The Checkout process is when you’re done wooing your customers and ask them to pull out their wallet. This is when many customers walk away.
You can’t afford a Checkout that causes any hesitation, confusion, or inconvenience to your customer.
Does your site drive away sales due to any of these thirteen issues?
Some customers like to take time to register an account on your website, especially if your website sells products or services that are frequently repurchased.
However, when most customers have decided on a product to purchase, they want to finish the process as quickly as possible. And that means not setting up a profile on your site.
The first step of checkout should default to Guest Checkout, with an option to login as an existing customer or register as a new customer.
We’ve all done it – start to checkout and then think twice about typing our credit card number.
Like any moment when you know the customer may hesitate or pause on your website, the website should reassure the customer.
Common presentation of requesting credit card information:
Create a visual cue around the credit card section in checkout to subtly remind the customer that it’s safe and secure.
Name, address, credit card number are essential for delivering a product to a customer. Email lets you confirm the order with the customer and later notify them of shipping details.
But what about phone? Gender? Birthdate? Due date (if pregnant while checking out on a baby website)? How they found you? Join your newsletter? Some websites ask for many of these items; either because it comes with the cart software or because various departments in the business wanted to collect it.
Look at every field in your checkout path and cull it down to only critical information needed to fulfill the transaction. After the deal is done, you can try to collect non-essential data.
Your company may need certain information and know why it’s critical, but it may not be obvious to the customer.
Take a look at a field like phone number. You know you need it for the shipping label. Your customer may hesitate because they don’t want you selling their phone number to a telemarketer or calling them in the future with marketing offers.
You can reduce that the risk of hesitation by simple, brief language like, “The phone number goes on the shipping label, in the event of any delivery issues. We do not give this number to any other party.”
For information that may be viewed as unnecessary to provide, give the customer a good reason why you need it.
By the time your customer is adding to cart, you should already be offering them a way to see the final out-the-door price.
If everything is free shipping and no sales tax, the product page and cart should make it conspicuous.
If shipping is flat rate, it should be conspicuous throughout the website.
If shipping is variable; and sales tax is variable; it’s critical to provide the customer an easy way to estimate this in cart.
By the time the customer enters checkout, it’s your goal to ensure that they know how much they’ll be paying.
It’s a failure of your website if the customer is surprised by an additional cost during checkout, and you’ll pay the price with higher abandon.
It’s critical that your customer knows all purchase details by the time they click CHECKOUT.
This is an area that most websites can improve.
You’ve worked hard to create compelling landing pages and strong call-to-action buttons. The design is lovely, the photos are professional, the content is unique and persuasive. A ton of effort went into this!
So, your customer has such a wonderful experience learning about your company, product, or service that they’re convinced they should grab and buy!
And then they click CHECKOUT, when all the joy abruptly ends.
Most websites simply say, “Here’s a bunch of information you need to fill out, then click the big button.”
Mirroring that checkout experience in a physical store, websites need to do a better job at engaging the customer on the reason why they are starting checkout. They are excited about what they added to the cart two steps ago, not about doing checkout.
Today, the minimum should be a visual reminder of the items that have them excited. The checkout page should have thumbnail images and names of what they’re buying. Keep it in front of their eyes – it’s the same as the brick-and-mortar customer unloading the cart and watching it ride up the conveyor belt and get bagged as he pulls out the credit card.
Additionally, try to find a way to embody that smiling, friendly cashier. Keep checkout language light and friendly, the same tone as the product page that convinced your customer to ADD TO CART.
Take a look at your CHECKOUT page. Is it reflecting the same tone as the rest of your site? Is it a friendly cashier?
Keep the customer engaged with their reason for deciding to start checkout. Dangle their desired products in front of them throughout checkout. Lighten up the language. How do you get your checkout page to be your smiling cashier, ready to take money?
With one-page checkout becoming standard practice on ecommerce websites, it’s possible that some customers will be overwhelmed when they land on the checkout page.
In years’ past, the multi-page checkout prevented this risk – where each step was on its own page for address, payment information, order review/submit. The downside to this approach is multiple clicks.
With everything on one page, it’s a speedier process. But the page can be overwhelming without a thoughtful design that allows the customer to visually ignore every checkout section except the one needing to be filled out right now.
Put some design talent onto your one-page checkout that expands/minimizes sections as the customer moves through the process. The customer won’t be overwhelmed and will be less likely to abandon.
Some SaaS ecommerce platforms offer low to intermediate plans that takes your customer to the host’s website to complete secure checkout.
The downside is that some customers may have built a bit of trust with your domain by the time they’re ready to pull the trigger, and they suddenly see the URL change to something they don’t recognize.
Many customers won’t notice or care. Some will.
There is only downside to sharing your host’s SSL certificate, and nothing positive regarding conversion rate.
Keep the customer on your domain during the entire shopping experience. Pay to maintain your own dedicated SSL.
So, it’s 2016. Does a customer who enters a credit card that starts with ‘4’ really need to make an additional click to let you know that it is a Visa?
Some websites have two different fields for a phone number’s area code and next seven digits. Even though every US area code is three digits, most of these websites require the customer to click or tab into the next field. The site instead should move the cursor automatically after the third digit.
If your website requires the customer to provide information that the site should do automatically; each one of those moments slightly slows down checkout for the customer.
This is counter to the goal is the make checkout as quickly as possible.
Some of the best sites even go so far as to populate city and state when the customer types in a five-digit zip code. Think about the time savings for the mobile user who only has to hit five numbers, and not the entirety of their city and then selection of state from a dropdown menu. This example could speed up checkout by five to ten seconds for that mobile user.
Whenever possible, fill in fields automatically for a speedier checkout; which will help reduce abandon.
I admit, when I’m checking out on a website and I see a spot to fill in a coupon code, there’s a good chance I’ll leave checkout and search online for a coupon code to see how much I can save. From experience with my own ecommerce store, I know many other customers behave the same.
If your business rarely uses coupon codes, then consider installing a little custom script that displays the coupon code field during checkout and in cart ONLY if your site has an active coupon code running. If you have no coupon codes active, then the field won’t appear in checkout and won’t risk sending customers out looking on the internet for a discount code to use on your site... some never to return.
If your business frequently uses coupon codes, then you have no option but to provide a spot for customers to use it. If you’re okay with codes being shared online and build that into your pricing, knowing it may help lift conversions; then you’re golden. It’s intentional and sounds like you’ve tested this plan.
But, if you have a minority of customers using discount or promotional codes, and you want most customers paying full price; you can disguise that field during checkout.
I’ve liked using the title “Customer Code (optional)”. This lets you send out promotional emails or otherwise communicate a code to a prospect; and you can instruct them to enter it as their “Customer Code” during checkout.
However, to the customer without such a code, they’re going to skip it and may assume it has something to do with a purchase order, account number, or something that doesn’t even apply to them.
It’s worth testing what to call your coupon code field. The winning language may be surprising at how it has an impact on converting.
Develop a strategy about exposing customers to the notion of a coupon code during checkout; for the customers who don’t have a code.
Retargeting is an important strategy for these customers who go so far in the funnel that they’ve reached checkout. It goes hand-in-hand with an abandonment strategy.
Cart/Checkout Abandonment solutions rely on getting a customer’s email for most effective turn-arounds.
Many websites are asking for checkout information in this order:
Some abandonment recapture solutions are running a script on the checkout page to snag the email as soon as it is typed; even without the customer submitting the page.
For this reason, I’d recommend moving email to the top of the list for information requested on the checkout page. Then, name, address, etc.
Couple that with an abandonment solution that is grabbing email as soon as typed; and you’ll be able to start some recapture email campaigns to many of your customers who start checkout.
Ask for email as the first, very top field on a checkout page, and employ an abandonment solution that can recognize the email as soon as typed on page.
For most websites, the purpose of checkout is to close this transaction. I’m assuming that building an email list is secondary to this sale’s revenue. For some online companies, that assumption may not be correct.
I’m not a fan of throwing decisions at the customer that are irrelevant to completing the current transaction.
I especially don’t like the idea of suggesting to a customer – one who hasn’t yet paid – that hitting SUBMIT ORDER may result in a deluge of marketing emails.
Requests for joining newsletter can come on the confirmation page, once the sale is done.
It can come in the order confirmation email.
The request to join can come via a printed insert in the package, with a promise to save $5 off their next order upon joining the newsletter list.
Asking the customer to join your list, just before they cement the deal on purchasing something, does nothing to lift conversion on this sale. It only runs the risk of hurting conversion, if anything.
Get more creative on how to drive customers to join your list; keep it out of the checkout completion path.