How many conversions do you lose in the checkout process? If you have taken the time to find this information, you are probably astounded at the number.
Break the process into steps. Guests will be more likely to complete checkout if they know exactly what they are getting into. Break your process into steps, and then show customers on every page where they are and how many steps they have left. Don’t leave them to muddle through on their own; many people will simply leave rather than risk getting mired in a potentially time-consuming and ridiculously complicated process.
Don’t make people register or sign in. The benefits of making a guest register are clear. You get their information, which can help you market directly to them later. You also have the advantage of being able to store their information and make it easy for them to return. Those are clear advantages, but here is one disadvantage that erases them all: many people simply won’t do it. Is it worth losing sales? We don’t think so, and you probably don’t either. Offer a registration option, but certainly make it optional.
Resist the urge to upsell. Once someone has decided to buy your products, you must move fast. Close the deal as quickly as possible with as few stages as possible. Many merchants take this opportunity to offer related products, but don’t do this if it confuses the process or adds a step. A small sidebar is okay if you can make it work with your design in an unobtrusive and non-distracting way.
Allow them to modify their purchase at any stage. Maybe they are having second thoughts about one of the products in their cart. Maybe they just realized that they should use a different credit card than the one they entered on the previous page. Whatever the problem, allow your customers to deal with it quickly by modifying their information. If your customer has to abandon their purchase and start over, they might just close their browser page and deal with it later.
Create informative error messages. There is nothing wrong with filling out a form and getting an error message that you don’t understand. Tell customers exactly what information is wrong, and allow them to correct it without filling out every field all over again. Use polite language and a highly visible color such as red for error messages. If you can make the problem area bold or place an outline around it, customers will be able to easily make the necessary corrections an complete their checkout in a timely manner.
Ask for feedback later. Don’t ask for feedback as a part of your checkout process; it adds an unnecessary step and may increase your bounce rate. However, you certainly should ask for feedback as soon as the order is complete. A small but sizeable number of people will tell you what they think, especially if they had a problem. This will give you valuable insight into how your ecommerce shopping experience is perceived from the people who actually use it.