Imagine you’re a customer walking into a luxury brand store.
You’ve got your debit card in hand, ready to treat yourself to a designer a bag you’ve been saving up to buy. The store looks great, the bag looks even better, and you are excited.
Clutching your new baby, you look around for the checkout. But it isn’t that easy.
You walk a few laps around the store, being led in circles by the signs before finally, you find a staff member.
The staff member strikes up a conversation with you, asking for your birthday (day, month and year) and whether there is any particular title you prefer to go by. That’s a bit weird and unnecessary, you think to yourself.
She then leads you to the back of the store, down a hallway and into a dark room where a card machine sits on a dusty table, connected to a computer that still takes floppy discs.
You feel uneasy, but you swipe your card anyway.
Unsurprisingly, the payment is declined. At this point, deflated and frustrated you decide to leave, abandoning the bag you’ve wanted so much. But it’s okay. There’s another retailer selling it next door. You’ll just go there instead.
If you felt frustrated just reading that story… imagine how your customers might feel?
On average, two-thirds of your customers will leave your website during the checkout process. Most of the time, it’s due to frustrating, complicated, and concerning problems which could have been easily resolved.
Without an optimised checkout process, it doesn’t matter how good your product, marketing or other pages on your website are – customers will abandon your store for your competitors.
Keep your checkout optimised by following 5 easy best practices
In this post, we will be giving you a few insights into why your customers are behaving this way, how to prevent it and the best ways to recover them.
Keep in mind these are best practices, meaning your ecommerce website should have these as a bare minimum.
1. Remove any distractions and keep users focused on only things that matter
How you can easily create a visual hierarchy that will push users to complete the Checkout:
- Make CTA buttons stand out on the cart page!
- The only button you want the user to click is the “Checkout” button. So, remove the footer and any other distractions that may take the user off the page.
- Make the voucher or promo code field less prominent. It seems contradictory, but one of the bigger contributors to abandon carts and checkout is when shoppers leave to look for a discount code.
- Seal the leaks and illuminate the path towards payment.
2. Make it super clear how much “work” the customer needs to do
According to Cialdini’s persuasion principles of Commitment and Consistency, people tend to want to finish what they started.
There is a caveat to this statement – they tend to want to do so only if people can see the end in sight.
If users can’t visually see how many steps there are in the Checkout or how much they have completed, they are more likely to exit. Customers want expectations set upfront. They are busy too, and don’t have unlimited time on their hands.
How this can be implemented depends on your Checkout style – whether you have a 1 Step Checkout or a 2-3 Step Checkout (ex: most Shopify sites).
On a 1 Step Checkout, users can already see everything they need to fill out in a single glance – that’s half the battle won. But users can also find so many form fields overwhelming. Breaking up the Checkout form into sections like Customer Details, Shipping method and Payment can help. Furthermore you can display green tick boxes as users are filling in each field – this gamifies the Checkout form and motivates users to fill out the rest quicker.
On a 2-3 Step Checkout, you want to make sure the 3 stages are extremely clear at the top of the page, example: “Customer Information > Shipping > Payment”. Visually showing the steps completed as the user is progressing through each step really helps too.
Always ask customers for shipping information before moving onto payment, leaving credit card details last.
It is important not to collect any unnecessary information, streamline the process by completing fields such as Address Auto-complete and allow your customers to save their card details for future purchases.
Forcing your customers to begin with harder-to-fill fields or a lengthy checkout form is more likely to lead to frustration and dropoffs.
You can also consider offering Apple Pay or Google Pay. A topic for another article.
3. Reduce Checkout Fear by creating trust and credibility. Make payment fields look secure.
Keeping your credit card details safe is a critical thought that goes through every customer’s mind when they have to enter their credit card details online. Many people have experienced credit card fraud, so security is important when it comes to ecommerce card payments.
Even though your payment gateway might be safe, you need to demonstrate this to your customers to alleviate their concerns.
Include credit card brand logos and security badges on your payment pages. Having these recognisable logos and badges increases familiarity and trust.
The visual design of the form field can also make customers feel more secure. Tests show that users convert at a much higher rate when the form is visually reinforced.
Without a checkout payment page that is both secure and functional, customers are sure to put their credit cards back in their wallets.
4. Offer Guest Checkout and allow users to sign up after payment
Do NOT force customers to register before checkout. Customers want to buy your products, and they don’t want to do it in an arduous way. Registering for an account feels like an unnecessary commitment.
Even if someone is happy to create an account, their focus right now is to get their hands on their desired items ASAP.
Always offer guest checkout, so that customers do not need to register to make a purchase.
If you do offer account registration, allow customers the option to do so. Or perhaps after they have made a purchase, or on the Thank You screen or even with a follow-up email.
While account registration could be a vital part of increasing your customer accounts, ensuring a seamless, easy checkout is one of the best ways to get repeat business from your customers.
5. Set up abandon cart emails.
It is not uncommon for customers to add items to their cart, and then get distracted or change their minds.
If you have customer emails stored, a good way to recover these customers is through abandon cart email marketing.
These emails are a gentle way to remind your customers what they are missing out on. Make sure you include thumbnails of the recovered items and an easy link back to the cart which can prompt users to come back and complete their purchase.
A lot of the time, customers abandon the cart because of the price, so offering a discount may help recover them. You just need to be careful not to spoil them so they expect it every time.
If an effective abandoned cart email strategy is implemented, you can recover revenue you thought was lost forever.
One more time… why optimising checkout is so important:
When your customers reach the cart and checkout phase of the process, they are already high intent buyers. By optimising your cart and checkout experiences you can drastically increase the number of completed purchases.
On the flip side, a poor checkout experience can turn an intention to purchase into a lost sale.
The 5 best checkout practices for you to takeaway:
- Remove any distractions and keep users focused on only things that matter
- Make it super clear how much “work” the customer needs to do
- Reduce Checkout Fear by creating trust and credibility. Make payment fields look secure
- Offer Guest Checkout and allow users to sign up after payment
- An abandoned cart is not the end of the journey. Use abandon cart emails to recover and revive the sale
Even if you’ve already covered the best practices mentioned above, customers can be dropping off for a variety of other reasons, which need to be uncovered through analysis and testing.
Take your conversions to the next level!
Best practices alone won’t solve all your drop off issues. For sustainable long-term improvements to your conversion rate, your data and real customer evidence can identify the changes and experiments your site really needs. We often see in-house digital marketing teams struggling to find the time for such thorough analysis, meaning critical insights are lost in an ocean of data. Our expert CRO team have an efficient, targeted Win at Experimentation™ process to uncover the hidden potential of your site and drive your revenue.
Uncover the hidden conversion opportunities in your ecommerce website with a Complimentary Website Conversion Audit. We will show you potential revenue leaks and insights you can take action on straight away. Together we’ll then help you develop an actionable optimisation and experimentation plan to improve your conversions and meet your ecommerce growth goals.
Take advantage of our complimentary Website Conversion Audit today >> HERE
Jeremy Shane is a Digital Optimisation Specialist at Conversionry, a leading Melbourne-based conversion optimisation agency, that accelerates conversion rates and revenue for global ecommerce and omnichannel retailers via data-driven optimisation and experimentation programs. He is a data-driven UX designer and has half a decade of experience running an ecommerce business. Jeremy is passionate about optimising ecommerce sites, delighting customers and create business success. On his off days, he loves going to the gym, boxing and taking his schnauzer for walks.