Each ecommerce business is unique but there are some common approaches that can inspire merchants and give some hints on how to improve the operation of online store. Now we’re going to talk about checkout flow which is the most important process in ecommerce because its effectiveness identifies whether or not a visitor completes the purchase.
Before checkout, the users could have searched on different websites, compared various products, considered a lot of reviews and even discussed the purchase with friends or relatives. The decision making process can be hard and long that is why such users are very valuable. It takes a lot of strength to bring the users to this stage, so everything should be done in order not to lose them.
Here are some tips that can inspire merchants to find ideas on how to improve their checkout flow:
1. Don’t ask users to do a lot of actions during the checkout process
As noted above, users could do a lot of work to search the right product and if they need to fill in many fields on the final stage before purchase, they can leave the store. So, any information that is not needed to accept the payment should be removed from the checkout page.
For example, don’t ask about the date of birth, or the sphere of interests or hobbies. The number of required fields should be minimised.
2. Carefully consider the design and functionality of checkout
It is better if this procedure is organised on one page. In this way it does not look so complex compared to several steps, and is more convenient for users.
Anyway, the checkout page should not look like an alien element and must comply with the design of the website.
In general, the design should be user-friendly and look trustworthy. There are some recommendations:
- The content should be organised in a tabular form so that the users are able to analyse all the items and see the final costs. This approach will help to avoid mistakes.
- In actual practice, the fields marked with a star are required to be filled in; other fields are optional. This is what the users are accustomed to.
- The users should be able to modify the order, delete or add items.
- Next to each checkout field there has to be a brief explanation of what the user should enter and in which format.
- If the user enters incorrect information, it is important to provide them with the message indicating where the mistake is and what is wrong. The field with mistake may be highlighted in red and contain clear notification what needs to be corrected. Don’t force the user to guess. The checkout flow must be mobile-friendly.
3. Provide security
There is nothing to discuss. Checkout flow must guarantee maximum security and protection of the data. Today, HTTPS is a ‘must be’ for any online store.
4. Provide users with real time assistance
Since the checkout flow requires user’s effort many users can experience some problems because of misunderstanding or some specific questions that can’t be easily answered using the available information.
In these situations it may be important to provide them with professional support. Even if you have a FAQ-page, don’t rely on it. If the user doesn’t receive an answer, they most likely stop the checkout process. Better stimulate them to send the question to online chat. Professional manager can solve the problem quicker.
5. Check and test “Add to Cart” button
First of all the “Add to Cart” button has to be clearly visible and what is more significant, it should work properly. When users choose the product and add something to the shopping cart, what happens next?
The users must be informed that the product has been added. It is very simple functionality but many online store owners forget to implement it or just display not clear confirmation as a small text or poor animation, which is invisible to the user.
6. Don’t show other offers with other products
Any banners or other advertising elements can attract users’ attention and make them start searching again, and it is hard to predict whether or not they will come back.
Many stores display “you might also like” section on product pages.
It is a cross-selling strategy and it is absolutely correct. But this element should be removed from the checkout flow. It can hurt and distract the customer from the purchase.
7. Try to reduce stress from parting with money
Yes, some people think a lot before making a decision about purchase and this moment can be stressful for them. There are some recommendations what can be done:
- Don’t surprise your customers with changing prices. If the final price is displayed including the delivery cost or taxes and becomes higher on the checkout page, a lot of users prefer to stop the checkout process.
- Remind about your Refund Policy. It may serve as a discreet reminder that “You can return your purchased items to our Store within 14 calendar days of receiving your order.” In this way you inform the user that, if they make a mistake and buy a wrong product, there is a possibility to correct the situation. In such a way you reduce the risk in the mind of the buyer.
8. Provide all possible and popular payment methods
The customer wants to buy, but they are not able to pay because the necessary payment method is not available, it is nonsense.
Some online stores display the most popular payment methods and additional methods are displayed separately, like when you click “Show more” button to see the full list. It is very important to test this page for usability to be sure that users can find all the methods easily and understand what to do. In other words, you must be sure that the list of payment methods being displayed is not perceived as “that’s all we have”.
9. Carefully consider a final message
It is also a part of checkout flow which must be finished properly.
These are the elements that should be present in the final message:
- thanking for the purchase
- summarising what was bought
- delivery information
- contact information in case the client has questions concerning purchase or usage of the product
And just in closing, it should be noted that only real users can give an answer if the checkout flow works properly.
It is important to analyse the rate of abandoned carts and all stages of checkout where users stop the process. If the rate is high or becomes higher compared to previous period, it is a subtle hint where the problems are.