30th January 2017
Principles of a Smooth Checkout in a Nutshell
Visitors can drop-off anywhere on your website - even during the checkout process, they can abandon baskets and leave without completing their purchase. Here are some tips on how you can make the checkout user-friendly and reduce your cart abandonment rate.
Sign-In or Register Page
If your returning customers can sign-in on your website, it reduces their data entry requirements. There is no need to ask them to provide their data again, such as payment details, delivery/billing addresses as those have already been stored. If their data changes, they can modify it anytime. For new users there is a registration page to consider. There may be benefits to registering on your website – for example users could track their order online and the checkout will be quicker for future orders. If these benefits are available, make sure that users know about them, and encourage them to register.
There are popular sign-in options such as social sign-in and alternative sign-in (Amazon or PayPal) which can also make the checkout process faster.
For those who would prefer not to register, you could provide a guest checkout option, where they do not need to create an account. If a site requires a registration, it can be a reason for abandonments during checkout, especially if registering is a long process, or if the customer is making a one-off purchase.
On the checkout page users will complete their purchase, and this page should be designed in a different way to your product pages. Using a different header and footer to your product pages and showing only necessary information, can ensure that your users don’t get distracted and that they complete their purchase. On the checkout pages using a progress bar shows users where they are in the process, and helps them estimate how quickly they can finish, which is a user-friendly solution. Users might leave the checkout if they think the process will take too long.
Forms needs to be as simple as possible, and only ask for information that is completely necessary to the purchase or registration. It should be possible to use auto-fill fields which are smart solutions that can save customers a lot of time, for example Google’s Autocomplete Address Form.
Remembering Form Data
Losing data user already entered will increase drop-offs. If your users can navigate to previous pages, it is crucial to save their data whilst they are browsing on the website so that they don’t have to fill in any information twice.
In-line validation means that every time a field in a form is filled in, there is a validation which immediately shows if there is something wrong with the data given and it can’t be accepted. It is better to point out errors earlier in the process rather than showing all errors at the very end, so that the user can fix them quickly and easily.
Users may place products in the basket and later on change their mind and remove some items. Before making a payment, an order summary will give a last chance to review all products, costs and edit items.
At checkout users can often enter loyalty cards, gifts cards, coupons and promotion codes. Make sure this function is easy to find so that the customer isn’t left disappointed that their discount wasn’t applied.
Offering different delivery options will ensure users can choose the most convenient solution for them. These can be next day delivery, named day delivery or click and collect, international delivery and delivery at local collection networks, to mention a few. One reason for cart abandonment is that delivery costs are unexpectedly expensive or no convenient option is offered. Being able to provide flexible delivery options and being up-front about costs can reduce the likelihood of customers dropping off during the checkout process.
The more payment options that are offered to choose from, the better. Users may be able to pay with credit/debit cards, or use third party payment options such as PayPal, which can be easier and faster to use. It’s also important for customers to know that their transaction is secure, and the type of payment methods accepted, SSL certificates, and a privacy statement are just some of the ways customers can identify that your checkout process is secure.
After completing a purchase order, a confirmation page summarises all of the details and confirms delivery dates, fees, and order tracking options if there are any. The information regarding the order should be emailed as well. The email usually contains an order number, delivery details, an estimated delivery date, and customer service information. This information is essential for the customer in case they need to review or change their order. Sending another email when an item has been despatched keeps the customer informed – good communication is an important part of the checkout process, and your relationship with the customer as a whole. Follow these tips for a smooth checkout and your relationships with your customers are more likely to last much longer than a single transaction.