So, you’ve managed to drive potential customers onto your website – result!
They’ve explored your product pages, spent lots of time browsing and even read your testimonials – even better!
They’ve selected their favourite product, added it to the cart and they’re ready to buy – another sale made, right?
You come to find they’ve abandoned their cart and the sale is lost.
For many business owners this is a common story. You’ve put in the hard work to market your products and drive traffic to your website, but you’re losing out on a huge percentage of sales at the checkout.
In this piece we explore the most common pitfalls of shopping cart abandonment and what you can do to prevent this from affecting your online sales this holiday season.
Recently at our annual eCommerce conference, eComm Live, Kathryn Totz (UX Researcher at Baymard Institute) spoke on the topic of checkout optimisation for eCommerce. Kathryn shared her insights into the top reasons why users abandon the checkout process and some tips for improving your website’s checkout flow.
As eCommerce moves into its busiest season - building up to Black Friday and the Christmas Holidays, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 things you need to do to convert more customers at the checkout.
Why do so many users abandon their cart at checkout?
So, let's start with the basics of what causes cart abandonment and prevents users from completing the checkout process. Pretty much all eCommerce sites face this challenge. In fact, almost 70% of users who put something in their cart end up abandoning. If you stop for a moment and consider that number, that's over two-thirds of users.
There are lots of different reasons for cart abandonment. Commonly, a large segment of users who abandon are simply just exploring and aren’t ready to purchase yet.
When it comes to checkout optimisation, there's only so much you can do from a usability perspective to control that. So, what we want to pay attention to are those reasons that users abandoned during checkout that we do have control over.
In a 2020 study by Baymard, the top 10 reasons for checkout abandonment were discovered.
How do I fix these issues we hear you ask? Here are our top 5 ways you can optimise your eCommerce checkout and convert more customers.
- Checkout Length – is it really that important?
Long or complicated checkout processes account for 23%* of checkout abandonments. Considering this you might be asking yourself - what is the ideal length for a checkout flow?
In 2012, the average checkout flow for eCommerce sites was 5.08 steps*. A ‘step’ can be defined as any time the user sees a page or a new view in the checkout flow. So even if the checkout process takes place on a single page, the sections that expand and collapse are perceived to be a new ‘step’ by the user. Fast forward to today and the average checkout flow is now sitting at 4.9 steps* – not much of a decrease in almost a decade.
Are e-commerce sites missing a trick when it comes to shortening their checkout flows? The answer is not really.
The researchers at Baymard found that the number of checkout steps has no direct correlation with the checkout conversion rate. What's more important is what users have to do at each of these steps and how they're asked to complete those tasks, not how many steps there are. When it comes to checkout length, we really need to focus on reducing the number of ‘tasks’ the user has to complete - and by tasks, we mean form fields, not steps!
Zalando brings the user through multiple pages but ASOS favour a single page with multiple sections. Research suggests little difference in the effectiveness of these two approaches.
*Baymard Institute, 2020
- Number of fields
Again, the real question that we have to ask ourselves is not how many steps you should have in the checkout flow, but how many form fields you should have. A checkout with lots of fields is intimidating and adds unnecessary friction to the user experience. It’s much more impactful to focus on reducing the number of form fields than it is discussing whether those fields should be over 1,2 or 3 steps.
The average eCommerce site has about 12.71 form fields* from start to finish. And what's interesting is that this can be almost halved. The lowest you can go is between 6 and 8 fields for physically shipped products. Although this will depend on your country’s address format and some other variables.
It’s all well and good talking about fewer form fields, but how can you go about getting there? Here are some quick tips for reducing your form-fields to improve your conversion rate at the checkout.
- Name Fields
Users perceive their name as a single entity, so ask for their full name in one form field. Forename and surname fields are an unnecessary step and add friction to the checkout flow.
- Shipping vs Billing Address
The billing address is a huge point of confusion for many shoppers. For B2C sites, hide these fields and always ensure that the billing address = shipping address, not the other way around.
- Delayed Account Creation
Forcing users to sign-up to an account at the beginning of the checkout flow can increase perceived friction and have a negative impact on getting a completed sale. Leave this until the end and your customer will see this as less of a nuisance and be happier to sign-up.
- Minority Fields
Collapsing fields that don’t apply to most users is a great way to shorten the checkout flow. For example, most users won’t need ‘Address Line 2’ or ‘Company’ – hide these fields so users don’t become side-tracked or face a struggle with leaving it blank.
- City and Region fields
Eliminate lengthy region drop-down lists and reduce common city misspellings by using the customer’s postal/zip code to auto-populate these fields.
If you're asking for Fax information in 2020 – it's probably time to update your form fields. Make sure you're not making your users fill out unnecessary information and get them over the line quicker!
- Users’ perception of security
Another common reason many users abandon their cart at checkout is that they don’t trust the site with their credit card information. What’s interesting is that these perceptions of site security are typically based upon a gut-feeling. Some visitors to your website won’t have the technical understanding to recognise what actually makes a page secure. This gut-feeling is largely based on the ‘look and feel’ of your site and is also influenced by your brand recognition.
If you’re a smaller player in the eCommerce space, you’ll need to work harder to earn the trust of your buyers than the likes of Apple or Nike. Luckily, there’s a few simple visual adjustments you can make to your checkout process which will boost your visitors’ perceived trust in your site.
- Visually enhance your sensitive fields
If users have less confidence in site security, adding visual robustness to the credit card fields is a great way to enhance the perception that they’re secure.
This can be achieved by using borders, background colours, shading and other visual styling that will make one part of the form seem more robust than the rest. Even labelling credit card fields as ‘secure’ or adding padlock symbols is a great way to build trust with your buyers.
- Displaying SSL Seals & Trust Badges
Another effective visual cue you can place at the checkout is badges or seals. This is a great way to add legitimacy to your page and gives users an extra sense of security when buying on your site. Examples of these are SSL seals, which are issued by SSL Certificate Vendors (Norton, Trustwave, Geotrust) and Trust seals (Google Trusted Store, TRUSTe).
Interestingly, generic or ‘homemade’ SSL symbols which aren’t related to a third-party provider have also proven to be effective in boosting conversions – which really proves that gaining trust with your shoppers should be a crucial component of your eCommerce strategy.
Decathlon do a great job of making their checkout seem visually secure. 'Pay Securely Now' is drawn to the user's attention with bold lettering and use of colour.
- Third-party payments
Put simply, people want options. More than ever, customers expect to be able to use third-party payment providers when buying online. Baymard reports that 83% of the 60 top-grossing international eCommerce sites offer 1 or more third-party payment options within their checkout.
Failing to offer one of these payment methods could mean losing out on a percentage of sales. In fact, 6% of online shoppers cite lack of payment method options as their reason for cart abandonment.
Not all your users will care about having this option, but for the growing number of shoppers who favour convenience and perceived security of payment methods such as PayPal, Amazon Payments and Google Checkouts – it’s worth enabling one of these alternatives. This is particularly important if you sell internationally where the perceived risk is higher and shoppers need extra reassurance against ‘order hiccups’.
Third-party payment providers are really worth considering . There's some big players like PayPal, Apple Pay & Amazon Pay on offer. Make sure to do your research and find the best alternative(s) for your business.
- Optimising for mobile keyboards
As mobile commerce is set to overtake desktop shopping by 2023, it’s now more important than ever that your checkout is optimised to give mobile shoppers a seamless user experience. The smaller surface area of smartphones increases the risk of input errors and a poorly designed mobile checkout can lead to a frustrating experience.
Testing your mobile checkout flow on different devices is a great way to recognise and address any issues with your mobile checkout experience. However, here are a few best-practice ideas to reduce your mobile cart abandonment rate.
- Disable auto-correct
Auto-correct can be helpful when you're writing a text, but it can cause more harm than good at the checkout. What commonly happens is that the correct input in a form-field is replaced with incorrect information. For a user this becomes an annoyance, having to go back and correct the information before they can move on. There's also a risk that the user won't notice the mistake resulting in their order getting shipped to the wrong address, which creates issues for both the shopper and merchant.
- Use touch-optimised keyboards
Optimise checkout functionality by ensuring to use touch optimised keyboard layouts. Sites that use these purpose-built touch keyboards perform much better, especially for fields that require numeric input (e.g. mobile number). The decrease in typos on sites with numeric keyboards leads to fewer validation errors, which results in a much more seamless experience for site users.
- Disable email auto-capitalisation
This may seem minor, but if the first letter of the users’ email address gets capitalised by default – people want to go back and change it to lowercase in fear that their emails aren’t going to get delivered. It’s a really simple fix you can make to keep people moving forward to complete the purchase.
- Always invoke touch keyboards
Avoid confusion by ensuring the correct touch keyboard is invoked when users tap each form field. You want to make sure that when a user taps the credit card field, for example, they’re presented with a numeric keyboard. This will help to remove any friction and keeps your shopper focused on the task at hand.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to optimising your checkout flow.
There are hundreds of enhancements you can make to deliver the best possible user experience and improve your eCommerce conversion rates, but these 5 are a great starting point!
What is your experience of optimising your checkout - have you had success? Please comment by filling the form below.
If you’d like some help and advice to maximise your checkout potential – we’d love to help!
Please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or book your free 30-minute marketing assessment at the link below.