Simplifying your checkout process

Shopping Cart - ConversionsOptimizing the checkout process is crucial to improving revenues and giving customers a better experience on your website. By tweaking a few things in your checkout process, you can increase site conversion without incurring extra marketing expenses. How can you simplify the checkout process?

As you run your online business, you have to monitor your revenue and repeat buys to determine how you are fairing. On revenue matters, you want to watch the conversion rate, growth and trend over time to ensure you are getting optimum returns from your users. In particular, you want to test and optimize the checkout process to ensure you are getting maximum revenues.

The online consumer is impatient and wary of giving too much personal information. Therefore, make it easy for him you transact with you and still give you enough information you need to dispatch his order. Smashing Magazine surveyed the top 100 ecommerce sites in terms of sales and made the following observations:

  1. Most of the top 100 ecommerce companies had a 5-step checkout process
  2. 24% require users to register to checkout
  3. 81% link their newsletter in their checkout process
  4. 41% use address validators
  5. 50% ask users to confirm the information they have entered

While most companies had 5 checkout steps i.e. from the shopping cart to when the order is actually placed, Smashing Magazine found out that this does not influence usability too much. For optimum conversions, you should not worry much about the number of steps. Instead, think about what the user does at each stage of the checkout process.

You can have more steps in your checkout process but still see good conversions. For example, Sony, Peapod, Amazon and Sephora have 8 checkout steps but are among the top 100 ecommerce stores in terms of sales.

Average Steps in Checkout Process

Source: Smashing Magazine

Here are 3 ways in which you can simplify the checkout process:

1. Make it Easy

Provide users with a smooth experience by making it easy for them to add or remove products from the shopping cart. Consider using Ajax to dynamically update the page without the customer having to refresh the page after adding or removing an item from the basket.

2. KISS Approach

Keep it Simple and Stupid. Avoid unnecessary design elements that may disrupt the checkout process. Ideally, your checkout page should consist of the following:

  • Checkout
  • Delivery details
  • Payment details
  • Confirmation

Removing distractions can improve conversion rates. According to a recent e-commerce report, more than 50% of sales are lost from users who already have items in their shopping carts. MarketingSherpa reports 59.8%, SeeWhy listed 83 % while MarketLive reported 62%.

The only place you might want to advertise some more products is on the basket page e.g. if the customer may want to add more products to qualify for free shipping.

3. Include a Visual Progress Indicator

Show the customer what to expect along the checkout process. Customers should know what information will be required in next stage and that they can review their order during the process. Using a visual progress indicator with a description of each step can be beneficial for certain businesses.

Reduce the number of steps in your checkout process. Too many steps can crush your conversion rate. While Amazon and the like may have 8 steps and still emerge among the top companies, customers trust the brands and are loyal to them. For your startup, stick to 3 to 4 checkout steps.

Test and Optimize

Perform an A/B split test of various checkout designs to find out which ones convert best. Strive to give users a seamless, fast and trouble-free checkout process.

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