions learning how to treat customers, how to greet them, how to provide amazing service, how to recommend additional services or products because they were complimentary and would add huge value, and how to finish the sale and send them off with confidence and a smile. The online world is exactly the same. Nothing has changed, customers are still people and still have expectations. They work hard for their money as we all do and deserve to be treated exceptionally. Our challenge now is how can we still deliver exceptional service and experience even though we can’t physically see them. These points above will get you thinking about the important points of a shopping cart page.