I have a client whose colleagues are pursuing an eCommerce Out of the Box product that doesn't have a dedicated shopping cart screen. Their product works such that when you want to buy something, it goes straight to a full checkout form.

"How can the user add more items then?" you might ask - the product lets the user go back to the catalog and "add" more things, but there's still no Cart page. Even the menu label they have is "Checkout" (rather than Cart + icon)

My client and I are averse to this solution knowing the psychological comforts and conventions in having the security blanket of a cart, but I'm struggling to find secondary research to demonstrate that not having a cart is bad, and/or there are measurable benefits to specifically having a discrete shopping cart page before checkout commitment.

  • Are users buying many small items (and are therefore wasting time with multiple checkout transactions) or a single large item (where it might not make sense to add more than one house to a "cart" for a single transaction)? Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 17:13
  • Sometimes users buy one at a time, sometimes multiple. The business aspires to get users to buy more than one thing at a time more often.
    – TrollBar
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 17:23
  • Carts aren't so necessary when user is authenticated and account holds a payment method plus shipping address and/nor for digital goods. What is the nature of the goods being sold?
    – straya
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 4:20

4 Answers 4


I've experienced ecommerce sites where after adding an item, a modal pops up that gives me the option to checkout or continue shopping. It's not entirely annoying since I typically don't add a ton of items but can imagine how it could be. Dictating a user's experience for them (i.e., forcing checkout) is a surefire way to get people to abandon.

You could make the CTA more aligned with the action that is going to happen next such as not labeling it as "Add" since you are technically not adding it to a cart or bag, but maybe label it "Buy" instead so it makes it more clear that you may head towards checkout by clicking on a "Buy" button. Additionally, if the client is wanting customers to buy more even though checkout is forced upon them, on the subsequent page, you could have a list of recommended items or "customers also bought" with a quick add button.

When you click on the [Checkout] button, does it show the items first? If so, maybe you could still get away with labeling the checkout button as [Cart]. I'm a proponent of having a dedicated cart, but I also know the hassle of stakeholders not budging or willing to allocate resources to dev so I'm trying to think of how you could create the illusion of a cart to the customer with this out of the box 'solution.'

Lastly, like someone else said, grab a few users and have them go through your store. Try to record their responses through video or audio to show your stakeholders if they can get through the experience without a cart. You could even send out a questionnaire with questions like, "Can you explain step by step what you believe a retail experience should be like?" "Where would you go to change the quantity of an item?" etc.

  • A modal popup requires the user to click in a hard place to dismiss/action it, that is a negative UX hit.
    – straya
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 4:18
  • Not necessary, not all modals are designed that way. If designed with good intentions (giving the user plenty of ways to close/exit) then modals can be used strategically to an experience such as warning a user of their actions or giving additional information. It also depends on how your users perceive modals too. And I didn't say I designed those ecommerce sites with the modals, I experienced them while shopping myself. I would never design something like that :p
    – eileenwong
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 18:33
  • Unless the dismiss button for the modal appears under the mouse pointer, it is a harder place to click. I am ready to change my opinion based on tangible examples though, can you provide some?
    – straya
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 0:04
  • I don't care to change your opinion, but I stand by the fact that not all modals are malicious.
    – eileenwong
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 19:59

If it is the cart they oppose, don´t give them one. What you do need tho is a way for the user to see everything they have selected, delete stuff, edit quantities or add stuff. That is in fact a cart, but you don´t have to call it that. Call it pre-checkout, or even just put the functionality in the checkout page.

What you do need is a way for the user to easily know how many items they have selected, via either some sort of small icon or a popover.

  • Yes, the label aside, a dedicated space for all the activities you mentioned. The ecomerce product the colleagues are pursuing shoehorns all of that in together on a massive page with the entire checkout form, top to bottom. Broader usability studies with the benefits of progressive disclosure, multi-step forms be damned.
    – TrollBar
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 17:26
  • You could actually conduct a/b testing with both approaches (even with just some mock ups) to see what works best. Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 15:49

How do you get measurable results? Run a usability test and measure the results. That said, I wasn’t positive from the question if it was the development product manager, the client you’re providing the page to, or your development colleagues who were opposed to UX testing. If it’s the paying customer, you do what he or she wants.

One way to steer the direction is to provide mockups early on, and possibly a mock of the UI you’d like to see. They may be thinking you’ll charge them more for two pages, because two pages is more work than one. Another reason might be to split credit payments off on a separate page for PCI DSS compliance; make sure to ask them to check with their QSA.

Also keep in mind that splitting one page into multiple pages should be an easy task. If you deliver it and they don’t like it, it shouldn’t take much to fix it.

Regardless of all of the above, one lesson that’s hard to remember is that you are not the target audience of the page. Things that may be common sense and straightforward to you and I may appear complex and convoluted to other people. Don’t rely on your own judgment to determine which is the “best” UX for your client.


I'm not sure I'd agree with the "psychological comforts and conventions in having the security blanket of a cart." Users are used to it as it's the norm when shopping online, and it does have value to confirm all the items before receiving shipping info if that's being calculated on the fly.

I'm more concern with: When a users selects an item to they go right to the checkout page? Or can they select it and stay on their page to continue browsing? Does the checkout page have full features for users to drop items or increase quantity?

It's unlikely that any research about carts will have actual value for your client's site. There's probably more value in doing a trial run with this product and drafting a test plan so in X time you can compare a different tool and see if you can improve results.

  • 1
    Straight to checkout page. Checkout page permits changing quantity, etc, but it's a massive giant checkout form all in one. Massive cognitive load if you have a loaded cart. Especially when the user didn't ask to commit to checking out yet.
    – TrollBar
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 17:27
  • This is definitely non-standard behaviour and I agree with your theory that having a shopping cart will increase the user experience. I don't know your specifics such as user types, products or competition but shopping experiences should be consistent to what users are user to. To actually answer your question The Nielson Norman Group has a report on shopping carts and the check-out process. I don't know what's in it or if it will help but it's probably your best source to defend your position. nngroup.com/reports/…
    – It's Dylan
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 18:36

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