Six ways to optimise your e-commerce checkout

Conversion optimisation expert Carl Hannemann says that e-commerce retailers need to focus more on checkout page optimisation to boost their online sales. Here, he explains why and how.

For many e-commerce owners, a common source of frustration is seeing shoppers browse through the website, add products to the cart and leave without making the purchase. Baymard Institute reports that for every 100 potential customers, 67 will leave without purchasing. According to Statista this is due to reasons such as unexpected costs (56%), complicated site navigation (25%) and a long checkout process (21%).

Carl Hannemann, Managing Director of conversion optimisation agency Triggr blames the lack of checkout optimisation for the high checkout drop-offs and low conversion rate.

“Over the past five years, e-commerce user experience has improved a great deal in moving shoppers through the sales funnel, but checkouts still seem to lag behind, with industry estimates putting checkout abandonment at around 50 to 75 per cent.”

Hannemann points to the complexity of purchasing options and varied needs of each site and its audience as the primary reasons that make checkout page optimisation difficult.

So, how can website owners optimise their checkout page?

To keep moving shoppers forward through the checkout, you have to give users what they want, improve user experience and make it convenient for them to make an informed decision to buy.

Here, Hannemann outlines the top optimisation tips for e-commerce checkouts.

1. Enclosed checkout. An enclosed checkout isolates the checkout process from the website by removing all distractions in the header, footer and left-side navigation menus. For example, John Lewis, a UK retail chain, utilises the “classic enclosed checkout where the top navigation and site search disappear”, he says. Its uncluttered and user-friendly design keeps “user attention focused on a limited number of options”.

2. Security. A quarter of the consumers surveyed by Statista cited security as the reason for abandoning shopping carts. This means that conveying trust through security seals, providing multiple payment options and building a secure checkout should be at the top of every site owner’s list. “The secure nature of a checkout means that technical issues are more difficult and expensive to resolve. Establishing trust requires nuance and TLC, and is not as simple as adding an SSL certificate logo on the page,” Hannemann says. He points again to John Lewis’s checkout page for featuring prominent “continue securely” call to actions “that reinforce security information”.

3. Order summary. An increasing number of e-commerce sites display the total order summary throughout the checkout process to reduce cart abandonment due to customers’ perceived notions of unexpected costs (shipping or tax). “Mecca showcases the total order summary on the checkout page as the user progresses through the different stages of checkout,” says Hannemann. “This gives the user reassurance and reduces doubt while entering sensitive information.”

4. Guest checkout. Everyone loves fast and easy account creation. Online retailers should offer a quick and easy way to complete a purchase instead of a compulsory account creation. Some of the ways to do this are guest checkout, social media log-in and one-step registration. “Fashion retailer ASOS allows users to complete the purchase using their social media log-ins,” says Hannemann.

5. Staged checkout. Many e-commerce checkouts now display the different stages of the checkout process to give users an indication of where they are and how long it will take to complete the checkout process. Hannemann explains that this allows a user to click on any individual stage, and move from one part of the checkout to another easily.

6. Product recommendations. Hannemann points to another effective, yet under-utilised, checkout practice where customers are recommended complementary products before the checkout. Online retailer Michael Kors recommends cross-sells, upsells and related products just before checkout to complement a customer’s shopping experience.

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