How To Create The Perfect Checkout Experience For Customers

Great success! You’ve managed to get your customer to the checkout and they’re on the cusp of making a purchase. You already know the intent is there and it’s time to get them to sign on the metaphorical dotted line.

But there seems to be a catch. Every time a customer reaches your checkout process, they drop off - and never return. You can’t quite work out why, however. You offer competitive pricing, your branding is on fleek, and you offer sustainable packaging (as well as a handwritten note in every package! What more do these people want?!).

We’ll tell you what they want - a short and sweet checkout experience, without having to enter every single piece of personal information they have, or sign up for an account with you, or store their credit card details with you - and so on and so on.

Your checkout process needs to be straightforward and succinct - without sacrificing on security and customer data. But how exactly do you create the perfect checkout experience for customers, whilst still maintaining integrity? Let’s take a look at what changes you can implement.

Why Do Customers Abandon Their Carts?

We’ve all done it - added items to our baskets, only to reach the checkout stage and convince ourselves we were ‘just browsing’ or we’ll ‘come back later when we’ve found a better discount code’.

But these aren’t the only reasons why customers abandon their carts. According to data from Baymard, 48% of shoppers don’t complete at checkout because shipping and other costs are too high. Your website might cry ‘free shipping’, but if customers are reaching the checkout process and still being charged for next-day delivery, this can be extremely frustrating and, more importantly, off-putting.

24% of customers don’t want to have to create an account with you either - and for good reason. Data mining, third party resellers, and hacking can make consumers nervous. Having to create an account with you puts their data directly into your hands - as well as being one more password to remember.

Customers are also extremely demanding - and this demand is increasing. With behemoths like Amazon offering free, next-day shipping, it’s impossible for smaller businesses to compete, especially if they’re only offering delivery from 5 - 7 business days.

One statistic you might not want to ignore is that website and page loading speed is a massive factor when it comes to purchasing online. A study completed in 2020 found that 90% of shoppers would abandon a site if it took too long to load. Our attention span is short and unfortunately, it’s getting even shorter.

eCommerce Checkout Best Practices

Now you’re equipped with why customers might abandon their carts at the checkout, it’s time to look at how to avoid these issues and implement some checkout best practices. As with anything on the internet, you’re not going to be able to please everyone, but you can do your best to try.

1. Don’t make creating an account mandatory

Yes, we know that data is like gold dust - but even if you get customers to sign up, you still need to get their consent to use their data for marketing purposes anyway.

Making customers create an account to shop with you can leave a nasty taste in their mouth and lead them to abandon the purchase altogether. However, having the option to create an account can lead more customers to do so - we just don’t like being told what to do.

A guest checkout is a simple way around this. And although it’s not ideal for your marketing department (we all want to send those follow-up emails), it may mean that you gain a customer who is likely to buy from you again - and when that repeat purchase comes around, they’re more likely to create an account for ease of use.

And don’t forget, just because they didn’t sign up for an account now, doesn’t mean they won’t once they’ve purchased. A customer who has had an easy and pain-free checkout process may be more likely to sign up to an account to track their order and manage future purchases. Make sure you have an automated email set up to notify customers of their purchase - with an extra CTA to get them to sign up to an account. 

2. Keep it short and keep it sweet

We’ve mentioned about attention span already, but it’s important to reiterate it. Our brains can’t cope with lengthy forms, especially if we’re just buying a swimsuit for next week’s holiday to Tenerife. It really sucks the joy out of a purchase.

But you do need quite a bit of information from an individual when selling to them online. This isn’t to annoy the customer; it’s simply to ensure they get the right order and pay for the right shipping.

eCommerce forms can be easily split up into sections to ensure you gather the information you need, without overwhelming the customer. Allowing the customer to fill that information out in phases creates the effect that they haven’t actually had to provide many details, or that the process hasn’t taken as long as they thought it would.

Although this works, that doesn’t mean you should add as many sections as possible. Customers will catch on quickly if the checkout process is taking longer than a job application (and we all know how long those can be…). Only ask for the absolute minimum you need to complete the purchase. Hey, the less data you have to store, the better!

3. Do not distract the customer

If someone has reached the checkout area, they’re pretty high on the intent to buy list - and you don’t need to try and incentivise them any more.

Remove any distractions that aren’t absolutely necessary to the checkout process - and that could even mean the rest of your website. This means no ads, no pop-ups, no navigation bar - just the checkout forms and perhaps a progress indicator to show the customer what’s left to complete before their purchase is made.

4. Multiple payment and shipping options

We like variety - but not too much. We want to know we have choices, but also not have so many options that we can’t decide what to pick. The checkout process is the same as choosing an ice cream flavour. I want to know I’m picking the right one - but I also want to try a different flavour next time I come and visit.

This goes for both payment and shipping options. Ensure all the major credit and debit cards are covered, but don’t forget about other payment options, like Klarna, ClearPay, and PayPal. If this is a customer’s first-time purchase, they’ll be reassured that next time they buy from you, they can pick an alternative option.

5. Have a live chat feature

If a customer is having trouble making a purchase, maybe their address isn’t being recognised, or a payment option isn’t working, it’s a great idea to have a live chat feature available to access immediately.

Instead of losing the customer instantly through frustration, the live chat feature enables the customer to take back control and make the purchase after a little problem solving. This also means your company can learn from the issue the customer was experiencing, as well as provide great customer service - potentially encouraging them to return again.

Final thoughts

It’s always important to remember that the eCommerce world changes on a weekly basis and customers are becoming increasingly more demanding as time goes on.

Taking note of your customers’ behaviour and dealing with issues in your checkout process will only make it easier for people to buy from you. If you haven’t evaluated your checkout process in a while, and you’ve noticed your conversion rate dropping off, it might just be time to use this list…