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Five tips for optimising your checkout process

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Shopping cart abandonment is a major issue for online retailers, with an average of almost 3 in 4 baskets discarded before successful checkout across all desktops, tablets and smart phones. There are many factors which contribute to this, and the figure varies widely according to industry and website.

Nevertheless, a well optimised checkout process is key for all websites to reduce abandonments as much as possible. Below are five tips to help improve your eCommerce checkout process and improve conversions.

Reinforce trust factors

Trust factors can vary from site to site but include things like secure shopping through SSL, external reviews, PCI compliance, a well known payment gateway, a range of ways to pay, a contact number etc. These should be shown prominently on the site and throughout the checkout process, to act as constant reassurance while navigating and checking out. They also act as gentle nudges help to remove any mental barriers that a visitor might have, especially for visitors who are buying from your site for the first time. During each stage of the checkout, these should be reiterated.

Show clear pricing

One of the biggest reasons why shopping carts are abandoned during the checkout relates to the delivery costs.  It is not necessarily the actual cost itself, but the fact the visitor feels the site has been vague in some way. It’s very important that the total price of a transaction is made clear as early as possible in the basket/checkout process, and if that isn’t possible early on, then the policy and associated costs should be made clear. Hidden costs which appear through checkout are a turn off and negatively affect conversion rates. Transparency and clarity on total price throughout the site and checkout are crucial.

Allow guest purchases

Forcing a customer to register in order to make a purchase is another hindrance to conversion rates.  It is attractive when visitors register to gather useful customer details, and the potential that registration will encourage repeat purchases, but it can really boost conversions when this registration form is removed mid-purchase. You can still give the option for a customer to save their details by adding a password after the purchase, at which stage it is no longer a barrier to the purchase and customers may feel more inclined to do so.

Experiment with an enclosed checkout

While not suitable to all websites, an enclosed checkout can increase conversion rates and lowers abandonment throughout the checkout process. An enclosed checkout essentially removes all the peripheral header, footer and navigation elements so that it leaves a very stripped down version of the site with the focus on the main business of checking out. It should still be identifiable as part of the same website, and include all the trust factors and any links to supporting pages such as delivery policies, but the distractions of being on the main website will have been removed. Not only it is less likely that the customer will navigate away to a different part of the site mid-purchase, but that all the key messages during checkout aren’t competing with other on-site messages.

Keep the process simple

It can be very frustrating trying to make a purchase online if it becomes a battle to pass through the checkout, navigating should be a simple process. If customers need to try too hard then some will abandon and go elsewhere. A couple of tips to help with this are:

  • Allow customers to navigate back through the checkout process to change any details and view what they have entered. They should use links which are easy to find within the checkout process itself so that users aren’t tempted to use the back button in their browser. In some carts, using the browser back button can often break the checkout process entirely, and the customer needs to start over.
  • Form field validation should be used, ideally as details are being entered. This way, the form doesn’t need to be submitted in order for a customer to know any details are wrong (like an email address not having an “@” in it). Any requirements for data which is being inputted should be clearly shown (e.g. “password should be 6 characters in length and contain at least two numbers”) and fields clearly labelled to remove any misunderstanding.
  • When entering an address, using postcode lookup functionality can help speed up the process and help to minimise any mistakes when entering address details manually.
  • Use colours sparingly during checkout so that trust factors and security information easily stand out, and the emphasis is placed on the relevant calls to action, i.e. proceeding to the next step in the process.

There are always more ways to fine tune and optimise the checkout process for your website and your customers. One size doesn’t fit all, so it’s important to continuously test and refine different factors, even segmenting different customers to provide a personalised checkout based on how different groups respond to different factors.

Nublue are experts in hosting eCommerce shops and developing Magento shops. Contact us to find out more!

Stefan

Author Stefan

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