Stephen Keable

Is the “cart notes” field harming your review scores?

Cart notes highlight image

Almost all ecommerce store themes will have the option to display a “notes” field on the cart or checkout pages. Often simply because the underlying platform has the field available in the data structure and the theme designer needs to support it.

Q: So should you use it?
Surely more information from the buyer is good?

A: Probably not*

*Of course it depends on your store’s needs. Fields in the checkout are typically there because the merchant needs them for a reason, such as the name and address, so they know where to send the item.

As such there is an expectation from the customer that you are going to follow the instructions. Meaning that if you don’t, you fall into the over promising and under delivering trap. Queue the less than 5 star review or awkward customer phone call or email.

Example customer notes

Experiences with clients

So at a couple of stores I’ve worked with, we had the field on the cart page of our Shopify store, the label for these fields was often “Instructions for order” or similar, which lead most people to mention delivery instructions if they are not home.

Sports and fashion retailer

We mapped this field to our shipping label provider, so it would be passed to our couriers as the “delivery instructions” field, although as we used more than one courier, sometimes it was simply thrown away.

However the phone call from a customer who has to go to the depot to pick up their order, even though they told us where to leave it, isn’t that fun.

So we added a note under the field that “Instructions are not always passed to delivery drivers” however we all know that customers don’t always read.

Gifting retailer

A design agency from long ago added the field as part of a redesign and no one had ever questioned whether it was needed. However the field was not mapped to anything, meaning delivery drivers would never see the info. Which meant at peak periods customer service got lots of calls from customers frustrated with orders where we hadn’t followed their instructions.

Example bad review


The simple solution we had at both of those stores was remove the field from the checkout process. We did not get a deluge of complaints from customers saying where’s that field gone etc. however the number of disappointed customers decreased nicely, saving customer service time.

Possibly refining the microcopy of the field will help however, for example being very specific about what info you need form the customer. However it’s possible that in some circumstances that becomes a long essay, and a distraction in the checkout flow.

So for me by default I would turn off the field, if a customer has a specific need they are likely to reach out prior to purchase or during their purchase. Possibly have a line of text along the lines of “Need help with your order…” with contact info visible on cart/checkout pages is probably more useful.