Customers have no shortage of things to love about online shopping, including bigger selections, easy comparison shopping, and the overall convenience of not leaving your house. Unfortunately, too many businesses are pulling shoppers in with great offers just to drive them away with a lengthy and frustrating purchase process that starts with requesting a shipping address and ends with what seems like a request for a DNA sample.
According to research by Baymard Institute, nearly 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned during the checkout process, resulting in trillions of dollars in losses in the e-commerce industry. Brands that are able to seal the cracks these buyers slip through often become industry leaders.
Adidas understands that by checkout time, people are ready to get on with their day, so its payment process is simple, short, and self-contained. There are no navigation bars to take the user to another section, no pop-ups requesting opinions on obscure topics, and no ads that take the customer’s eye off the prize: the purchase.
Optimizing your online checkout
To stop driving potential customers away and optimize your conversion rates, follow these three bottom-of-funnel strategies:
Eliminate distractions. A choppy checkout experience kills conversions, so maintaining one without distractions should be a top priority. Don’t make users create an account or fill out a survey until they’ve already bought something.
Limit the number of clicks users have to make and the number of fields they have to fill out. Ask for a ZIP code first and autofill the city and state. Pre-populate forms for returning customers, and never make them fill out a billing address separately if it’s the same as the shipping address. Most important, keep it intuitive. If the buyer selects a gray shirt, don’t show a preview of a red shirt in the cart.
Save surprises for birthday parties. Target earned the top spot for being a retailer with a reliable conversion experience in a Business Insider report. The reason? Shoppers see shipping and tax info as soon as an item is added to the cart.
Putting shipping costs front and center is especially critical with larger items. You don’t want to lose customers on the final checkout page because they finally see that shipping a $200 couch will cost $400.
And if you can offer free shipping or alternative options like store pick-up, do it. People might love online shopping, but they hate paying for shipping. According to the National Retail Federation, almost three-quarters of consumers now expect free shipping.
Let buyers do it their way. A big deterrent for consumers is being forced out of their comfort zones, which mostly comes up concerning payment methods. You appeal to more people by offering a variety of options, such as PayPal and Apple Pay, in addition to credit cards.
Just remember that more options doesn’t have to mean more steps. Baymard reports that the average checkout flow has roughly five steps. Anything that hits below that number will help you stand out. And how you use those steps could set you apart from the competition.
Harry’s, for example, immediately personalizes the customer experience with questions about shaving habits and preferences instead of product information. A 12-step survey might sound off-putting, but when it’s integrated into the process and presented as a time-saver, it fast-tracks consumers to satisfaction.
The moral of the story is that it’s our responsibility as marketers to understand our customers’ needs and make their shopping experience not only easy but also memorable and satisfying. To ensure that we do this, it’s vital that we track and analyze our conversion performance and test new ways to improve the purchase process.
In the end, the purchase process will be better for our customers—and our customers will make purchases more than we’ve ever seen.
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