Your checkout flow should have zero distractions. Customers should be directed towards one goal: paying. If they get distracted they might abandon their carts and that is not good for anyone.
Many e-commerce stores have a “continue shopping” link on the cart page to encourage customers to keep shopping. Some store owners say it increases the order value by encouraging customers to buy more stuff. Others say it raises cart abandonment. Empirical results are also mixed.
No large-scale test has been conducted to test the “continue shopping” link’s effect on conversion rates. A/B tests by Growth Rock yielded a 6% increase in conversions when the link was removed, albeit with only 83% statistical significance. This is slightly better than random chance but it’s not a guaranteed result should you remove your link.
Neither Growth Rock nor I have conducted enough tests to make any sweeping conclusions. The results tend to vary from store to store. The only time the “continue shopping” link negatively affects conversion is when it outshines the “proceed to checkout” button so de-emphasize it. The “proceed to checkout” button should be the most prominent CTA on your cart page. Nothing else should even come close. The link should also be close to the bottom of the cart page, not the top.
Why does the “continue shopping” link have so little impact on conversion?
The “continue shopping” link has so little impact on conversion because it’s largely redundant. A customer who wants to continue shopping can just press the “back” button. The search bar is another giant “continue shopping” link so a customer doesn’t really need the link on the cart page.
If you have the link, experiment with removing it. Set up an A/B test and see how it affects conversions and order values. If you don’t have it, there is no need to add it. Its impact on conversions is next to nonexistent and it might actually distract from the checkout flow. Amazon and Walmart, the biggest e-commerce sites, don’t have it and are doing fine.