#checkout#online checkout

Ecommerce checkout best practices

Denis Khorolsky 18/02/2021 13 min read

Over $18 billion gets lost annually in the US alone due to shopping cart abandonment.

When a customer fills their cart with goods and leaves the platform without completing a purchase. This number is enormous. But you can change the situation for your business.

An extent of shopping cart abandonment will always exist, but there lower the ratio – the higher the income. It is possible to reduce shopping cart abandonment by adopting good practices. Implementing poor procedures, however, can increase shopping cart abandonment and damage your revenue. In this article, we will discuss various good and bad practices and the nuances coming with them.

First, it is vital to separate causes of shopping cart abandonment - there are ones that retailers can affect and those they can not. There will always be people who enjoy browsing and adding items to carts without ever planning to purchase them. Some people add items by accident, some get distracted by live events. And there is nothing that an eCommerce store can do to change it. However, a large proportion comes from eCommerce websites and their UX - and this is what this article will focus on. 

ECommerce web development is formed around customer psychology. Understanding customer behavior allows building a commercially successful website, including best eCommerce checkout experience practices.

Contents:

  • What does an eCommerce store checkout look like?
  • Best practices
    • Cross-platform accessibility
    • Early email
    • Remove distractions
    • Simple and quick
    • Data validation
    • Security
    • Multiple payment options
  • Poor Practices
    • Slow/ non-dynamic shopping cart
    • Disruptive registration
    • Shipping costs
  • Conclusion

What does an eCommerce store checkout look like?

Ecommerce checkout consists of a sequence of interconnected steps. At this stage, a browsing shopper becomes a paying customer. It happens after customers have made their choices of what they want and have explored the website. At checkout, customers usually ensure they have correct items, exact quantities, and specifications. That is followed by shipping information, shipping method, payment method choice, order preview (where the customer can check filled-in details), and order confirmation. A common practice is sending a notification confirming a successful order as a final step.  

It looks quite simple – yet there are plenty of possible pitfalls. Getting this process right and smooth is critical – at the end of the day, this is how businesses receive cash.

Let’s explore the best practices known to improve sales and reduce shopping cart abandonment.
 

Best practices

Cross-platform accessibility

First of the “to do” in our list may seem quite obvious. Yet many businesses fail to make a proper mobile UX, even in the modern days! Having a suitable cross-platform website is essential for the business. It has been estimated that more than 42% of all eCommerce shopping is done through mobile device use. It is crucial to make the website easily accessible from all platforms, whether it’s PCs, tablets, or mobile devices. Having optimal navigation is key – as well as consistency and convenience. Making a smooth, easy UX mobile checkout is essential. The number of input fields should be kept to the absolute minimum.

Another thing to consider is the pop-up windows. Are there some occurring when items are added to the cart? Are there any at checkout? Pop-up windows do not work on mobile devices, and it is best to keep mobile eCommerce checkout as a single page. Scrolling, banners, sizing also has to be considered as mobile UI significantly differs from a desktop version.

Early email

Obtaining customers’ email addresses early in the process is always good. Why?

First, it can tell if a customer already has an account and offer a password recovery option if needed. Second, it enables a customer to checkout as a guest, with a future possibility of creating an account. A frequent option is where a customer is offered a discount for the first order upon signing up for newsletters. The only requirement there will be an email. Having captured email independently of checkout flow can increase conversion and customer satisfaction. 

This can help massively for a shopping cart abandonment campaign – email series reminding customers of full an unpaid shopping carts brings back around 15% of the customers. A large win with small effort!

Having customer emails has other hidden benefits. For example, it can be used to study customer behavior, personalizing email marketing campaigns. More and more eCommerce stores are using AI to understand customer preferences. Buying frequency preferred styles, brands, and even timing are being gathered. And having customer’s emails allows feeding the marketing back even without customers having to register.

Remove distractions

Best eCommerce checkout examples demonstrate that headers, footers, adverts, and all other links that can potentially distract customers from the checkout process will end up distracting them. Imagine your customer reaching the checkout step only to see a banner that will take them off the checkout page when pressed. More than that, these can be pressed accidentally, completely throwing off all the details customers have already put in. Only people who really want and need their items will come back to their shopping cart after being taken off it. 

Let’s examine one of the world’s sales leaders, Amazon:

If you have ever shopped with Amazon, you will be aware that you cannot return to browsing once you have pressed the checkout button. Going back can only be done through manual page reload. The label at the top is not interactive and will not take you back. As part of the header, the complete checkout process is listed, having the current step highlighted. 


Simple and quick

Amazon is also an example of perfect eCommerce checkout as there is nothing other than checkout itself. It can also be also an example of the quickest eCommerce checkout as all the payment and delivery options are already present. All it takes for the customer is to pick the shipping time and cost, with several available options. “Place your order” completes the purchase and brings you back to the interactive Amazon page. 

Ecommerce checkout UI outlay should be as clear and as simple as possible. All the steps should be obvious and easy to follow—the fewer custom input fields, the better, as it slows down the process. The design should be intuitive and self-explanatory; the customers shall not be confused by which details to fill in next or the input field. The summary of the order, item quantity, and price should be clearly visible.  


Asos is another example of an extremely successful online retailer. Their shopping cart is a perfect example of a simple, straightforward checkout UI. Customers can see what is in their shopping cart, size, color, quantity, and how much it costs. Added delivery options – and that is all that is needed. This outlay is also intuitive to the user as it follows the natural left-to-right flow of the text.

It is necessary to mention that the eCommerce checkout flow should be easy and consistent with the user journey. Imagine a customer planning to purchase multiple items who gets forcefully dragged to the checkout process every time they add an item to the cart! 

Here is an excellent example of how customers can choose whether they want to check out immediately or simply add an item to the cart and continue browsing. 

This can be provided through both embedded buttons, like in the example above, or with a pup up.

Data validation

One of the easiest ways to speeding up the eCommerce checkout process is using address validation solutions. There are many ways this can be dealt with, starting from customers’ own browser auto-filling the needed data. However, there are quite a few other features an eCommerce brand can use to optimize the checkout. 

A common feature nowadays is a delivery address autofill, based on the postcode. It is incredibly convenient and saves the time of manually typing in the details. In some instances, this option is unavailable – for example, if a person lives in a remote area or in a new building that has not been added to the address databases yet. But even then, other things can be added.

For example, international brands can automatically integrate a service that recognizes IP addresses and converts the price into the region’s currency.

Multiple currency checkout eCommerce is an advanced option that can help many businesses succeed as more brands are trading globally. It is crucial to enable customers to see prices in local currencies and provide them with options for various currencies to pay with.

Finally, enabling payment platforms such as Paypal can save time for filling in addresses, too, as it is possible to set delivery addresses to “same as billing”.

Security

Lately, more and more users are concerned about cybersecurity and would consciously avoid websites that seem unsafe. Implementing strategies that increase trust amongst customers is extremely important, especially for small business eCommerce checkout as they might not have a widely known reputation just yet. Displaying reviews from previous customers, quality certificates,  business accreditations, clear T&Cs instructions, and logos of multiple payment certifications could massively increase the trust. Online security brands provide payment security, too, so displaying their badges can improve customer assurance.  

Another significant practice for improving eCommerce checkout conversion is purchasing SSL to keep customers at the same domain during payment. Transferring customers to a third-party checkout provider can be concerning for many. This practice is strongly associated with fraud and suspicious activities, so it is best to be avoided. Having a store URL at all stages of the user journey is something that will build customer trust.

Another feature that will increase trust is a transparent exchange and returns policy, with terms and costs displayed. It should explicitly cover the conditions and timing of refunds.

Multiple payment options

More and more payment options are available these days, accommodating customers with various circumstances, including financial and geographical. The need for currency options for international businesses was discussed above, but what else can businesses do?

The best eCommerce checkout page will have multiple verified payment methods. Starting from different bank card options, Paypal, and digital wallets, ending with newer technologies such as Klarna or credit purchases. Of course, payment options will largely depend on the country in which payment is made. For example, Klarna only covers America, UK, and Northern European countries. Paypal accommodates payments in more than 200 countries and supports 25 currencies. Store credit and finance purchases availability strongly depends on local legislation. Some stores and countries allow the “buy now pay later” option, usually withdrawing money 30 days after the purchase.

Understanding local financial legislation will ensure your customers have the most exhaustive amount of payment options available. And integration of professional payment platforms will ensure the security of payments and refunds.

Poor Practices

Being aware of potential mistakes is the best way to prevent them. Let’s have a look at the most common poor practices and mistakes eCommerce stores make and explore what can be done to avoid adverse outcomes.

Inadequate emphasis on the shopping cart or confusing design

Some businesses mistake having a shopping cart so insignificant or unusually placed that customers forget about it. They either are looking for it somewhere else, or maybe they forget they have something in the cart as the number of items is not displayed. Sometimes, the cart is too small or has a quirky design that cannot be easily recognized. Unfortunately, sometimes creativity can be taken to an extreme and can lead to poor UX solutions.

This can be easily avoided by sticking to a more soothing color scheme. Organizing the website menu following modern trends is essential, too. For example, most users nowadays are accustomed to the shopping cart menu at the top of the right corner and will be looking for it there. From a design perspective, it is essential to ensure customers can find what they are looking for.

Slow/ non-dynamic shopping cart

One second loading delay can sum up to millions of lost sales over the year. Whenever the cart is refreshed, shipping costs are added or item quantity is updated, having to wait will turn off a large number of customers. People are accustomed to a dynamically changing world, and the fast pace of online services is amongst those things which are not considered a luxury anymore. Every big brand can offer an optimized shopping experience, and unless your customers are incredibly loyal and patient, they will shop where their modern expectations are met. Besides, giving them extra time to think may turn them off the purchase – as bad as it sounds. 

Every change at the checkout should be integrated dynamically and smoothly without any noticeable delays.

Disruptive registration

Mandatory account registration before checkout is a massive deal-breaker. According to surveys, it counts for up to 25-30% of all shopping cart abandonment cases. Indeed, a large number of customers want the instant gratification of purchase, and an interruption can severely cool down their excitement about the product. Some people simply will not have time or interest in having their account registered – knowing that will lead to them having to verify email, confirm their contact number, and so on. Customers came for a shopping experience, not for a bureaucratic procedure. This is particularly true for new customers who are shopping at a particular eCommerce for the first time. It is likely that they want to see what the shopping experience is before committing to an account.

Shipping costs

Let’s be honest – no one likes paying for shipping. Carefully picking your items, accounting for the budget, only finds that there are another 10$ to pay on the top! This can upset a large number of people. You probably can recall several personal experiences, where shipping cost too high was the deal breaker for the purchase. Some research says that up to 61% of people will cancel their shopping plans if the shipment isn’t offered for free.

There always are other retailers who might be offering free shipping. So,  make sure you are the retailer to whom disappointed customers come, seeking justice for unfairly declared shipping costs. 

Having free shipment is a great option. However, if you cannot offer this due to your specific business needs, many things can be done.

First of all, you can offer free shipment on orders over a certain amount – this has shown to be a successful way of increasing sales. 

Secondly, you can offer a standard shipment that is clearly displayed, and customers do not feel “tricked”. In case you are selling items of different sizing, i.e., furniture, you might want to dedicate a page with straightforward calculations of the price of shipment for various bands of size and weight.

Finally, there is another alternative – for example, brands like Amazon and Asos offer annual or monthly subscription fees, guaranteeing you next-day free delivery. 

Conclusion

Ecommerce is highly competitive, and every single stage of the user journey should be well planned. While there is a lot of space for creativity and design, the checkout process should be as clear and as obvious as possible. Customers should be able to complete it quickly without unnecessary distractions and confusion. Every successful checkout increases revenue – and we at WiserBrand are always happy to support your business needs and help you create a perfect eCommerce checkout.