How to Improve the Checkout Experience

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By continuing with the marketing to-sales funnel, in my previous post, How to Create a Great First Experience in Your Website,  I remarked the importance of providing your visitors an experience in your website that goes beyond their expectations. I also provided some A/B tests ideas to improve such experience.

Marketing To Sales Funnel Activation

Let’s continue with the importance of this Activation step.

In the e-commerce industry, a critical step is the completion of the purchase. Some studies, report that during the check-out process, the average shopping cart abandonment is 68.07% (see the statistic report of Baymard Institute). This means that if you have a shop, out of every one hundred visitors who puts something in their shopping cart, 68 of them will leave without making a purchase. Can you image the number of abandoned carts somewhere in a real physical super-market?

So, if you are in the average cart abandonment rate and are selling $10,000 a month, with an 25% improve of this abandonment, you’ll get more than 50% of increase in the revenues:

Current sales: $10,000/mo or $120,000/yr (if you have 1,000 visitors to your website, only 320 have bought something).

25% improvement of abandonment: $5,312/mo = 67,744/yr (for the 1,000 visitors, you’ve 170 new buyers).

Future sales: $15,312/mo or $187,744/yr.

What about these new figures? If you liked it, you should keep reading this post.

We’ll follow, again, the customer-centric methodology of David Skok to analyze and remove blockage points on the marketing funnel. We first should identify the concerns and motivations of our users, visitors or customers and, then, propose solutions to overcome these blockage points.

First step: to identify concerns of your visitors

Let’s identify the concerns or most common reasons your visitors decide to abandon their online shopping carts and leave your online store without spending any money. Probably, you come up with a similar list to this one below (as already identified in Sitepoint’s article, “10 Reasons People Abandon Online Shopping Carts”:

  • I hate to fill out too many forms and repetitive actions.
  • The product was listed in the shop, but there wasn’t stock.
  • I’ve realized that delivery will take too much time.
  • The shipping cost is higher than what I expected.
  • Additional taxes or costs were listed at the end of the process.
  • I hate to first register and create an account.
  • Why do they ask me for a credit card in a free trial period subscription?
  • I only could pay with credit card, but I wanted to use a different payment method.
  • I am not sure that the product in the picture is exactly the one I expect.
  • Is this shopping process secure enough?

Second step: to identify motivation of your visitors

The next step is to identify or guess the main motivations that will overcome their concerns and then will make them move forward and complete the check-out.

  • I can easily do the checkout from my mobile.
  • There are plenty of coupon codes and promotional offers.
  • There is plenty of information related to the product, that gives me trust.
  • At any time, I can make changes to my shopping cart.
  • Surprisingly, there is free delivery in 24 hours!

Third step: to provide solutions

Now is when you have to evaluate, with different A/B testing experiments, what is the best solution to refrain the cart abandonment of your visitors. Basically, the checkout process needs to be as simple, smooth, and quick as possible without forgetting the reassurance.

Let’s continue with some ideas:

Example 1: Security reassurance

Let’s start with the concern:

  • Is this shopping process secure enough?

In a previous post, Optimizing Your Website For Customer Acquisition, I’ve already described that customers like to be reassured that there is no risk on the buying process and I’ve suggested an A/B Landing Page experiment to test the importance of including reassurance information on the Landing Page.

Mockup of Alternative Page
Mockup of Alternative Page

Suggested A/B Test: 

  • Now, we propose an A/B Page experiment in the Check-out page including this security features.

Mockup of alternative checkout page Example 2: Payment Methods

We also had in the list the following concern:

  • I only could pay with credit card, but I wanted to use a different payment method

Nowadays, customers want to pay in all kinds of different ways. Make sure you make it easy for your customers to pay using the most common payment methods. PayPal is a must-have. Many customers use it because of its apparent security and convenience. With PayPal, there is no need to take out a credit card to complete the purchase.

But then, as the previous example, we propose to test an A/B Page experiment in the Check-out page testing which is the best place of putting all the method payments.

Suggested test:

Mockup of Alternative Checkout With Payment Methods

Example 3: SaaS Free trial: required a credit card to begin?

Two other concerns that produce cart abandonment:

  • I hate to first register and create an account
  • Why do they ask me for a credit card in a free trial period subscription?

The latter is an eternal discussion… if your business is a software as a service (SaaS) and previous to a subscription you offer a free trial, should you ask for a Credit Card? You’ll find arguments in favor and against this “opt-out SaaS Free Trial”. I really recommend that, instead of taking conclusions about what’s going to be better for your conversion rate, experiment the different options in order to find what’s best for you.

Suggested test:

Mockupt of free-trial subscription
Mockup of a free-trial subscription page
Mockup of Alternative Subscription Page with Payment
Mockup of Alternative Subscription Page with Payment

Since asking for a credit card up front may refrain some visitors to convert, it’s important in this case that you include a justification of why you’ve decided this option:

Why we ask for a credit card text

Example 4: Single Form vs. Multi-page checkout

We like things fast and easy. Do you feel familiar with this?

  • I hate to fill out too many forms and repetitive actions

And the following motivation:

  • At any time, I can make changes to my shopping cart

Another typical discussion is wether a single or a multi-page check-out form is better in the purchase process. Some studies have shown single page to be more effective. Yet other retailers see better results from multi-stage. Please, do not make any conclusion about it without a previous test. I recommend you to read this post by Jordi: How good are you at guessing A/B testing examples? (and does it matter?).

Suggested test:

Mockup of One Single Form Subscription
Mockup of Single Form Subscription
Mockup of Multiple Form Subscription
Mockup of Multiple Form Subscription

What’s important in the multi-page check-out is to include a progress bar that shows the customer how many pages there are and in which page they are in the process. Moreover, be sure in this case that it’s easy (and possible) to change anything on the previous steps (is there a back button that works properly?).

Example 5: Pre-filling and inline validation

Following with the previous concern, a solution is to use smart defaults or pre-filling form fields with educated guesses and, it’s usually better to try to detect if something isn’t correct and show it sooner rather than later.

The less and fast the work, the better.

  • Create an A/B page experiment: trying different versions of forms including smart defaults or pre-filling form fields and inline validation.
Mockup of Multiple Form Subscription with Smart Defaults and Pre-filling fields
Mockup of Multiple Form Subscription with Smart Defaults and Pre-filling fields

Example 6: All costs from the beginning!

Several times, I’ve personally experienced one of the following:

  • The product was listed in the shop, but there wasn’t stock.
  • I’ve realized that delivery will take too much time.
  • The shipping cost is higher than what I expected.
  • Additional taxes or costs were listed at the end of the process.

And I’ve abandoned the shopping cart. In fact, just because I hated to find that “additional cost” that I did not expected, I’ve decided to buy on another shop, start over the purchase process to end paying the same as the first one. But feeling happier because the second shop was clear and honest from the beginning and it deserved that sale more than the first one.

As you can guess, I am someone that is motivated by:

  •  There is plenty of information related to the product, that gives me trust.

So, I like to have all the information (particularly anything related to costs) as clear as possible from the very beginning. But again, that’s my personal experience and I have my doubts regarding how other shoppers behave. So, if you have an online shop, do not make any conclusion before testing.

  • Try an A/B page experiment: create different versions of your landing page showing more or less detailed information and see what converts better.
Mockup of Atlernative Landing
Mockup of Alternative Landing Page.

Two motivations to go further with the purchase process that I didn’t mention on the examples are:

  • There are plenty of coupon codes and promotional offers.
  • Surprisingly, there is free delivery in 24 hours!

You may be interested in the full series that shows you the importance of conversion rate optimization through all the marketing funnel and provide different ideas and examples to improve your website:

  1. Motivation – Optimizing Your Visitor’s Journey
  2. Acquisition Optimizing Your Website for Customer Acquisition
  3. Activation (I)How to create a great first experience in Your website
  4. Activation (II)How to Improve the CheckOut Experience
  5. RetentionHow to Retain Your Customers
  6. RevenueHow to Increase the Revenues on Your Website
  7. ReferralsHow to Improve Your Customers Loyalty and Referrals

Featured image by Caden Crawford

by

Ruth obtained her PhD in Software Engineering at UPC and did a Master of Information Systems at DePaul University (Chicago). She has professional experience in the business world and at the University. Ruth has been University Lecturer at UPC, Vice-Dean for Corporate Relations of the Barcelona School of Informatics, and Associate Lecturer at ESADE. She specializes in software engineering and information systems management. She is also certified in Inboud Marketing.

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