You may not think much of your checkout when it comes to trying to solve conversion issues, meaning you spend your time trying to improve your actual site when it may not need fixing. Many conversions are lost at the last moment of shopping and for a magnitude of reasons from anything to getting bored or something small putting them off their purchase you may not have thought of and this loses you money. Some checkout losses are not due to website or checkout issues however, and are simply due to real life reasons such as getting distracted or realising they lack the funds to make the payment. These kinds of losses can never be helped, but others can be saved with a little checkout design work, and it may not be as difficult as it sounds.
Multiple or Single Page Checkout
When it comes to how long your checkout should be there is no right solution, it all depends on the specific business and customer base it is being used for. This is for unknown reasons, but could possibly be down to the fact that some demographics of customer simply like to see their payment steps separated into physical pages that they can flick between and others prefer the have all of their information in one place on one page. The only way to choose between multiple and single page checkout is to trail both, create a checkout in each design and use them both separately for a set amount of time and compare conversion rates. Once you have the data on each you can stick with the one that showed the best sales results, but always listen to your customers, do not choose a checkout based on your own personal preferences.
Keeping To Your Own Website
Some websites find it is easier for them to not have a checkout page on their website and instead send their customers elsewhere to complete their purchase. For best conversion rates keep your checkout on your own website and avoid redirecting at all costs. This is because your customers do not know the website that they are being directed to and have no reason to trust it. They may not even believe that this website is linked to your website at all and become paranoid of an online scam, leading to them abandoning their purchase as quickly as possible. Even for those who are familiar with redirect checkouts, they may not always want to wait and waiting for a whole new website or external page to load can take much longer than loading traditional on-site checkout pages, therefore asking them to wait will make them think of quicker options in future or even for their current purchase.
Being Open About Fees
A huge killer of conversion is being hit with a surprise fee at checkout on top of an order. Nothing will put off your shoppers more than this, as it is frequently seen as unnecessary or even sly and many may not have enough money to complete purchase with unexpected charges. Adding these fees on at checkout may not seem like a large deal to many companies as they are seen as common fees, but increasingly more websites are now offering free shipping, which leaves those that require a fee at a loss. For this reason, try to be upfront about any shipping costs, do not hide them and do not hide or even add extra handling fees. If your business really needs to apply these fees try to do it in different ways. For shipping fee display the idea of shipping costs clearly throughout your website or advertise free shipping for purchases above a certain price in a website banner, hinting to shoppers that anything below that total will in fact require a shipping fee. For handling fees, try to keep them as low as possible, or even find a way to incorporate them into the costs of your items, so it does not show at an extra cost but as the original required price of the item. Being open about fees in this way takes the surprise away from the customer as they will be more likely to expect delivery costs if they are displayed to them and lets them know if it is free from the offset, before they even start filling their basket. It will also rise shoppers trust in your company as you will be seen as being upfront and honest rather than secretive and deceitful.
Cutting Down on Form Fields
Make your checkout as short as possible, no customer wants to sit filling out unnecessary information when they could be finishing up their purchase and getting on with their day. You can do this by narrowing down the amount of question fields your form has, don’t ask for too much and only collect essential information required to complete the order and purchase. Too many avoidable questions can become time consuming and lead a shopper to become bored. As your questions should be streamlined mark them all as mandatory to save the shopper time missing a field and having to go back to fix it, and if there are some that aren’t mandatory make this clear too to save time on filling them in. To optimise your customers time even more, allow your fields to be filled in automatically by things such as google, as this can save shoppers large amounts of time and could stop them entering any information at all depending on their settings.
Building up trust isn’t only done by showing payment and security icons, these things do help but many shoppers will still be wary of a scam regardless of these things, especially when shopping online. Every online shopper knows that safety is not guaranteed, but your business can do more to reassure them that a breach in their security is less likely. Alongside showing payment and security icons across your website, add them into your checkout in the applicable areas. Make them feel like your checkout is secure by keeping it clear and structured, offer a progress indicator that shows how much longer your checkout will go on for so they know what to expect. These are best used on multi page checkouts but can have huge effects on not only building up trust with your customers, but also keeping their attention if you simply cannot help having a checkout longer than most others as it lets them know how much more is left stopping it from seeming like a never ending task.
Allowing Guest Checkout
Not every shopper has time to sign up to your website, some are in a rush and many simply do not want to feel forcefully tied to your store because of one purchase. Instead avoid asking for registration at checkout and offer it as an extra option after the purchase has been completed, this way their checkout is a quicker process and a lot of pressure is took away from the shopper as they are not being forced to sign up to something they may not be interested in later on. If getting shoppers signed up is really important to your business, when a checkout is completed add a sign up button alongside the benefits of registration to entice them into joining now the stress of their purchase is over, even offer benefits that include order tracking and notifications with sign up if they are applicable, this will be especially tempting as they will probably want to keep an eye on their recent purchase.
Being as Clear as Possible
Not only does your checkout need to be short, it needs to be as clear as possible, no shopper will understand, or even try to understand, a messy and unorganised checkout process. Keep yours concise by having a clear layout to your checkout that shows direction, and do not repeat information or sections. Avoiding repetition will save both you and your shopper time, not to mention frustration. This can be done by asking questions only once, if questions overlap into sections take one out such as asking for a billing and shipping address, only one of these sections needs to be mandatory when a tickbox option to have both as the same address is available. Saving the shopper from having to enter the same address twice. Also take the time to mark any necessary questions so no time is wasted filling out unimportant ones.
Make your company or products irresistible, subtly remind your shoppers throughout checkout of the benefits they get from completing their order with you. This can be done by offering thumbnails of their selected items, showing them the products that lead them to this purchase in the first place, so any other minor checkout frustration seems a little more worthwhile. You can also offer a coupon code at checkout for their next order, advertise this through your site and if possible have the advertising banner visible while checking out, this gives shoppers who are looking to return something to work toward as well as their items. However, it is important to only offer coupons at first time checkouts as otherwise they would result in losses being made by your company for any extra sales rather than profits.
Once any of the above changes have been made to your checkout, be sure that they work. Do this by tracking the amount of conversions the newly polished checkout gives you and compare them to the rates of the old checkout. Keep an eye especially on where any customers still drop off and keep making tweaks to the checkout process until these drop offs decrease. Once you feel your checkout is at its best it is more likely to serve you better in future when it comes to conversions, but this does not mean it will not need to be changed again in future. Customers change, what they want changes and most importantly technology changes, to keep your website and checkout at its best continue to make tweaks and changes that run alongside the changes in your market and available software.