Every time I check out online it would cost more than what I expected. Why not have sub-total on the product page instead of check out?

I understand some websites won't have my information to track shipping or taxes. But what about websites that already have my information? Websites like amazon or ebay where I have one default shipping address?

The sub-total price can also be different for each user depending on their shipping or billing address.

So why do I not see any sub-total price on the product page?

  • 4
    Because if you realized how much was already in your cart, you'd stop putting stuff in it. Jan 6, 2016 at 18:57
  • 3
    It will be misleading to show shipping cost added to the total not knowing if it will be delivered to your address or another (gift ?). They cannot assume that its delivered to your home address. Now question is still why cant websites show just the total cost of the items you selected so far.. I guess they could (without any shipping or taxes), but standard is final total is shown only when delivery address is added (shipping calculated) and taxes are added. That sounds right to me.
    – PK2016
    Jan 6, 2016 at 18:59

2 Answers 2


It's usually behavioral design...

  • Retail sites usually like customers to buy multiple products.
  • Customers often enjoy clicking Buy, for several reasons (dopamine hit, save to cart for later, comparison shopping process, etc)
  • However, seeing the total amount in a cart can cause buying hesitation for customers.
  • By forcing the customer to click through to checkout, and perhaps even enter an address and payment method, the customer is forced to invest time into checking out. This escalation of commitment has been proven to result in greater task completion (in this case, a checkout) because the consumer has spent effort getting this far in the checkout process.
  • By showing the total to the customer after escalating their commitment, retail sites can measurably improve purchase rates.

Note that this behavioral design is used not only by retail sites, but by lots of other consumer businesses. Also, this does NOT work for all sites...typically good retail sites will test what approach works best.


@EvilClosetMonkey and @Tohster are of course right: vendors don’t want their customers be in full control and awareness of their spending at all times, because it keeps the users shopping and overall buying, which increases the shop owner’s revenue.

Despite such obscurity, there are other techniques to motivate customers to put more items into their shopping bags or carts. Some of these are well compatible with showing the current subtotal and may (over-)compensate the negative effects. This includes the following, without getting too creative:

  • “Subtotal 15.90 € – Free shipping from 20 €”
  • “Subtotal 86.50 $ – FREE gift for all purchases over 100 $. TODAY ONLY”
  • “Subtotal 22.00 £ – 4 items in your bag qualify for our 5 for 25 £ sale – add one more and save 2.50 £”
  • “Subtotal 98.60 € – All purchases above 100 € qualify for double Bonus Miles”
  • “Subtotal 183.10 $ – Become a Gold Member of our Shopping Club with a single purchase of 200 $”
  • “Subtotal 86.46 £ – For any purchase over 100 £ This Shop, Inc. donates a kitten to hungry children in Siberia”

That’s more marketing than UX, though. For a good customer experience, the current subtotal should always be available, but it should not be visible in your face, because part of the fun of shopping (at least for some people) is not to know or care how much you’re gonna spend. That’s assuming B2C, in B2B and C2C scenarios other factors play a role, e.g. I’ve seen a preference in office suppliers to offer candies etc. as incentives because that works better than discounts with the orderers (who are not spending their own money).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.