You’ve done your due diligence in driving traffic to your site. You’ve optimized for SEO. You’re offering some great deals, writing interesting blog posts and using social media for extra awareness. Only, you’re not making enough sales… So what are you doing wrong? It could be that your online checkout process is hindering your results.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, shoppers spent more money online during April-May 2020 than they did during the 2019 holiday season – something that has never happened before. And while government mandates asked people to stay home, shopping habits changed too – household appliances, electronics, DIY items saw a 625% YoY growth from March to May 2020.
Whether you’re selling high-tech electronics, sporting goods or really anything else, now is the time to truly optimize your site. Grab the attention of a growing market and see if your checkout UX [user experience] could be improved to boost your sales. Here are 10 tips to optimize your checkout process.
1. Shorten your checkout process
Fact: If the checkout process isn’t quick enough you will see customers leave before they complete their transactions. A recent survey showed 21% of abandoned shopping carts are due to a long or complicated checkout process. How do you know if it’s complicated? Test your UX yourself, or get an honest friend (who doesn’t know your site as well as you do) to help you here. Pretend you’re a customer and walk through the steps to make a purchase. Take notes on where you find it difficult. Here are some ways to optimize your checkout process UX by shortening it:
- Consider what steps or screens you could remove, or combine.
- Don’t make creating an account a requirement.
- Ask for the bare minimum information to complete the transaction (contact and address information, credit card data, as well as email should suffice).
- Look at your analytics to see which page in the process customers are exiting –is there a field they are struggling to enter information, or is the navigation confusing? Consider updating copy or design flow and recheck your analytics for progress.
Shorten the checkout process. Ask for the bare minimum information to complete the transaction.
2. Be mindful of additional offers
Have you ever been bombarded with additional offers at checkout? You’re ready to complete a purchase, and you’re asked if you want to double your order for a discount, or add on related items.
You may think that you’re giving your customers some great incentives to get a better deal overall. But, realize that this can be a huge turnoff for many customers –especially if they came to your site to only purchase specific items. Dig into your sales data to see whether this strategy has been successful at all to determine whether you should nix it from the checkout process.
3. Make your customers feel safe
As a society, many people are comfortable providing sensitive data like our credit card numbers online. In fact, only 17% of visitors abandon checkout pages because they don’t trust sites with their payment information. As it’s not one of the major reasons for cart abandonment, it can be easy to overlook. But consider what’s available on your site. If you sell expensive items such as electronics, customers are going to expect evidence that they’re legitimate items, with trusted warranties and descriptions. Don’t lose out on these missed opportunities. Make sure your website provides customers with the level of confidence required to hit the “buy” button.
See your website from your customer’s perspective… Does it look like a reputable site? Decide for yourself using our questions below:
- Do you display SSL seals and trust seals to confirm your website is secure and trustworthy?
- Is your checkout process all on one page?
- Do you provide descriptions and extra information on how to fill in all fields?
- Are your checkout pages unified with the same design as the rest of your website?
And there’s more! Customers like being reassured of safety throughout the purchase process, so include signage that attests to that. Consider getting an accredited business logo, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Customers recognize these logos, which you typically place toward the bottom of your website, as a sign that a website is reputable. Also, include your company contact info on each stage of the checkout process. Along with making your business look trustworthy, accountable and willing to help, it gives the customer the opportunity to contact you with questions before purchasing.
4. Optimize website design and UX
If your checkout page is cluttered, or if it’s difficult to find the button to continue to the next step, you’ll lose customers. Also, don’t make the mistake of creating a hard-to-exit purchasing process once a customer is in the checkout pages. Shoppers don’t like to feel pressured into a purchase –even if they’re nearly there.
The more simplified the checkout process layout, the easier it should be to make a purchase.
- Include checkout buttons at the bottom and top of the page, so that no matter where a customer is on the page, it’s easy to move to the next step.
- Consider adding a widget that follows the customer as they scroll down the page.
5. Give your customers more payment options
Your sluggish sales might be due to the limited forms of payment you accept. Make sure customers can pay with multiple types of credit or debit cards, with Mastercard and Visa being the most popular, as well as an online payment service like Paypal.
Allow customers to securely store their credit card info for future purchases to increase the likelihood they’ll be back.
6. Provide the option to save an online cart for purchase later
Offer an option to save. Not every customer is ready to purchase right away, nor do they want to feel pressured into a “now-or-never” feeling within the checkout process. Make sure you provide the option to return to the checkout process at a later date, so the customer can easily complete the purchase at a convenient time.
Make it easy for customers to update or remove items from their online carts, whenever they’d like to. Similar to allowing the customer to return to the checkout at a later time, it’s important to keep the process as convenient and streamlined as possible. Allow them to tweak their items, so they don’t have to start the whole process again.
7. Make your shopping experience mobile friendly
Shopping from a mobile device is a booming business due to its sheer convenience. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re in for a serious risk of being left in the dark. There are hundreds of great stats about the rising use of smartphones, but we’ll share this one with you for now: 79% of smartphone users made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months of 2019. And with the rise in e-commerce from the pandemic, we predict that number will continue to increase as time goes on.
When creating a great mobile checkout UX, consider these pointers:
- Ensure your desktop site and your mobile site are aligned in design and layout. Users are more likely to bounce if they think your site has multiple identities – it’s confusing if they’re used to one format and doesn’t show a strong brand presence.
- Remember that shoppers will be browsing with their thumbs, not a mouse. Ensure all interactive buttons are easy to reach and similarly placed on your site.
- Don’t provide as many ways to interact on the screen without a scrolling function. Without a mouse, it’s easy to click on the wrong thing if buttons are too close together.
8. Follow up on abandoned shopping carts
Do you have a strategy to check in with visitors who started to make a purchase and then didn’t complete it? It may be that they thought they finished the transaction, or that they plan to come back later to make a purchase.
Create an automated email that sends a notice to shoppers, reminding them of the items they left in their virtual shopping cart. While some marketing emails can remain unopened, 45% of online cart abandonment emails are opened, and 50% of shoppers actually re-visit their online cart! You can even include a discount to entice them to finish the purchase.
9. Make shipping and returns an easy process
For a streamlined UX, customers want up-front information about when their order will be shipped, how long it will take and how much it will cost. Returns are also important –not only do shoppers want the flexibility to return their purchases, they’re more likely to shop again if returns can be made easily. In a recent survey, 92% of consumers said that they’d buy again after an easy returns process.
- In addition to creating a page specifically addressing shipping and returns, link to these pages in the shopping cart process for easy access.
- Consider including a shipping estimator tool that lets shoppers figure out what their approximate shipping expenses will be before they continue with a purchase.
- Offer free shipping with minimum order purchases to reduce the risk of sticker-shock on the final checkout page. Find out how you can pass on the savings to you customers with our article 5 Tips for Saving Money on Shipping
10. Make sure your item arrives as described!
Remember, the customer experience doesn’t end at checkout. A perfect delivery proves you lived up to the expectations set in the online checkout process. Ensure your items are packaged securely enough to withstand any bumps in the journey and exposure to weather conditions. Also, it’s specifically important for items of high value to be shipped in tamper-evident packaging.
- Use anti-static packaging for tech equipment. Protective packaging such as tissue paper and polystyrene can cause static –permanently damaging to electronic circuitry. For electronics, it’s important to always use anti-static materials when shipping these valuable products.
- High-value items are favourable among thieves when in-transit. For peace-of-mind, keeping packaging undescriptive, with tamper-evident seals will help to prohibit tampering or theft.
Shipping high-tech equipment? Read our article Top 5 things to consider when shipping high tech equipment.
We hope you find these tips helpful in increasing your online sales. Ensure your customer’s expectations are met throughout the last-mile of delivery of their purchase. With the help of a reliable delivery provider, you can provide convenient and flexible shipping options across an extensive network to deliver your promises, every time.