10 precious ways to improve your e-commerce checkout

October 3, 2018

Let’s face it, e-commerce checkouts can be cumbersome. From forced registration to struggling to remember forgotten passwords… this is the moment you want your customers to actually part with their cash, so the checkout experience needs to be smooth. Ensure your checkout experience isn’t losing you customers by following these nine tips for improving checkout usability.

1. Communicate delivery options early

Let’s kick off with the big one. A whopping 60% of purchases are abandoned due to extra costs such as delivery being too expensive (Baymard Institute).

How do you get around this one? Quite simply the easiest way is to communicate your delivery options early on. Whether it is in the header, on the homepage or on your product pages.

If you really must wait until the checkout to tell your customers about your delivery options then be inspired by Spanish-fashion brand Zara. They tackle the issue of delivery options as soon as the customer goes to the checkout so there are no nasty surprises later on.

2. Use a time or progress indicator

We’ve been talking a lot about cart abandonment rates and a long checkout process is one of the fastest ways to lose a customer. If you don’t have a progress indicator then once your customer is in the checkout process they will have no way of knowing how far they have to go and could easily get bored and give up. By using a time or progress indicator your customers will be more likely to put up with a longer process because they have the knowledge that the end is insight.

We like this simple example from fashion brand Joules, which clearly states the three e-commerce checkout stages, “Delivery”, “Payment”and “Confirmation”.

3. Provide a guest checkout option

Imagine that it is your first time discovering a new brand. They seem nice so you decide to make a purchase, but then they want you to create an account. You don’t know the brand very well so you aren’t ready to sign up and risk being subjected to their weekly newsletter clogging up your inbox. So you abandon your purchase and go elsewhere.

Whether it is first contact with a someone new or a regular customer who has forgotten their password and just wants to make a quick purchase. It is essential to give your customers the option to checkout as a guest. Don’t loose customers by forcing them to make an account.

4. Automatically complete addresses when possible

Everyone hates filling out forms. So if there is anyway you can automatically complete a form for your customers, do it. The most common way to do this is to automatically complete the address once the customer has entered their postcode.

British-fashion brand Mint Velvet (pictured) takes advantage of this time-saving tool in their e-commerce checkout screen.

5. Use an enclosed checkout

Enclosed e-commerce checkouts are checkouts which are stripped down in comparison to the rest of the website. By removing headers, footers and side navigation bars you will be removing all distractions so the customer can focus on the task of completing their purchase.

The example pictured is from accessories brand Radley.

6. Don’t make your customers enter their address twice

This may be pretty basic stuff, but if you have ever had to fill in your address twice you will know how frustrating it is. Thankfully most e-commerce websites have cottoned on to this and their checkout includes the option to make the delivery address the default billing address.

We took this example from fashion brand Selected Femme’s website. During the checkout screen the option to use the delivery address as the billing address is selected automatically.

7. Plenty of payment options

If you want your customer to make a purchase try to offer their preferred payment method. The best payment method will depend on their country so if you are shipping overseas then you will need to adjust your payment options for the country in question. For example Dutch customers will expect to be able to pay via iDEAL, whereas British customers are happy to pay with bank and credit cards or via PayPal.

For our example of best practice we headed to the obvious place. ASOS are true international e-commerce experts and their payment options do not disappoint. They adapt depending on the country that the customer is based in to ensure they provide the preferred payment option of that country.

8. Reassure regarding returns

So your customers are in the checkout screen, but they still might need a bit of persuasion to actually complete their purchase. How can you give them that little extra nudge? Reassure then with your easy returns policy.

This is exactly what Schuh have done. If we look at this example they manage to keep their e-commerce checkout clean, but still include some additional returns information. So their customers know that if they have any problems with their shoes, returning them is not a problem.

9. Avoid too many pages and too many clicks

You want to keep your e-commerce checkout as quick and smooth as you can. If you can get your customer from their basket to the confirmation page in four clicks you are doing well, if you can do it in three then you’re winning. Mulberry’s beautifully clean checkout does just that. When it comes to checkouts simplicity is key.

10. Steer clear of form formatting issues

We have all been there. You are trying to fill out your address and every time you press submit something isn’t quite right so you have to fill the form out again.

By all means ensure that you have all the information you need to complete the order. But do you really need to force your customer to complete the form again because they missed the country code on their third contact number?

Keep your forms as user-friendly as you can and your customers will love you for it.

We like this example from Uniqlo. They tackle this problem by explaining exactly what they want next to each box on the form.

Conclusion

Customers who make it as far as the checkout are ready to make a purchase. So don’t let a poorly designed e-commerce checkout be the reason that they don’t make it as far as the buy now button.

For more information on providing a smooth customer journey, download our whitepaper. We rate 25 brands on the quality of their pre-checkout delivery information and give each a score out of 100. Download now to see who the top scorers are.

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