If you’ve spent any time obsessing over sales data, you’ve probably seen the drop in conversion rates at the checkout page or how much work your abandoned cart emails are doing.
While abandoned carts and customer opt-outs are facts of life in the ecommerce world, an optimized checkout can do wonders for keeping people on track until they finish their purchases.
Even if your abandoned cart email is performing well, the extra effort to capture those purchases increases your cost per acquisition and reduces margins.
Ideally, customers will make a purchase the first time around. So having a well-optimized checkout process can save you money and boost your bottom line.
The guiding principle behind optimizing your checkout is to reduce the number of clicks that it takes to complete a purchase.
There are plenty of behavioral studies that show that fewer required clicks lead to higher conversion rates. The most common reasons for cart abandonment are related to issues with the checkout flow.
That’s why companies like Amazon have gone so far as to offer one-click buying.
With that in mind, here are 7 steps you can take to optimize your checkout process that will result in more sales.
Remove the Account Creation Requirement
The number one reason people back out of a purchase during the checkout process is because the site wants them to create an account.
If your site requires customers to create accounts to complete their purchases, you’re losing a lot of sales.
The best place to prompt customers to create an account is in the order confirmation email. It’s the least intrusive and you’ve already got the sale. Additionally, once people have made a purchase, they rarely stick around to find out what you’ve got after the thank you page.
Compress Your Checkout Flow Into One Page
The second most common reason for cart abandonment is because the checkout process was too long or complicated.
An easy way to take care of this is by reducing the entire checkout process to one page.
As you can see, minimizing your checkout like this does present some limitations. You’ll only be able to offer a few shipping methods and a few payment methods.
However, lack of payment and shipping options are rather far down the list when it comes to reasons people drop off in the checkout process.
You’ll pick up far more sales than you lose by reducing your checkout to one page.
If you can’t fit your entire checkout process into one page, add a visual progress indicator to your checkout screens so that customers know how far through the process they are.
Show the Final Cost ASAP
Unexpected costs cause a lot of cart abandonment.
The biggest offender here is shipping cost. Even though people should expect shipping costs, they feel like a surprise when the shipping is added at the very end.
Structure your checkout so that you gather all the information you need to give an accurate grand total up front. That way customers know how much they’re paying right away, and never feel like they’ve been slapped with an added expense.
Autofill Form Fields
The fewer fields the customer needs to fill in, the better.
The good news is that many form fields are pretty easy to autofill.
With a bit of coding savvy, you can setup your checkout to autofill these fields pretty easily:
1. Credit card type.
All credit card numbers contain a sequence of numbers that identify the type of credit card that it is. Once the customer has entered his or her card number, it’s a fairly simple bit of code to auto-select the card type.
Pro tip: only show the credit card type after the number is entered, so the user doesn’t try to click on it to select the card type.
Based on the customer’s IP address, you can detect which country they are in and autofill the country field for shipping and billing address.
3. City and State.
Place the zip code field right under the address field, and autofill the city and state based on the zip code that the user enters.
This reduces the amount of typing that customers must do to make a purchase, and eliminates typos in the city and state fields.
However, allow the customer to edit the city and state fields even after they’ve been auto-detected. Zip code detection is accurate, but not 100% accurate. So make sure users can correct any mistakes.
Preselect the Shipping Method
Preselecting the shipping method reduces the buying process by one click and one decision.
Which shipping method is best to preselect is up for debate. But, whether you preselect the cheapest or the fastest shipping method, you’ll simplify your checkout flow.
Highlight Your Security and Trust Seals
Plenty of people will decide not to buy if they don’t trust your site with their credit card or personal information.
Highlighting your security and trust seals adds credibility to your site and retains these sales.
Optimize For Page Load Times
This is most important for your home page and product pages. But it matters for your checkout page too.
Page load times of longer than three seconds cause nearly 50% site abandonment rates. Additionally, 79% of customers say they’re less likely to make a repeat purchase if they’re dissatisfied with a website’s performance.
So it stands to reason that slow load times on your checkout pages will cause people to abandon their carts. This is especially true if the customer has already been irritated by other slow pages on your site.
To ensure that your checkout pages load smoothly:
- Reduce the number of images on the page.
- Use JPEG images unless you need to use a PNG image. PNG images are not data efficient.
- Use just one stylesheet for your site.
- Avoid inline CSS code.
- Reduce the number of plugins that run on your site.
Additionally, check that your website is able to meet the performance demands, because slow hosting will sabotage all of your efforts.
If your current ecommerce CMS is quite outdated, or your hosting company isn’t great, consider migrating to a newer site — some of the businesses for sale through online marketplaces comprise fast and simple stores running on excellent hosting packages, so you can always get updated that way (it will also help with the other loading tips we just looked at).
That’s the long and the short of optimizing your checkout.
Most of these are fairly simple changes. If you implement just a few of them, you’ll most likely see a lift in your conversions and end up sending fewer abandoned cart emails.
Based on these tips, how well is your checkout optimized?
Leave a comment and let us know how you plan to get more sales with a better checkout process.