I'm working on an eCommerce website. I found two predominant approaches as to what happens when buyers click the add-to-cart button:

  1. Send them to their cart where the main action button is "Checkout" and a well-less notable button is "Continue Shopping" (where this button sends you is a whole other debate).
  2. Give buyers a well-noticed notification that the item was added to the cart and leave them on the same page. Approach 2.a. is to use a popup product page so when buyers click the add-to-cart button they see the notification and then they are back at the store section where they selected the product.

I strongly support approach #2.a. but since almost all eCommerce websites go with approach #1 - I want to make sure I'm not missing anything. Following this analogy, approach #1 is like you go into a supermarket, push your cart to the milk section, pick up a milk bottle and put it in your cart. Then you and your cart are magically lifted up and placed in front of the cashier.

Assume I have unlimited resources - what is the best add-to-cart approach?

  • Still wondering - does anyone know if most shopping cart solutions try to get users to checkout because most users tend to buy just one item?
    – idophir
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 13:22

2 Answers 2


Option 2 is so much more comfortable. I hate having to go back and forth between the catalog and the shopping cart.

It is nice to add a small cart status widget on the side so people can see what they have in their carts and the total.

It is not so difficult to change the default behaviour in an open-source e-commerce cart. I did it with NopCommerce (asp.net) it took me only a little while to see how the add to cart api works and to change the action to only add and notify rather than redirect.

In my specific case it was for a food related site that the customer was expected to buy many things from the same page and having to go back and forth would have been suicidal.

  • 1
    Threadless does a great job of small touches that smooth the shopping experience, especially around adding items to the cart. Worth checking out. Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 21:55

Depends on the purpose of the site. I'd generally agree that option 2 is better, but if most users come to the site to buy only one thing, then option 1 might be OK or better.

Also if you choose option 2, make the "checkout" button prominent -- for example, if you continue shopping in Amazon but decide not to buy anything else, it is difficult to find out where to go to check out.

  • good point about single item shopping. Then #2 is a pain.
    – Sruly
    Commented Aug 10, 2010 at 9:08
  • For stores trying to sell a single item I a quick checkout solution. Why are so many shops using #1 - maybe most buyers just want to buy one product?
    – idophir
    Commented Aug 10, 2010 at 12:35
  • @idophir2 - Agreed. I guess there are 3 levels to this: If 99% of users want a single item, go straight to check out. If 80% want a single item, send them to the cart. If 20% want a single item, have them continue shopping. Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 23:41
  • Sounds good, Robert - but which one is it...? Is there any data out there? I have no idea yet what my buyers want...
    – idophir
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 21:08
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    @idophir2 - If you haven't gone live yet, ask the business folks. If you've gone live, you have all the info you need :-) Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 23:58

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