10 Useful eCommerce Checkout Usability Techniques
Conversion 101. Your checkout process should be simple, secure, and fast. Finding the right combination of these attributes will drive the highest rate of conversion on your e-commerce website. The slower and more difficult the process becomes, the more friction potentional customers feel and the less likely they are to buy from you.
Here are 10 checkout usability tips to reduce friction, increase conversion, and delight your customers.
1. Default to shipping address being the same as billing address. Use a checkbox to ask if they are different.
Hide additional fields for shipping address, unless your customer opts to enter an alternate address. By using this strategy, customers are less likely to be overwhelmed with fields and abandon due to “form-fatigue.”
2. Provide extra reassurance when capturing non-standard information on checkout.
When parting with personal information to complete an online transaction, customers are often weary as to what will happen to that information down the road. If you’re capturing sensitive information such as a telephone number as part of your conversion process, use reassuring copy to tell the customer exactly how and why you are asking for it.
3. Contextual words like “continue, “proceed,” or “next” need clarification.
Without clarification, contextual words such as “Continue” are ambiguous and can be confusing. “Continue” in the shopping cart could mean “Continue shopping” or “Continue to checkout.” “Back” could mean “Back to last page” or “Back to search results.” Be clear & concise about where you are taking your customer next.
4. The primary call to action should be the most dominant visual element of each page.
Because customers often click without reading button text, the most prominent call to action should lead to the most logical “next” step.
5. The Guest checkout option should be the most prominent. Preferably placed in the top area of the page.
Guest checkout should be placed prominently to avoid the risk of customers overlooking it. Customers mistakenly believing that registration is required can be a huge contributor to increased abandonment. If you have a guest checkout option, don’t hide it.
6. Customers should be allowed to force-proceed through incorrect validation errors (such as an address validator).
Address validation is not always perfect. If the validation is incorrect and there is no way for the customer to force-proceed, then they are undoubtedly in for a frustrating experience. Address validation can be helpful in some cases, but give your customer control in case it provides an incorrect recommendation.
7. Drop-down carts should stay visible indefinitely when hovered over. Otherwise, they should persist for at least 10 seconds to allow customers to read and verify the cart’s content.
Temporary drop-down carts often disappear so fast after a product is added that your customer doesn’t have time to process what happened. In many cases, they will mistakenly cart the item again. Keeping the drop-down cart visible will allow customers to process and verify the cart’s contents.
8. The checkout-process must be completely linear (e.g. there are no sub-steps going back to a previously shown page).
A non-linear checkout flow leaves customers confused. Worse, customers could be left thinking there is an error on the site or they are not making any progress.
9. It should be clearly shown when extra cost is being added to the order. (tax and shipping)
Even though the fee(s) may be small, most customers feel like they are being tricked when they notice additional fees like shipping, handling, and taxes appearing only at the end of the checkout process. Be up front about additional fees.
10. If there is cross-selling before the cart page, it should be very clear that the product was in fact added to the cart and should be clear how to proceed forward.
When customers are presented with a product page that includes up-sell items, it should be clear what items were actually added to cart. Doing so reduces anxiety for customers who are cautious about carting unwanted items by mistake.
Our philosophy is that its the small, thoughtful interactions that differentiate the best checkout flows from the average ones. It’s important to take a step back and experience your conversion process from a customer’s perspective, while always looking for ways to reduce friction before conversion.
What techniques work well for you? Let us know in the comments.
Author: Mike Arsenault
Mike Arsenault is the Founder & CEO of Rejoiner. He works with 350+ online retail & eCommerce companies like Hydroflask, Footjoy, GUESS, and Big Chill to help them grow faster using lifecycle email. He also once lived aboard a 36’ sailboat in Boston.