I'm designing an eCommerce site. I'm wondering whether to include a "primary" address selector. At best buy for example they have this option in the address book.

But my suspicion is that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to anyone, and there's no explanation to what a primary address actually is or how it affects the rest of the shopping experience.

I've noticed quite a few commerce engines support it, so is there a purpose for it (other than a default selection in checkout)? Maybe some sites provide more accurate inventory checks?

So just wondering if anyone has come across it before, and whether it works well for customers?

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3 Answers 3


I've noticed quite a few commerce engines support it, so is there a purpose for it (other than a default selection in checkout)?

Other than default checkout, it usually is meant for following additional things

  • When you are browsing through the products, it will only show you products which are serviceable to your default address.

  • It is used to with user share delivery-related information (such as mode of delivery, seller, etc) while shopping.

  • Most importantly, it is used to share delivery cost while you are viewing the product for different sellers.

Hope this helps.

  • I found a reference on Nordstrom where they use the default address. On the PDP page it indicates for the product which shipping methods are available to ship to the default address. I think this is the right answer, it works quite well on their site as the info is customised for the shopper, so for this purpose I think it's a good feature to include.
    – Richard G
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 6:14

My first question would be: do you really need an address book with primary and secondary addresses?

If you really need it, then I'd set whatever delivery address the customer adds the first time as primary and default for future purchases. But there's no need to say it's primary.

The objective is to streamline the process (no need to set as primary) and use the information we know about them in future visits (assume the next time that customer will want to use the same address again).

The next time a customer goes through the checkout process, and only if she choses to deliver to a new address, will ask which one is the default address for future deliveries. Or something that is quite natural and simple, not like primary and secondary. Nobody talks like that in the real world.

In summary:

  • Remove complexity if possible
  • Use plain english, avoid terminology like primary address
  • Do not ask visitors to set preferences, rather use good defaults and allow people to change them

(based on years of research + design)


There are certain sites that call this the "Default Address". User is allowed to choose his/her default address from a set of addresses. So for all future shipments the address is "pre-filled" in the form.

Though useful, the are good chances that the user heads off to checkout, even though he/she didnt intend to send the shipment to the "default" address.

The subsequent process of changing the address is a painful process. In some cases, there have been situations where Customer Support says the shipment will have to be cancelled instead of redirecting. (Thanks to discounted season sale or last minute shopping or One day delivery promises)

So if you need to tag addresses, then do use easier to relate names like Home, Office etc.

And regarding defaulting the address, I would personally prefer not to default and allow the user to choose from the list of address, with the recent/frequent addresses shown on top of the list.

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