Create an Ecommerce Checkout Experience Your Customers Will Like

By Christina

Aug 28, 2012

How many times have you visited a website and wanted to make a purchase but found an obstacle in your way.  You probably abandoned your purchase because you either didn't like the obstacle or didn't know how to deal with it.

Have you ever sat down and actually looked at your own ecommerce checkout process and identified what could go wrong for your customers?

Below you will find some handy tips which will increase your online shopping basket conversions.

1.  Do Your Visitors Really Have to Log In

How many one off purchases are you missing out on because you insist a buyer logs into an account? How many repeat purchases do you miss out on because your customer has forgotten their password and does not have time to look for it or wait for an email reminder?

Many large organisations are providing a 'guest login'.  This allows anyone to purchase from a website without having to sign in; you can prompt the purchaser to save their details if they so wish at the end.

It's a great way to capture the one off purchaser or those customers who are simply too busy to log in. 

The only negative for you is the one off purchaser can't be contacted via email or a newsletter at a later date to promote other products to.  But then again the one off purchaser is just that, they only want to buy this one time and are not likely to come back again.

2.  Let Shoppers Save Personal Information

You can also speed up the purchase process for your customers who have an account by completing the form where the information is available.  The customer should still be able to edit the form to make changes or updates.  Otherwise they simple check their details and confirm payment; the buyer literally makes a purchase with one click of a button.

Amazon kindle and Apple iTunes are brilliant at this one click purchase option.

Just a note of warning - you will need permission from your customer to store their information when they first register with you.

3.  Keep Forms Short

Keep your purchase process as short as possible and only ask for the information you really need and breaking the process up into bite size bits of information.

Firstly you could ask for Name and Email Address, secondly their delivery details and so on.  As mentioned above if you already have this information, display it so the customer only need confirm their details are correct.

By breaking the form up into bite sizes you will be able to implement a system where you can record where a customer drops off from their basket.  If many customers are dropping off at the same point, this highlights you have a problem that needs to be rectified.

You can also contact customers (who leave their basket) a day or so later by email to tell them their products are still there waiting, include a link back to their basket, giving you the opportunity to recover the sale.

4.  Progress Indicator

When breaking down the purchase process into bite sizes, you then face the problem the customer no longer knows how many forms they will have to complete and how long it's likely to take. 

The best way to deal with this is to have a bread crumb menu at the top of the screen such as:

Personal Details > Delivery Details > Payment Details > Complete Purchase

By highlighting the stage the customer is in, they will be happier to remain within the purchase process.

5.  Product Recommendations

Product recommendations help you increase your sales.  They also help your customer find those little extras they may need.

Your customer may want to purchase an item and doesn't realise they need something else to go with it, which is where you can add a product recommendation.  Clothes companies and DIY stores are becoming very good at this.  Take a look at Amazon to see an organisation who does this well.

By making recommendations you also speed up your customers purchasing process as they don't have to come back at a later date and make a second purchase.

6.  Don't Move Away From the Expected Flow

Your visitors when signing up to become a customer already have an expectation of the information you want and in what order you will want it.

Everyone expects to be asked for their name first and credit card details last.  If you ask for credit card details first the shopper is likely to become suspicious of your site and leave.

Do not deviate from the universally accepted purchase process.  There is a logical flow to it which does not need to be changed.

7.  Offer Quicker Processing and Shipping

Another way to speed up the check out process is to offer quicker processing and shipping for a fee.  You will need to make it clear at the beginning of the purchase what your fee is to avoid basket abandonment if you had added it at the end.

It's another way for you to earn some extra money as well.

8.  Where Are Your Contact Details

Help your customer out by including your customer service telephone number at every stage of the purchasing process.

LessEverything carried out a survey which showed an increase of 1.8% in sales conversion when a website had their telephone number in a prominent position on every page.

9.  Make Mistakes Stand Out

People make mistakes; once your customer hits submit do not return them to the same form without making it clear that a mistake has been made.

At the top of the page tell them about the mistake and how to identify it.  If necessary put a great big thick read line around the box needing correction.  Next to the box put a quick explanation for those customers who may need a little extra help.

People will thank you for making this easy.

10.  Are you Secure

Although people are worried about handing over their personal information, comScore have reported online businesses are seeing a 17% year on year increase in sales.

Include a link to your privacy policy which will reassure your customers.  Also have a secure purchasing facility such as SSL or PayPal to mention a few.

Many customers will look for the secure purchase processing badges before they purchase - make sure you have them.

11.  Let the Customer Review Their Order

Let your customer review their order before they make that final commitment to purchase reassuring them there are no hidden charges.

If you only implement at least half of these suggestions you will see an improvement in your sales.

Website Design and Development

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