Mobile device screen showing the ecommerce checkout process, with shipping and payment options on screen.

Ecommerce Checkout

Reduce abandoned carts and increase conversion with ecommerce checkout best practices that offer a better user experience.

Definition of ecommerce checkout process: streamlining your online shopping experience

The checkout process in an online store is a critical moment when customers transition from browsing to purchasing. It starts when the user visits the website, continues with reviewing the product catalog, and ends when the payment is completed and the confirmation is received. Despite its apparent simplicity, complex processes can be behind the scenes that can hinder the purchase and impact the overall user experience.

That is why the checkout process needs to feel simple and straightforward for your shoppers, removing the intricate and complex process. There’s much to balance: security and data privacy, fraud detection, payment processing, and more — all while delivering a stellar user experience.

The good news? With the right ecommerce checkout strategies, you can reduce abandoned carts, increase conversionopens in a new window, and create a frictionless payment process for your customers.

Why do customers abandon carts during online checkout?

Ecommerce checkout is a make-or-break moment for customers and a vital part of any e-commerce strategyopens in a new window. Shoppers want a convenient, simple experience — and to know their payment will be secure. They don’t want any last-minute surprises (like high shipping costs or other added fees). In fact, nearly half of all customers (48%)opens in a new window will abandon their orders during checkout due to the extra costs being too high. About a quarter of consumers won’t follow through with a purchase due to slow delivery, a complicated checkout process, or an ecommerce websiteopens in a new window that seems untrustworthy. Shoppers will also abandon a purchase if the right payment methods aren’t available.

So, how do you ensure customers finish the transaction and purchase your products? Ecommerce checkout optimisation includes everything from design to messaging to technology.

1. Minimise the steps of your ecommerce checkout process

Optimising the checkout flow is critical for conversion. Too many steps and a customer might get cold feet, especially at a time when one-click checkout is becoming commonplace. Here are a few strategies to minimise steps and make the ecommerce checkout process feel smooth.

Progressive profiling

This strategy involves progressively collecting more information about your customers each time they log in. By incrementally collecting data, you can build customer profiles over time in a way that feels organic to your shoppers, rather than overbearing. Each time a customer returns, more of their information is saved. In turn, they do less work to complete a purchase.

One-page checkout

Consolidating the payment process into a single page is one of the best ways to optimise ecommerce checkout. Less pages means more conversions. An all-in-one payment page allows shoppers to input all necessary information, review their order, and complete their purchase in a single space, rather than a drawn-out processing spanning several pages.

One-click checkout

Even better than one page checkout? One click checkout. With this strategy, return shopper information pre-fills automatically upon login. Contact, shipping, and payment details auto populate, enabling the most convenient, streamlined purchase experience.

2. Be transparent about costs and fees

Imagine you’re a customer who just spent valuable time browsing through product listing pagesopens in a new window to find the perfect item. You’re excited about your purchase, but when you get to the checkout page, wham! You see shipping costs that rival the price of your item. This frustrating experience is not only bad for conversion rates and sales, but it can also damage your reputation and deflate customer loyalty.

To avoid these subpar ecommerce checkout experiences, be upfront about costs and fees. Don’t wait until the checkout page to spring additional charges on a customer. Show an estimated shipping cost on your product listing and detail pages to set the right expectations. You can even turn shipping details into sales opportunities by implementing free shipping thresholds. This helps you increase your average order value (AOV)opens in a new window while giving customers the opportunity to receive a free shipping bonus.

3. Optimise ecommerce checkout for mobile

Mobile commerceopens in a new window has become the preferred purchasing channel across industries, regions, demographics, price points, and more. In fact, global mobile transactions were worth a whopping $2.2 trillionopens in a new window last year. That means mobile ecommerce checkout is in the spotlight.

Mobile screens are small, so it’s critical to prioritise the information and details shown during the payment process. Keep it simple: Make sure your call-to-action buttons are clear and prominent, minimise the number of required fields, and allow for autocomplete. Avoid using any links that would send customers away from checkout. Instead, opt for accordion style design for things like FAQ and product review. This will keep customers inside the realm of checkout, even if they have a question or want to double-check product details during payment.

4. Allow guest checkout

Ecommerce checkout should remove barriers to entry — not add to them. Don’t make customers sign in or sign up. To keep things as simple and streamlined as possible, allow guest checkout. Although this might mean sacrificing the collection of certain data from potential customers, it significantly improves the user experience and encourages more sales. Once customers have had an initial positive interaction with your brand, they will be more likely and more willing to create an account in the future.

5. Display trust signals

Trust signals are elements or indicators that reassure customers that your website is safe, reliable, and legitimate during the ecommerce checkout process. This includes everything from payment badges that denote the methods you accept, and trust badges to signal security.

For example, an SSL certificate enables websites to use HTTPS web addresses. While many users might not notice the difference between an http:// and an https:// address, web browsers often tag HTTP sites as "not secure" in noticeable ways. The last thing you want is an automatic message telling customers your site isn’t secure.

Payment badges are also critical for establishing trust with potential customers. It’s not just about the fact that you accept Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, and other forms of payment — these easily recognisable icons also align your business with trusted names.

6. Offer a range of payment methods

From credit cards to crypto, customers have a wide range of preferred payment methods. What does that mean for your business? More payment options, more paying customers. This seems simple enough, but payment technology advances quickly and it can be difficult to keep up with new methods as they arise.

Make sure your commerce platform can easily accept new payment types as they gain popularity. In 2024, this means digital wallets and Buy Now, Pay Later options. In fact, digital wallet transactions grew by 62% in Q3 2023opens in a new window versus the same quarter in 2022. More than half of commerce leaders (61%) offer installment payments, while 32% plan to add it in the next two years. The faster you can integrate new methods with your platform as they crop up, the faster you can earn sales — and customer loyalty.

7. Keep checkout consistent across channels

Ecommerce sites. Brick-and-mortar stores. Mobile and desktop apps. Businesses sell on many different channels, and costs can add up quickly if you rely on multiple vendors to perform one task across all your touchpoints.

For example, a brand may use one ecommerce payment provider to service their online stores, another for mobile shopping apps, and yet another for physical locations. This requires your teams to spend valuable time managing each vendor and completing lengthy installations. It also means duplicate work for each channel. Even worse? It can lead to disjointed experiences for your customers. It’s the software equivalent of too many cooks in the kitchen.

Fortunately, new ecommerce innovations are paving a better path. Partnerships between platform vendors and payment providers can help businesses deliver a unified experience across all touchpoints. You get a single view of payment activity with a single payment vendor that works across all channels. This makes it much easier to spot patterns, prevent and reduce fraud, and avoid payment declines.

8. Track and analyse every part of the ecommerce checkout process

While payment is often the last step in the checkout process, businesses need to think about it from the start. Payment is a critical part of the customer journey: it affects user experience, checkout conversion rates, and brand loyalty. It’s paramount that payment is simple, accurate, and safe—every time.

The best way to do this? Ensure your product and commerce teams have access to payment data and real-time visibility into important ecommerce metricsopens in a new window like conversion and cart abandonment rates, bounce rates, and net promoter scores. Your teams should be able to easily generate reports and dashboards from these data points and quickly identify patterns to avoid any issues — especially with the help of the right ecommerce reporting tools. For example, if abandoned cart metrics suddenly increase in a specific part of the world, commerce teams can investigate what’s going wrong during checkout and determine the right path forward.

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9. Prioritise fighting fraud

As commerce goes increasingly digital, bad actors follow the money. Nearly three-fourths of fraud and data-breach cases involve ecommerce merchants.

Strong fraud detection and prevention is essential for business success. Your approach should accurately target nefarious activity without hampering legitimate purchases. The right balance builds customer loyalty and brand trust. Too many false positives and expensive manual reviews frustrate customers, while loose fraud rules that don't stop bad actors can damage a brand's reputation.

Machine learning goes a long way toward preventing fraud without detracting from user experience. Once new scams are detected, the system can flag similar and subsequent attempts. These kinds of automated solutions can give businesses and customers peace of mind. And that’s crucial since fraud is the number one concern for business leaders, and only 52% of consumers say they trust companies. The right ecommerce payment solutions will mine data to constantly improve fraud detection and prevention to keep customers safe.

For example, some solutions use built-in fraud prevention to create risk scores based on multiple characteristics. They can also make it easy to adjust thresholds as needed for transactions that should be reviewed or declined. Customisable solutions allow teams to add new rules around verification failures or other specifics, such as when an IP address doesn’t match a credit card address.

10. Make ecommerce checkout possible on every channel

Customers don’t just interact with your brand on your website. They connect with you on social media, customer service channels, and through marketing touchpoints (like emails and SMS). To make the entire commerce journey more seamless, give customers the ability to transact wherever they prefer. Here’s how companies are using embedded commerceopens in a new window to turn every touchpoint into a possibility for a purchase:

  • 51% of organisations sell through shoppable social media posts or ads
  • 48% of organisations can collect payment through marketing emails
  • 53% of organisations give service agents order on behalf of capabilities

By embedding commerce capabilities into every part of the customer journey, you can collect payment on any channel and increase conversion. This also allows you to transact with customers on their terms, making ecommerce checkout simple and convenient.

Ready to win back abandoned carts and build brand loyalty with a seamless ecommerce checkout process?

Payment processing is complex. Brands must simplify checkout, combat fraud, and keep up with new methods, all while keeping user experience front and centre. Clunky, complicated checkout leads to abandoned carts, but an intuitive process helps build brand love and keeps shoppers returning for more. These tips, along with the right payment partner, will help you effortlessly juggle ecommerce payment priorities and grow with ease as new trends and methods emerge.

How can retailers achieve “brand love?”

  • Abandoned Cart Recovery: Implement automated email reminders for customers who leave items in their cart without completing the purchase. These reminders can include personalised incentives, such as discounts or free shipping, to encourage them to return and complete the transaction.
  • Personalisation: Leverage customer data to create tailored experiences. Recommend related products based on their browsing history or previous purchases. A personalised touch can make customers feel valued and increase the likelihood of conversion.
  • Post-Purchase Engagement: The journey doesn’t end after the sale. Send follow-up emails thanking customers for their purchases, providing order updates, and requesting reviews. Positive post-purchase interactions contribute to brand loyalty.
  • Loyalty Programs: Reward repeat customers with loyalty points, exclusive discounts, or early access to sales. A well-designed loyalty program can foster a strong connection between the brand and its customers.