Every element of your site design, and the functionality it offers, will affect your total user experience. Site navigation can impact conversions because it will affect how easily you put your users in touch with the products they want. Valuable information on your category pages and in your blog can do the same if it answers questions your users came to you to answer. Yet if one thing could be considered the most critical element of your site, it might very well be the checkout experience that your eCommerce business offers.
This is not to diminish any of the other elements of your eCommerce website design that you may have worked so hard to perfect, only to stress the critical importance of the checkout experience. Consider that not all visitors to your site will use some of your navigational features; they may research your product before even getting to your store. They may not use any apps you have integrated into your store to communicate with you; but, to become customers, they must necessarily engage in your checkout process.
That is why terms like “shopping cart abandonment” and “simplified checkout” are hot topics in eCommerce – because they are real concepts that carry a lot of weight. For example, shopping cart abandonment, which connotes the situation in which a shopper will add items to a shopping cart then leave without completing the purchase somewhere along the checkout process, is an enduring issue. Numbers on the matter will vary, but as a quick reference, Statista.com reported that as of March 2020, over 88% of all online shopping orders were abandoned somewhere along the checkout process after beginning.
Because checkout is the critical point in the process by which visitors travel down the purchasing funnel and are converted into customers, and because such a large percentage of shopping carts are abandoned, it’s worth your while to take a look at your own checkout process. Here are some good practices to keep in mind that an eCommerce website design company can help your website accomplish, as well as how these features will impact your website’s user experience for better or for worse.
1. Be Upfront about Fees
Because there are so many industries involved and so many variables, it can be tough to point to one single factor as the biggest determinant of shopping cart abandonment. However, one of the biggest players if not the biggest is the practice some eCommerce businesses have of hiding fees in their checkout processes.
Don’t think that shipping is the only fee that can pop up, distastefully, right at checkout. Make sure expectations are clearly set and don’t try to nestle extra fees among the fee breakdown list. Users don’t want to find out that you charge handling, processing, environmental fees, or anything else, for that matter, right when they’re about to make a purchase. Either build it into the price of the product or leave it out altogether.
Look at this screenshot from the cart page of our client, XL feet. You can see that there are a pair of boots in the cart and that the price is listed, along with the option to the right for you to estimate tax and shipping. They don’t attempt to spring those fees in at the last minute and are upfront about what they offer.
You can also see that they accept several payment options, which is another quality of checkout in its own right that can improve the customer experience.
2. Cut Down on Unnecessary Steps
Another thing that users don’t want to have to deal with is a cumbersome checkout process that requires them to have to fill out a ton of information and click through a ton of pages. That’s why so many online businesses have begun to develop one-page checkouts and even “add to cart” features on their product pages that can save time and energy of checking out. Think about it from the customer’s point of view. They’ve come to shop online because of the convenience it can offer, and wasting time is not a component of convenience.
Additionally, paying for something is the least agreeable part of the shopping experience, so you want to do everything within your power to avoid rubbing it in. Make it as quick and easy for your customers and it will very likely cut down on your shopping cart abandonment.
3. Allow for a Guest Checkout
This much might seem slightly counterintuitive, simply because in the section above we told you to make the process as quick and concise as possible. With a customer account that your online store saves, you can pre-populate information, and the same can’t be done with most guest checkout features since the customer will have to manually enter their information. So where’s the disconnect?
Well, people, in general, are very guarded with their personal information, and throwing it all out on the internet is very different from the traditional experience of shopping in a store where no information is made public.
Allowing for a guest checkout without forcing your users to create an account is a great way to accommodate any misgivings they might have. They might have to fill out a little more information but they won’t feel as though they’ve given it away by creating an account. In addition, forcing users to create an account will ultimately cost them more time up-front.
We’re not saying customer accounts are a bad thing. In fact, customer accounts can be managed properly to increase your CRM efforts like rewards programs. The thing is, you have to let your customers choose it. Offer them incentives to create an account, but give them the option to checkout as a guest.
4. Provide for Streamlined “Add-to-Cart” Functionality
Something else you’ll want to offer is advanced “add-to-cart” functionality like hover-over buttons on product pages to make it easier for clients to cut down on the total time spent shopping.
For any users that come to your online business fully aware of what they want to buy and why they want to buy it, offering single-click add-to-cart features to your product pages or even to your homepage can save your users time and effort. When users save time and effort, your shopping cart abandonment is likely to respond by dropping.
For example, check out this screenshot from one of the product pages of our client, Hot Tub Club.
Just by hovering over the product listing for SpaGuard Chlorinating Concentrate, the page gives the option to add to cart, which can save time for those who already know what they are shopping for.
5. Offer a One Step Checkout if Possible
Certain features of your industry or the nature of your products might not be conducive to implementing a one-step checkout, but if you can, you should offer it. Users will psychologically feel as if they have done extra work if they have to be going from page to page filling out information.
If you can collect their billing, shipping, and payment information from one page, do it. It has much more of the feel of a traditional experience where you select your products and pay for them at the register. The concept of a one-step checkout has a lot in common with everything else on this list – namely, that faster and easier are both better.
In addition to these specific features and functionality that can help you cut down on your shopping cart abandonment, there are some other ways that you can cut down on shopping cart abandonment that are not necessarily tied to checkout but will impact it anyway.
For example, it is important to have contact information prominently displayed and easily accessible to your users. The more avenues of contact you offer, the better, because not every user will want to call you. Include a phone number for contact as well as an email, address, and any other methods you can offer.
Some businesses also offer features like live chat on their website, including on their checkout pages, where representatives can field user questions in real-time. Many users will begin a checkout, have questions, and then drop the whole purchase if they can’t easily get to the bottom of it. Some ambitious users will call or email a customer service department without abandoning a cart, but others will just bounce. If you make an agent accessible via live chat, you might be able to discourage users from abandoning a purchase.
If you can incorporate some of these features into your eCommerce website’s checkout process, you will not only improve the user experience and cut back on shopping cart abandonment, but you can also potentially increase conversions. That is to say, if a purchase is completed instead of dropped along the way, conversions will increase.
Here’s some good news for your eCommerce venture. Many of these features can be designed or developed by an eCommerce developer in order to improve your checkout process and thereby your user experience.
It also hardly matters which platform you’re on, although platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify are built to make it easy for developers to offer user-experience boosting functionality like simple checkouts and processes mentioned here. If you’re looking for a BigCommerce development company or a Shopify developer who can help you improve your checkout processes, look no further than 1DigitalⓇ Agency.
We’ve built hundreds of eCommerce websites over the years for clients in a huge number of industries, and we know the fine points of design and development that increase revenue, traffic sales, and conversions. Specifically, we can help you fine-tune your checkout process by following what we mentioned here, although if you envision something else, you can get in touch with our team to make it a reality. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or call our team today at 888-517-5188.
- Michael Esposito
- August 28, 2020