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.
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.
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…