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Ecommerce-Website-Design-–-Streamlining-the-Checkout Oct 28, 2012

Ecommerce Website Design – Streamlining the Checkout

Between 55% and 72% of shoppers abandon their shop after putting their product in the shopping cart1 due to a multitude of problems that make the checkout unnecessarily difficult to use. It comes as a huge surprise when a website invests in boosting website traffic through SEO and PPC but does not improve its checkout. Such an improvement is vital to a successful company and will more than pay for itself through higher conversion ratios.

Sometimes customers put items in their carts to check for your hidden fees, like shipping, bank transfers, etc., which could deter as much as 71% of them from buying2. For example, Ryanair charges an additional fee of €6 per booked ticket, which is mentioned only at the checkout. Freight usually depends on the ordered quantity and customers feel cheated when this cost is determined at the checkout. Furthermore, refunds usually cover only the product price and not the transportation costs, so clients think that they could end up paying for two-way transportation instead of one-way. Therefore, if you have few returns, consider including the delivery in the product price. Alternatively, make your additional costs clear on the home or product pages, and provide payment/collection in person for local residents.

More than 58% of users will not purchase from websites with security issues, and 48% consider trustmarks as reliable proof of security2. It makes sense, then, to invest in the latest online security packages and sign up for ongoing support. By having very high availability, your customers will start to associate your business with reliability.

Far too often, checkouts ask for too much information (like an overly attached girlfriend), even requiring registration, which can deter up to 15% of users3. Registration should be tailored for the convenience of your customers and keep them from having to input their card and address details at every purchase. This is useful only for websites with a high proportion of returning visitors, where the company can use customer data. However, for the majority of websites, external services like PayPal4 provide trustmarks and satisfy the need to register.

Quite often, customers add something to their cart without a clear intention to purchase, but a streamlined interface with value propositions can turn this indecisiveness into a successful sale. Consider adding discount thresholds for free shipping, for percentage discounts and for free customization features, and highlight these when the customer adds a product. For example, “You have $42 left till free shipping,” will attract more attention than simply saying, “Free shipping at $80.” Additionally, take into account the psychological barrier of $100 when setting goals, because for customers $99 is much less than $1005.

To further combat indecisiveness, place calls to action at the checkout to add urgency. For example, underline the remaining days/items till the end of your discount and highlight how much money the customer can save when buying in bulk. Alternatively, add value to your customer by offering discounts to returning or bulk buyers on future sales.

Finally, the checkout procedure must be optimized for fast completion. As mentioned, utilizing third-party companies can save time, but these may not be viable for some businesses. Therefore, delete unnecessary fields from the purchase form or provide two forms: one for businesses and one for individual clients. Additionally, partition the form into smaller sections, as too many fields at one step can deter shoppers. Also, visual aids work better that simple text, so use these appropriately. Error messages where the whole form goes blank are really frustrating, and inline validation can make the process faster and more pleasant. Finally, less information required means less objects to load and a much faster website.


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