Free e-commerce site design lesson number 112: don’t randomly empty your customers’ shopping carts.
In the past two weeks, I’ve experienced the same problem at two different big, well-established online stores. In the course of browsing, I added a few items to my shopping cart, and then when I checked out, I was asked to create a login to the site. On both sites, when I was done creating the login, my shopping cart was empty; the act of starting a new account and logging me in caused the sites to lose track of what I was buying. Having to go back and hunt down all the items that were dumped (and choose the right styles and options) was annoying enough that I’ll definitely think twice before shopping on the sites again.
(That being said, for certain things, shopping online is a hell of a lot nicer than enduring stores in Manhattan between Thanksgiving and Christmas!)