One last click – purchased. This is ideally how a checkout in eCommerce should end. Unfortunately, the reality is often quite different: The abandonment rate in eCommerce is around 70%, as a meta-study by the Baymard Institute with data from 44 studies shows. A frequent reason is too high additional costs, e.g., for shipping. And for as many as 18% of customers, the checkout process simply takes too long or is too complicated. Who wants to click through an endless sequence of forms? But how do you optimize your checkout process to ensure happy customers and higher conversion rates? The following tips will help you.
Loading speed: Getting quickly to the finish line
If the checkout doesn't load fast enough, impatient customers will drop out. Short loading times are therefore a prerequisite for ensuring that your customers do not abandon the purchase process. Loading times can be optimized in various ways, e.g., through caching and the correct compression of images. This also generally improves and streamlines the user experience of the shop.
A Single Page Application (SPA) is particularly useful for handling the checkout process. In this application, all steps run consecutively without the need to reload the page. This creates a consistent and fast experience. The customer enjoys a pleasant shopping experience and has no time to change his mind.
Checkout forms: Less is more
The number of form fields often has a direct influence on the completion of a purchase. If there are too many, some customers will leave the site immediately because they expect an endless process. This is true even if many fields are optional and do not have to be filled out at all. The visual impression is the same. If shops only ask for the most essential information, they collect less data but they also don't scare off their potential customers.
These small changes ensure significantly fewer fields in the checkout process:
Merge combinable fields, e.g., "Street" and "House number" into one field.
Hide fields that not every buyer needs, e.g., "Company" or "Address suffix". Those who need them can expand them with one click.
Make billing and shipping addresses the same by default, since in many cases they are identical. The additional fields appear only when needed, e.g., when the user clicks a checkbox.
Checkout Options: Simple and automated
Returning customers don't want to re-enter all their data and preferences every time they shop. If shops do the work for them and already display the existing information automatically, the checkout is much faster. Shipping and payment options take another important hurdle – if they are already optimized for the customer. By default, some systems already show customers their preferred options. This means customers don't even have to go through the trouble of making a selection themselves and can buy with just one click. This is particularly convenient for shoppers who want to buy something quickly on their smartphone while on the move. Those who first have to fill out a form often lose interest and abandon the purchase.
Since shipping and payment are often the last steps of the checkout experience, this is the final abandonment option for many shoppers. If shops don't offer what buyers are used to, there's a big churn risk. But it is already possible to optimize shipping and payment for both the product AND the customer group. This allows trustworthy VIP customers, for example, to purchase by invoice even with larger basket values. In addition to providing additional motivation to buy, this also strengthens customer loyalty. Internationally, in particular, buyers by default must get to choose what they trust in – be it a local carrier or cash-on-delivery payment.
Availability: Avoid causing frustrations
Products are chosen and the preferred variant is added to the basket. Then, during checkout, the disappointment: of all things, the favorite item is no longer available. When customers experience something like this, in some cases they will abandon the entire purchase due to their disappointment. They may even be so frustrated that they don't return to the shop for a long time.
By having the basket check stocks regularly, preferably every second, disappointments at the last moment can be avoided. Retailers can either reserve selected products immediately in the warehouse or initially only in the shop system. This depends on their processes and sales channels.
Reliability: Don’t risk downtimes
What's one of the biggest concerns about Black Friday? That the checkout might fail. And that's not entirely unlikely. After all, the high load created by thousands of customer requests in the system is enormous. Checking customer data, calling up shipping and payment options, checking inventory, and predicting delivery times – all these processes have to run unnoticed by the customer, even when the load is high. Nothing causes more uncertainty for customers than when the checkout suddenly fails and it is uncertain whether or not the order has been placed and paid for. And anyway: Where has my sensitive data gone now? Has the shop been hacked?
A reliable checkout is therefore crucial for building and maintaining customer trust. But this means, especially for large shops, that extensive load tests must be carried out even before an important campaign and the high load must be absorbed at decisive moments by auto-scaling mechanisms. An unstable checkout is costly, especially in the long run.