We have a system that allows for companies to either have a selection of free items that their users can pick and choose from (which they can then add to a personal list of items), or a selection of chargeable items that a user can pick and choose from in order to purchase. There is also room for a combination of both.

We have been looking at implementing the Basket idea used within eCommerce websites to allow users to see their selected items clearly in one place, however we are struggling with scenarios where all the items are free of charge. Customers believe that they may have to pay if they click Add to Basket. I have tried to look for alternative examples that I can draw inspiration from but can't seem to find anything close enough.

Has anyone seen an example of something similar to what I am describing? I have looked at iTunes, App store and a few others. Not sure if there is another word that really conveys the type of functionality that the word 'Basket'/'Shopping Cart'/'Trolley' relay...

  • The Kindle store on Amazon (.co.uk at least) doesn't exactly model this (neither free, nor paid-for eBooks are put in a basket) but the process is the same for both (using their 1-click to buy). Them not using the basket for any eBook is probably more for marketing than UX reasons, plus the fact that delivery generally happens in the background. If using a basket at all makes sense (and I sometimes wish Amazon did this), then as per Okavango's answer, put them all in one basket, but clearly labelled and probably in two sections.
    – TripeHound
    Dec 11, 2015 at 13:04

3 Answers 3


The idea of having two ‘baskets’, one for paid products and another for free items, seems too complicated to me. You’d be asking the user to maintain two separate groups of products and making the transaction harder. A customer wouldn't be expected to carry two baskets around a shop in the ‘real world’. Instead, I'd present the free items and the paid items in two separate groups within a single basket.

However, if you believe that the ‘Add to basket’ call-to-action is causing hesitation and abandonment, perhaps that’s the first thing to change. For free products, consider changing it to something explicit like "Add to Basket (It's free!)".


Before a selection is made:

All items should have a clear price label, when the item is free of charge then in lieu of price tag, explicitly mention that the item in question is free along side a £0.00 price tag*.

*During the selection process clearly indicate the number of elements that have been added to the basket to provide adequate feedback.

After a selection is made- Checkout:

Have a clear layout for elements within the basket while emphasising both visually and via messaging/labelling which elements are free of charge and which ones are chargeable.I don't think this will leave any room for interpretation and users will be able to checkout easily.

Erring on the side of caution.. once your designs are done, you could test a simple working prototype to see if your users understand that they could add nonchargable items to the basket and proceed to checkout. my guess is that they will!

Disambiguation-Labeling (Cart vs Basket):

As to whether it should be "Basket" or "Cart", I would have said this was a localisation issue. The US seems to favour "Cart", but here in the UK "Basket" is more correct. eg. amazon.co.uk uses "Basket", amazon.com uses "Cart". In fact, I'd go so far as to say "Cart" is incorrect for a UK based website.

Source: shopping-basket-or-shopping-cart

Hope that helps


There are a number of things I would say about this.

Firstly, I don't think you need to worry about the linguistics - whether you call it a basket, trolley, cart, handbag, trug, low-loader... the issue is always about what is 'not seen' by the user. For them, putting a free item into some sort of collection makes no sense ("If it's free, why can't I just take it and go?").

I would also ask where the abandonment takes place. If it takes place before the basket then you will need to seek an alternative way to give the user the offer/item that they are looking at - more on that later. If, however, the abandonment takes place after the items have been placed in the basket then I would suggest making sure the user is aware of the basket total ("Your Basket: 5 items - £0.00") so that they don't start to worry needlessly.

In the case of pre-basket abandonment it might be worth creating a 'short-cut' that allows users to "get it now". Your engineering team will need to work out most of this but it would essentially place the item in the basket and take them straight to the checkout without them noticing the basket step - thereby giving them the item "now".

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