Your visitor has found your eCommerce site, selected a product and placed it in their cart. But until they enter their payment info and click that the last button, no sale is final! To assure they carry through with the purchase, you need to make the checkout process as streamlined and efficient as possible. If you leave even the smallest hurdle, your potential customer could abandon the sale and look elsewhere.
So, to make sure that doesn't happen we're laying out the best practices for a checkout experience sure to increase your conversion rate.
But to start, what is a good eCommerce conversion rate these days?
For those who prefer to watch rather than read...
eCommerce Conversion Rate Benchmarks
With conversion rate often being used as a major KPI to determine the effectiveness of eCommerce sites, the question at the top of many marketers’ minds is whether their site conversion rates are up to par. In reality, average rates vary considerably by a number of factors, including:
- Product type
- Average order value
- Device (mobile, PC)
- Company size
- Visitor segments
- The brick-and-mortar component of the store (or lack thereof)
According to some sources, the current average conversion of shoppers worldwide is 2.95%; others place it between 1 and 2%. Online-only retailers tend to see higher rates than their multichannel counterparts, and mobile conversions are steadily growing by the year, though users are still 164% more likely to convert on desktop. Unfortunately, measuring the contribution of offline and cross-device conversions is currently very difficult, so these can go unaccounted for in the calculated averages.
That being said, it is normal to see some variation in rates among eCommerce companies. If your company’s numbers fall somewhere in the range listed above, it may be better to focus on consistent improvement rather than attempt to beat statistics which, while backed by data, are far from infallible. We will be doing just that today by exploring best practices for your website’s all-important checkout pages. So let’s get started!
Optimizing Checkout Flow
As a multi-step process, checkout can easily become intimidating to impatient and less experienced shoppers. The best way to avoid deterring conversions is to streamline the flow of checkout by structuring your page intuitively.
It may seem tempting to incentivize visitors to become registered site members, but a checkout page is not the place to do it! 25.6% of online consumers would abandon a purchase if they were forced to register first. Registration requires commitment, both psychologically and time-wise, and is intimidating to users who have mentally prepared themselves to complete their purchase.
As such, guest checkout is a crucial component of an effective checkout page. A minimum of two paths, for guests and non-guests, is necessary; you may choose to extend an additional offer to create a new account. As one of the leading causes of abandoned shopping carts, account login must be suggested rather than forced in order to enable customers to give away personal data without feeling pressured to compromise their privacy.
Time is Money
This applies to the general optimization of your eCommerce site, but checkout is no exception-- speed undoubtedly matters. According to HubSpot, every second of loading time correlates with a 7% decrease in conversions. Consider running speed tests on your page with the help of tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
When it comes to lowering loading time, your strategy will go hand-in-hand with best practices for the design of your checkout page-- clunkier, more data-heavy elements on a page should be primary targets to eliminate, as well as unused plugins, lower-quality images, and limited site-wide tools.
Flexibility With Payment Options
A small, but increasingly significant element for eCommerce shoppers is being granted choices in their methods of online payment. Many stores are now offering options like payment after delivery, numerous credit providers, and split payments.
Digital wallets, such as Apple Pay and Amazon Pay (more than 20% of customers are choosing Amazon Pay over other options!), are popular especially with mobile shoppers. Just remember that too many options can produce a negative effect; 2-3 options should be sufficient.
Keep it Short and Sweet
More pages or stages of the checkout process create more hoops for customers to jump through, and each one reduces the chance that they will complete their transaction. Convoluted multi-stage data forms can sway many a customer. For this reason, it’s best to reduce the number of steps in your checkout as much as possible.
Guiding customers, especially those who aren’t well versed in buying online, is considerably easier with progress tracking. A progress indicator, which keeps the customer updated on their position in the process and provides a time estimate, is a great addition to the page.
Additionally, it is advantageous to keep customers on your site domain through the entirety of the experience. Some websites redirect to third-party providers, through whom they are usually using a shared SSL, creating a distracting element for the user. While secure from a technical standpoint, the disruptiveness of external redirection outweighs the benefits.
Let Buyers Save for Later
A substantial proportion of shoppers do not intend on making a purchase in the site session in which they initially found their product of interest. Instead, many prefer to create wishlists or save their digital carts for a later time.
Offering wish lists is an effective way to reduce shopping cart abandonment for customers who display intent but require more time to follow through. Even if the visitor isn’t signed in, it is possible to save their data for future access.
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Optimizing Checkout Page Design
Every section of your website is a reflection of the company, and appearances do make a big impression even on the way out. There are several general design principles to keep in mind when creating your page.
Less is More
As mentioned above, keeping things simple in terms of the organization and layout of a checkout page can boost your conversion rates. Use common-sense principles such as visual hierarchy and white space to make the page easy on the the eyes and direct customers to perform desired actions.
The call-to-action (CTA) in particular, and page copy in general, should be clear. The checkout process may not require extensive amounts of copy, but there is still some opportunity to make it count, particularly in purchase instructions, product information, and form labels. (With regards to labels, it is better to opt for standard form labels like “name” and “address” instead of trying to be unique at the risk of coming off as gimmicky or unprofessional).
Establishing trust and transparency is key. Any information included on the page serves a specific purpose; clearly labeled data fields, links to return the customer to their cart and the main store site, a customer service number, a SSL certificate, etc. On mobile platforms, screen space is scarce and navigation can be clumsy, so including easy-to-press buttons and avoiding visual clutter can make all the difference.
And speaking of transparency, one of the primary complaints of online shoppers entails being misled about the final cost of their purchases, especially when they have invested time into filling out data forms. The solution is simple: include all costs up front, whether on the product page or in a section of the checkout page.
Shipping costs can be a major deterrent to purchases. Some companies offer free shipping unconditionally; others match it with certain promotions or special conditions. With 50% of eCommerce merchants offering free shipping to customers, this is an ideal conversion strategy.
Understandably, however, your company may not be ready for such a drastic measure. Keep in mind that there are alternatives, including flat shipping fees, price thresholds, seasonal promotions, and customer memberships.
Optimize for Mobile
It is no secret that mobile is continuing to grow as a platform for eCommerce shopping. In fact, 62% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months. While mobile conversion rates are considerably lower than desktop, it can still be worthwhile to make your checkout compatible with mobile devices with straightforward layout.
This is also another reason to feature a Save for Later or Add to Wishlist button on your site; users may not feel comfortable completing the actual purchase on their phone, but can save their results to review later on a more secure device, like their computer.
Checkout may not seem like the time to make a sale, but if handled well, it can in fact provide opportunities to upsell or cross-sell products. Upselling is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase a higher-end product or bundle of products, while cross-selling invites customers to buy related or complementary items. The strategy for recommending related products will vary by industry, but you will find there is almost always a way to leverage the purchase.
Another potential place to position an upsell offer is the thank you page, which is recommendable to include both as a business practice and courtesy to your customers. Here, you can put your more personalized copy to good use to make buyers feel truly attended to.
The Bottom Line: Make Like a Scientist
At the end of the day, the primary way of discovering which tactics make your checkout page most effective at converting is to apply A/B testing to evaluate all of those elements you may feel unsure or curious about. Don’t be afraid to take risks and determine what truly fits your company’s needs best!
Conversion rates are important for marketers to track and report in order to optimize their strategy. If you're curious about the metrics that matter the most to your boss, download Your Essential Marketing Metric: All You Need to Know to Prove ROI infographic.
This blog is part of Your Definitive Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization blog series.