For those who run an eCommerce shop, there are a million things to think about. Product designs, website features, fulfillment options – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. All of these things go into deciding whether your store will be hugely successful or need a little help along the way. Still, there is also a lesser discussed topic that can severely impact customer satisfaction, profits, and overall business growth. The topic? Checkout flow. Don’t worry, though. We’re here to give you a few pointers that should go a long way to optimizing this crucial eCommerce process. Here are a few significant considerations to help improve your checkout flow and help you see the success you deserve in 2020.
Why Checkout Flow Matters
Let’s dial everything back a bit and make sure we’re on the same page. Checkout flow is the process of customer’s buying what they’ve put in their shopping bag or cart. It usually consists of a variety of steps like putting in a payment method, billing address, delivery address, shipping choice, and maybe even encouragement to sign up for alerts or create an account. This is what checkout flow is like for the consumer. On the business side of things, it consists of a couple of different parts. The first of these is the interface, which is the form or page that the customer sees. It’s where the site actually collects the customer’s payment as well as the data required to know what product they want, where it’s supposed to ship, etc. The second central part of checkout flow is the business logic that creates deliveries, communicates with ERP systems (or other similar systems), and calculates order subtotal and shipment costs.
The design of both of these checkout flow facets is critical. Why? Because the checkout process is the finish line for the consumer. It’s what takes them from a person who is merely window shopping to someone that’s a paying customer. In other words, it matters because it’s how you make money and how they get the cool stuff that they want. Should this final shopping step be poorly thought out, checkout abandonment can happen. Your customer might decide that the process isn’t worth it for the product they’re receiving, so they’ll leave your site and shop around somewhere else. Obviously, you don’t want this to happen. You want a high order conversion rate and happy customers who want to return.
What Goes into Checkout Abandonment?
We may understand that lousy checkout flow can lead to customers sprinting for the hills sans order, but what are some of the specifics behind this? Several factors can contribute, but here are some of the most common that could pose a problem:
- Errors, unreliability, and related issues – Checkout procedures can be tricky, as with everything technical. Few people will blame you for the occasional hiccup, but frequent problems are rather off-putting. No customer wants to deal with that, and it will often make them second guess the safety, validity, and quality of your site. The result will usually be them abandoning their purchase.
- Limited payment methods – Once upon a time, it was understanding when an eCommerce shop didn’t have too many payment methods available. But now that eCommerce has become synonymous with shopping; there are few excuses for not having all the usual offerings. Customers who can’t pay with their preferred methods will end up not being customers at all.
- Limited delivery methods – Like the previous point about payments, people appreciate having their options when it comes to delivery. Some might not want to be wedded to a particular shipper, no matter how nice your products are. Perhaps even more important, people need (and deserve) flexible delivery times, especially in these times of free two-day delivery.
- Security concerns – We’ve come a long way from the sketchy, unsecured sites of yore. Pretty much all reputable sites should have a valid security certificate, but it’s even more important for eCommerce ones that accept payment and other sensitive personal information like addresses. Customers need a safe experience. If that isn’t available, they’ll go where it is.
- Additional charges – Have you ever reached the end of a checkout process only to find that there are surprise costs like service charges or additional taxes? You probably have, and you probably understand how annoying that is. Your customers feel the same way. Hit them with extra fees, and checkout abandonment is a very likely reaction.
- Long/complex processes – Patience is a virtue, but simply trying to buy something off the internet shouldn’t be testing it. Nobody likes long, complex ordering processes. The odds are that your shopper won’t either. Streamlining is key.
- Forced account creation – In addition to drawn-out checkouts, pretty much everyone hates being forced to create an account just to buy something off your site. Demanding they do so feels pushy, aggressive, and frankly, invasive. You don’t want to put up roadblocks that will discourage purchases.
- Lack of aesthetics – Looks aren’t everything, but a nice-looking website, bag, and checkout that doesn’t look too cluttered is always a source of enjoyment. A lack of this might send potential purchasers elsewhere.
Top Tips for Improvements
When checkout flow is not right, customers naturally abandon ship, not bothering to take their full shopping cart with them. It’s frustrating for both you and them; thus, it’s best to ensure that the final order process is as sleek, optimized, and well-designed as possible. Your shoppers will thank you as will your profit margin. How exactly should you go about this, though? It’s one thing to know all the potential pitfalls and another to guarantee you won’t fall victim to them. That’s true, so here are some tips you can implement to improve your checkout flow today.
- Optimize for mobile before desktop
People tend to get this mixed up, prioritizing desktop design way before they ever bother to touch mobile. It’s understandable, partly because desktop offers the most space for design and partly because many of us came of age in a world ruled by desktop. But the rules of the game have changed over time. Now, most people who shop eCommerce are using phones and tablets to make their purchases because of its convenience. Tailor your layout to suit and your customers will be far happier – and more likely to complete purchases!
- Give the option of guest checkout
As we mentioned before, forced account creations just to order from your store get old very quickly. It’s frustrating, and even more so when there are emails or newsletters attached to it. The people who want extra stuff clogging up their inbox are few and far between. Help them out by giving them the option to opt-out of emails and making an account altogether. Guest checkout isn’t that hard to implement anyways, and it will go a long way to better checkout flow and customer satisfaction.
- Offer major cards and PayPal
It’s always for the good of your business to provide all the major payment methods out there. It broadens your customer base and reassures them that you’re prioritizing their needs. This can be costly, of course, so try to offer the most used ones before growing and adding on extras when possible. Just make sure that PayPal is one of the first you provide in addition to Mastercard, Visa, etcetera. It’s increasingly common as people’s preferred payment method thanks to its ease and speed, meaning it should be at the top of your list.
- Remove extra fees whenever possible
There’s very little more unforgivable in eCommerce than surprise charges, barring false advertising or full-on scams. Purchasers certainly agree and will gladly take their business elsewhere if hidden or additional fees manage to sneak their way into the final order total. You can stop this just by being transparent about pricing from the start. Just be honest. Your checkout flow will reflect it.
- Provide a secure site
Even with our eCommerce-driven world, people can be a little apprehensive when providing their credit card details – and they should be. There are legitimate horror stories out there of stolen cards and other personal information. Help them feel safe shopping with you by providing a safe place to shop. Prioritize strong security and make that clear to your buyers.