Checkout Page Best Practices

A checkout page is by far the most important part of any ecommerce website. Getting your customer's attention with a stylish landing page is great but just because they add an item to their cart doesn't mean you've got the sale. The truth is if your checkout page isn't up to the latest standards, there's a good chance your customer is going to abandon you.

So how can you make sure your customer completes the sale? Well we’ve got the solution. At PAYFORT we deal with dozens of businesses and have seen hundreds of checkout pages. We know that small changes can lead to big results and that's why we've created the ultimate guide to optimizing your ecommerce checkout page. Our guide is packed full of best practices to ensure you never lose another customer at the last stage again. (Okay, maybe not ever again but we promise you'll notice a difference!)

What Leads to Abandoned Carts?

As you can imagine there's been plenty of research into consumer behavior and more particularly how users move through the checkout process.

What the research has shown is that there are 8 major factors that lead consumers to abandon their carts:

  • Shipping costs
  • High purchase costs
  • Lack of payment options
  • Lack of credibility
  • Estimated shipping time
  • Complicated checkout process
  • Lack of discount codes
  • Shopping cart used for research rather than purchase

By being aware of these factors, your business can alleviate many of the pain points that stop customers from converting and craft the perfect ecommerce checkout experience.

Avoid Compulsory Registration

If you've done any shopping online you've probably noticed that a lot of ecommerce companies will ask you to, or even worse, make you sign up before completing a purchase. 25% of customers abandon their online purchase right then and there, the evidence is in and the reality is people do not like forced registration.

For this reason you should avoid compulsory registration at the checkout for your business. You might think it only take a few minutes, but those few minutes are too much effort for a lot of customers. Offering a clear and easy to locate guest check out option let's you avoid the risk of frustrating customers and can drastically improve sales.

Some of the more savvy businesses will actually still incorporate signing up into the checkout process but in a much subtler and user friendly manner. Once the customer has filled in their basic information and completed the purchase, you can offer a ‘create an account’ button. That way all they need to do is enter a password and their account is ready to go. Another great option is to encourage them to sign up using social media when you email their receipt.

By removing this forced registration, you are creating a simpler path for your customers to follow and ensuring that anyone can complete their purchase. Eliminating the forced registration also means you can get rid of the frustrating 'one user - multiple accounts' scenario. We’ve all forgotten passwords and made new accounts while shopping so why not just avoid that step altogether!



Form Filling

Remove Unneeded Fields

When it comes to collecting information at checkout, don’t bother adding in fields that are purely used for marketing purposes. You goal needs to be minimising the amount of form boxes plain and simple.

Keep only the boxes that are absolutely essential to the checkout process. When a consumer is checking out, every unjustified field gives them another chance to abandon the cart.


Bonus Tip:

If you're shipping a product make sure you add a small checkbox asking if their billing address is the same as the shipping address. Filling in the same information twice will kill almost any sale.

Provide Inline Validation or Real Time Error Notifications

This is a big one! Have you ever completed a form and clicked submit only to have it comeback with an error? Doesn't feel nice does it.

Instead of showing an error after your customer submits a form, provide them with real time feedback so they can get it right the first time. This saves them time and it can actually help you get more accurate information from your customers.

Field Arrangement and Autofill

If at all possible, arrange your forms so later items can be autofilled, this again will save you customer time and avoid unnecessary mistakes in the customer information. A good example of this would be using a postal code or zip code before city and country. Once the postal code is entered the other details can be filled automatically.

Keep On Track

Remove Distractions

Once you've got a customer on the path to conversion, any elements that done move them along that path need to be removed. nameOn tested their checkout page without any distractions and found that their conversions increased by 11.40% and their sales increased by an estimated $8,500 per month.

Remove All Navigation

This includes the usual navigation and breadcrumbs. You should allow your customer to focus on the task at hand and the reality is navigation options at this stage a just a distraction, so remove them all. The only exceptions should be a dedicated home button and the button to continue with the checkout process.

Use CTAs That Standout

All your checkout Calls-to-Action need to be easy to see and make sense to consumers. The colors should contrast directly with the background color of the page and the copy should be simple but clear. The text needs plainly illustrate what your customer can expect once they’ve clicked it.

Handle Purchase Anxiety


Fix Slow Load Times

Few things shake a customer's confidence more than a slow loading page. In fact, there is preliminary research that suggests for every second it takes a page to load, the conversion rate drops by ~7%.

Waiting for a page to load is stressful for your customers and causes unnecessary stress at a time when you want your customer feeling relaxed. You can fix this issue by working with a web developer to optimized website code and strip out unneeded plugins. If you've max out you page speed and it's still a bit slow, make sure you show a loading animation that accurately displays how much longer they can expect to wait.

Address Customer Concerns

When it comes time to finally checkout and spend some cash customers often become hesitant to complete the purchase. If they’re unsure of the privacy policy, returns policy or have product-specific concerns it's very easy for them to close their browser and end the transaction.

You can instill confidence in your customer by addressing these concerns through the checkout process. A very common way to do this is with small badges reminding them of things such as money back guarantees, years in business, and other policies.

You should try to understand your customers concerns about purchasing from you and get ahead of them.

Use Coupons Appropriately

The excitement of a stagnant and empty discount code box at the checkout is gone and the truth is that box can actually do more harm than good. As we mentioned early, you want to remove as many distractions from the checkout page as possible and a coupon box is a big distraction.

Often customers will wonder why they don’t have a discount code and will end up leaving your site to try and find one. Once they've left your site, they might find a better deal elsewhere or simply forget to come back, and just like that you've lost a sale.

Instead of the box, put a simple text link somewhere on the checkout page asking “Got a coupon?” that when clicked reveals the box. Text links have the benefit of blending in for consumers that don't have code but still being available for those that do.

Add Recognised Trust Signs

Over the past 25 years of ecommerce people have learnt to be careful about where they shop online. They don’t want to share their personal or payment information with just anyone online, so make sure you are doing everything you can to show them you are a reputable business.

Using recognised security seals such as Norton or McAfee can work wonders for gaining trust and have been show to increase conversions by as much as 6%.

Visual Layout and Cart Design


The way customers interact with the shopping cart is becoming more and more complicated as are the features they expect.

We dedicated a complete section to Shopping Cart Optimization but we're going to share some of the top level tips here as well.



Make It Clear When They Add Items to the Cart

First of all make sure that when your customer adds items to their cart it’s obvious and they know it's happened. Often websites mess this up by having subtle pop-ups or failing to provide any confirmation at all. In many cases if a customer doesn't know they’ve added the product, they might add items twice leading to issues at checkout. Research has shown that animations are one of the best techniques to attract attention.

It's also a good idea to add a clear “Pay Now” button in a bright color as part of the animation as this can expedite the checkout process, especially if there only shopping for a single product. It also keeps the user on the same page which in most cases is a better user experience.

The other option you can use is to direct the user to their shopping cart after every item they add, this is a good option in some cases as it pushes them one step further towards conversion, but it does mean you might be reducing your “items per checkout” metric.

What you pick will largely depend on your business' strategy and the industry you operate in, but in any case remember these two metrics: average transaction value and average quantity per transaction. Choose which is more important to your business model and then test, test and test some more.


Utilise Persistent Carts

Persistent carts have become one of the most important tools for ecommerce business' operating today. Research has shown that 56% of consumers actually use the shopping cart as a sort of wish list, saving products for later according to eMarketer. Persistent carts play a big role in this by allowing customers to come back to your site and pickup where they left off in their shopping experience.

Some of the best persistent carts will even follow a customer across multiple devices and can provide a surprisingly seamless shopping experience. Another report from the University of Glasgow showed that as many as 3 out of 4 online customers use shopping carts as their own personal “wish list” so you can safely assume that the feature will be used on your site if implemented. These feature also helps to retain customers who take their time to complete a purchase, if you are selling big ticket items this feature can keep leads hot for days while they finally decide.



Display Cart Contents Clearly

There are 2 key principles that should be followed when displaying items in a customer's shopping cart; these are clarity and control. Your goal is to make sure that it’s easy for customers to understand what they have added and what the final cost of their purchase will be.

Control is also important because you want it to be as easy as possible for them to make adjustments. Options like quantity, removing or changing sizes should all be accessible from directly in the cart and failing to provide this functionality may lead customers to abandon the purchase.



Create a Smart Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy refers to the order in which customers will see things on screen and is a fundamental aspect of modern web design. It basically boils down to making the important things standout and the rest less prominent.

When setting up your visual hierarchy for a shopping cart you need to focus most of your efforts toward the CTA, which in most cases will be the “continue to checkout” button. There are literally thousands of theories around visual hierarchy and the right answer for your business will likely require you to do research and testing of your own. If you need inspiration, surf the web and rank web pages that you like then implement and test.

Shipping

Provide Accurate Estimates for Costs and Times

No one likes uncertainty so work to give your customers the best estimate of when their shipment will arrive. There is growing evidence that customers are far more concerned with accuracy of shipping times than speed so make sure you provide as much detail as possible.

It's also nice to include a feature where customers can enter the date they need the product by. This allows you to provide a clear "yes we can" or "sorry we can't" message. You may miss out on a sale in the short-term but you will earn points for being honest with your customer.

Free Shipping

If your company can offer free shipping that's great, many customers appreciate that gesture and it can do a lot to push a customer over the edge and complete a purchase. With that said, it's an option that isn't right for every business. In a study by Practical eCommerce, it was revealed that offering free shipping was actually only beneficial for 4 out of 10 respondents. The biggest factor to consider here is the average order size. You'll need to do your own research to see if free shipping is right for you, Shopify has a great free app that can help you get started.

If you do go the route of paid shipping make sure you are completely transparent with your charges and reveal them on the product pages. One of the biggest causes for abandoned carts is hidden shipping costs so make sure you honest and upfront about these costs before the customer reaches the checkout page.



Payment Details and Final Checkout Tips



Credit Card Info Last

When people start on a task, they get a strong feeling that they should complete it. This phenomenon can be used to help complete a transaction by putting the hard stuff last. If a customer has already provided their name, address, email, billing and more, many will feel that they need to complete the process.

During the checkout process, start with the easier fields and ease them down the funnel before asking for credit card details.

Credit Card Style Payment Form

It's amazing what adding a real life touch to you web design can do to make your customer's feel better about entering the credit card information. Make sure you take steps to make your payment information entry form look as friendly and secure as possible.

The better the form looks the more likely you are to have a customer convert. It's just that simple. You’re welcome.

Store Credit Cards In Your System

Storing consumer information comes with a lot of headaches such as PCI compliance and managing the possibility of being hacked, but the reality is sites that store consumer info make a lot more off of returning customers than those that don't.

When you don’t need to enter your payment information anymore, purchasing becomes a much simpler process. This option isn't right for everyone but if you have the technology to complete it, it is well worth the effort.

Provide Payment Options


Customers like variety and options when it comes to paying for their purchases and ecommerce is no exception. Providing flexibility to pay in different ways at checkout can have a big impact on conversions. Here are a few options you can implement today:


Digital wallets

A digital wallet is a lot like a physical wallet in the real world, it stores a customer's payment information in a secure location and allows them to make purchases across multiple devices and websites without having to enter their information multiple times.

A Credit card is often linked to the digital wallet and newer pieces of software are even providing ways to store identification such as a driver’s license, health card, loyalty card(s) and other ID documents.

Installments

Sometimes your customer's will want to make a large purchase that they can't pay for in a single payment. This is often the case for large electronics, appliances, and even vehicles. A great tool to support this behaviour is installments and it can be easily implemented into most ecommerce platforms. As you'd probably expect installments breaks a single large payment into multiple smaller ones greatly increasing the purchasing power of your customers.

Local Payments

In today's interconnected world it's not uncommon to make purchases outside of your country of residence. Providing an option to pay in local currency can eliminate some of the stress of purchasing in a foreign currency and has been shown to boost conversions for international shoppers.

Recurring and subscription

If you have a service or product that is delivered monthly or updated regularly consider providing a recurring payment option. This allows your customer to enter their information once and continue to enjoy the service. As with the other options listed above this can be implemented into most ecommerce platforms and can greatly improve the value of your customers.



Conclusion

A checkout page play a critical role in any ecommerce website. Taking the time and effort to make the necessary changes can result in large improvements to your sites overall performance. By implementing the information in this guide you can start to capitalize on those improvements.

As we said earlier, getting your customer's attention is only half the battle, getting them to convert is the hard a part. Make sure your website has the best tool to get the job done and optimize your checkout page.

EXPERT TALKS

My advice to the startups “Test your checkout page to make sure the process it’s not broken to complete the order , create a window in your shop to allow the customer give you any feedback . Giving the customer categorized shop will ease the process for the customer to find the items he is looking for, also it will reduce the checkout for one item in the cart by selecting any another suggested item you display in the cart pages. Focus on adding more than one checkout option, integrate the digital wallets like Apple Pay and Visa Checkout will increase the conversion rate and reduce the abandoned cart rates”

Ali Saif
Integration Manager at PAYFORT

Disclaimer: The contents of this report are provided for informational purposes only.  We do not guarantee the accuracy of the information contained in this report and the contents are not intended to be a substitute for independent research or a guarantee on the status or use of ecommerce services in your area. Reliance on any material provided in this report is solely at your own risk and we make no warranties arising from its usage