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05/04/2019 Bella Hilton

What goes into a successful checkout experience?

I was shopping for my favourite green powder drink the other day (yes I’m a health nut) with an online store that I was unfamiliar with. And when I didn’t get my confirmation email within a nano-second of hitting Place Order, I completely freaked out. You see, I didn’t know whether or not I could trust them yet and I’d taken a risk!

Online shopping is not new, and yet as we all know, not all online shopping experiences are created equal. And with cart abandonment rates which can run as high as 80%, how do you get someone to trust you and complete the checkout when they have never shopped with you before?

Well firstly, you have to remember that the checkout experience happens way before they actually reach the checkout. Just as you wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and ask them to marry you, you need to impress your customer through the entire experience, and then ask for the sale with an easy and fuss free checkout experience.

Let’s break it down.

Things you need to consider before the checkout page

  • Mobile first design – the highest abandonment rates of checkout occur on mobile phones, if they even get that far in to purchasing.  If your website and your checkout page are well designed and easy to navigate then you are further down the road than most.
  • Include a Shipping calculator – so customers don’t get an unexpected surprise in checkout. There’s nothing more frustrating than browsing through a store, choosing what you want, then heading to checkout and finding that shipping costs just as much as the products you want to order. Make it easy for customers to check shipping costs no matter where they are on the site, as well as offering multiple shipping options.  Unexpected costs in checkout is one of the biggest reasons for cart abandonment.
  • Similarly to shipping, make sure any extra fees and taxes are revealed early and before checkout. Your customers need to be able to calculate the total price before they get to the checkout pages. If your customer is shopping around for the best deal and suddenly discovers your price is just as much as everyone elses but you were being tricky about it – then you will lose trust, credibility AND the sale.
  • Clear refund and exchange policies. Let your customers know that if something DOES go wrong – they have options. This also protects your business by ensuring there are strict guidelines for what can be refunded or exchanged, and under what circumstances.
  • Reviews – if you have lots of great reviews from previous customers on your product pages or on your website, it shows a level of trust from others that helps ease the customers mind. It shows that you will do what you say you will do. This will translate to the checkout.
  • Provide quick, easy customer service options for when your customers are having difficulties checking out or need advice on an item.  These can be things like Live Chat or an easy to locate customer service number.

Where to next?

A successful checkout experience is as friction-free for your customer as possible.  Like we just talked about, if you have a well designed website with enough of the right content then your customer already knows exactly what they are buying, that they have the right size, has the social proof that you are reliable, knows how much it is going to cost including taxes and shipping and is confident of their purchase. So what else could halt their progress and cause them to abandon the purchase?

The checkout pages

Now, there will be people who are always looking for a discount and a coupon (and you may not be a discounting business), or just doing preliminary browsing research to buy it at some later stage.  But how do we keep the others and get them to feel confident enough to complete their purchase?

Now that we are at the checkout page, here are some things you need to consider:

  • Capture their email address as early as possible.  You may be losing up to 80% at the checkout page, but you can get around 15% back by capturing their email address and engaging an abandoned cart campaign. For those people who were just doing research to purchase it later, these reminders will be invaluable.
  • Take away the header and footer and remove any other distractions that will stop someone from completing the checkout.  Once someone has decided to make their purchase, your job is to make it as easy as possible. If they are distracted by unnecessary information then you are complicating the process.
The Checkout Page for OPSM
  • Make sure you have security and encryption in place so a customer feels comfortable sharing their personal and credit card details. You know that little lock symbol in the URL bar? That’s a clear sign to customers that any information they send across is protected by SSL certificates. And, in this day and age when everyone is so concerned about data reaches, this is definitely a must.
  • Trust badges are also an excellent way to convey trust.  A trust badge or trust seal is a symbol placed on your website that ensures your visitors know that you are legitimate and that all their data is collected securely. A trust badge can significantly increase conversions.

  • Partner with trusted affiliates. I always feel better when I see that a company offers payment through PayPal because I know that I am now also protected by PayPal’s rigorous returns policy if anything goes wrong. Partnering with known and verified companies helps bolster the authority of your own business – so bask in that reflected glow!
  • Offer a choice of payment methods. Even how we pay needs to have a variety of options these days because everyone has the method that they like to pay by. These can be things like credit card, Paypal, or Afterpay.
  • Consider where you place, and what you call your coupon code box.  If someone has a coupon code you want then to be able to find it. Also, there are some people who will abandon ship to find a coupon code just because they see a coupon code box and, if they can’t find one, end of sale.  This bargain hunter just may not be your ideal customer anyway (or a loyal one) but it is still worth considering where you put the coupon code box and maybe think of other names for it like “gift code”, so it implies that not everyone gets one.
  • Offer a range of delivery options. Offering same-day or next-day delivery in Metro areas is fast becoming the norm for those companies that truly want to compete.  Offering Express options for a premium and other options at a reduced price or even free can really seal the deal with many customers.
  • Consider offering Click-and-Collect services. Sometimes you just want to secure your items and then pick them up when you are ready. Offering click-and-collect services through stores or Parcelpoint is again becoming the new normal. Remember though, that your customers are expecting immediacy.  If it takes three days for their order to be ready it would have been easier for them to come in and shop for it themselves and takes the convenience and cost saving out of click-and-collect. So make sure before you offer it, you are set up to deliver it.
  • Don’t make your customer create an account. Look, if I don’t know you, and if I haven’t shopped with you before I don’t want to suddenly be your best friend.  The truth is, I may never buy from you again. Having to create an account at checkout is also one of the biggest reasons people abandon their carts. Let people warm up to you, and then give them a reason to create an account like a loyalty program. Once they love and trust you, then creating an account with you makes sense.
  • Keep it simple stu…ahem. If you have a long and complicated checkout process you will lose people. Make the experience as uncomplicated as possible. Ask yourself, for every field you have, if you 100% need to collect that information. That way you can be absolutely sure the information is serving a real purpose and will keep the form as short as possible.  The less fields you have the easier it is to get to the end of the checkout.

Unsure whether or not your checkout is converting well?  Maybe try some A/B testing or contact us at The Playhouse Group, so we can check out your checkout!  See what I did there?

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