Easy Strategies To Optimize Your Checkout Process


How are your stats looking for shopping cart abandonment on your website?

The average reported abandonment rate is 68.63%, so it is definitely something all ecommerce store owners should expect to deal with. As Conversion XL puts it, abandoning the cart is just part of the buying cycle. Around 99% of shoppers do not buy on their first visit to a website, but 75% of customers who abandon the cart do so with the intention to buy.

It’s always preferable to convince the customer to go ahead with their purchase before you are resorting to cart abandonment emails and other measures, so what are you doing to keep them there?

In thinking about this question, a good place to start is with why customers abandon the shopping cart in the first place. Here are the most common reasons from Social Media Today:

Optimizing the checkout process on your website is one very good way to encourage customers to go through with their purchase. Let’s look at a few strategies you can use.

23% of online shoppers abandon the cart because they were forced to create an account first .

Design Ideas

Many of the reasons given for abandoning the cart can be mitigated with some attention given to design aspects of your checkout process. Consider the following ideas:

Single, or Multi-Page Checkout?

This is a design element that has gone through considerable testing across many sites. A Baymard study on checkout usability found that, while there are studies that show a single page checkout doing better than multi-page, often that single page was well-optimized while the multi-page checkout wasn’t.

Their conclusion was that the number of pages your customer goes through during checkout is not the most important factor; what is important is that you provide the right information at the right time, whether on single or multi-page. This means providing information that reassures the customer their transaction is safe and that they’re making a good decision.

Elements such as secure transaction badges can be shown on single or multi-page, so it may be an idea to test what works better for your customers. The Olympic Store is one example who found that they achieved a 21.8% higher checkout rate on single rather than multi-page.

If you’re going to go with multi-page, one suggestion to optimize is to show a visual of the checkout process. This way customers can clearly see how far through they are and what’s happening next.

Source: Designmodo

Which shipping method should you choose? Grab our free guide here .

Make It Easy To Modify The Cart

Is it a quick and obvious process if someone wants to change out what they have in the shopping cart? If you don’t make this easy to do, it’s another contributor to the “confusing checkout” experience, which many say causes them to abandon the cart.

Here’s an example from Zulily. This is the mobile checkout, but notice how even here there is an obvious “edit” button at the top right.


Give A “Continue Shopping” Option

This is another one that falls under the headline “don’t make it difficult.” Some checkouts have no obvious way to continue shopping without hitting “back” buttons and getting messy, so customers are more likely to leave because the process is cumbersome.

The Zulily example above again demonstrates this with the “shop” option on the left-hand side.

Save The “Create Account”

Look at that abandonment stat for “they made me create an account first.” It’s the second-highest reason given for cart abandonment.

Why don’t people like to create accounts in order to complete shopping? Well, it’s yet another thing to slow down the process; also, perhaps they’d rather give their details in order to track orders once they’re done with checkout.

In this example from Jared Spool, the business made $300 million more in revenue after removing the create account piece from the beginning of checkout. Give people the option but do it once the order has already been processed. You could do it with an incentive such as a discount code to use next time or simply to speed up the process next time.

Add Reassuring Elements

What do customers find reassuring on a checkout page? Here are a few ideas:

  • Links to privacy and return policies.
  • Trust and security seals.
  • A clear, itemized summary of what they are ordering before they hit “submit”
  • How long they can expect to wait to receive their order.

Coupon Codes

If you arrive at a checkout page and see an empty box for “coupon code,” the natural reaction of many people is going to be to search for a code to put in. This could have people leaving your site never to return, unless you make it easy for them to find them.

One simple solution is to include a pop-up box or link next to the coupon box that shows customers clearly which codes are in use right now. Otherwise, you could consider having a floating bar at the top of the page with any current coupon codes available.

Save For Later

This is how you can bring back the “I was just doing research” customer. It’s very annoying to customers if their cart has disappeared when they return, so make it easy for them by giving a save for later or “wishlist” option. Amazon is a good example of this.

Your Payment Gateway

When you choose a payment gateway, you can either go with one that is hosted and takes customers away from your website to complete purchase (Paypal is an example), or one that integrates via an API with your site and keeps customers onsite to complete checkout.

The advantage of hosted sites is that the payment gateway is responsible for all compliance and data security; however, the experience of being redirected can be jarring to customers and may lead to some abandoning.

It does depend a bit on your audience. In some countries, hosted payment gateways are preferred, whereas in others they will not be trusted. Of course, another advantage of going for an integrated payment gateway is that you can control appearance on your website so that your branding stays intact.

This bit is really going to come down to what you know about your target market. Which do they prefer?

Shipping & Fees

The number one reason that people give for not going through with a purchase is that they were hit with unexpected fees at checkout. Whether this is shipping costs or any other kind of fee (taxes for example), the simple answer is not to surprise people.

Free shipping is a huge enticer if your business can afford it. Surveys reveal that 93% of people would be encouraged to continue with a purchase if free shipping were offered, while 73% saw it as a “critical” factor in their buying decision.

What if you really can’t afford free shipping? You could consider either offering it for orders above a certain value, or at least having a set, flat rate, which keeps it simple for customers.

Above all, if you’re going to charge for shipping or any other fees, make that clear from the beginning. It’s the surprise factor that kills your conversion rates.

Source: Outerbanks Country Store

Create Urgency 

Tap into the shopper’s sense of FOMO by conveying urgency during the checkout process. Do you have something in limited stock? Is the offer only available for a set period of time? Make sure the customer knows this.

You could let them know by showing stock levels or highlighting countdown clocks for any offers. Zulily adds another element—showing how many people are viewing the item at the same time as the shopper. They show this on their checkout page as well as during browsing.  All of this adds up to a sense that if the customer doesn’t act now, they could miss out.

Which shipping method should you choose? Grab our free guide here .

Final Thoughts

Every ecommerce store experiences shopping cart abandonment and relatively high levels are quite normal. While you should be implementing strategies to bring back shoppers who abandon, it’s even better if you can keep them in the first place.

Examine your checkout process and look for anything which may be cumbersome, annoying, confusing or a hindrance to gaining the trust of the customer. Also make sure it’s easy for them to come back later, find discount codes or modify their order.

As an added level of incentive, find ways to convey urgency. The shopper who fears they might miss out is more likely to go ahead with the purchase.

Author: Katie Joll

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