August 18, 2020

Why you can't overlook the checkout process

Jovita Stakionyte
UX Designer

Successful ecommerce is often defined by meeting and exceeding Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs will, of course, vary from business to business, but for every retailer who sells goods or services online, keeping shopping cart abandonment low at checkout is a vital KPI to hit.

Shopping cart abandonment at checkout shows how many users have added products to their shopping cart and started the checkout process, only to abandon it before completing their purchase.

Reducing shopping cart abandonment at checkout leads to more sales and revenue, hence a seamless and rewarding checkout flow should be an area of focus for many online retailers. Here are a few checkout essentials that every online business should keep a close eye on.

Absence of guest checkout

The absence of a guest checkout option is a major factor in why the customers drop off before completing their purchase.

If a customer is asked to spend another five minutes filling in a registration form to create an account that they’re unlikely to use in the future, chances are they won’t bother. Most people are reluctant to provide any personal information until they know what they’re getting in return, as underpinned by numerous usability tests conducted to date.

To improve drop offs at this stage, businesses should make it very clear what customers will receive if they create an account. Providing a discount or special offer for doing so is a tried and tested strategy to convince some customers to do it.

Generally, it is advisable to have both: guest checkout and account create/login, to cater for all.

Complex form filling process 

We already know that filling in forms is not what customers like to do (see previous point), however it is nearly impossible to remove the form filling exercise altogether. What online retailers can do, is to make the process faster and less painful.

Features such as payment card scanning or address lookup aids the form filling process, making it a lot less tedious.

Keeping the form short and only asking for information that is absolutely essential is best practice when creating your form, as well as clearly indicating what fields are mandatory and/or optional.

Hidden & delivery costs  

It is not uncommon that delivery costs for many products, particularly larger ones, significantly add to the total price of an online purchase. With the vast majority of customers being price sensitive, hiding these costs before a consumer arrives at the purchasing stage can  cause people to abandon their shopping cart.

Customers should be made aware of the delivery costs as soon as possible. Too late in the process and the risk of losing the customer increases due to lack of transparency on added costs like shipping fees, tax/VAT, etc.

Absence of payment methods

It may not always be possible to have an array of payment methods, but the higher the choice, the higher the chance that customers will complete their purchase.

Obviously, payment options depend upon several factors, such as the nature of the online business, operational constraints, the country where the business operates/customer resides, etc.

The decision on which payment methods should be embedded into the checkout process should not be taken lightly and should always be based on in-depth user research.

Technical issues

It's vitally important that analytics are regularly monitored to optimise and improve the checkout process. Reviewing data on patterns of consumer behaviour during the payment process and where drop offs are occurring will help to identify areas to improve or technical issues/bugs that may have a negative impact on customers completing the buying process.

Lack of trust and security issues

Online customers are not always comfortable providing payment card information online. By reassuring them that the payment process is secure and thereby building more trust with the consumer, it will reduce the likelihood of customers abandoning the payment process.

It has already proven that two-factor authentication, introduced to reduce the likelihood of fraudulent payments, has improved consumer concerns over secure payment process. Two-factor authentication may not be favourably regarded by all user experience specialists as it means an extra step in the checkout process, but it has quickly become an essential step to keep customers safe when buying online.

It is worth remembering there are many other important user journey segments/features that effect how successful ecommerce businesses are and become. However, improving a consumer’s checkout experience is a vital piece of the ecommerce puzzle.

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