February 10th, 2008 | 5 MIN READ

Continue Shopping Means What?

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

Continue ShoppingYou've added your item to your cart, but you're not finished shopping. So, you look for the "Continue Shopping" link to thrust you back to...to what? The product page? The category page? The home page?

Most sites don't give you a clue where you'll end up. GrokDotCom mentioned this in Grok's Biggest Gripes about the ecommerce experience, and an informal survey of the author's contemporaries revealed 100% of them found this irritating.

I've observed a number of different ways to handle "Continue Shopping" navigation in my online shopping escapades. I decided to check out 100 of the top internet retailers and round up the methods used and the frequency of each. The following is a rundown on "Continue Shopping" options, frequency and examples for your inspiration, curiosity and comments.

AJAX Pop-Up - 19%

Love or hate Web 2.0, 17 out of 100 retailers use an AJAX popup to indicate an item has been added to the cart. Though this is nice and convenient to keep the shopper on the product page, it can be hard for inexperienced online shoppers to notice what's happened. Some sites are more obvious than others.

Patagonia and Moosejaw Mountaineering use a roll-out notice in the top right of the product page. You must click to close this box, but both retailers place the close button in the same place, with the same icon. This is Moosejaw's:

Moosejaw Mountaineering Example

Can you figure out how to close this window?

GAP's "x" icon is more intuitive:

GAP Example

The above examples remain until the customer closes the box. HP, PC Connection, Abercrombie and Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters use a now-you-see-it, now-you-don't approach. A box rolls out and disappears which could confuse customers.

Home Page - 17%

Comment from the Grok article:

I almost never want to go back to the home page once I've meandered into a site. If I'm considering adding another item to my cart, the home page usually takes me too far back in the qualification process. Imagine you're shopping in a grocery store for milk. You put the milk in your cart, stare at your cart to make sure it's actually there, then decide you're going to get a few more things. Except the store lifts you from the dairy department and plunks you back at the entrance. Joy!

Still this is one of the most common destinations.

Back to Category Page - 17%

Walmart reminds you where you were beside the Continue Shopping button, so you know where you're going. Nice touch.

Walmart Example

Karmaloop shows a page of Top Sellers in Brand and Category with an option to "shop more" (back to the category page) or check out.

Karmaloop Example

I love how Nine West's makes it nice and obvious with an overlay over the product. Creative and effective:

Nine West Example

The Continue Shopping button leads back to the category page.

Back to Product Page - 15%

A frequent destination is back to the product page. This seems like an odd choice, unless you expect the customer wants to re-evaluate the item or check out cross-sell options.

What Happened? - 11%

These are examples of very subtle indicators of cart update. Can you find the shopping cart summary in each example? Look closely...


Romanicos Example

Brooks Brothers:

Brooks Brothers Example


Anthropologie Example


ShopNBC Example


Ibuydigital Example

PacSun has a neat feature, after you click the cart button, it changes to "Adding To Bag." Then a red sentence appears notifying you the item's added.

PacSun Adding To Bag

PacSun Added To Bag

At JC Penney, first challenge is to find the cart button!

JCP Example

It's not that hard to see the notification in this next screenshot, though. But I bet many customers don't "notice" it.

JCP Example 2

These ones aren't that bad but still very subtle - perhaps too subtle.

Bed Bath & Beyond:

Bed Bath Beyond Example

Lake Champlain Chocolates:

Lake Champlain Example

Multiple Link Options - 8%

This is my favorite approach to Continue Shopping - giving the customer a choice where to go next.

Drs Foster & Smith:

Drs Foster & Smith Example

Yep, you saw right. That was a ferret beret in the cart. Don't knock it 'till ya try it.

Ferret Beret


J.Crew Example

Food Network Store:

Food Network Example


REI Example


I love this example because you see options appear after you click the Continue Shopping button. You don't clutter the page with a bunch of links for customers ready to check out, and you give your customer a choice where to go next.

Lowe’s Example

eBags is similar, but a bit more detailed:

Ebags Example

Domestications has links in 2 places:

Domestications Example

None - 6%

Widget With Cross Sells - 4%

Let's kick off with Amazon, because Amazon was likely the pioneer of this design. The shopping cart appears along the right side after an item is added to the cart, and the customer is presented with a page of cross-sells, without a Continue Shopping button.

Amazon Example

I have to chuckle at the "Oh, you like jewelry? People who like jewelry also like DVDs. Add a DVD!" But I bet it works. Supermarkets only wish they could sell DVDs in the impulse buy display instead of Bic lighters and US magazines.

RepairClinic has a very unique approach. Every time you add an item to your cart, it adds a thumbnail to the side.

Repair Clinic Example


Art.com Example

Cabelas is similar with a mini-cart and cross-sells. But it's not clear whether you're in the cart or not. It says "Item Added" (would you have noticed without the red arrow?) but also shows item detail which cart pages usually do. The continue shopping link is very understated (and wordy) "Back to Destination Polarized Sunglasses." I like it because it's clear where the link is going, but personally I scan for a continue shopping button so this is easy to overlook.

Cabelas Example

Log-In Page - 1%

I was expecting to catch a few more like this, but there was only one retailer that took me to a login page. But it's Costco so maybe there's a good reason?

Costco Login

Catalog Page - 2%

Northern Tool's Continue Shopping link is hard to find. Can you spot it?

Northern Tool Continue Shopping Link

But the destination is unique as it takes you to a sitemap-like catalog of products. Not a bad idea.

Northern Tool Example

Personally I like Amazon's method of showing a mini-cart off to the side, and presenting cross-sells in a few different categories (providing they are relevant). Karmaloop's Top Sellers in {Brand} and Top Sellers in {Category} appeals to me.

Which approach do you think is most effective?

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