Understanding shopping cart, checkout and a wish list: Complete beginner’s guide to shopping online

When you walk into a super market such as Capital shoppers in Ntinda, everything seems straight forward. Pick a cart, walk around and pick the items you want into the cart or shopping basket, move to the counter and pay for your items. So simple one barely needs any directions.

But when its your first time to shop online on stores such as Amazon or eBay, what to do and how to do it might not exactly come as natural as the shopping experience offline. That’s because the whole system is automated with barely no one to guide you around. The terms and processes seem very fuzzy with no clear instructions of what to do.  Yet all you have is your smartphone or computer and that’s it.

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So lets breakdown those terms that have become second nature to routine seasoned online shoppers like myself.

The cart

The shopping cart is one of the most important things you should know about online shopping. It’s that little bag or basket on wheels for carrying items you have bought in the supermarket. In the digital world, the cart is replicated by means of an icon that symbolizes the same physical basket on wheels you use offline.

amazon cart

Now every time you add an item once you have signed in to an online store, it’s automatically added to your shopping cart usually at the top right corner of the page. You’ll see a small number appended to the actual items you currently have in the cart. Just like the physical carts, you can remove items that you have changed your mind about by clicking on the cart.

Usually before checkout which we shall discuss later, you should review all the items in the cart to ensure that it’s everything that you actually intend to buy.

The Wish list

Let us say you have noticed a product on an online store but don’t have the money currently to purchase it, what do you do? Simple. Add it to your wish list. Similar to how you bookmark pages for later viewing, you can ‘bookmark’ products from online stores for later buying.

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amazon wish list

You can even share wish lists with family and friends so that they can buy for you those things that you might not currently afford. Myself and my wife, we share a number of wish lists that we help each other buy whenever one of us has the money.

Wish lists is one of the cool things about online stores because you can’t have the same thing with offline physical super markets.


When you are done adding your items in the cart and now want to pay, you proceed to check out. This is akin to proceeding to the till in the supermarket with your items in the shopping cart and your wallet in the pocket. The checkout button is usually a very visible juicy red/green/blue button located strategically on the page so you don’t miss it.

amazon checkout

At checkout, the store might prompt you for a number of things;

  • Billing or Shipping address where your items will be shipped.
  • Payments methods that the store supports.

Unlike physical stores, items you have bought have to be “shipped” (later on that) to your physical address.If the address is not entered correctly, your package may be returned as undeliverable. Also because this is a virtual automated store, electronic means of payment are accepted, not liquid cash. Certainly there’s no way you can push your cash through your computer to the store!

This post is a part of an ongoing e-commerce series by Dignited with its partner Goodsexpress.com. Subscribe below to get notified of new upcoming articles and the latest offers from our Partner Goodsexpress. 

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Image: pixabay


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