When it comes to eCommerce checkout optimization, there’s so much that can be done. We know that 70% of your customers will abandon during checkout, and that means there’s lots of scope for improvement. You can keep running A/B tests in the checkout alone for the rest of your life and you’ll still be finding new things to improve.
But, before you start changing button colors and hoping for vast improvements, maybe you should take a step back and look at the big picture. When customers reach your checkout page, the first thing they’ll try to determine is how long it is. Does it go on and on and ask you to fill out unnecessary stuff? Or is it short and sweet?
If your checkout seems long and tedious, it’s likely that customers just won’t bother going through it. They came to your site to buy your product, not to answer a ten-minute questionnaire. This is especially true if they’re already on the fence about making the purchase.Customer's won't bother with long checkouts, especially if they're on the fence. Click To Tweet
That’s why the question of going with a single page or a multi-page checkout is an important one. On the one hand, a single-page checkout obviously seems shorter than a multi-page one, yet there are pros and cons to each.
Are one-page checkouts really the holy grail?
In recent times, the idea that 1-page checkouts are automatically better than multi-page checkouts is often repeated without further thought. But is it really true?
Baymard, an independent eCommerce usability research institute put recently together a checkout usability report. One of the researchers, Christian Holst had some interesting conclusions after conducting the research:
There do exists some A/B cases where one page checkouts outperform multi-step checkouts significantly. These cases however often compare a non-optimized multi-step checkout with a new optimized one page checkout.
During the research for our checkout usability report we found that users in general had relatively few problems navigating between multiple steps (as long as a few simple guidelines are adhered to) – the usability issues were primarily caused by what the customer had to do at each step.
When A/B testing a non-optimized multi-step checkout (being A) against a one page checkout (B), I’d say if a C version were introduced that took precisely the same form fields as the one page, but split it across two pages (address on page one, credit card details on page two) – there wouldn’t be much, if any, difference in abandonment/completion rates between B and C.
What this means is that the number of pages that your checkout uses is not the most important factor. All you have to do is shop on a few different very successful online retailers to realize that there are no hard and fast rules.
What is important, is asking for just the right information, at the right time, in the right way. Just as important, you need to clearly provide the information that the customer needs to feel safe and comfortable purchasing from your online store. You can achieve those things on both a multi-page and 1-page checkout.
So, what type of checkout should you use?
In this post we’ll discuss these pros and cons of 1-page VS multi-page checkouts, along with some case studies, and show you how to test and implement both types in your store.
Single Page Checkout
a) Speed – Even though the number of form fields are more or less the same between single and multi-page checkouts, it’s still quicker to fill out a single-page form because customers don’t have to wait for page refreshes between each step.
b) Progress – With a single page checkout, customers can see exactly how far along the checkout they are, and how many fields they have left before they can complete it. It adds a little psychological boost and motivate them to finish it off.
c) Navigation – The good thing about a single page checkout is that there’s really no navigational elements. All the fields are on the same page so there’s no need to go back in the browser. In a multi-page checkout, this might cause problems, especially if customers return to their original page and find that they have to re-enter data.
a) Layout – The problem with a single page checkout, if you have a number of fields, is that the design and layout start to look cluttered. You’re basically trying to cram 3-4 pages worth of form fields into one page. This could actually backfire and turn customers off.
a) Email Collection – By splitting up your checkout into multiple pages, you can still collect data from customers if they filled out the earlier pages, even if they abandon the checkout at a later stage. For example, if the customer enters an email address in page 1, and then abandons in page 3, you still have the email and can contact the customer to recover the cart.
b) Find Dropouts – An additional benefit of splitting up the checkout is that you can see exactly which page customers drop out from. If you have Google Analytics, you can set up a funnel to track this. So if they drop out after the page that asks for the billing address, then you know there’s a big problem there. In a single page checkout, you can only tell that the customer has dropped out, but you can’t tell which section caused the drop-out.
c) Layout – Since you’re not trying to squeeze all your form fields into one page, the multi-page checkout looks a lot cleaner. On top of that, each page looks pretty short, so it seems easier to fill out.
a) Length – Psychologically, because customers can see that there are multiple pages in the checkout, it might feel like the checkout is long. Seeing 4 more pages to go after the current one can be quite disheartening.
So it looks like there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of checkout. The important question is, how do you pick the one that’s right for you?
The answer, of course, is to test it. The Vancouver Olympic store initially had a 4-page checkout. Each section of the checkout was on a different page, but they had a progress indicator at the top to show customers how much of the checkout was left.
They were concerned about their checkout abandonment rates, as any retailer should be, so they decided to take a step back and test out a single page checkout. The single page turned out be a bit longer because they had to fit in so many form fields, but they found out that it actually converted 21.8% higher than the multi-page checkout!
Now, just because a single page checkout worked for them, doesn’t mean it will work for you. The point is you need to test it too.
How to implement
On most eCommerce platforms, it’s pretty hard to test out different checkouts. Many of them don’t let you modify or change the checkout at all. If you’re on one of these platforms, you might want to switch to one that does let you modify checkouts.
At LemonStand, we recently created a new single page checkout. Head over to slate.lemonstand.com to have a look at it. This is a demo store, but it gives you a good idea of what a one-page checkout looks like.
We’ve also made it easy for you to quickly switch between this checkout and the multi-page checkout. That allows you to test which checkout converts more.
Of course, switching between two checkouts is not the same as testing them side-by-side. To do that, you need to use an A/B testing software like Optimizely or VWO. You also need to make sure that you run the experiment for long enough. The checkout doesn’t see as much traffic as your homepage, so it takes time before you can get a statistically significant answer.
If you’re looking to increase your checkout conversion rates, and you want to test out a single page layout, come and give ours a try.