I recently bought some t-shirts from Threadless and I noticed that as I added tee’s to my cart, the cart icon changed. This is how it looked with an empty cart…
Add a tee and he (the cart) talks to you: “FUNK-A-LICIOUS!”
I added a few more things to my basket and viewed my cart – it’s really happy now!
I placed my order and did some more browsing on the site and happened to stumble upon the cart page with no items in it. The humour continued and the cart dude appeared with a message:
“I’m so hungry! Have mercy and fill my carty belly with delicious Threadless products. You can use the drop-downs above my starving body to get started. Hurry!”
How cute is that! This got me thinking about empty cart pages. This smart use of humour and useful links to products to help me continue shopping was memorable and fun. So what is everyone else doing? I went off to hunt out some more exciting examples… [quite a few hours went by]
Ok, so after looking at many websites, I struggled to find anything half as inventive. It looks like this has been a real oversight for many retailers big and small. Here’s a sample of what I found.
The obvious – You have 0 items in your cart
Many sites display a message saying cart/basket or bag is empty and offer a continue shopping link – which takes you back to the store homepage. Some examples I found include Marcs, Wheel & Barrow and Just Jeans.
I did find some cart pages which do a little more than offer a continue shopping link. Wittner try to lighten up the message by saying “Oops… your shopping bag is empty”. They also link to some other key parts of the site helping to direct you to continue shopping. These include linking to core shopping categories, buying a gift voucher and also find a Wittner (bricks and mortar) store.
Rodd & Gunn show products on the shopping bag page and also have a side bar with links to delivery information, privacy and returns policy. This may prove useful for those who are not sure if they want to shop online.
Joe Browns also describe a number of ways to shop with them – by post and over the phone. They also show some products to get people shopping.
Magma books show all the delivery options – I think this is particularly important for sites which offer international delivery as it’s usually the first thing I check if I am visiting a new ecommerce site for the first time. I want to know how much and how long delivery takes. It’s also reassuring that I can see a telephone number on the page with an invitation to call or email if I need further assistance.
Another option, show nothing at all
Bamboo clothing and Dabs.com have a new take on the empty basket page – they just don’t have one. Yup, another option is to not allow users to click through to an empty basket page. Only make it clickable once there are items in the basket.
So what should I do?
I am not sure I like the last option of not allowing a click through because of two reasons – It’s not conventional*, I only found two sites which do this and the second is that I feel it’s a missed opportunity to do something fun, smart and just plain useful if you do get visitors stumbling on this page. It’s also the reset page if a user removes all items from their basket, so why not consider this page a little more carefully? Things that I think are important to cover on a useful empty basket page include:
- Give users entry points to continue shopping -
If users are logged in this can also be achieved by pulling in products relevant to previous purchases or their browsing history.
- State your service offering around delivery and returns. You may have first time buyers on your site – make sure you let them know what your service offering is. Do you deliver internationally? Do you offer multi channel shopping such as buy online collect in store?
- Highlight special offers and discounts – If there is a free delivery period or a sale on a collection of items a banner on the empty basket page is also useful.
- And finally – be playful and fun. If your brand lends itself to creating a playful message do it. It’s these small touches which stay with people and can help you stand out from the crowd and be memorable.
On a final note, as I was finishing this write up I did find one more interesting empty basket page. Check out jlist, they have a manga character on the basket looking sad because there are no items in the basket I assume! Also includes quirky message: “Your Shopping Cart lives to serve. Give it purpose — fill it with DVDs, magazines, photobooks, figures and snacks!”
*It’s not conventional: based on the large number of websites I visited; only two appeared to follow the “no click” convention.