So here’s the scenario. You get a new visitor to your eCommerce store. She browses around, finds a product that she likes, and clicks the ‘Buy Now’ button. Hurrah, you just made a sale!

But hang on, it’s not over yet. Your customer reaches your checkout page. Suddenly she isn’t so certain about buying your product. Maybe it’s because there’s an extra shipping charge, or your checkout is hosted on a different URL, or she just doesn’t trust you with her credit card information.

She closes your tab.

This is happening to you right now. In fact, for every 3 people who reach your checkout page, 2 abandon it without purchasing.

For every 3 people who reach your checkout, 2 abandon without purchasing! Click To Tweet

 

Another shocking statistic comes from eConsultancy where they state that 45% of online shoppers abandoned shopping carts multiple times within a specified three week period – the average value of goods in these abandoned carts was $109.

There is almost nothing more frustrating to a merchant than when a customer goes through almost the entire checkout process, only to abandon their cart. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to your checkout to increase conversion.

Don’t Redirect Checkout

Many leading eCommerce softwares redirect the user to a different domain. A customer has spent time on your store and they expect to checkout on your store, so it doesn’t make sense for them to be led to a different URL. For many users, this is confusing and they are left wondering what happened.

Say you’ve spent time shopping at a store with the URL leatherbags.com.  You’ve added some products to your cart and you’re ready to checkout. You press the checkout button and you’re redirected to ecommercesoftware.com.

The problem is that you’ve put your trust in leatherbags.com but, now you’re on this other URL that looks nothing like leatherbags.com and it’s asking for your credit card information. This redirection can come across as sketchy and can break a customer’s trust.

This is an example of a bad URL:

https://checkout.ecommercesoftware.com/carts/2459089/b849f00837934d74916f54db625e0502

  • Why am I at a software company?
  • What are all these numbers?
  • Why are they asking for my credit information?

And this is what a checkout URL should look like:

https://www.leatherbags.com/checkout

  • Still on the same site
  • Tells me I’m at the checkout

Redirecting the checkout is like going to your favorite retail shop and being asked to go through a back door, into a massage parlor that doubles as a brothel, to pay. It makes people uneasy, to say the least. Customers want a seamless process, one where they get to stay on the site they are buying from.

If your eCommerce platform, shopping cart or payment processor forces you to redirect checkout, it’s time to switch to something that doesn’t.

Redirecting the checkout is like going through a shop's back door, into a massage parlor, to pay. Click To Tweet

No Surprises

I remember signing up for a gym near my house a couple of months back. After giving me a tour of their facilities, the sales rep told me that if I signed up for a year, I’d be paying $40/month. That’s cheap compared to many other gyms in town so I jumped at the price.

As the rep took my payment details she suddenly mentioned, as an afterthought, that there was a $50 sign up fee. I was a little peeved, but I shrugged it off.

Then she mentioned there was also a $50 new member fee, like as if it was a minor detail. At this point, I was fuming, but I kept my peace. Maybe she was new.

Finally, just before she processed my card, she shrugged nonchalantly and said, “Oh, I don’t know if I mentioned this, but every April we have a gym upgrade fee of $50.”

Strike three! I snatched my card back, tore up my registration form and stormed out of there.

Sounds like a pretty shady gym, doesn’t it? Yet many eCommerce stores hide extra fees on their product pages and suddenly add them on at the checkout page. If you’re doing that, how are you any different from that gym?

This is one of the biggest reasons customers abandon their cart. If you’ve got shipping, packing or any other related fees that add on to the final price, be sure to make that abundantly clear on your product page or in the cart before customers hit the ‘Buy’ button.

Multi-page or Single page

The single page or multi-page checkout flow has been debated countless times over the last few years. Some argue it has to be a one step process while others, most notably Neil Patel, say multi-page. So which is it? Well, it really comes down to testing.

Let’s take the Vancouver Olympic store, for example. The store initially had a four-page checkout process with a progress bar on top to show customers how far in they were.

They decided to run a test. They wanted to see if conversions would increase if they used a longer, single page layout. The results? They were able to lift their conversion by 21.8%! A dramatic increase of sales over their four-page checkout.

Optimize Checkout Page

While a one-page checkout worked for them, it might not work for you. Even if your sales are doing quite good, they could be doing even better! Test the process and you may be surprised at how your revenue grows.

Form Fields

When it comes to checkout page forms, there are certain things you can’t avoid. You have to collect shipping addresses, billing addresses and a bunch of other customer details. As such, it might be tough to control the length of the form.

Still, there are certain things you can do to make customers’ lives easier.

Pre-populate information

There are certain times when you can pre-fill form fields so that customers don’t have to fill them in themselves unless they need to make a change. For example, if a customer has already purchased from you before, you don’t need them to type in all their information again.

If it’s a first-time customer you can use geo-tagging to find out where they are and pre-fill address fields. Some stores automatically copy shipping addresses to a billing address if customers indicate they are the same through a checkbox.

Use tool tips

Tool tips come in handy especially when you have non-standard form fields. If you offer product customizations like engravings or custom dimensions, you might need an input form field for that. To help customers understand what that field is, you’ll need a tool tip.

Use asterisks

Certain fields are mandatory in any checkout page form, so highlighting them with asterisks is a good idea. You don’t want customers filling out the form and clicking ‘Purchase’ only to realize they missed some fields.

Related posts:  9 Paid eCommerce Tools for Serious Online Stores

Additionally, if that does happen, you should make sure the customer doesn’t have to fill out the entire page again. Save all the fields that have been filled and only point out the ones that haven’t.

Guest Checkout

One of the worst things you can do is to force someone to make an account before checking out. Imagine if every retail store forced you to sign up for their loyalty program or those irritating rewards points credit cards before you bought from them. That’s what you’re doing by asking online consumers to create an account before they buy.

Yet we still see so many eCommerce stores doing this. When you force a customer to create an account you are directing them away from the checkout process. A big mistake on your part.

According to Forrester , a whopping 23% of people will abandon their shopping cart if you try and force them to create an account. Obviously you do not want to lose a quarter of your business.

23% of people will abandon their shopping cart if you try and force them to create an account! Click To Tweet

Apple allows the customer to checkout as a guest with the option of creating an account at the end of the purchase.

Optimize Checkout Page

Trust and Security

Trust and security seals can help put a potential customer’s mind at ease knowing that his or her personal information is protected. But not all seals are created equal and some seem to be considered more trustworthy than others.

Take the study done at Buyakilt. They tested two seals on their checkout page. They first placed the ‘Norton by Verisign’ badge to the top right hand corner of their page. The test ran for 5 weeks and they found that conversions increased by 17%.

Optimize Checkout Page

They wanted to take it a step further so they swapped the Norton badge for the Comodo seal and they were able to increase their conversion by an additional 12.49%.

Optimize Checkout page

 

Adding the two results, the overall increase in conversion rate was 31.6%, which translated to a six figure increase in revenue!

Placement

You need to be careful with the placement of seals as it can decrease conversions! An improperly placed trust or security seal might remind the customer that they are handing over private information to a third party, increasing their anxiety about making a purchase.

So remember to be mindful about where you place the security seal. A common place to put the seal is generally located in the top right of the checkout.

Asos is an eCommerce store that is a leader when it comes to providing an excellent shopping experience. Here they have a perfectly placed, recognizable seal in the right hand corner of their checkout page.

Optimize Checkout Page

Coupon Codes

Many studies show that coupon codes can detract from a person finishing the checkout process. The reason is that many people will leave your store to try and find a coupon code and will never end up returning.

ComScore found that in 2009, 27% of people who searched for a coupon code never returned. So should you ditch the coupon code altogether? Not so fast.

27% of people who searched for a coupon code never returned. So should you ditch it altogether? Click To Tweet

Macy’s, a large department store, found that many of their customers would leave their cart in order to find a promo code and return to complete their purchase only after they found one.

They wanted customers to stay on their site, so they came up with a brilliant idea. On the shopping cart page there is a box with a header that reads, “Have a promo code?” and a link to “Find one now”. The link takes the customer to a Macys.com page listing with current discount codes, keeping customers on their site.

Optimize Checkout Page

Due to this strategy, Macy’s does not have to pay an affiliate website 4-5% of the purchase amount. They also saw a 6% increase in web traffic the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Nasty Gal uses a more common approach, having the coupon code on the first page of the checkout. The catch is that it’s quite discreet. There are links for both a gift card and a promotional code.

What I like about Nasty Gal is that they have live chat implemented throughout the site including the checkout page. The live chat link is easy to spot and is located right beside the promotional link. I clicked on the live chat and asked if there were any promotional codes and an agent took about 5 seconds to respond.

Optimize Checkout Page

The coupon code has received a bad rap due to the fact it can send potential customers away from your site. But, as we’ve seen, it can work if done correctly. A good idea would be to run some A/B tests to find which solution converts a customer best.

Progress Indicator

The checkout process is like a map. Customers want to know where they are and how much longer it’s going to be until they reach their destination. Every good checkout includes a progress bar. The best ones tell you exactly what step you are on and what steps there are left.

Aritzia’s checkout process breaks down exactly where you are, where you’ve been and where you are going. They have also included a little “need help with your order” tool tip, which is great if users have a quick question.

Optimize Checkout Page

Start Testing

The checkout is something that has not yet been mastered and continues to grow and evolve. Your checkout really depends on what your audience wants and needs. To find what works for you, you need to customize and test your checkout to maximize conversions.

Unfortunately, most eCommerce platforms don’t allow you to customize your checkout. If you use one of these platforms, it might be time for you to start looking at one that does allow you full control over your checkout page.

Think about it this way. You could either switch to a more customizable platform and generate an extra six figures in revenue, like Buyakilt, or you could be content with the status quo.

The choice is yours!

To learn more about A/B testing and optimizing your entire store, download our ebook on A/B testing for eCommerce. After you finish the test, come back here and let us know what the results were.