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Definition: shopping cart

The common method for handling sales in an online store, especially one that offers a variety of products. Using the supermarket cart and checkout metaphor, after the customer selects an item, it is placed into a "virtual shopping cart." The items remain in the cart until the customer is ready to finalize the purchase and enter credit card data.

Carts Use Cookies
Customers are often able to select items, leave the site and come back later to complete the purchase without having to re-enter the items. Shopping cart systems store pending orders for some number of days and identify the cart's contents by storing data (a "cookie") in the user's computer. The next time the user goes to the online store, the cookie identifies the user, and the pending order is retrieved. See cookie and Internet retailer.

The Shopping Cart
Clicking this icon on a website retrieves the current status of the user's shopping cart. The cart metaphor was used in the very beginning of e-commerce on the Web and has remained ever since.