Simple Tips for Better Ecommerce Checkout Page Performance

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If you are like many ecommerce website owners, you have noticed a certain disturbing trend: potential customers come to your website, peruse your products, add them to their shopping cart, and then mysteriously go AWOL before completing their order. If you are noticing this pattern, you are not alone. Shopping cart abandonment is one of the most frustrating and most common problems in dealing with ecommerce. If you are having this problem, here are a few simple tips that can help fix this phenomenon.

  1. Reduce confusion. If you look at many checkout pages, they are confusing, often on a migraine inducing level. There are so many fields, and consumers are not sure which are necessary and which are not. Moreover, they cannot tell how many steps the checkout will require. If they hit one error message, they are gone. The answer is obvious, and yet lost on many ecommerce website designers. Clearly break the checkout process down into steps and make sure customers can see where they are. Clearly mark which fields are mandatory with bold print and an asterisk. To put it in general, broad terms, be clear. 
  2. Offer a security seal in plain sight on every checkout page. Many ecommerce websites place their checkout seal on the product page or the first page of checkout and otherwise let it languish in a footer. This is a huge mistake. Every page that requires personal information or any type of commitment from the customer needs to have security assurances in big icons and bold lettering. You don’t know when customers are going to wonder whether their information is safe, but you do know that they will bounce if they don’t find the correct answer quickly.
  3. Program for no worries. It is a shame that in this day and age, I still see this message on many checkout pages: “Please click submit button only once.” What is that supposed to mean? Will I be charged twice? Will I end up at some error page and lose my order completely? What if my finger slips or my toddler discovers the Enter key? Don’t make your customers wonder these things; program your website so there are no worries. In the above example, the programmer could design the checkout page so the button turns off after a single click. That is not difficult by any means, but it can prevent a lot of headaches as well as a few customer losses.
  4. Show projected shipping costs, taxes and other fees at every step. You’d be surprised at how many customers get to checkout and then remember shipping. Is it worth it to pay $10 in shipping on a $5 book? Even though shipping is usually nowhere near that price for smaller items, people will still worry. An estimate of total cost can put these anxieties to rest and ensure that customers do not bounce over such a trivial (and easy to solve) problem.

A clearer, more transparent checkout process is always the goal in designing checkout pages. Make sure yours is as good as it can be to reduce customer abandonment.