Practical Ecommerce

Conversion Tip: Pop-up Shopping Carts Drive Higher Order Amounts

Editor’s Note: We continue our “Conversion Tip” series from Charles Nicholls, the founder and chief strategy officer of SeeWhy, a conversion and abandonment-recovery firm. For this week’s installment, Nicholls focuses on a new trend, pop-up shopping carts.

Many shopping carts take the visitor straight to the checkout page when a customer adds a single product to it. These carts usually offer a “Continue Shopping” button for customers who want to add more items. But pop-up shopping carts are becoming more common, and they facilitate adding more products to a cart prior to checkout. Take a look at this pop-up cart from Lands’ End for an example:

Sample pop-up cart from Lands' End.

Sample pop-up cart from Lands’ End.

Using a pop-up cart, when customers add an item to the shopping cart, rather than taking them to the shopping cart page and offering a “Continue Shopping” button, the pop-up shopping cart overlays on top of the page that they were shopping on. Sites with pop-up carts are focused on increasing the number of items in the cart before customers check out. Then, once items have been added, the pop-up disappears after a few seconds, taking the customers right back to their shopping selections.

This is a very elegant way of encouraging visitors to buy more, and browse through the store. It also mirrors what we do in the offline world: We pick items and put them in our shopping carts, and then we carry on shopping. The traditional approach in the online world is the equivalent of marching the shopper to the checkout every time they put an item in their cart.


Charles Nicholls

Charles Nicholls

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  1. gregpower August 18, 2010 Reply

    I’ve no doubt that using a pop-up for your basket is certainly more usable than sending customers straight to the basket (which involves navigating back, of course), but where’s the evidence it drives higher order values?

    What I’d like to see is a basket popup where the visitor is given upselling options (e.g. add a cell phone to your basket, the pop-up suggests a case / hands free / car charger etc) – has anyone seen any examples like that?

  2. Manish Chowdhary August 18, 2010 Reply

    I think an even better approach than a pop-up shopping cart is what we at GoECart call an "Always-on Shopping Cart" which peeks out when an item is added to cart or when the user hover over the shopping cart link and disappears after a couple of seconds. You can see this in action on sites like and We have created a generic version of the same always on cart for GoECart merchants.

    Lands End puts you back on the same product page as the one you just ordered – I think they can do better than that.

    Manish Chowdhary