Checkout Optimization: 10 eCommerce Checkout Best Practices2 to Try On Your Website
eCommerce brands spend considerable time and resource attracting visitors to their website and engaging them with great products. But there’s a lot more you need to focus on if you’re going to nurture customers into completing the checkout process.
A customer may love your brand. They might have found the ideal product that fits their needs. But unless the shopping journey and checkout are smooth and seamless, the odds of them abandoning cart is high.
According to Baymard Institute, the average cart abandonment rate in eCommerce is almost 70%, with almost 20% of consumers citing a “too long/complicated checkout process” as the main reason for cart abandonment.
This is why optimizing your eCommerce checkout holds the key to turning lookers into buyers.Learn More
What is Checkout Optimization?
Checkout optimization is a series of strategies used by brands to streamline the eCommerce checkout process. When the checkout is seamless and easy to navigate, it’s far easier to convert customers and foster repeat purchasing behavior.
But checkout optimization is about far more than just the checkout. Cart abandonment isn’t just caused by the checkout process itself, but moments of friction throughout the shopping journey.
In sum, the best checkout optimization strategy doesn’t start at the checkout page; it starts right from the moment a shopper enters your website.
Why is Checkout Optimization Important?
Investing the time to optimize the checkout process can pay off both in the short and long-term. Consider the following.
Reducing Cart Abandonment
It’s a known fact that cart abandonment hurts a brand’s bottom line. But the reasons behind cart abandonment are often misunderstood.
Shoppers who place items in their cart and then abandon it aren’t disinterested in your brand. They’re actually showing a strong intent to buy. The problem is that something got in the way of them completing their purchase.
By making an effort to optimize your checkout, your brand stands to recover hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in lost revenue.
Increasing Customer Retention
Cart abandonment is just one element of online store visits going underutilized in eCommerce. It’s not enough to secure that first purchase from a customer; you also need them to shop with you again if you’re going to build a healthy business.
It’s important to remember that it’s your customer’s final impression of the shopping experience that determines whether they’ll return to your brand. They might have completed a purchase, but if they had to fight tooth and nail through a complex checkout experience, they’re unlikely to buy from you again.
In sum, checkout page optimization is directly linked to your customer retention efforts; if you want to foster repeat purchasing behavior, you need to give them a positive checkout experience.
How to Implement Checkout Optimization
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of checkout optimization, lets take a look at the steps and tactics you can try to reduce cart abandonment and improve conversions.
1. Make Sure Your eCommerce Website is Optimized for Mobile Devices
Mobile devices are no longer just a place to browse for products, they’re increasingly a tool to make purchases.
Mobile eCommerce sales reached $359.32 billion in 2021, an increase of 15.2% over 2020. By 2025, it’s forecast that mobile will account for 44.2% of eCommerce sales in the U.S.
If you want to gain a share of this lucrative market, you need to make sure that your entire website offers a great user experience on mobile.
Optimizing your online store for mobile shopping has other benefits, too. Since 2019 Google has used mobile-first indexing, meaning that it’s the mobile version of your site that determines search rankings. By ensuring a seamless mobile shopping experience, your SEO will see a boost.
How? By choosing a mobile-friendly design that adjusts to different screen sizes. This removes the need for customers to zoom into different parts of the screen, which quickly leads to cart abandonment.
It’s also important to think about the placement of your CTAs. Users shouldn’t have to scroll to find the button they’re looking for, so you need to position them above the fold. Icebreaker puts two large CTAs front and center on their home page so that customers can kickstart their shopping experience:
2. Make Personalized Product Recommendations
Personalization is an increasingly important element of the eCommerce experience. Every shopping journey on your website is unique and customers want you to treat it that way.
According to Salesforce, 66% of consumers say they expect brands to understand their individual needs, while 70% say that how well a company understands their needs impacts their brand loyalty.
Giving shoppers recommendations for products that are complementary to their cart contents is a powerful strategy to maximize AOV via upselling and cross-selling.
Moreover, if shoppers have to hunt all over your website to find a companion item, shopping cart abandonment is more likely. By conveniently spotlighting related products, customers can make sure they have everything they need to make the most of their purchase.
Victoria’s Secret triggers a pop-up cart page whenever shoppers add a new item that spotlights possible companion products:
3. Offer a Free Shipping Option
Thanks to the likes of Amazon’s two-day shipping policy, shipping costs have become one of the biggest deal-breakers when it comes to shopping online. According to Baymard Institute, “unexpected extra costs” like shipping are the biggest reason for abandoned carts, as cited by 48% of consumers.
This is why all eCommerce businesses should offer some form of free shipping, such as a minimum order threshold or membership program. Nordstrom offers free standard shipping on all orders, but customers have to pay extra for expedited shipping if they want their items faster:
Whatever you decide, it’s important to be upfront about your shipping policy, lest customers get a nasty surprise at the checkout. Be sure to detail your shipping costs on a page linked to the header and footer of your website for maximum transparency.
4. Use Exit Popups
The average eCommerce conversion rate for online shoppers who put items in their cart is just 11.4%.
That’s right—only around 10% of customers who have strong purchasing intent will end up buying from you.
Why? Because while consumers have recognized a need, they haven’t felt that final push to commit. With the help of exit popups, you can give potential customers that urgency to purchase.
Exit popups are a form of marketing automation that tracks the mouse movements of eCommerce site visitors to identify when someone is about the close their browser. Shoppers are then shown a compelling offer via a popup and a CTA to persuade them to complete the purchase.
Exits popups can include any relevant offer or promo code that increases the odds of a purchase. J Crew’s popup offers shoppers 15% off their next purchase if they sign up to their mailing list:
5. Include Customer Reviews on Your Product Pages
Shopping online can be a risky business for consumers, especially when it involves unfamiliar brands or products. If we can’t go into a store location to view an item, we’re forced to rely on other forms of information to finalize our purchasing decisions.
When there’s a litany of happy customers talking about how great a product is, consumers are much more likely to buy it. In fact, 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
By allowing customers to leave reviews on your eCommerce store, retailers can build social proof that their brand is reliable and convenient to purchase from.
Sephora has leveraged the power of its passionate beauty community to build a comprehensive ratings and reviews tab on every product page. Customers can provide images, skin tone or hair type information, and whether they would recommend a product to others:
6. Offer a Guest Checkout Option
Forcing customers to provide you with information before they can progress to the checkout adds friction to the shopping experience. Baymnard’s research shows that “the site wanted me to create an account” was the second-biggest reason for cart abandonment.
While getting customers to provide this information is useful for retargeting purposes, this needs to be weighed against a possible increase in your cart abandonment rate.
Allowing customers to bypass this process via a guest checkout functionality is especially important for first-time customers, who are less likely to tolerate interruptions to the checkout flow.
If you want more customers to sign up for an official account, consider offering some kind of incentive, like a discount or free shipping with their next order.
Crate & Barrel provides a great template for how to segment first-time and returning customers at the onset of the checkout process:
7. Try to Keep the Checkout Process to a Single Page
Ideally, you want to keep your checkout to just one page. If customers don’t know what’s around the next corner (or the next page) this increases the odds of them abandoning cart because they may not have the right information on hand.
When customers can see the checkout process all in one place, such as form fields for shipping and billing addresses, payment information, and phone numbers, they’re far more likely to complete the process.
A multi-page checkout is worsened when customers have no idea how far through the process they are. If you can’t use a single page checkout, consider adding a progress bar so customers can monitor their checkout progress.
Flo & Frankie uses a simple checkout layout that keeps customer details all on one page, as well as providing the order summary and a field to enter any discount codes:
8. Use Autofill and Data Validation
Enabling an autofill function allows returning customers can add their details almost instantly, speeding up the checkout process considerably.
For first-time customers, you can add optimization features like auto-filling the customer’s city and state when they enter their zip code, or suggesting likely shipping addresses when they begin typing in the address field (shown below):
You also want to avoid any errors taking place during the checkout process that could cause delays to delivery. Using data validation to approve shipping addresses is an important strategy to optimize your eCommerce checkout and ensure that fulfillment goes smoothly.
9. Offer a Variety of Payment Options
Today, customers are used to having a wide variety of payment methods to choose from, such as digital wallets and Buy Now, Pay Later plans. If your customers cannot find their preferred payment option, they might choose to shop elsewhere.
Diversity of payment options means offering your customers more choice and flexibility. Some shoppers distrust using credit cards online and instead prefer methods like ACH. Others simply want the most convenient option possible to avoid having to enter their card details manually. Taking advantage of plugins on WordPress or Shopify allow you to place express checkout buttons that speed up the process, helping you to capture more impulse purchases.
Ulta Beauty offers customers a choice between paying via credit card, PayPal, or setting up a deferred payment schedule via Afterpay:
10. Add an SSL Certificate
Brands need to start building trust with shoppers from the moment they enter their website. But if customers don’t feel as though your checkout is safe and secure, they aren’t going to purchase from you.
With consumers more reliant on eCommerce than ever during the pandemic, security concerns around shopping online have increased. According to a ClearSale survey, 92% of consumers say that security is important to them, while 83% said they would be more likely to shop on websites that discussed or showed their fraud prevention efforts.
This is why it’s important to optimize your checkout with an SSL certificate and security badges from key companies to bolster consumer confidence. VeriSign, Norton, or LifeLock are some of the most recognized safe checkout badges.
Cotton On uses Norton’s SSL certificate to reassure customers of a safe checkout process:
Checkout optimization is the result of a range of strategies designed to improve the shopping experience and make life easier for your customers. It’s important to understand that optimizing your checkout won’t happen overnight. It takes experimentation and thorough A/B testing to find the perfect formula that reduces cart abandonment. But with a bit of work, you will see your conversion rate rise over the long term and create healthy growth opportunities for your business.
You should also recognize the importance of having convenient payment methods at the checkout stage. Giving people an easy and affordable way to pay reduces friction and gets them across the finish line faster.
Stax enables you to offer a variety of payment options at checkout. From credit and debit cards to mobile payments, digital wallets, and ACH—we’ve got all your payment needs covered.