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Progress Bar in the Shopping Cart — Good Design Practices

Karolina Obszyńska Aug 24. 2023
We all understand that every minute consists of the same amount of time — precisely 60 seconds. However, when waiting for something, time can feel longer than it actually is. That's why many online stores implement a progress bar in the shopping cart. This simple solution informs customers about their position in the purchasing process and estimates how much time the completion of the purchase might take. This, in turn, positively impacts their shopping experience.

What is a Progress Bar?


A progress bar is a tool utilized in various life situations. It informs us about the duration left for a specific action. For instance, a progress bar is frequently used in public transportation systems. When waiting for a bus or tram, we usually don't know how much time remains until its arrival. Waiting times can vary from a few minutes to even an hour. Waiting for public transportation can be quite irritating, especially when delays occur. Therefore, many stops now feature countdown displays, indicating the time left until arrival. This makes the waiting process feel faster as passengers observe the diminishing time. Additionally, it aids in deciding whether it's worth waiting a bit longer or better to walk or seek alternative transportation.

Another example of a progress bar (staying within the topic of public transport) is found in traffic lights at certain intersections. While standing at a red light, we don't precisely know how much time is left. However, when a countdown timer is added, we immediately see the time until the light turns green. This grants us control over time and prevents frustration and impatience during the wait.

How Can a Progress Bar in the Shopping Cart Increase Conversions in Your Online Store?


To the above real-life examples, we can add one more — highly relevant in the eCommerce sector. This concerns the progress bar in the shopping cart, a psychological element that can increase conversions in an online store. Customers feel in control of the purchasing process, seeing the steps remaining to complete the transaction. This progress bar not only accelerates the sales process but also enhances the sense of satisfaction and comfort during shopping. Users know that the store operates efficiently and securely. Hence, many online brands opt for incorporating this kind of feature into their e-businesses.

Research conducted by Brad A. Myers in 1984 showed that progress indicators in computer interfaces significantly influence user perceptions. Myers discovered that it's not crucial whether the indicator shows the actual progress of an operation but rather that it's present on the screen.

Effectively, the progress bar captures user attention and maintains it, making waiting time more engaging. This is why progress bars are designed in many applications, introducing users to a form of psychological "game." If the progress bar moves at a steady pace, the customer is disappointed, while a sudden movement at the beginning keeps their focus on the operation, even if the bar progresses more slowly later on. Myers' findings emphasize how vital small details in interface design are and their impact on user well-being.

Why Use a Progress Bar in the Shopping Cart?


In today's world, online shopping has become the norm. More and more people opt for this convenient way of acquiring items without leaving their homes. Online stores strive to enhance sales and improve customer shopping experiences. One of the tools that can contribute is the progress bar displayed in the shopping cart.

According to the Baymard Institute report, a staggering 67% of customers abandon their shopping carts before completing transactions, and one reason cited is the lack of a clear progress bar informing users how many steps are left to finalize the order.

Benefits of Using a Progress Bar in the Shopping Cart:


Enhanced User Comfort: The progress bar in the shopping cart lets customers easily and quickly monitor their shopping progress. They know how many steps remain to complete the transaction. This prevents frustration that can arise when the duration of the process is unclear. Thus, customers can feel more confident during their shopping experience.

Increased Customer Engagement: The second advantage is increased customer engagement. The progress bar acts as a minor game, capturing the customer's attention. This psychological technique triggers curiosity and lets users experience pleasure from the advancing process. Consequently, customers feel more engaged and motivated to complete their purchases.

Improved Shopping Experience: The progress bar in the shopping cart grants customers a sense of control over the purchasing process. This creates a perception of higher service quality and can positively impact customer loyalty towards the online store.

Drawbacks of the Progress Bar in the Shopping Cart:


However, like any tool, the progress bar in the shopping cart also has drawbacks. If not appropriately designed, it can frustrate customers and discourage them from making a purchase. Thus, it's crucial for the progress bar to be intuitive, easy to understand, and to update at an appropriate speed.

Is It Worth Using a Progress Bar in the Shopping Cart?


The progress bar in the shopping cart is a solution that can significantly influence customer purchase decisions. Through it, users gain better control over their expenses and can easily track the progress of the shopping process. However, for the progress bar to be effective, it must be properly designed and tailored to the customers' needs. Therefore, if feasible, it's worth implementing the progress bar in the shopping cart of your online store.

Are you interested in implementing new solutions and improving the user experience in your Magento-based e-store? Contact us at info@fastwhitecat.com.

We are not your typical programming company focusing solely on software design and development. We are here for your business at every stage, from the project's inception to continuous support. Our priority is to ensure that your store achieves excellent sales results. Therefore, we always start our collaboration by conducting a comprehensive analysis of your business needs, based on which we design an online store tailored to your customers' requirements.

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