I have an e-commerce site and in the top right I have the typical image of a cart, and next to it the quantity of items in the cart.

Currently the quantity shows the number of different products, irrelevant of quantity so e.g.

apple x 3 banana x 1 orange x 5

This would show as 3 items in the cart. Is it better to show the quantity as accumulative, i.e. should I show the quantity as 9 rather than 3?

  • What is being sold?
    – Izhaki
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 10:02

2 Answers 2


Buying Groceries

If carry on with your second proposal, would someone buying a box of 12 eggs be shown 12 items? And say someone can buy 250g of flour or 500g of flour. Would this also has to be spelt in the cart summary?

From a user point of view, when one wishes to buy apples one will write:

  • 3 x Apples.

Rather than:

  • Apple
  • Apple
  • Apple

There is important grouping taking place in people's mind when dealing with shopping lists, and the system should account for this. A shopping list is made of a class of item, its quantity or weight. So the convention is to show the amount of classes, without quantity or weight (in the summary, obviously in the cart template itself this extra information is shown).

Buying Books

However, under particular contexts, this may not apply. For instance, if I'm purchasing books, I'd like to see 4 items even if these are the same book.

So how you should show cart summary really depends on what is being purchased.

  • I used fruit as a simple example. The products in question are actually items of quantity, not arbitrary weights.
    – Source
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 10:08
  • It would help if you give an example of items. Without this there's no context to give a definite answer.
    – Izhaki
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 10:33
  • They are electronic items, like sensors, GPS trackers, etc.
    – Source
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 12:37
  • Is the site for individuals or bodies (ie, are you expecting big bulk orders or small individual ones)?
    – Izhaki
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 16:49
  • usually 2 or 3 different items, with 1 quantity, but sometimes for a few items we might 10 or so quantity.
    – Source
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 20:36

if the item (with the quantity) takes one row in the invoice, then it should be counted as one on the cart icon. The number on the cart icon = The row count on invoice page


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