How to Optimize Your Ecommerce Checkout Process For Better Customer Experience in 2020

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Beatriz Estay
Beatriz Estay
Our Guest
Reading Time: 10 minutes

If you ignored the customers who abandoned their shopping carts on your ecommerce site, you would be losing out on some serious revenue.

The average cart abandonment rate globally is 69%. That is a startling number considering that most people arrive at the checkout stage to buy.

So why does someone abandon the checkout process midway? And what can you, as an ecommerce business, do to prevent this?

In this article, we’ll go through the ecommerce checkout process. We will also see why customers abandon checkout and how you can create the perfect checkout flow to prevent it.

The Ideal Ecommerce Checkout Process: 7 Steps

Although the checkout process may seem fairly straightforward, you would be surprised to know how many businesses fail to create a seamless experience for their customers.

In this section, we’ll go through the steps involved in a normal ecommerce checkout process.

1. Initiate checkout

So your potential customers have landed on your ecommerce website through an email you have sent them.

They have browsed through your site and finally chose what they want to buy. The checkout process begins when your customer hits the “Add to Cart” button.

This button should ideally trigger your checkout flow. The selected items are added temporarily to their online shopping cart and can be accessed until they finish the checkout process or log out of your site.

Users then get directed to the checkout page and have to follow the steps from there. This is how checkout is initiated.

2. (Optional) Login or signup

Once your customer initiates checkout, you can then prompt him to log in or signup to your website. This step is optional.

The signup form can have as little as 2-3 fields for the user’s name, email address, and password.

It is not always advantageous to have a forceful signup page during the checkout process even though it may seem like this is the best way to capture the user’s details for further correspondence. We will discuss why a little later during this article.

Once the user has signed up or logged in, he moves on to the next step.

3. Billing information

The billing address field is for the address related to the billing method. For instance, the billing address may be related to the credit card a customer uses to purchase an item.

Many companies use an address verification system to verify that the billing address matches the credit card holder’s address. Although this is only required when using a card to pay, it is advisable to keep this field.

4. Shipping information

The shipping address is the place the customer wants the delivery to be made. It is mostly the same as the billing address, but sometimes customers would like the package to be delivered at a different address.

This could be because the package is a gift to someone else, the customer needs the delivery at an office address, or some other such reason.

You could make this simpler by including a small checkbox to indicate whether the billing address and shipping address are both the same. If the customer checks this box, then he need not fill in the second address column again.

5. Shipping method

This section shows customers all possible methods that can be employed to ship the package to them.

Shipping options that are both fast and affordable can help avoid cart abandonment. Options such as 2-day shipping, same-day delivery, international shipping, or free delivery can entice your customers to continue with the purchase.

Be sure to calculate your shipping costs, dimensional weight of the package, and shipping and handling charges while offering reduced shipping costs for your customers. This will help you balance the fees you will have to bear while shipping your customers’ packages.

6. Preview order

A preview order page helps your customer review what items he has ordered. It is helpful to add options to edit or delete individual items so that the cart can be easily modified.

It could be annoying to have to delete the entire cart and start over again if there was a mistake in the order. Make this step user-friendly and straightforward.

This page could also be the point at which the customers rethink their orders and decide not to go ahead. Make sure that the call to action is evident at the end of the page so that customers can quickly move on to the next step of the checkout process.

7. Payment confirmation

This is the last step in the process and helps your customers confirm their payment details. It is essential to make this page secure. Customers may not be completely confident in parting with their credit card or debit card details unless your website looks trustworthy.

Use trust signals such as a secure payment gateway. Display the SSL certificate on your page so that customers are sure of the secure transaction.

You can also add a cart summary to show customers what items they are purchasing and how much the total bill amounts to, including taxes and shipping costs.

This helps make the whole checkout flow smooth and reduces cart abandonment.

What Is Checkout Cart Abandonment and Why Does It Matter?

In 2018, ecommerce sales around the world reached $653 billion. When you run an ecommerce business, it only makes sense that you place close attention to every step of the buyer’s journey.

The checkout phase is the most crucial phase of this journey as the leads who end up here have almost purchased from you. To have hot and hard-earned leads exit at this stage would be no less than tragic.

Four of five businesses in the U.S. already use at least one SaaS application. There are many tools you can use to optimize the checkout process.

For instance, you can set up email sequences designed to bring back customers who have abandoned their cart. Ecommerce businesses lose trillions as a result of cart abandonment. Sending out an automated email sequence that reminds the customer to complete their purchase can help reduce cart abandonment.

Use a sales automation tool to ensure leads don’t slip through the cracks, and if they do, you know when to follow up.

6 Reasons Customers Abandon Checkout

You understand how much a cart abandonment can cost your business. Now how do you reduce those numbers and increase your revenue?

It’s time to get down to the root cause(s) of why customers abandon the checkout process. Here are some of the reasons:

1. Unexpected charges

High additional costs and hidden costs are among the top five reasons for checkout abandonment (55% and 21%, respectively).

This speaks a lot about how potential customers feel about unexpected costs during the checkout process.

Source

These additional costs could be shipping costs, taxes, or other hidden charges that appear at the checkout stage. It would be better to show all possible costs on the cart page before the customer proceeds with adding all the payment and shipping details. Whether you use an in-house inventory manager or an outsourced third-party logistics company like Shipbob, they need to be strongly aligned with your website’s shipping software.

2. Forced account creation or registration

The second most common reason for checkout abandonment is forced account creation (34%). Usually, you would think that an account creation process during the checkout flow would help increase your subscriber base, but this is far from the truth.

When the checkout process is not smooth, visitors are put off by the extra steps required and may most likely wander off your site without making a purchase.

Remember that online shopping is meant to be fast and convenient, so avoid slowing down the experience for your shoppers.

3. Long complex checkout process

A complicated checkout process accounts for 26% of customers abandoning their online shopping carts.

Customers are put off by a long and tedious checkout process. They just want to be in and out of your site without much hassle.

Take care to keep your checkout process as simple as possible. Remove any unwanted steps or clicks. Keep your pages clean and without distractions.

4. Website crashes and other errors

When a website crashes or shows some other error, it can stop a person from making the purchase even when they are ready.

This is one of the most critical issues that lead to checkout abandonment. Although most customers would attempt to complete the checkout process again later, not everyone will do it.

Website errors also lead to distrust in the company website. Try to ensure there are no errors occurring during the checkout process. Even if your website is down, find ways to monitor it and rectify it as soon as possible.

5. Performance and load times

On the same note, let’s talk about site performance and load times. If your site is slow or performs poorly, it can send your customers away in a flash.

Most people judge the quality of a company by its website. Conduct regular checks on your site performance and fix any issues as soon as you can.

Selling online can be easy and challenging at the same time, so ensure that your customers have the best experience possible while shopping on your site.

6. Lack of payment options

The last issue we are going to talk about here is the lack of payment options. Most people prefer multiple payment options depending on their convenience, and not providing them can turn them away.

www.omniseYou need not go overboard while offering payment options, as this may prove to be expensive for your business. Instead, focus on the few payment methods that are popular with your customers that can be beneficial and help you reduce your checkout abandonment rates.

Best Practices to Perfect Ecommerce Checkout Process

The best way to deal with an issue is to get at the roots of it. Let’s see what you can do to better your checkout process.

1. Make the checkout process fast

A common underlying reason why many people abandon online shopping carts is that the checkout process was not fast enough.

Here are some ways to make the checkout process seamless:

Offer guest checkout

Guest checkout allows your customers to purchase without signing in to your website or creating an account. Since none of the customer’s information is stored in your company’s database, the process is quick.

Autofill addresses

Use autofill on your ecommerce site to allow customers to fill out address fields quickly. This will make the process extremely convenient for them.

Allow social sign-in

Social sign-in gives your customers multiple sign-in options through accounts like their Google or Facebook accounts. This gives them a quicker checkout flow while giving you the chance to collect their details, such as their email addresses.

Use password managers

Let users log in via password managers. This allows them to save multiple passwords on a single secure app and then use autofill to fill in the passwords.

2. Design checkout pages that are enticing to buyers.

A significant part of the checkout experience is your web design. The simplicity of your checkout pages helps your customers go through the process with ease.

Here is an example of a clean and simple checkout page from Somnifix.

Source

If you scroll down the page, you will see that the page is filled with the benefits of the product, its features, and user reviews. All this contributes to a better user checkout experience.

Summarize cart details

Add a summary of the cart details on the checkout page. This way, customers can check what items they ordered and how many of each.

Simplify the checkout process

Keep the checkout process plain and simple without any unnecessary buttons. Take a look at the checkout process at Bay Alarm Medical:

Their page tells the customer everything they are going to get once they make the purchase. Their checkout process is relatively simple and easy to go through.

Add microcopy to guide users

Microcopy refers to the words that you place on text placeholders in form fields, call-to-action buttons, etc.

You can use microcopy to guide users on how to fill in the form fields in the checkout page or tell them about extra charges, return policies, and other such information.

Prioritize the mobile experience

80% of customers have used a mobile phone to look up reviews of a particular product, compare prices, or search for alternatives. 79% of smartphone owners have bought something online using their phones in the last six months.

Pay attention to your customers’ mobile experience because that is where they usually shop online.

3. Prevent customers from leaving at the last minute

Checkout abandonment is the worst. Imagine a customer so invested in your business that they come to the checkout stage. Then for some reason, they move away from your site.

As a business owner, you need to figure out what it is that makes your customers leave at the last moment and find ways to avoid that.

Employ call to actions

Call to actions play a significant role in nudging your customers to purchase. It is crucial to have good copywriting that is designed from an SEO perspective.

Loganix says this about call to actions –

Call to actions can’t be written in just minutes. We recommend taking an SEO copywriting approach: optimize for the keyword and intent target while being persuasive, and ultimately focus on the end-value that a user receives.

Use error notifications

Sometimes users are not aware that they are doing something wrong to cause an error on a page. Maybe they filled in incorrect information or left a form field empty on the checkout page.

Clear error notifications help users understand what they did wrong and go back and fix it without having to start filling the form again from scratch.

Offer multiple payment options

Offering your customers various payment options gives them the flexibility to pay according to their convenience.

Evaluate which payment platforms are the most popular among your customers and offer them as options.

Display trust signals

Since customers are going to enter sensitive information such as their credit card or debit card details on your website, you need to make sure that your site is secure.

Take a look at how LFA Machines uses trust signals on the checkout page:

Source

If you look at their Payment Method section, you will see, “Your card details are protected using PCI DSS v3.2 security standards.”

This is called a trust signal and assures customers that it is safe to enter their card details.

Connect customers to support

Another common reason why customers abandon checkout is that they were not able to get in touch with the company immediately.

Sometimes customers are looking for some extra information about a product or have an inquiry. Encourage customers to use live chat and email support helps them resolve their queries quickly.

Even if you have a perfect checkout flow, customers will still abandon their carts. When that happens, a great automation workflow can help you recover those potentially lost sales.

Executive Summary

Your ecommerce checkout flow is a crucial aspect of your business. Your customers have already invested a lot of time in your business and are ready to purchase.

However, the sad reality is that a considerable percentage of customers never really complete the checkout process due to various reasons.

These reasons could be poor checkout page design, no clear instructions on how to proceed with checkout, a slow and low performing website/ website crashes or errors, or no chat support from the company.

It could also be due to extra hidden costs, limited payment options, or a poor mobile experience.

The reasons differ from company to company and customer to customer.

It is up to you to figure out what these reasons are for your customers and fix the issues so that they enjoy a simple and pleasurable shopping experience on your site.

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Beatriz Estay
Beatriz Estay

Beatriz is a Small Business Content Marketing Specialist at BigCommerce and the fashion and lifestyle influencer behind The Letter Bea, an Austin, Texas based blog. She holds a B.A. in Communication and Sociology/Anthropology from Lake Forest College and specializes in ecommerce, marketing and merchandising strategies, influencer and branding work, and social media. When she's not curating content, Beatriz loves to travel the world, share her journey with Type 1 Diabetes, and find Austin's most Instagram friendly spots.


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2 Comments

  1. That is true indeed!! The checkout phase is the most crucial phase of this journey as the leads who end up here have almost purchased from you. You have mentioned so many important tips in your article that will help my eCommerce business too. Thanks for the article!!

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