3 minutes

Chief marketing, digital and omni officer Jacob Hawkins explained the most successful checkout strategies for the retailer.

The checkout process can make or break a customer’s experience with a retailer. Leaders at Forever 21 have worked on the checkout page for years. Forever 21 chief marketing, digital and omni officer Jacob Hawkins shared the five most impactful ways he has seen the retailer improve checkout.

Forever 21 is No. 105 in the Top 1000. The database is Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of North America’s online retailers by web sales. Digital Commerce 360 categorizes it as an apparel retailer.

1. Push customers to a mobile app

The mobile app is the “first and biggest way” that Forever 21 improved checkout, Hawkins said. Two years ago, when he started at the retailer, a mid-single-digit percentage of sales were made on the app. Now, more than 50% of total business comes through the app.

“It’s the single fastest, easiest way to shop Forever 21,” Hawkins added.


Customers can see products similar to others they’ve viewed, and once they check out, all of their information is saved for a faster checkout next time. Through the app, consumers can also see prices and availability of specific products in stores and opt for ship to store, Hawkins said.

2. Offer alternative payment options

Giving customers a variety of payment options is an important way to make sure they complete the purchase, Hawkins said. The apparel retailer allows consumers to pay via Apple Pay, Venmo, PayPal, Klarna and Amazon Pay. 

It’s a matter of choosing a variety of payment types without overwhelming the customer, Hawkins said.

“We don’t want to have every [payment type] out there because more is not always more — sometimes you confuse them with 20 different options,” he said. Payment types like Apple Pay and PayPal speed up the checkout process and save the time needed to enter credit card and shipping information, he added.


3. Optimize the website

Forever 21 took steps to make its website faster for consumers through a third-party vendor, Hawkins said. The entire website is cached and content is loaded from servers close to the customer. About a month after rolling out this change, the website was 50%-80% faster, depending on the device used to access it, he said. 

Consumers don’t have the patience to wait for slow-loading checkout pages, and they expect an instantaneous experience, Hawkins said. Meeting that expectation is good for conversion.

4. Personalization

Forever 21 also added a behavior-informed aspect to its checkout process. For example, a customer will see personalized recommendations when they’re at the checkout page based on other information they’ve shared. There are also recommendations on pages of different products.

“I think checkout is an important piece, but you want to speed the entire process up,” Hawkins said of the customer’s shopping experience.


He noted that speeding up the customer’s journey to checkout is important for retailers to think about, and personalized recommendations help consumers quickly find products they’re interested in. Revenue from personalized recommendations has doubled in the eight months since Forever 21 launched the feature, he said.

5. Show customers omnichannel options

Retailers should give customers many options for receiving a product and make it easier for them to decide to check out, Hawkins said. Forever 21 offers ship to home and store pickup. That helps Forever 21 appeal to consumers with slightly different preferences. For example, a customer who doesn’t want to pay for shipping can elect to ship to a store for free. Or, someone who needs a specific dress by that evening can purchase it via buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) and have it within a few hours.

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