This is where the real battle begins: you should be moving Heaven and Earth to make sure the checkout flow on your website is the most effective it can be. Why? Because people who have already put items into their shopping carts are – obviously – the most likely to convert. Which means this is a chance you cannot afford to miss.
Whilst some of your traffic will bounce at the very beginning and some people will visit other pages and leave, your users who have got to the checkout page have already taken a specific action. This means they are at the last stage of the purchasing cycle and their minds have already been made up to buy something.
However, according to studies, as many as 75% of users abandon while at the shopping cart stage And there are plenty of reasons why your users might not finish the checkout process.
So here comes the first secret of highly converting checkout-flows: they need to be constantly changed and improved in order to reduce abandonments and give your customers the best experience and motivation to buy your products.
In this article I will show you some ways you can address the reasons why people don’t buy even though they’ve already entered the checkout process. However, keep in mind that although these solutions work more often than not – it doesn’t mean they’re silver bullets. So don’t just copy and paste them – treat them as an inspiration for more A/B testing and an even deeper analysis of your site.
How to make your checkout flow fantastically converting?
Although these days most people aren’t scared that they might end up receiving a bag of potatoes instead of an iPhone 6, doubts and fears are still an inevitable part of the online buying experience. People understandably worry about their personal data and payment security – or they might just be unsure whether your solution is the right one for them and worth the money they’re about to pay out.
But there are a lot of great ways to assure your users that you and your business are both reliable.
What if you don’t want to pay for secure services? You can assure your customers they’re secure in some other way, for example using “pay secure” as a Call to Action button text, ensuring ssl proxy connection, adding a padlock to the form or simply telling your users “your data is secure”.
Why should your customers buy from you and not from your competitors? The answer should be your Unique Selling Proposition. This is a statement which explains to your customers why your solution or product suits their needs, and why it’s better than any other solutions or products available on the market.
That’s why you need to add your USP to your landing pages: it will reduce your bounce rates. And if you have a killer USP, why not also include it in the checkout flow? Because persuasion doesn’t stop when a user clicks the “Add to Cart” button – there is still a lot more to do to turn him or her into a customer.
Are you still unsure what your Unique Value Proposition is? As a few examples, it could be free delivery, short delivery times, long-time returning periods, any time cancellation, no setup costs, longer guarantee etc etc. If you have trouble preparing a killer Unique Selling Proposition, why not read Tom Walker’s article on how to come up with a value proposition when what you sell isn’t unique?
As you can see in the first graph, extra costs are one of the main reasons people abandon their carts (named by almost 60% of users). Let’s be honest: everyone hates it. You go to your basket and you see that the price is higher than you expected. It’s not only about spending more money (which is itself painful), but it also makes you feel cheated. So don’t do it to your users!
Of course, in the online world “unexpected costs” commonly means shipping cost. And that’s why you should consider free delivery.
For whatever reason, a free shipping offer that saves a customer $6.99 is more appealing to many than a discount that cuts the purchase price by $10.
– David Bell, Wharton marketing professor
Free delivery is in fact already becoming a standard option – in 2011 ComScore reported nearly half of all online purchases had some sort of “free shipping” offer. It seems that offering free shipping may nowadays be necessary to remain competitive in today’s marketplace. This year, ComScore also revealed: Free shipping continues to drive purchasing decisions as 58% of online shoppers reported adding items to their shopping cart in order to qualify for the incentive. Furthermore, 83% are willing to wait an additional 2 days for delivery if shipping is free.
How to get the most from an offer of free shipping? Commonly, people do not appreciate things they get for free. So instead of just offering free shipping, you could also tell your customers that you’ll cover the cost for them.
If you think that free shipping is too expensive for your business, consider other options, such as free ship-to-store or free shipping with a minimum order (for example if your threshold is 30$, you could offer it from 45$). Sometimes, setting a minimum order value can also lead to larger orders.
Still afraid that a free shipping offer may end up ruining your business? Well here you can find some great ideas from Stephan Burgler with solutions on how to do it without going broke.
Whether you decide to offer free delivery or not, remember that shipping costs should be presented prior to asking the customer for payment information. You can do this by estimating the shipping costs and adding an estimated fee to each product or integrating some type of shipping cost calculator which will enable the customer to check it at any time during the shopping process.
Obviously, one of the biggest obstacles to buying is the price. It’s not just that people cannot afford your solution or product: every action connected to spending money is simply unpleasant.
“In fact, this study shows that the part of your brain that is stimulated by pain – the orbitofrontal cortex – is the same part of your brain that’s stimulated when you have to pay with your hard-earned money. Which means, for your user, entering your checkout flow is like stubbing a mental toe.” Source: https://www.copyblogger.com/
So, how can you make spending money less painful for people? Do not emphasise the price. This might make users more price-conscious, which might make them decide against buying.
That’s just one idea to cope with prices which look “too expensive”. But customers aren’t stupid: even if you make your prices look small, some users will still search the web in order to find cheaper solutions or products. You most likely don’t want to enter into a price cutting race with your competitors. Peep Laja suggests some other ways to attract customers, such as emphasizing free delivery and other customer service options, like live chat, long returning times or offering a loyalty program.
When it comes to pricing, you could consider adding a coupon code box to offer any discounts you have sent to your customers in newsletters or have presented in your ads. But this may backfire: customers who don’t have the code may end up looking for it on the Internet, which means they will have to leave the shopping cart. You might consider adding information on how they can get the code (for example subscribing to a newsletter) or hide this field a little bit (those who have the code will find it anyway).
Site speed is a conversion killer. This applies to every page, and is also crucial in the checkout process. There is no excuse: if your page is slow – or even worse it crashes – don’t expect people to sit and wait to buy something from you. Site speed is also important for building trust: long page loading times look weak and unprofessional – so your brand will seem weak and unprofessional too.
Google Analytics comes to the rescue. You can make use of a few reports to reveal whether you have speed issues on your checkout pages.
Your checkout must be as simple as possible. Frustrated and confused customers will leave their carts – with no mercy! The whole process must be easy, and you have to make sure you lead your users smoothly from the first step to the thank you page.
The game actually begins even before a user enters the checkout process. What happens in your online shop at the moment someone clicks on “Add to cart”?
Peep Laja says that it must be stupidly obvious that someone has added a product to the cart.
What does the perfect shopping cart page look like?
First of all, you have to display the content well. You need to show your products – and the costs – to your customers in a legible way. Remember to include high-quality product pictures, the ability to increase or remove the number of items in a shopping cart, the ability to change the size (so users don’t go back to the shop), and display payment possibilities, including the total cost + shipping.
We all know forms are a pain in the neck. Everyone hates questionnaires. Unfortunately, in a checkout you just have to get some information – for example the shipping address. There is no other way. But what you can do is to simplify your forms as much as possible; (1) make all the questions reasonable (2) explain why you need this data and (3) take care of your form validation.
Another frustration is the back button in the browser. For many users this is a natural tool. But too often in the checkout, hitting the back button either entirely erases the user’s progress or returns strange errors that can cause confusion and uncertainty. Make sure you keep the back button functional and it leads your users to the previous page without losing any of the data they have already shared.
Now here comes the hardest part: the payment page. A credit card form is the most critical step in the entire checkout process. You expect your users to share their most sensitive data with you. So first of all you will have to take care of security issues (mentioned earlier in this post). And secondly, you will have to make the process as easy as possible.
How to inspect whether your checkout is user-friendly? We recommend you use qualitative methods, such as heuristic analysis and user testing. User testing will allow you to see how real people interact with your site. Sometimes this might come as a shock: you watch users struggling to do something on your website you thought was a piece of cake.
You may have one of the many ecommerce websites that force users to register before they buy. This is something I personally hate: if I am a new customer I don’t feel like creating another hundredth account on the web. I just want to buy as quickly as possible. It’s important to come to terms with the fact that sometimes users don’t want to build a relationship with you – and they might even be scared off by a “registration” button.
Of course, the reasons you want people to register are pretty clear: you want to keep them locked in so you can keep in touch with them and send out remarketing emails and so on. However, users often see registration as a barrier to making a purchase. And it might cost you conversions: 26% of users abandon carts due to forced registration.
So firstly, never force registration, and you could even forget about the word “registration” completely (you can use “guest checkout” etc for new users.).
Secondly, always give a guest the option to checkout.
So far you have seen some outstanding and amazing ways to improve your checkout conversion rates. But these solutions shouldn’t be just tested blindly. You will need to use your own data instead of using simple copy-paste solutions. That’s because you will never get to an effective conversion process by just testing some stuff you’ve come across on the web. Of course, there are many great ideas out there, but first of all you will have to identify your own specific problems on your website and then find a solution to them.
Of course you could go even deeper into your analysis by creating segments which will show you how particular user groups (for instance demographics, returning and new etc.) act on their shopping cart. More and more users buy on their mobile devices: so you will have to make sure you do not miss that segment too when analyzing shopping cart behavior.
I have shared with you a few secrets about highly converting checkout flows. I hope this will be a great inspiration for your A/B testing. There really is no excuse: you need to work on your checkout optimization if you want to give your users a great experience. And if you succeed, they will be sure to pay you back (literally) for your efforts.
Anyway, no matter what you sell online, remember that your final revenue is what matters the most. Read Case Study of European apparel giant Reserved.com to see how they boosted their revenue without involving their IT department, or check out 51 Trends of eCommerce for 2018 to learn what roads for ecommerce growth are possible in 2018.