Today’s ecommerce businesses spend a healthy amount of resources driving customers to their websites and encouraging those visitors to add items to their shopping carts. Unfortunately, shopping cart abandonment rates are stunningly high.
Cart abandonment directly impacts your conversion rate and your bottom line. In addition to following the other top ecommerce tips for success, you’ll want to examine how customers are able to complete their purchases on your site.
Developing and executing a clear strategy for improving the checkout process can have a profound impact on the customer experience and can help increase online sales for your business.
What does an ecommerce checkout process involve?
The ecommerce checkout process covers all of the steps that the shopper must take to finalize the purchase. This usually begins with the customer entering personal information, including his or her name, mailing address, email address, and phone number.
This person then enters payment details and selects a preferred shipping method and timeline. The checkout procedure concludes when the customer reviews the order and all sale details before finalizing the transaction.
Why is checkout optimization important?
Because shopping cart abandonment is a significant and costly issue, you don’t want to give your customers any reason to walk away from their selections. When they get frustrated, annoyed, distrustful, or confused, they may be more likely to abandon their cart.
Checkout optimization takes a look at what ecommerce customers want and targets the most common and significant causes of cart abandonment. As a result, optimization can improve your conversion rate and your store’s bottom line.
How to optimize the ecommerce checkout experience for customers
While the ecommerce checkout process seems straightforward on the surface, there are numerous areas that you can focus on to make finalizing a purchase on your site more enjoyable.
In fact, each strategy should receive your full attention so that you can optimize the entire checkout procedure and deliver the best experience possible.
1. Make your checkout one page
Today’s consumers are often in a hurry when they head to the internet to make a purchase. Besides determining what you can do to increase your ecommerce site’s speed, don’t forget to see if your checkout process takes too long and is slowing shoppers down.
When a user fills out information on one page, there’s a sense of accomplishment and finality to the system. However, when a new page opens up that requires the user to fill in more fields, frustration may develop.
While many ecommerce sites have a multi-page checkout process, the preferred method is a one-page procedure. This page will include form fields for the buyer’s personal information, mailing address, payment information, and shipping preferences.
When the buyer submits this information, the next page should be for a final review before locking in the sale. Consider adding a progress bar on the top of the page so that the customer has reasonable expectations.
2. Ensure that the “checkout” button is large and easy to find
The buyer’s checkout process begins with the push of a “Checkout” button or something similar. How easy is that button to find on your website right now?
Regardless of how straightforward your checkout page is, customers may feel stressed if they must hunt down the “Checkout” button before starting the process.
3. Be clear about stock levels and delivery times
When a customer selects an item to buy, the expectation is that the item will be shipped and delivered promptly.
Learning that an item is out of stock or on backorder while checking out is more than an inconvenience in many cases. For example, if the item is being purchased as a gift, the buyer needs the item to arrive by a specific date.
Online shoppers can always back out of the checkout process and start shopping for a different item. However, this major inconvenience may be enough to send the customer to another website in frustration.
To avoid this, ensure that inventory statuses and delivery timelines are clearly listed on the product pages. In addition, create a system so that this information is always correct.
4. Optimize for mobile use
Statista estimates that more than 70% of online commerce will be conducted via mobile devices in 2021. As is the case with all other aspects of your website, the shopping cart must be optimized with mobile users in mind.
This means that all information should be easily viewed on a smaller smartphone or tablet screen. Keep in mind that many users may not be willing or able to switch over to a desktop to finalize a purchase started on a mobile device.
5. Simplify forms
Forms should have straightforward fields and should only request the most essential information required for the sale. For example, the checkout page is not the place to ask for the customer's date of birth.
The idea is to get the sale completed as soon as possible and in the least number of steps. While the average checkout form has 14 fields, you should actually aim for half as many for your form.
In addition, shoppers should always understand what information should be typed in each field. For instance, a field for the customer’s first name might state “First Name” within the text box, and this label may disappear when the visitor starts typing. A better strategy is to put a label above or below each field rather than inside the field.
6. Only ask for customers’ personal information once
Your customers should only need to enter their name and contact information into your website once.
If they’ve created an account previously, they shouldn’t need to enter their mailing address and phone number each time they buy something else. The last thing that you want is for shoppers to feel as though your website is wasting their time.
7. Keep prompts visible and easy to understand
Your customers should always have a clear understanding about where they are in the checkout process and what their options are. A status update showing how many of the steps have been completed is a great starting point, but don’t stop there!
People should be able to go back a page, such as for if they want to change shipping details before they finish buying something. Likewise, they shouldn’t have to search for the button that takes them to the next step.
If you analyze traffic on your site and see that many customers are abandoning their cart at one spot, this bottleneck area requires close review. Keep in mind that prompts, buttons, and fields that may be visible on one type of device may be hidden from view on another screen.
8. Display security badges during the checkout process
Unless you run a popular ecommerce store or your customers have purchased from you beore, shoppers may feel apprehensive about providing their personal information.
Obtain trust symbols from recognized sources like McAfee, Norton, and others. These should be displayed in the footer of pages throughout your website and more prominently on the checkout pages.
9. Highlight the benefits of shopping at your store
There are many reasons why customers may be inclined to abandon items in their carts, so give them a few clear reasons to stay. For example, you can highlight the amount of money that they’re saving on current promotions.
You could also clearly display the fact that your website offers fast and no-cost shipping. Shoppers like to feel supported, so make your customer service number or online chat support easily visible as well.
10. Minimize distractions
Between trust badges, reminders about free shipping, back buttons, progress bars, and more, the shopping cart page can get cluttered fast. Create a design that flows well and that has minimal distractions.
For example, upselling at the bottom of the checkout page when the shopper should be finishing up the purchase is usually not an effective strategy. Ads, offers, and other distracting tidbits should also be saved for other pages.
11. Offer a guest checkout option
Once customers arrive at your checkout page, are they required to create an account or to login with an existing account?
Allowing people to purchase as guests is a true convenience for many shoppers, and it may result in fewer abandoned carts. You can also simplify the login and form completion procedure when you allow the shopper to login via a Google or Facebook account.
For good measure, ask the customer to create an account at the end of the buying process.
The only required step at this point may be to establish a password because the user has already provided all other relevant details. You can even incentivize this, such as by offering promotional emails or a discount on future purchases.
12. Set clear expectations for customers
Shoppers should never have to guess what the status of a purchase is. The checkout page should be clearly labeled with a button indicating that the next page will be a review page. The review page should also be clearly labeled with a “Finalize Purchase” button.
After the customer clicks through this page, ensure that an order confirmation page showing the confirmation number, order status, and expected delivery window is displayed. This helps them know that the order was placed successfully.
13. Show cart items with ample product details
Customers often want to review the products in their cart before they check out. The cart page should show all relevant details, such as quantities, sizes, colors, and other features.
On this page, customers should be able to easily make adjustments to quantities. They should also be able to link back to the product page to change the requested size, color, or other detail as needed.
As the final stage in the checkout process, the customer should once again be able to view all of the cart items. It’s a good idea to have this final review page include all of the same information as is listed on the primary cart page. The page should also show relevant discounts, shipping fees and taxes.
14. Feature multiple payment options
A common reason why shoppers abandon their carts is because the website doesn’t accept the form of payment that they want to use. While many people use Visa and Mastercard, others may only want to use American Express, Discover, or another lesser known card.
When you don’t accept buyers’ preferred forms of payment,they may have no other choice than to walk away from the cart in some cases.
Shopping on the internet is definitely more convenient than physically driving to a store. However, getting up from the couch or running downstairs to find your wallet makes it a bit less enjoyable.
Between Paypal, Masterpass, and other digital payment solutions, the need to find a debit or credit card can be eliminated for many customers. Determine which payment methods are preferred by your target market and ensure that you add them to your site.
15. Be upfront about shipping costs
At what stage in the shopping and checkout processes do your customers learn about the costs related to the shipment of their orders? Ideally, all of these fees should be displayed when a new item is added to the cart.
You might provide complimentary shipping for purchases over a certain dollar amount. In that case, you should clearly indicate how much more the customer needs to spend to qualify for this benefit.
Many online stores provide free or a flat rate for ground shipping but also make the option to pay more for faster delivery available. If you make multiple options available, the cost for each and the estimated date of arrival should be listed where the shipping method is selected.
16. Make the checkout process efficient
Minimizing the number of fields and consolidating all fields on one page can dramatically reduce the overall time required to complete purchases. However, there are a few other steps that you can take to further speed up the steps for checking out.
For example, you can add a box labeled “Use Billing Address” next to the area where the visitors are meant to fill in their addresses. You can also use auto-complete forms if the shopper signed in with an established account or uses a digital payment method, such as PayPal.
17. Upsell strategically
It’s generally best to try upselling before the buyer clicks on the “Checkout” button. You can offer suggestions on product pages or even on the detailed shopping cart page.
Once the checkout process has begun, you can always make several suggestions at the end of the sale at the bottom of the confirmation page for future purchases.
18. Send a “thank you” email to finalize the transaction
Thanking customers after they buy something in a physical store is good policy, and it’s likewise essential for online sales.
After the sale is finalized, the customer should receive an email with the full details regarding the items purchased, order confirmation number, and shipping details.
The confirmation email should also specifically thank your customer for making the purchase. This email has become so commonplace and expected that customers may wonder if their purchase was processed properly if they don’t receive it.
Cart abandonment is a common problem with many causes for all kinds of online stores. While these strategies may not eliminate the problem entirely, they can be quite effective at managing many of the more common issues.
If you’re looking to reduce your cart abandonment rate and improve the overall user experience on your site, now’s the time to analyze your checkout process and to make thoughtful improvements!