Optimizing your checkout process to boost sales

It’s no secret that online shopping is one of the biggest fads of the 21st century: after all, who doesn’t want to purchase things from the comfort of their home, come rain or shine? Maybe that was the appeal for the estimated 1.66 billion people who purchased online products in 2017.

You might have seen this impact on your website traffic rate as well: and if you manage to convert most of your traffic into engagement or purchase, your revenue will definitely soar! But, you might have noticed a pesky trend: not all the people who visit your site, or even add things to the cart, actually carry out the purchase process. This cart abandonment is not a unique phenomenon: the average cart abandonment rate is a whopping 69.89%! This can result in loss of sales for you and is a valuable trigger point for you to consider. If you can optimize the trigger point that makes your users abandon their cart, you’ll be able to convert them into sales in a more efficient manner!

However, in order to do that you need to know….

.Why do Users Abandon Carts?

.This is mainly because of two reasons: it’s because of the customer or because of the seller (you).

Customer Problems

Many people abandon their carts because they actually have no intention of shopping. Maybe they saw your website on a social media ad, or were recommended the site by a friend and were just browsing through (let’s face it: how many of us have entered stores we cannot afford and just browsed through because we saw something interesting in the window display?). A lot of people might also be browsing around just to do a price comparison, or to save things for a future purchase (maybe they are waiting for the paycheck to come in, or for a significant other’s birthday).

Seller Problems

Let’s take a look at why you might be contributing to users abandoning their cart without making a purchase.

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While a significant section does abandon their carts because they were just browsing (or conducting research- as 16% have reported), a majority of users abandon because of issues relating to the cart checkout UX process itself. Now, these are the issues that you can definitely fix with e-commerce checkout best practices because these are the factors that lie under your control.

.How can I Design an Optimized Checkout Process?

The first step is to acknowledge that your checkout process was an issue, so congratulations on taking your first step!

Now, you need to see the elements that constitute a well-designed process and the cart checkout best practices, so you can identify the areas where you’re facing a problem. Once you have identified that, it’s just a matter of simple A/B testing to identify the e-commerce checkout conversion rate optimization strategy that works best for you.

1. A Single Page Checkout Process

It is now known that the more buttons a person has to click to make a purchase, the less likely they are to complete it. Having a single page checkout process would definitely take care of these issues. For instance, A/B testing carried out by the Vancouver Olympics online store showed that the majority prefer a single page checkout, which increased the checkout conversion rate by 21%!

 

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A single page checkout makes the process simpler. Psychologically, it makes the users feel that they do not have to do much to purchase a product, so they did be more likely to carry out the purchase. Secondly, by having a simpler checkout process, you’re eliminating distractions for the user, so they will have a greater incentive to complete the transaction and finish their shopping without leaving the site or browsing further.

Note: single page checkouts work for smaller and impulse purchases, and has a proven track record for several industries. However, to understand the impact on your industry, and your website, specifically, you might have to carry out some A/B testing to understand what flow might work better for you.

Expert Tip: Always offer a guest checkout option! You can reduce the amount of work the customer has to put in, and you will still be able to track the details of the customer and their purchases from the back-end. Moreover, this is a proven tactic used by companies like Asos, which halved their abandonment rate by providing a guest checkout option!

 

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2. An Intuitive Sign-up Process

There are two significant factors influencing people from using the mandatory sign-in options.

First, many people do not want to share their private information with all sites. Secondly, put yourself in your customer’s shoes: if you’re purchasing an item, you want a hassle-free process, and might not be interested in building a relationship with the company. In such a situation, mandatory sign-in options can be a major irritant.

“Wait, if people don’t sign up for my website, how do I contact them again, or keep a record of their purchases”? That is important too- which is why you have to find the middle ground in the cart checkout UX that works best for you.

  • You can automatically create a user account for anybody who makes a purchase from your site, using the email ID they have given during the checkout process. You can send a randomized password and the password resetting information, along with their order receipt. The user doesn’t get bothered, and you get to track the account’s engagement with your platform further.
  • You can display the ‘sign up’ page after the checkout is complete, and offer customers an incentive for signing up (like an exclusive membership platform, pre-sale previews, etc.).
  • You can develop a simple sign-up form: just add a ‘sign up’ button to the cart, or the checkout pages (here’s the case study of Vendio, which increased their sign-ups by 60% by just removing the sign-up form and having just the button instead).
  • You can also develop a form with reduced form fields and auto-fill options to make it more user-friendly and promote sign-ups. You can easily do this using Google Autofills.

 

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3. ‘Free’ is Always the Best Word!

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Apparently, there is nothing worse than shipping costs when it comes to online shopping. It is, after all, the primary reason why people abandon their carts while shopping. How do you fix this situation? Offer free shipping- problem solved!

Well, we know it is easier said than done: after all, this would mean you have to spend the cost of shipping. However, this investment in shipping can result in much higher sales for you. 88% of customers prefer sites that offer free shipping over their paid counterparts. 58% customers in the US add additional items to their cart in order to qualify for free shipping. This means that free shipping is not just a perk you can offer your customers, it is an imperative addition.

There are ways of optimizing your free shipping so that it is more lucrative for your business: like setting a minimum order value to qualify for shipping, use only ground shopping, or include the price of the shipping in the product and offer free shipping instead.

4. Prominent Aura of Security

.If you’re trying to convert new customers, security fears of customers are the biggest hurdle you will face (after all ‘security’ proudly occupies fourth place on the list of reasons why people abandon their carts). There have been enough stories about online fraud, and people want to feel safe providing their personal and card details on your site. Want to win over your customer’s trust? There are a few ways you can do that:

  • You should offer multiple methods of payments. This will increase the customer trust in your site and will make it easier for them to complete the payment without much hassle. Bonus point if you can highlight the modes of payment accepted prominently, so as to arouse immediate confidence during the checkout process.

 

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  • Prominently feature your return/exchange option, to give your customer the assurance that if they regret their decision, they can always reverse it at a later time.
  • If you have a protected site, make sure you display it clearly. A study by Baymard found that displaying signs of popular security brands has a significant impact on the customer’s perception of security on your site: 41% users felt the Norton logo made them feel safe, and 6% felt the same way about the SSL logo.
  • Another great way of inspiring trust in your site (and giving your customers an added reason to shop from you), is including authentic user testimonials. Testimonials allow users to put a human face to a website and gives them something they can relate to. According to a study by Neil Patel, his checkout conversion rate improved by 6.38% by including testimonials!

.5. A Mobile-Optimized Process

.In this day and age, you cannot afford to ignore mobile optimization for your checkout process. As of 2018, mobile browsing definitely exceeds desktop. Smartphone shoppers accounted for $51 billion in sales in 2015, and this number has only increased since then. However, despite the popularity of phone browsing, mobile shopping hasn’t increased in the same proportion. Even though it is responsible for 59% of browsing sessions, it only accounts for 38% of the revenue. Why is that?

There could be a few reasons: after all, there is still a perception among certain demographics that desktops offer more security. Another big reason could be that a lot of e-commerce sites are not optimized for mobile usage!

While you can’t cause a paradigm shift in people’s perception of security, you can at least nudge them in the right direction by providing a mobile experience that convinces them to check out. You can do this by:

  • Using larger icons and buttons on the mobile site
  • Removing multi-page checkouts
  • Leverage the mobile-user interface, such as buttons and increment selectors over traditional dropdowns
  • Optimize the site for speed so it loads quicker on mobile phones.

6. Optimized Micro-Interactions

The devil is always in the details: and most people tend to forget this when designing a website. Sure, offering free-shipping etc. is great, but you will have to put in the effort into figuring out the micro-interactions on your site as well. This will take your site a notch above the rest, and subtly influence your customers into making purchases.

  • Provide an ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Buy Later’ option to your site: this will help you engage with the people who are just browsing through your site.optimised-micro-interactions-on-website
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  • Integrate a perpetual shopping cart feature on your site. This way, customers who return after a while will still be able to see all the products currently in their shopping cart. This will serve as a reminder to them about the products they have not bought yet, and will also make them trust your site more!
  • Offer a simple ‘billing address same as shipping address’ box.

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7. A Strong Retargeting Strategy

.Only 3% of the people visiting an e-commerce site end up making a purchase- the other 97% tend to bounce off without making the final purchase.

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As you can see, out of the total traffic, around half have viewed products on your site, and about 15% have added things to their cart. This is a significant list of customers that have interacted with your site and showed interest. All you need now is a strong retargeting strategy to reach out to these customers, and give them that little nudge.

How can you do this?

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  • You can create a sense of urgency in your customers by providing them with a timed discount, or a ‘low in stock’ email, to persuade them to make a purchase soon.

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Conclusion

All the work that you put into your website and your products is for one single reason: to make a sale. In order to make a valuable sale, you will have to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and think about what they did like to see: a comfortable checkout UX, from a trustworthy site, that allows purchases to be made with ease and a lot of security. Want to improve your checkout conversion rate? Then there are the things that you have to focus on!

Mayank Gulati

Unhappy with the concept of 5 working days a week, Mayank Gulati started his own Marketing Communications firm. He now works 7 days a week, where he wears many, many hats (and a neck brace). An unfortunate engineer, he founded a med-tech startup that was inducted into Nasscom 10k. He’s now decided to stop asking people to invest in his company, and get them to invest in their own.