The Perfect Checkout
July 2, 2008, 10:03 am
Filed under: ecommerce | Tags: , ,

If you’re an online store, you should be interested in helping your customers get through the checkout as quickly as they can, think of a supermarket, customers dont have to register and confirm a bunch of details before they pay for their goods. Many checkout processes have 4 or 5 stages punters go through before they give you their credit card details, each of these is an opportunity to close the window and not buy from you.

According to research, 15% of abandoned carts are because the checkout process was too complicated, so lets look at how we can streamline this process, and reduce abandoned carts.

A typical checkout process might look something like this:

If the customer has never bought from you before, don’t ask them to fill in a whole bunch of details, remove the “Register” option from the first page of the checkout and replace it with some clear text that new customers just need to enter email address & password, the same as registered users. We will use the rest of the checkout process to collect this information, instead of just repeating it.

After login, go straight to the order confirmation page, this page should show all the details required to complete the order. Show the billing address, shipping address and shipping options filled in with the values the customer used for their last order, if the user is a repeat customer, the chances are that this page is now correct, and they can go straight to the credit card details page. If they are a new customer, leave these details blank and disable the next stage of checkout until they are completed.

When the customer completes their billing address for the first time, automatically set the delivery address to be the same, don’t ask them if thats what they want to do, just do it. If you allow people to have seperate billing and delivery addresses on their first order, and accept the increased risk of fraud that involves, then they can always change it.

We now have a very slick checkout process, we’ve cut out all the unnecessary stages, even for first time customers.

The new, streamlined checkout process

You could argue that to further streamline the whole thing customers should not be required to login at all, but then you would have no way to retreive customer information, they would have to complete billing/shipping addresses for each order, which is not what you want at all. Plus, having their email address gives the added advantage of being able to email customers who abandon their cart before paying, there is some evidence that this approach can lead to increased sales as well.

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4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Still one of the best I’ve seen.

Comment by Eugene

Actually, I much prefer those shops where I can checkout with PayPal. I’m definitely prone to abandon a cart in preference to a site where I can use this method.

Comment by David

I often abandon shopping carts because of another bad design principle. I want to know how much something will cost – including all delivery and tax costs – before I decide to buy.

A “how much will it cost to post code xxx” function would reduce these because I would know up front before I started the cart process and would minimize the personal information I have shared with the store.

Comment by Lucy Buykx

@David, Shops using Paypal can provide this kind of experience, if you surrender your whole checkout to them, it gives the use the advantage of being able to use the same details on multiple sites.

@Lucy, That was a big problem with the checkout we used to have, but I think this model could support what you want, with a bit of tinkering. If you made the login optional, and went straight to the overview, you could then edit just your postcode, and have the real cost displayed, but you couldn’t continue until you filled in the rest of your details.

Comment by Stuart Grimshaw

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