When looking at the standard sales funnel, businesses will often gloss over the eCommerce checkout phase, assuming that it’s past the decision-making point and thus not worth putting too much thought into. Instead, they think all the effort should go towards the earlier stages, particularly around the landing page. Convince the prospective customer there, and everything after is a formality. Right?
In actuality, the checkout phase is vital. While it doesn’t have the power to make the sales process, it does have the power to break it — to take all the drive and enthusiasm earned along the way and turn it into a lost opportunity — and demands consideration in every KPI strategy.
Keep reading to discover the 6 things that appear in every top-class checkout. By implementing them in your eCommerce checkout phase, it’s possible for you to significantly reduce the dropout rate and end up with much happier customers or clients.
6 eCommerce Checkout Must-Haves
1: Multiple payment options
The days of the generic card payment system should be over by now. Instead of sticking to convention, people are embracing new online payment possibilities. Not only do they use different banks and cards, but they also use digital wallets (PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay), have payment gateway preferences, and possibly even want to pay using cryptocurrencies (not quite mainstream yet, admittedly).
Not every eCommerce checkout needs to allow Bitcoin, of course. Not only is it potentially a real annoyance to configure — depending on the CMS being used — but it also doesn’t have enough regular users to be worthwhile for most client bases. But if your aim is to sell service packages to clients in the fin-tech industry, for example, then it might warrant inclusion.
Services such as BitPay offer wide-ranging integration.
However, every store owner does need to be keenly aware of how their prospective customers or clients want to pay for their orders, and do their best to meet those preferences. When someone leaves a customer checkout in frustration at their inability to pay they want to, that’s a damaging event — and it’s particularly a danger on mobile devices, as people don’t want to need their wallets.
2: Reassurance copy
When a shopper decides that they’re going to order whatever it is they’re looking at, that decision isn’t final. Even if they’re not consciously aware of any wavering, their mind is still looking out for problems right up until the point at which they place the order, ready to recoil from danger. And because of this, near-customers will often get cold feet at the last second.
This is more of a threat the higher the price of the order, or the greater a commitment (of any kind) it entails. For instance, someone won’t generally need to be reassured about buying a pizza. It’s a known entity, it’s relatively cheap, they’re hungry, and their mind is made up. But anyone selling something like a coaching package is asking for two major commitments:
- Firstly, there’s the commitment of the asking price, which may be substantial.
- Secondly, there’s the commitment of making good use of the coaching.
While navigating the eCommerce checkout stage, someone might well start to worry about whether it’s really what they want. What if the value isn’t there? What if they can’t follow through? This is why there’s a need for reassurance copy: persuasive text to reassure them that they’re doing the right thing by placing their order. This will often take the form of bullet points restating the value proposition and how happy people usually are with that particular order.
3: Clear order confirmation
The journey to the customer checkout can be long and complicated, so the impending customer might not actually remember exactly what they placed in their cart, or they may still be slightly unclear about some part of it. Maybe they added some downloadable guides but now can’t remember what formats they’re supplied in and want to double- check.
While they can of course back out from the checkout to review the previously-visited pages, this isn’t something that should be encouraged, because it moves them out of the step-by-step sales funnel and into unclear territory. The added time it takes for them to check will give them more time to think about possible alternatives and drawbacks, and by the time they’ve found what they’re looking for, they might have lost their desire to order.
If eCommerce checkout copy is carefully prepared to collate all the important pieces of information and present them front and center (including things like quantity, weights, formats, dates for events, packaging, etc.) then shoppers will stay focused on what they’re doing, which will ultimately lead to more conversions.
4: Login-free functionality
In a time of extensive UX personalization, businesses can go overboard to the extent of requiring prospective customers to be logged into accounts before buying. This is a particularly bad thing for a new customer, because it will see their journey interrupted at the last minute by a demand to create an account. There are even some ill-planned customer checkouts out there that don’t allow user accounts to be created just before purchasing, requiring potential customers to leave the eCommerce checkout area, set up their accounts, and come back.
Though there’s every justification for requiring an account to be made (for tracking purchase histories and distributing information, for instance), it must be as simple as possible, requiring as little input from the customer as can be achieved. Some systems will simply create generic user accounts and link them to new order numbers, allowing the buyers to get through the checkout rapidly and return later to add details if they choose to.
As such, any company that currently requires a login for someone to place an order on their site should reconsider their approach. Loyalty is something to be earned and not forced.
5: Time estimates
Some orders are very time-sensitive. Perhaps a customer needs a product delivered by the next working day, or a client needs some kind of follow-up by a certain point: a confirmation of work completion, event tickets, an accurate estimate, etc. When someone is about to order, they’ll be running through all the requirements in their head, and such requirements could hold them up.
At the point of checkout, your site should provide as many realistic estimates as possible: when can they expect the order to move ahead? What should they do if progress has stalled? If the store has any kind of turnaround guarantee, this is where it should be emphasized. Someone who feels confident that they know what will result from their order is vastly more likely to complete it.
6: Recommended accompaniments
Amazon-style product recommendations can be overdone and come across as greedy, but that’s not the only way to use suggestions. An order is never placed in a vacuum — there’s always context to it. There’s a reason why the buyer is ordering that item in particular. Recommended accompaniments are great for recognizing this and making life easier for customers, and the scope for possible recommendations is enormous.
Recommendations can be products, warranties, subscriptions — anything, really.
As an example, imagine that someone planned to check out LA business listings in the hope of finding a store to run and make their own, but didn’t really know what they were looking for (it isn’t easy to value a business). If they picked something they liked the look of but then lingered in the checkout, what might they want to find there to bolster their confidence about the overall process? Here are some ideas:
Note that these suggestions aren’t conventional eCommerce products. In fact, they’re all more likely to be digital downloads or courses — but that’s what’s so interesting about accompaniments now. You don’t need to source fresh products to improve your eCommerce checkout because you can simply collate existing resources and sell them for very little, expanding your profits and helping the shopper.
And what if someone doesn’t need any of the suggested accompaniments? There’s no harm in them being there as suggestions — no seasoned buyer is going to feel insulted by seeing an unnecessary guide. And anyone who could benefit from some assistance would likely feel more enthused as a result of knowing that they could get support if they wanted it.
So when someone arrives at the checkout phase, the sales copy shouldn’t stop at what’s already in their cart. There are other things that can be offered as well, and as long as they’re presented subtly, shoppers won’t mind — they may even benefit significantly.
Improve Your Customer Checkout Experience
There you have it: 6 hallmarks of every great eCommerce checkout.
Very often, implementing checkout improvements is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to boost sales. Those who commit some time and effort will soon see it rewarded.
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Patrick Foster is a writer and eCommerce expert who shares advice and commentary on Ecommerce Tips, a business-centric blog all about online retail. Check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips.
If you’re interested in submitting a guest post for Mod Girl Marketing, contact us here.Tags: Customer Checkout, eCommerce, eCommerce cart, eCommerce Checkout, retail, sales funnel