So, your visitor has found your site, selected a product and wants to buy… great! It’s not time to celebrate just yet, though. Now’s the time to be absolutely certain that the next step – the checkout process – is as streamlined and efficient as possible. Any little hurdle could lead a potential customer to abandon the sale and look elsewhere.
How, then, can e-commerce merchants ensure that visitors enjoy a smooth, fast and simple checkout process? Here are the top ten best practices for creating great checkout experiences:
DO – Inform visitors of shipping methods and rates BEFORE the checkout page – Visitors don’t want to work hard to uncover basic information like shipping methods and rates. Don’t force them to sign in and enter a bunch of information only to estimate their shipping fees.
DO – Allow the user to adjust and review their cart BEFORE checkout – Make it easy for the user to buy exactly what they want and feel confident about their purchase by enabling them to easily adjust quantities, and by providing product photos and links to the product page from the cart. Shoppers might want to review the product page a couple times before making the leap to purchase.
DO – Recommend related products BEFORE checkout – Propose everything the customer will need to complete a purchase before they arrive at checkout to prevent them from needing to go back-and-forth, searching for complementary items. For example, a shopper buying leather boots might want an all-weather protector spray to protect the purchase.
DO – Offer multiple payment and delivery options – Shoppers today know what they want. Whereas one shopper might prefer the cheapest home shipping method, even if it means they need to wait a bit longer, another might prefer same-day in-store pickup. One might be loyal to PayPal while another prefers to use credit cards. Leave it up to the shopper to select what works best for them.
DO – Reward return visits with persistent shopping carts – It’s not uncommon for shoppers to add items to a cart as a way to remember something they’re interested in, but aren’t quite ready to buy. Since many of these shoppers will return to complete the purchase, ensure that the items are still there when they’re ready to buy.
DO – Optimize for mobile – With so many online purchases happening on smaller screens, it’s important to test usability and user experience on different screen sizes, various browsers, and ensure that forms are touch-friendly.
DO – Allow guest purchases – As many as 25% of shoppers will abandon their cart if forced to register (eConsultancy). Remove this common obstacle by allowing shoppers to complete their purchase as a guest or to simply bypass the registration process.
DO – Speed up the checkout process with address validation – Every second counts in the online checkout process. Saving a customer a few moments by offering address auto-complete and verification services can make the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart. However, it’s also important to provide the option to override the suggested address, since address data is always changing, and the customer knows this information best!
DO – Reward registered shoppers with saved info – Don’t make registered customers re-enter data over and over. Once signed in, auto-complete as much information as possible (addresses, payment information, etc.) so that checkout is as quick as possible for your most loyal customers.
DO – Provide a progress indicator – Although the checkout process should ideally be as short as possible, it does usually require a few short steps. Reassure the user that they’re almost there with a progress indicator.