6 Best Practices for Designing Smooth Ecommerce Checkouts

Liam Burns
Written by Liam Burns
July 30, 2020

The advent of online shopping and ecommerce has had a significant impact on the world of retail. Last year, 12,000 retail locations were predicted to close their doors. Consumers are now relying on the internet and ecommerce stores for their purchases.

While there are many factors that make an online store successful, the most important is the checkout stage. That’s where you make conversions and combat customer attrition.

Website traffic that makes it to the checkout stage is high quality. Most people at this point are ready to complete a transaction. You can increase your success by creating a positive, seamless checkout experience. Ecommerce stores that design a site with the user experience (UX) in mind can easily increase conversion rates and boost their ROI.

Trends for Checkouts on Ecommerce Stores

Just because you’ve driven a visitor to your website, there’s no guarantee they’ll complete a sale. In fact, 75.6% of worldwide ecommerce transactions end in shopping cart abandonment. This is due to several reasons, including poor checkout design or a negative UX. When it comes to ecommerce transactions, here are current trends online stores are using to create a better digital experience and boost revenue.

Design for Versatility

Today, about 4 out of 5 Americans shop online. Half of those people make purchases from a mobile device. Some shoppers begin a checkout process on one device, then complete it later from another. To capitalize on these prospects, ecommerce sites must design for versatility. Make sure your checkout process translates seamlessly from desktop to mobile platforms. By simplifying the shopping experience and meeting customers’ specific needs, you can increase your conversion rate.

Simplify Payment Processing

For an ecommerce site to succeed, they must be able to process payments. This can be an overwhelming process, especially for smaller businesses. There are technical challenges like navigating payment gateways. There are also logistical challenges, like applying and tracking global sales tax. Before you know it, you’re no longer focusing on building up your product line. Rather, you’re focusing all your resources on managing billing, collections, and payouts.

Businesses today are using a service to streamline this process and manage the checkout process for them. Serving as the Merchant of Record, these services offer a range of features to simplify the checkout and payment process. This means you can focus on your products and customers, creating a better digital experience for your shoppers.

Offer a Subscription

Businesses are now offering subscription-based business models. Subscriptions offer lower pricing and the ability to add features as customer needs change. When visitors sign up for this option, they can shift to recurring billing. This enables businesses to attract shoppers with flexible pricing to better suit their needs. It broadens reach to an audience who may have been wary of a high initial investment. Subscriptions encourage more consistent growth and help keep customers with hassle-free billing.

Accept International Payments

The internet makes the world a smaller place. This is especially true for ecommerce. Shoppers can now purchase an item from a local supplier just as easily as they can from an international store. Businesses are designing their checkout pages to have the ability to accept international payments and foreign currency. Pricing can also be displayed to match a shopper’s location. By providing a positive cross-border user experience, you’ll be able to broaden your target audience and bring in even more sales.

6 Best Practices for Ecommerce Checkouts

Shopping cart functionality can mean the difference between making a sale and losing a customer. Ecommerce stores who succeed in this area are enhancing the digital experience by designing highly effective checkout pages. They’re using these six best practices to create a smooth checkout process.

1. Keep the User on the Page

When a consumer adds an item to their shopping cart, don’t take them to a separate page. Keeping them on the product page accomplishes two goals. The shopper’s focus isn’t distracted from your products, and they’re likely to continue browsing your site. Also, their shopping experience isn’t interrupted, which otherwise can be frustrating and lead to a negative UX.

There are two ways to achieve this:

  • Create a drop-down “bag”: This shows the user what items are currently in their shopping cart. They can review these at-a-glance to be sure the cart is accurate, but the drop-down doesn’t disturb the shopping experience. Sorel.com uses this tool for their shoe shoppers.
  • Create a pop-in layer: This small window shows the same information as the drop-down bag, but it allows you more opportunity for cross-selling other products. The shopper can easily close the window without losing their place on the site. Williams-Sonoma uses this technique for their shopping cart.

2. Provide Product Attributes

Part of creating a positive UX is ensuring consumers feel confident in their purchases. One way to do this is to provide as much detail about your products as possible in the shopping cart. Include product attributes like dimensions, color, and material. Use descriptors in the product name to maintain clarity. Include specific descriptions in the cart so shoppers can verify they’ve selected the right product.

This is especially important when you offer similar products. If a user purchases the wrong item due to a confusing product name or incomplete description, they’ll feel you were responsible for the mistake. Providing attributes that specify product names and descriptions help build trust. This leads to brand loyalty and eventually translates to sales and increased ROI.

The Children’s Place does a great job of offering attributes in their shopping cart. Not only do they use clear titles and feature product thumbnails and color options. They further specify sizes with letter and numeric equivalents (for instance, a medium equates to a size 7/8). Shoppers feel confident they are purchasing their intended items.

3. Provide Final Pricing Preview

Ecommerce shoppers don’t like surprises. They want to know exactly what they’re getting, and exactly how much they’re paying. Unexpected extra costs are the reason 60% of online shoppers leave the checkout process early. Be transparent with your pricing, taxes, and fees. Provide the final pricing total in the shopping cart so consumers know what to expect.

Target’s online shopping carts clearly list all of the costs associated with each purchase. Item totals, shipping fees, tax, and subtotal are all listed in bold font. Expected total is posted in a slightly larger font so customers can easily spot the amount due. This provides a pain-free checkout process.

4. Maintain an Ongoing Order Summary

Throughout the purchase process, keep a running tab of what shoppers have added to their carts. Help consumers keep track of the items they’ve decided to purchase. By keeping this information handy for them while they’re shopping, you not only lessen anxiety and minimize distractions. You also keep shoppers from leaving the checkout process to confirm item selection. By eliminating the need for an item review page, you provide a simplified UX, keep customers happy, and help increase conversion rates.

Eddie Bauer provides an item review page in their shopping cart. They use large thumbnails for easy product identification. They also offer easy ways to edit the items if the shopper decides to make changes to their order before purchasing.

5. Use Autofill

Provide a smooth checkout experience by offering autofill for shipping and billing information. Complicated forms take time and effort to complete. Consumers often feel the item they’re purchasing isn’t worth the trouble.

Ecommerce sites who require shoppers to re-enter payment information will lose 30% of their customers. Businesses who require the re-entry of shipping info will lose 25% of their customers. Web browsers will safely store addresses and credit card numbers for an easier, quicker checkout. The simpler you can make the checkout process, the more purchases consumers will make.

In their online shopping carts, Walmart offers an option to autofill a billing address. If it’s the same as the shipping address, users can simply check a box that will use the previously entered information. This saves the shopper time and effort and improves the UX.

6. Offer Alternative Payment Options

While credit and debit cards are the commonly accepted forms of online payment, stand apart from the competition by offering additional payment options. Digital payments are more common today, and sites like Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle allow people to transfer money at the touch of a button. Make the checkout process even more convenient for your shoppers by offering options that are convenient for them. This can improve conversions and the digital experience for your consumers.

American Airlines offers a wide range of payment options, including several credit cards, PayPal, and financing opportunities. This allows customers more freedom to decide how to allot their money. This flexibility may be what sways their decision to book with American Airlines.

Use a Simple & Repeatable Process to Nail Checkout Experiences

To increase conversions and build brand loyalty, ecommerce sites must design a smooth checkout flow that provides a seamless digital experience. But where should you start this process at the enterprise level?

Design near perfect ecommerce checkout pages with the 4-phase process detailed in The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Digital Experiences for Enterprise. From using fundamental resources for investigating UX to learning how to confirm the ROI of optimization efforts – this guide covers it all.

Topics: Ecommerce, User experience
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