I have a site that displays 3 major products and it all links to an external shopping cart which users will have to fill out a form to complete the order.

Which label is better? "Add to Cart" or "Buy Now"?

  • 2
    In the early days of online shopping (15+ years ago), a friend of mine used a standard shopping framework to accomplish some online shopping feature. The weird thing was that he sold real estate/apartments. So the web-page showed a picture of an apartment with the text: "Add to shopping basket"... :-D Jul 14, 2011 at 10:52
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    Hi @user691983, try not to ask "which do you think is better", but which is better. That way you'll attract more objective answers.
    – Rahul
    Jul 14, 2011 at 16:55

4 Answers 4


The term Add to Cart indicates that you might be adding the item into the basket of items you are intending to buy but you want to continue shopping, so it's very common to hit an Add to Cart button and for nothing much to happen other than a simple in-page confirmation and a 'number of items in basket' indicator to increment in the corner of the page. The idea being you could add one item to the cart, and then add another item to the cart, and another - all on the same page.

Buy Now on the other hand, gives much more the impression that you are going to move away from the current page and start down the checkout path.

So if you are going to be navigating away from the page, in order to checkout, then use Buy Now.

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    I agree. One point of note though: Add to Cart is quite US Specific. it may depend on where the site is in the world. Basket, Trolley, Cart etc are all common in different parts of the world. (Amazon.co.uk uses 'Basket' while Amazon.com uses 'Cart').
    – JonW
    Jul 14, 2011 at 10:17
  • Buy Now could also lead you to the page where the shopping take place... Jul 14, 2011 at 10:53
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    "Buy now" also implies that you're going to buy this specific item now. If you already have a shopping cart with other stuff in it, the fate of that stuff can be unclear. Amazon uses "add to cart" and "proceed to checkout", and they also have "1-click" for "buy this item by itself right now". I think I would understand "buy now" as like Amazon'e "1-click"; is that what you intended? Jul 14, 2011 at 15:12
  • "Add to cart" is the standard terminology for e-commerce in Australia, too, in spite of the fact that in a regular shop the physical equivalent is a trolley. Aug 13, 2011 at 7:31

If you have only 3 products, I guess that the user only selects one of them and pays. In this scenario I would prefer Buy now.

But there is an important difference to keep in mind: when a visitor clicks Add to Cart he knows he still has time to make his mind. Buy now gives the feeling that you won't see the products any more, only the payment interface.

You have to know what are the customer's feelings when he's about to click. If the purchase is significant or if the choice is tricky, is it easier to add it to a cart and have time to think of it. If you prefer impulse buying, Buy now is the best choice.


It depends on the product. If it's, say, a book of guitar music that the buyer has to learn, then they would only want to purchase the one book, go through it, learn it all, then sometime in the future visit the website again, get the next book to progress to the next level of proficiency. In this case a Buy Now button would be better. Basically, it depends on the situation, as there are many.


Imagine that you're shopping in a mall, you choose an item, put into your cart and go to the cashier, checkout and go to the items dock again, grab one more item and get back to the cashier and check out! that's why they tend to use shopping carts at e-commerce websites. checkout process is mostly longer than any other process online, it's a hassle to checkout each time especially when buying a list of items, music for example.

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