Visitors to your eCommerce website might admire your appealing visual aesthetic, your user-friendly layouts, and your extensive inventory. They may find the items they want and add them to their shopping cart. They might enter your checkout page feeling completely prepared to pay your business good money. And yet, eCommerce market statistics show that three-quarters of all shopping carts ever created are abandoned.
Why would someone go through this process only to bail at the end? Quite a few factors contribute to the phenomenon of cart abandonment, but a significant one is dissatisfaction with the checkout process. In fact, the checkout page may be the most crucial step for getting customers down the sales funnel. However nice the rest of the site may be, none of it matters if the last step drives away conversions.
Thankfully, with some creativity and skill, you can use different features and design elements to make a difference. Here is some information on how to optimize your checkout page to increase conversions.
Designing the Checkout Process
“Add to Cart” Stage
Optimizing the checkout process starts before checkout itself even begins. The Add to Cart button must be visible, and its purpose must be obvious. Consider its current design: is it easy to find on the product page? Does the text on the button clearly denote its function? Does the button’s color scheme make that text easy to read? You may want to conduct a study on whether the average user can work it.
You also need to make it clear when customers successfully add a product to the cart. This can come in the form of a pop-up text box or a small number on the shopping cart icon (or both). Otherwise, they might not believe that your site is even working.
The cart page is the gateway to the checkout process. As such, it should show the prospective customer everything they need to know about their order, such as the product names, photos, and prices. The design should present that information clearly. The same goes for the “Click to Checkout” button, which must have a design that makes it purpose obvious and must be placed where anyone could easily find it.
Upon reviewing their cart, your clients may want to make some changes. Include some features that allow them to amend their order, like the ability to delete items, saving items for later (perhaps on a wish list in their account), and changing details (such as quantity).
Billing and Shipping Stage
When you discuss money matters with your customers, you need to be fully transparent about your checkout options. This is especially important for your first-time buyers, who may not know everything you have to offer. Use this stage of the process to show off the payment options that you support, as well as their order’s real-time shipping rates and time estimates. If you offer free shipping and free returns, this is also a great time to mention that.
Prospective customers who have never checked out with you before may also be concerned about their privacy. At this point, you should provide some indication that the payment process is completely secure. If they sense the slightest possibility of their sensitive data getting stolen, they may choose to jump ship.
Summary and Review Stage
This step gives customers one final chance to review their order. It is similar in function to the Cart Page, except it also includes information on their selected payment options and the final price. Make the summary of their order clear so they know exactly what they are ordering and how much they are paying. Do not forget to include the estimated delivery rate.
Customers who want more information may appreciate seeing information on your tax, return, and security policies. You can include such information on the summary page, but if it takes up too much space, just leave some links. Plus, seeing that your customers included plenty of personal information through the checkout process, you may want to offer the option of registering an account here. This could reduce the time they need to complete the process whenever they return to your site.
Features of an Effective Checkout Flow
Shorter Forms with Less Steps
Most customers prefer a quick and simple checkout process. However, eCommerce market statistics show that the average checkout flow has 5.08 steps. You do not want to settle for making your website average, let alone below average. Look over the entirety of the process and consider how you could reduce the number of steps.
The idea of asking your customers for as much information as possible may be tempting. From the customer’s perspective, seeing row after row of information fields may just seem like a hassle. Worse, they might find it intrusive, or even suspicious. Give some thought to how much of what you ask for is really necessary. Better still, try to condense everything into as few pages as possible.
Checkout Progress Bar
Alternatively, you could look at the length of your process from a psychological standpoint. When people start requesting an order for the first time, they might not know how long it will take. When they can only guess how far they are from the end, any unexpected extra pages may throw them off. Too much of that will frustrate them, and even though they now know exactly what the process is like, they may be unwilling to go through it again.
To get around this, you could add a checkout progress bar that gradually fills up as the customer gets closer to the conclusion. The bar serves as a map, showing where they are at all times and giving them a sense of orientation. You might see a serious boost in conversions without even changing the actual length of the checkout flow.
Any serious eCommerce store has top-notch security systems that protect its customers’ sensitive data from intruders and hackers. Despite this, studies from Baymard Institute show that 18% of cart abandonment cases occur because internet users cannot bring themselves to trust an unfamiliar website. Before they buy from you, they may need assurance that you can keep their information safe.
Security seals can go a long way towards convincing people of your legitimacy. Adding these icons to your checkout pages is as simple as copying and pasting their HTML codes. Naturally, you can only get the codes as part of the package with your security system, which is why presenting them earns your customers’ trust. Leave the seals in spots on the checkout page design that guarantee they will be noticed.
Checkout Registration Options
Some eCommerce websites choose not to offer a guest checkout option. This effort to encourage account creation is misguided: despite any benefits, some people simply will not want to do this. Forcing registration as a condition for purchase will drive these visitors to less overbearing competitors. Even though you want to incentivize account registration, people still like the freedom to choose.
To that end, you could see a major increase in conversions if you offer multiple checkout registration options. One way to do this is setting up a login screen, with separate information fields for new and existing customers, as part of the checkout flow. This screen could include a button that lets people skip the process altogether and place an order as a guest, taking care of a major cause of cart abandonment.
Cart Abandonment Solutions
We have covered a few reasons for why shoppers choose not to complete their order. With that said, some of the most common causes of cart abandonment are completely unintentional. Sometimes, people create carts, pledge to make a purchase later, and forget. Other times, people accidentally close the window and cannot reclaim their cart. Without meaning to do so, they contribute to this issue.
Luckily, quite a few cart abandonment solutions have been developed to resolve these problems. Recovery email solutions like Abandoned Cart Saver can send reminders to registered customers about their incomplete orders. Apps like 3dboost can even detect when a visitor seems to be exiting your website and regain their attention. These tools can save you and your customers a lot of trouble.
What to Avoid on Your Checkout Page
According to Baymard Institute, more than half of all online shoppers interviewed said they have abandoned carts because of high extra costs. Another 21% said, “I couldn’t see/calculate total order cost upfront.” Both responses point to a deeper issue. These people did not feel that the online store in question showed them the actual costs of their orders until too late in the process.
If you only learn one thing from this section, it must be this: avoid surprise costs. Simply put, customers do not like to feel tricked, especially with financial matters. Be upfront about everything early on in the checkout process. In addition to listing product prices, you are practically required to show shipping and taxes from the beginning. The latter fees should be calculated in real-time.
Too Many Distractions
You have a lot that you want to do with your eCommerce website besides selling products. You may want to sign up more visitors to your email blasts, or push your latest promotion, or encourage users to create accounts. Perhaps you think it is a good idea to use the checkout page as the place to tell your customers about all this. After all, you already have their attention.
Whether people accept or ignore all those offers, all of these disturbances might actually take their attention away from completing the order. Customers could feel overwhelmed and confused, and too many distractions may thus translate to lower sales. Sticking to a minimalist checkout page design may be better for your conversions than this kind of bombardment.
As we wrote earlier, mandatory sign-in only seems like a good idea for boosting the number of accounts on your website. In reality, it could be a deterrent for customers who, for one reason or another, simply wish to check out as guests.
In fact, Baymard Institute found this to be true in their aforementioned survey. Aside from high extra costs, the most common reason that respondents gave for abandoning their cart was, “The site wanted me to create an account.” If you want high conversions, do not succumb to this statistic.
Prominent Coupon Field
Customers love coupons, and many eCommerce stores love offering them. It only makes sense to include an information field specifically for promotion codes at some point during checkout. However, contrary to what you may be expecting to hear, you may not want to make it too noticeable.
There is a legitimate concern here: if customers see a prominent coupon field, they may believe that they must have a coupon. It may sound strange, but they may then feel compelled to leave the page in search of codes. This could lead not only to an abandoned cart, but also to disappointment if they cannot find any ongoing promotions. You should still have the field, of course.
Checkout Page Design Options to Consider
Multi-Page vs. Single-Page Checkout
We previously advised cutting down the number of pages in the checkout process. You might be thinking: what if I just consolidate everything into just one?
Single-page checkout design does have its benefits. It shows users the entire process, which keeps them from feeling psyched out by the length. It also makes cutting down on unnecessary information fields a part of the process and lets people fill out the remaining ones in any order they want. All of that cuts down on time.
With that said, multi-page checkout design has its own strengths as well. If you find that you do need or want a lot of information fields, cramming them all in one long page may seem even more daunting than spreading them out. At least with this method, you can create a better layout and improve the checkout flow. Either type of checkout page design is valid, as long as you keep it simple and snappy.
Statistics show that more than half of all eCommerce traffic comes from mobile phones. Many of these users break up their online shopping between devices: they may start their carts on desktops and finish later on smartphones. This casts a shadow on another statistic showing that over one in five online stores still lack a mobile version of their site. That makes checkout much harder for those users to finish.
As the number of smartphone shoppers swells over time, responsive design will be even more essential than it is at present. Mobile checkout should be exactly as easy and user-friendly as desktop checkout. If it is not tailored to fit all kinds of devices, it will show, and it will frustrate would-be customers. Do not leave yourself out of this emerging trend. Integrate a responsive design to your checkout process, and your website as a whole.
Optimizing your checkout page and increasing your conversions may take some work. However, you are definitely not short on your options. There are so many different methods you could try, features you could implement, and changes you could make. Feel free to try as many as you want. Even if you already think your conversions are high and your abandonment rates are low, you may be surprised by how much you gain.