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Cart, Basket, Box, Bag. Which checkout icon should you be using?

It seems like an inconsequential decision.

It may be something you've actually never even considered before.

But choosing the right pattern (type) for your eCommerce store's "Cart" says a lot about your store and what you sell, and how you sell it.

I couldn't imagine walking through Zales Jewelers, shopping for engagement rings only to pull one off the shelf put it in a shopping cart, and wheel it around for an hour while I browse. So why would I put an engagement ring I am purchasing online into the digital equivalent - it just feels -wrong.

SO, it would seem like choosing the correct Cart pattern is really a Branding decision + an understanding about our customers and who they are, what they want, and why.

Let's explore the options:

CART

We all know what the cart is, but when should you use this pattern?

What type of stores:

• Walmart / Kmart / Target
• Sears / Lowes / Home Depot
• Sam's Club, Costco, BJs Wholesale
• BestBuy
• PetSmart

What type of products:

• Medium to large-sized products
• Consumer grade products
• Household items
• Large electronics
• Products requiring significant research/high ticket

When to use Cart:

• Your customers buy in bulk
• Larger average cart totals, +10 items in cart/order
• Infrequent return visits
• The physical items make sense to be in a cart
• You just want to use the default, universal cart element
• Your customer skews older, they are more familiar with this pattern
• Your brick-and-mortar stores use shopping carts
• 5+ items ranging in sizes in one order

Home Depot Cart Page

Home Depot

This is a perfect example. You know when you go into the physical store you are pushing around a big orange cart. They should really make their cart icon orange - right?

BASKET

The basket-type cart is generally found on websites that might have physical locations with small footprints, these are not equivalent to big box stores.

These are generally stores that have a large range of products 50+

Generally, their products tend to be smaller and could fit inside a basket.

Think loose items, individually packed items, and where customers purchase in multiples.

What type of stores:

• Drugstores - CVS
• Small chain stores
• Produce / small grocery stores
• Boutique stores - Sephora

What type of products:

• Loose items
• Individually packed items
• Items that tend to be purchased in multiples
• Boutique items, cosmetics, small consumer electronics

When to use Basket:

• Your physical stores use baskets
• Your customers purchase 1-6 small items per session
• The typical shopping session is short, products are well understood
• Products are disposable/refillable
• Cosmetics / Small luxury items / Jewelry

Screen Shot 2021-11-02 at 6.47.39 PM

Sephora

Sephora is a prime example of an eCommerce store that should utilize Basket.

Their products are literally shopped with baskets in the real world, the items are too small for a cart, and customers buy multiple products (generally) per trip.

BOX

The box-type cart is sort of rare, like this steak in our example.

Boxes are typically only found on store sites that allow their users to curate from a limited selection of inventory items or a package of goods that may fall into just a handful of price points, usually tiers.

There may be physical stores that allow shoppers to fill a box for a certain dollar amount but this is rare as well.
I can't think of any myself, can you?

What type of stores:

• Large Packaged Goods
• Subscriptions / Curated
• Agricultural / Farm
• Large consumer goods (appliances)

What type of products:

• Large Packaged Goods
• Subscriptions / Curated
• Agricultural / Farm
• Large consumer goods (appliances)

When to use Box:

• You deliver your goods in pricing tiers
• You sell a subscription
• Your products fill a timely need/resupply customers

Screenshot of web design for Butcher Box

Butcher Box

Butcher box is a great example of a site utilizing the Box-type cart.

As a customer, I can tell you that the process of their site involves building a subscription of foods that are delivered in an insulated box.

This is the proper use of this cart type.

Butcher Box is also a terrific service - check them out here: https://butcherbox.com

BAG

A Bag type of cart can very often be found in high-end, luxury, fashion, and boutique store sites - anywhere you could envision a physical, branded bag (think malls & outlets) a bag would be appropriate.

There may be physical stores that allow shoppers to fill a box for a certain dollar amount but this is rare as well.

What type of stores:

• Clothing / Apparel
• Small Grocery
• Convenience Stores
• Quick Purchase
• Nike, Adidas, Apple

What type of products:

• Large Packaged Goods
• Subscriptions / Curated
• Agricultural / Farm
• Large consumer goods (appliances)

When to use Bag:

• Your brick and mortar store uses bags
• You are selling just a few items per checkout on average
• Your products may be non-recurring

Screenshot of ecommerce design for Adidas

Adidas

Adidas is an example of a company using the Bag icon. This makes sense for them as it directly corresponds to the experience you would have in a brick-and-mortar shopping experience.

THE TAKEAWAY

If your online store matches a physical store experience that is always the best option. 

If you don’t have a physical location - you have options - but the experience needs to align to your brand, your product, and your customer behavior.

Your cart type should align to your product price point, market, and physical size (You can't put a refrigerator in a basket not would you put an engagement ring into a cart)

READY TO SEE THE FUTURE OF YOUR ECOMMERCE BRAND?

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