The volume of sales you’ll process through your ecommerce website depends on the effectiveness of your checkout. Research shows almost 70% of shoppers who’ve added an item to their online cart abandon the checkout process without completing their order.
As part of conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategy, you want to make the ecommerce checkout process as smooth and friction-free as possible, while still collecting the information you need to process an order.
Use these ecommerce checkout optimization tips to recoup lost revenue and improve your store’s conversion rate.
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1. Low-Key shopping cart button
You’d be surprised how often an interested shopper browses your store, picks an item, adds it to cart… only to forget all about it after 15-20 minutes. The fault usually lies with a shopping cart button that’s barely emphasized, and doesn’t turn attention to itself.
Here’s a great solution to the problem: a dynamic shopping cart that displays a pop-up every time an item is added.
How to fix it:
It should be 100% obvious to any website visitor that they’ve put something in their cart.
If you want to make a potential purchase unmissable to buyers, creating a small animation or a pop-up, displaying the cart’s contents and a “Checkout / Continue Shopping” call to action, would work best.
If you don’t want to code something quite so involved, the easiest way to make your shopping cart stand out is making the changes to your cart count more noticeable. Like so:
All you need is some basic skills with CSS and jQuery to make this happen. Basically, what happens is this: when the cart count becomes more than zero, the shopping cart button gets assigned a new CSS class that changes its appearance. In this example it’s color, but you can style it any way you want. Alternatively, check out the Shopify theme store and choose from many of the available themes that emphasize the cart button.
2. Slow / non-dynamic shopping cart
According to KISSmetrics, even a one-second page delay can cost your ecommerce brand millions in sales per year. And unless your target customers are the most patient, easy-going people in the world, refreshing your shopping cart to update shipping fees, items count, or coupon codes will make them much more likely to cancel the order.
Thing is, shoppers don’t want to update the number of items they are buying and wait for another 2-3 seconds until the cart refreshes (unless they want the item really badly). Customer psychology is enough of a minefield all by itself - you really don’t want to give them any additional reasons to abandon the cart.
You can have a developer build a dynamic cart for you in Ruby on Rails, jQuery, or jQuery UI, and integrate it with your store. Alternatively, you can use third-party libraries that support Shopify, and let your website render the cart in real time - like Cart.js.
3. Disruptive registration
If you want every new buyer at your store to create an account before purchasing, you’re massively undercutting your conversion rates. According to this survey by eConsultancy, 25% of shoppers abandon their purchases because they are forced to create an account.
If you’re still not convinced, check out this case study by User Interface Engineering, where a “Register” button was replaced with a “Continue” button… and that one tweak brought in $300 million in revenue.
To understand what a big deal this is, look at the problem from a shopper’s point of view. They come to your website to buy stuff. When they see something they like and add that item to cart, they don’t want to be forced to make up a password and create an account.
They want instant gratification, not in-advance commitment to your brand.
How to fix it:
To make sure your checkout is conversion-friendly, you should always make account creation optional for your customers. You can easily do this in your Shopify account:
- Go to “Settings -> Checkout -> Customer accounts”
- Check the box “Accounts are optional”
- There, it’s done! In several clicks, you’ve removed a big hurdle for potential customers!
If persistent accounts are part of your customer loyalty strategy, you can invite them to create one later, using the email they provided. To learn how, read this entry in Shopify’s manual.
Also, please note that you do want to ask for their email as quickly as possible, so you could follow up if they abandon the cart.
4. Shipping costs
Personally, I’m not a fan of discounts: when used in excess, they can devalue your brand, and cripple your revenue in the long run.
There are many great alternatives to price-slashing, and free shipping is certainly one of them. Especially considering that consumers hate paying for delivery of their orders.
For example, in a report by ComScore, 61% of respondents said they would cancel an online purchase if not offered free shipping. Who knew, right?
Nobody likes to add a bunch of items to cart, fill out all the forms… and have a shipping fee suddenly applied to the order. It doesn’t matter if it’s tiny - it’s still more than the shopper has already committed to. It disrupts their thought sequence and affects the buying experience.
How to fix it:
Here are 3 conversion-friendly ways to handle shipping costs:
- Make shipping free for everyone, everywhere (or at least nationwide);
- Have a fixed shipping cost on all orders, no matter where the buyer lives;
- Institute free shipping on all orders over a certain sum.
No “Calculate Shipping” buttons, no sudden surcharges, no disappointed buyers - easy!
Even a small additional charge can ruin the chances for a successful sale - much less a substantial 25 Euros on top of your existing order
And if you have to charge for shipping (I don’t know, maybe you are selling designer bathtubs or something), the best way to handle it is by being upfront and transparent about it.
Sure, a customer who has pre-committed to paying for an item might put up with an unexpected shipping fee… once. After that, they probably won’t buy from you again. Be very open about how much you charge, so your potential buyer won’t feel like you’re taking advantage of them.
Specifying free shipping conditions directly on the product page above the call to action is one way to do it. This pre-conditions the buyer to expert a surcharge, and mitigates possible frustration
In your ecommerce funnel, the checkout process is the stage that’s the hardest to optimize for maximum revenue. But if you focus on eliminating the worst conversion killers, you’ll see a bigger revenue lift than from small tweaks like button colors or product headlines.
Do you have a checkout CRO war story to share that resulted in a revenue lift for your ecommerce brand… or ended up costing you money? Tell me in the comments!