Blog

04/30/15

5 Tips To Quickly Move Your Customer Through Checkout

Getting a user interested in a product is just one piece of the puzzle in eCommerce – unless the user frequently shops on your site, you’re going to hit a slight wall during the checkout process. Someone will add an item or items to his or her cart and then never make the purchase.

It’s called cart abandonment.

In eCommerce, we can’t have that – we need to focus our efforts on marketing and letting the infrastructure close sales on its own. Here are a couple of things to consider for your checkout process – if you take this advice into account, you can cut down on cart abandonment and increase your online sales.

Make it Effortless for the User to Find the Checkout

When a customer is in a retail store, once the individual has come to the decision to make a purchase, he or she just has to pick up their item and clearly locate the cash registers where a purchase can be made.

It’s important to replicate this easy-to-locate checkout by clearly displaying your cart button. It seems that in the age of overly-sleek eCommerce websites, many store owners have decided to tuck the cart button away in a corner without any text, using just an icon that blends into the wall.

That’s not effective. Your user should be able to scan the page and quickly locate where the cart button is.

  • Add a bigger cart button
  • Make the cart button a different color
  • Make the graphics of your cart button different from your other graphics (not too ugly, though)
  • Place it in the top-right corner, as that’s where most users looks first

Just make it clearly noticeable. You can head over to some eCommerce powerhouses to see how they’re displaying their cart buttons and then follow their leads.

It’s a UI improvement that will appeal to your non-techy visitors and reduce the amount of people who leave your shop without making a purchase.

Ajax Popups for Add Confirmation

When a visitor adds something to the cart, you don’t want to just pat him or her on the back. You want to either divert this potential customer to make a purchase, or divert him or her to other similar products that they may be likely to buy. (This meshes well with the goal of increasing average order amount.)

This helps you make more money, and it also improves the user experience for your site.

So when something is added, give your shopper the correct guidance – create a simple popup that congratulates him or her that successfully added the item to their cart. You should give some other options, too.

Here are some ideas to get your mind racing:

  • View all items in the cart (important)
  • Checkout (important!)
  • Link to category of the item that was added (which will have your top-converting products at the top of the page, of course)
  • Images of other similar products (take a look at the screenshot above from Lolly Wolly Doodle on offering complementary items, same size, category, or color items which can help with increasing the average size order)
  • Share buttons
  • Subscribe for a coupon before checkout
  • Promote a deal – (e.g. “Get another shirt for just $10!” linked to page with eligible shirts)

All of the above elements help you in some way, shape, or form. The first two are focused on speeding the customer through the checkout process – the remaining ones are there to improve his shopping experience in case he’s not quite ready to buy yet.

Make sure that when you create your ajax popup, you’re taking the next tip into account.

Make it Mobile

Isn’t it annoying when you have to fill out desktop forms on a mobile device? Clicking the fields is a pain and often imprecise; plus, it’s hard to do if you’re on the move. It’s the equivalent if trying to read something on a page that hasn’t been optimized for the smaller mobile screens – annoying!

Take a look at how much mobile traffic your site gets – if you’re not 100% optimized in your checkout process for these users, you will likely lose a percentage of them.

Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are mobile friendly, making it easy for both customers and storefronts to use Soldsie. Additionally, eCommerce platforms like Shopify have this mobile friendliness built, however there are many platforms that do not. It’s important to test, especially as Google recently rolled out a significant new mobile-friendly ranking algorithm which can potentially hurt a site that is mobile responsive. You can use a tool like Screenfly to see how your checkout displays to different mobile devices – if it’s not completely optimal on any one, work with your designer to make it so.

Let Them Know Where They Are

Ideally, your checkout should be one page. However, depending on your cart, this might not always be possible. (If you want to see an example of a perfectly-designed one-page checkout process, take a look at the screenshot above from Zappos.)

Let’s assume that your checkout process is three steps – step 1 is login or continue as guest, step 2 is shipping details, and step 3 is payment by either credit card or PayPal.

People are lazy. If you start asking the visitor to fill out information without letting them know when they’ll be done filling out information, people will exit the page. Plain and simple. This happens even with non-commerce signups.

You don’t have to make it too fancy – a simple progress indicator bar at the top of each page is fine. Just let them know where they are.

Offer Membership, But Don’t Require It

Of course, you want to get as many customers in your account system as possible. That’s your goal, though. There are many people who hate signing up for new services – if you’re pushy, they may abandon the process.

Some eCommerce store owners think that a small number of abandonments is okay in return for the increase in data that you get by forcing an account sign-up… but we disagree. Even if your number of signups is higher (it probably will be), you’re losing money and increasing the number of bogus/non-responsive signups that you get.

It’s much better to offer a membership, but also give an option to say no thanks – let me just get this over with.

You’ll capture the people who hate signing up for new accounts or are in a hurry, and if you give someone a smooth eCommerce experience with the proper downline in place, they’re much more likely to sign up in the future. Convenience in terms of having card and shipping details stored is a surprisingly big motivator – think about why you sign up for your favorite eCommerce stores instead of being a permanent guest?

Let them sign up – but don’t force them to. No one likes being forced to do anything against his will.

Speeding Along Checkout Tips

Visitors abandoning their carts is a very real problem for eCommerce owners – you have an interested customer, and you lose him or her (along with their money) forever because you weren’t efficient in getting them to pay.

Cut down on it with some simple modifications to your checkout process and how you display your checkout process. The five tips above will get you started – execute them and watch as you make more money with the same amount of traffic.

Of course, you will still end up with some shopping cart abandonment which is why it’s also important to implement an email system that gets triggered when a user does. Take a look at the screenshot above of an email sent from DoggyLoot when I added an item to the cart that I then abandoned.

The company does a great job of making the best of the email. They incorporated an image of the abandoned item which can help jog a customer’s memory. There’s a link to the item in my cart providing an easy way to continue the purchase process. Additionally, the email makes use of their store persona in the copy as well as some psychological triggers such as urgency (‘Fetch your items now before it’s too late!’) as well as plays on emotions (‘Please don’t disappoint your dog’), both of which motivate the user to go back to their cart. Finally, the email is also mobile friendly (remember the point above) so regardless of what device a potential customer uses, it’ll be easy to go from the email back to their shopping cart.

If you decide to incorporate these triggered emails, the best practice is to do so within one hour of abandonment, so that shoppers don’t have a chance to find the same item elsewhere.