Most retailers are focused, rightly so, on improving cart abandonment rates. But it’s equally important to understand what happens earlier in the process, when more than one quarter of shoppers abandon a site during the checkout process.
Starting the checkout process is a greater commitment than simply adding items to the cart. Checkout abandonment happens after the purchase decision has been made, which means there’s something in the checkout process causing ready-to-buy customers to get frustrated and leave without making a purchase.
Optimizing the checkout process is a continuous undertaking that should always involve testing. This post examines best practices based on the review of thousands of websites, extensive heat mapping studies, Commerce Cloud benchmarking data and industry statistics. Keep in mind, what works for one retailer may not work for another. A/B test your checkout updates to see how your customers react and the effect it has on your overall conversion rate and checkout funnel metrics.
Position Guest Checkout FIRST on the Checkout Login Page
According to a study by Baymard Institute, 37% of consumers would abandon a checkout if they thought the site required account creation. This is further evidenced by Commerce Cloud customer data, which shows that 85% of checkouts are made by guests.
It bears repeating – Do not require account creation for checkout. Once you overcome the hurdle of getting customers to start a checkout, converting the sale becomes more important than collecting data. Customers prefer guest checkout, so make it easy for them to find, and place it first on the page.
When the sign-in fields are at the top of the page, the other options such as guest checkout can get pushed down the screen on mobile until they are no longer visible. This can create the illusion that an account is required to continue with checkout. Mobile shoppers tend to be in a hurry and are even more averse to creating an account than web shoppers.
Alternate Header in Checkout
Don’t introduce your alternate header too soon. Sometimes sites will display the alternate header on the shopping cart page – this is too early. We know from click-rate data that shoppers make repeat visits to the cart to review products and pricing. The main navigation and search should be intact on the shopping cart header so that visitors can quickly re-engage with other areas of the site. Once shoppers enter the checkout funnel, it’s appropriate to display an alternate header to reduce distractions and keep the customer focused on continuing through the checkout process.
If you use an alternate header, be sure it features your logo with a link back to your homepage, customer service information, live chat and shipping and return policies.
Note the difference in the shopping cart header (above) vs. the simplified header (below) once the shopper enters the checkout process.
Also, provide a clear way to navigate between checkout steps and show the customer that they’re making progress. See this example from vineyard vines.
People shop online primarily because it’s convenient. That said, every step in the checkout process must not only be concise and clear, but absolutely necessary. Here are some proven strategies:
There are rare occasions (for example, if the customer can skip the shopping cart) when brands must have promo code functionality in the billing step, but in most cases this functionality is best displayed only on the shopping cart page.
Security Badging and Guarantee Messaging
Boost customer confidence with messaging and trust icons. As pervasive as online shopping is, 20% of shoppers don’t purchase because they are concerned about security. Even the largest, most trusted brands can benefit from displaying a lock icon on buttons and labeling buttons with the words, “secure checkout.”
Additionally, remind customers of your value proposition and services like risk-free shopping, your satisfaction guarantee and free returns if you offer them.
Optimizing checkout and reducing abandonment is a process of continual improvement and testing. Making user-friendly changes in the checkout process can have a big payoff with increases in conversion and revenue. Put your current checkout process to the test with the UX best practices shared here. Remember, there are almost always opportunities to optimize on mobile and desktop and be sure to test and measure your results.
In the meantime, be sure to check out our Commerce Cloud video demo to learn how we help retailers quickly deliver unified, intelligence-driven experiences across all channels, on any device.