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Using the eBay Shopping Cart

What you need to know, whether as a buyer or as a seller


Using the eBay Shopping Cart

This holiday season buyers on eBay will see something they've never seen before: an "Add to cart" button.

Image: Aron Hsiao

This holiday season eBay shoppers will be greeted by a new feature that's been the subject of eBay discussion for a very long time: a shopping cart.

eBay's shopping cart is meant to look and behave like shopping carts at other online retailers in order to flatten the "eBay trading learning curve" and reduce the need for would-be buyers to read how to buy articles just to make an eBay purchase.

In that sense, the new shopping cart system is a good thing for both buyers and sellers. At the same time, however, most eBay veterans know that with a mix of listing formats (some auctions, some fixed-price listings, some mixed listings) and single quantity goods on eBay, the eBay shopping cart can't behave exactly like shopping carts at other online retailers.

Details for eBay Shoppers

Here are the most important things that you need to know about the shopping cart as an eBay shopper.

  • You can still bid, and you can still Buy it Now. No, eBay isn't doing away with the buying actions to which you're accustomed, it's just adding an "Add to Cart" button to certain listings, and some additional cart functionality to make eBay shopping sessions easier to manage. At the moment, however, you're not required to use any of these features.
  • "Add to Cart" appears only on Buy it Now listings. For the moment, there's no way to bid on an auction using the shopping cart; on auction format listings, you'll see only the conventional "Place Bid" button.
  • Buy it Now items added directly to your cart are not yet "won." Items that you add to your cart directly remain available to other buyers as well until you actually check out (i.e. click the "Proceed to checkout" button and submit a payment), meaning that you can not reserve an item for yourself simply by adding it to your cart. You may in some cases add an item to your cart and attempt to submit a payment only to learn that someone else has "bought it out from under you" by acting quickly between the time you added it to your cart and the time that you checked out—so don't leave limited stock items that are important to you sitting in your shopping cart for extended periods of time.
  • Items can appear in your card even when you didn't "add" them. In addition to any items you've placed in your cart using the "Add to Cart" button, your eBay cart will also contain any auction items you've bid on and won but not yet paid for, as well as any unpaid fixed price items that you have agreed to buy using the "Buy it Now" button.
  • PayPal payments can be consolidated using the shopping cart. So long as all of the sellers represented in your cart at any given time accept PayPal payments directly, eBay's shopping cart can be used to consolidate multiple purchases into a single payment action on your part, with payments being automatically totaled and distributed to sellers as necessary by eBay.
  • You can "save" items for later purchase. The "Save for later" link next to each item added to your shopping cart makes it possible to choose to pay for some items in your cart while checking out while leaving other items there for later payment or removal. Just remember that "saving" an item for later doesn't actually reserve it for you!
  • View and/or pay for items in your cart using the "Cart" link at the upper-right. To view your shopping cart and/or check out at any time, click on the "Cart" link or icon at the upper-right of any eBay page.
  • There are some limits. You can have up to 100 items in your shopping cart from up to 10 different sellers at any given time.

Details for eBay Sellers

Because eBay has worked to integrate auction payments and Buy It Now payments into the shopping cart model, no serious changes need to be made to your selling practices in order to be "shopping cart ready." There are, however, some things that sellers should know about the shopping cart:

  • You can't opt out. There is no way to opt out of the shopping cart feature as a seller; all of your listings (apart from those in categories for which the cart doesn't make sense, like real estate and motor vehicles) will automatically function with eBay's shopping cart system as described above.
  • Buyer blocks and exclusions/requirements still work. Any buyer profile or geographical requirements that you have in place, or blocks that you've added for problem buyers, remain in effect with shopping carts—buyers you've wanted to avoid in the past will still be off your radar.
  • Combined shipping discounts are good marketing. Any shipping discounts you offer for multiple item purchases will now be featured prominently and calculated in a way that is far more transparent to the buyer, something that can serve to generate repeat business and loyalty.
  • You can't find out whether your items have been added to a cart. No, the "number of watchers" that you see in your My eBay or Selling Manager area doesn't include anyone that has added your item to their shopping cart. There is currently no way for sellers to get a count of those that have added item(s) to a shopping cart.
  • For many sellers, the change bodes well for the future. Aside from immediate benefits like streamlining buyer experiences and giving buyers the easy option to increase the quantity of their order, the future includes the potential for things like the cross-promotion, during checkout, of related items like accessories or upgrades.
  • You should still use "immediate payment required." Even though it sounds as though the shopping cart duplicates the "immediate payment required" feature of Buy It Now listings, remember that buyers still have access to the regular Buy It Now button and that some buyers (particularly many international buyers) still don't have shopping cart functionality.

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