How to Perfect the Shopping cart & Checkout

Read more: When and why do you need a user account


   We are starting a series of articles about main pain points of eCommerce websites. Online shopping is all about pleasing your customers on each step of their user flow. Today we’re studying what can go wrong during the checkout and how to avoid common mistakes for better conversion.

   The checkout is where all the money at. It’s also the step where most customers abandon a website. In 2016, Baymard Institute discovered the reason for users to leave during the checkout. Yes, if users are at the checkout, them may be ready to pay for a product. However, you must please them even at the last step of their shopping flow, especially at the checkout.



   I’m going to provide some tip to make the checkout flow smoother thus improve the conversions.



   All the fields you ask to fill out must be reasonable. Remove all the unimportant ones. Remember, that an extra field equals an extra obstacle. Don’t ask for surnames, middle names, don’t ask to choose a country if you target only one country and so on. Your users must understand why they have to provide the information, so bother to explain to them why you ask for extra information.


   Allow guest checkout

   The best way is to let users complete the purchase as a guest. If you need them to sign up, leave it to the last step, and ask only for an email/mobile phone.  I suggest you add a ‘Sign up with Facebook / Google’ button. Some fields will autofill easing the process for users.

   The checkout is your chance to show that creating an account was a beneficial necessity. If you make it just for fun, your customers will likely abandon your website.





   Remove any distractions

   Main distractions are the header and footer. They often shift the focus from the checkout. Remove them from the checkout page so user’s focus is on filling out the forms. Additionally, add security and contact information and cart summary. Such actions ensure your users that you’re not trying to trick them by not showing the final sum and that your website isn’t a scam.



   Multiple Steps

   Fields like Personal Info, Shipping Address, Billing Info etc. must be on different steps. Otherwise you risk to make the checkout seem too complicated. Multiple steps let your users understand what sort of information they are asked, how many steps there are to go, and and they make it look as if the checkout is a very simple process.  Don’t neglect the navigation, show your users the step they are at.



   Make the cart always visible

   Whatever step your customers are at, they should always see what items are in their cart. Even a small cart icon is enough providing it shows all the items added to the cart whenever a user point the cursor to it.

   You must try to predict user’s expectation regarding the prices. Always show the shipping address and all additional fees and taxes. Most users quit during the checkout because they get to know the total price at the end of the process.

   Consider the amount of item in user’s cart. If there’s a bunch of product (online supermarket), there’s no need to display large images of potatoes and ketchups because it will create a huge scrollable drop-down. When the items are visual (i.e. clothes), you must show the items wherever it’s possible.

   There are some other cases like when a user adds something to the cart, then leaves the website, comes back in a few days and the item is out out stock. In such case you must offer user to add this item to Favorites and notify when it’s available again. This and other hypothetical flow must be considered way before you design the cart.





   There are different types of address fields. Some of them guess the address as you start to type. Make sure your system guesses right. Two nearby town may share some names of the street. You should always confirm the purchase by email of phone.

  When a user fills a field, you must confirm that the information they provide is right. Highlight the field in green if it’s OK, in red – if not. Add there a green checkmark and a red cross correspondingly.



   Bottom line

   To make customers buy something from you, you must please them at every step of their flow until they see the ‘Thank you for the purchase’ page. The checkout page takes the biggest responsibility for that. Even if your customers know what they want to buy, small obstacles like too many fields or too few available payment methods can make them change their mind.

   The rule of thumb: simplify every step of the checkout. The less your customers spend time on the page the better. Remove all distractions like the header, footer, banner ads, contact forms so that users can focus on the important – the purchase.


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