Tweaking and optimizing checkout can help online retailers significantly increase conversions from website and mobile app visitors. Here are five ways to deliver a great checkout experience.

Ankur Nandu, director of e-commerce, Chargebee

Ankur Nandu, director of e-commerce, Chargebee

Optimizing the checkout process is crucial for e-commerce businesses to grow revenue and deliver a great online customer experience. Today, cart abandonment rate is more than 75 percent, and nearly 30 percent of customers drop off on the checkout page, resulting in lost revenue for e-commerce businesses. Tweaking and optimizing checkout can help online retailers significantly increase conversions from website and app visitors.

Online shopping is a fast-growing industry. Customer acquisition and retention are equally important in a blended growth strategy, and a streamlined easy-to-use checkout system enables both.

In the wake of recent online privacy concerns, consumers are often wary of providing retailers with too much personal information. With this new norm, an effective strategy is to make it easy for the customer to complete their transaction while still giving you all of the information you need to process their order.

The fewer distractions your checkout experience has, the higher the likelihood of it driving conversions.

Optimization may vary slightly based on your business, but here are five things you can do right now to make your checkout experience a great one for your customers:

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1. A flexible, mobile-responsive, easy-to-use shopping cart. Deliver a smooth experience by making it easy for customers to add or remove products from their shopping cart. In addition, make sure your checkout page updates dynamically when changes are made, so customers can visualize their changes in real time without having to refresh their browser. If adding or removing items from the cart feels clunky or tedious to your visitors, the risk is a disgruntled customer, or even worse, a lost customer altogether.

Also, be sure your checkout system is optimized for mobile devices. More than a third of all U.S. retail purchases are made on mobile devices, according to Forrester, so your checkout page should be set up to run on a smaller screen. Another feature to reduce friction is auto-suggesting the billing and shipping address—this can speed up a customer’s checkout process and make it much more user-friendly. Finally, offer customers as many payment options as possible so they can pay using their preferred method.

2. Keep the page simple and avoid surprises. Avoid unnecessary design elements that could potentially disrupt the checkout process. In general, it’s best to adopt a “keep it simple” approach and include only the four elements essential to your page: checkout, delivery details, payment details, and confirmation.

Adding shipping charges and taxes on the final checkout page and not highlighting them earlier is a big reason why customers drop out on the final page. The fewer distractions your checkout experience has, the higher the likelihood of it driving conversions. Another surprise to avoid is a potential lack of privacy. Be sure your checkout page is secure using HTTPS authentication.

3. Limit the number of steps. Try to minimize the number of steps in your checkout process. Larger retailers such as Sephora or Sony have used eight or more steps in their checkout process, but those brands are generally high in demand and trusted by shoppers worldwide. Meanwhile, Amazon has made the one-step checkout process an easy way for existing customers to buy items with minimal clicks.

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For smaller start-up businesses, it’s best to limit your checkout process to three or four steps; anything longer than that could cause customers to drop off along the way. In addition, show the customer what to expect throughout the checkout process, by including a visual progress indicator. This will help customers understand what information will be required in each stage, and it also gives them the ability to review their order throughout the process.

4. Analyze and optimize. Perform an A/B split test of different checkout designs to find out which delivers the best conversions. Your goal is to give customers a seamless, fast and trouble-free checkout process. This will help ensure that they complete their transaction, and also make it more likely they will return to your site for additional purchases in the future. On the other hand, a broken or complicated checkout purchase will have the opposite effect.

For example, you may consider adding a “Buy Now” button that allows customers to click and be taken immediately to the payment page without filling and reviewing their online cart. By testing this feature you may discover it leads to increased conversions, or you may find that your customers prefer the traditional cart method.

5. Remove the checkout altogether. Depending on the type of business, you could consider adopting a subscription model to avoid using a checkout page for repeat purchases. When you sell products on a subscription basis, it eliminates the need for customers to re-enter payment information, while ensuring they receive their orders on a consistent interval.

Recurring customer interactions also give you the opportunity to tailor and improve service through customer relationships that last, which is harder to achieve in the one-off purchase model. Different subscription plans also allow you to experiment with different promotions and pricing strategies to optimize revenue and customer value.

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While every aspect of your user experience is important and contributes to your conversion rates, your checkout page is key because it’s the final step in your customers’ path to making a purchase.

By understanding key business levers like e-commerce conversion rates, shopping cart abandonment and the success of specific offers and promotions, companies can identify the best possible approaches to driving revenue and loyalty at low acquisition costs. Investments in the checkout process will go a long way in filling up businesses’ virtual cash registers.

Chargebee provides subscription billing and recurring payment software.

 

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