Best Ecommerce Checkout Practices: What Customers Want Today

Posted by Victoria Elizabeth 12 Jul 13

I'd like to take a closer look in this post at Best Ecommerce Checkout Practices. Optimising this area of your e-commerce site will not only relieve possible friction involved in the process, but also drive more visitors down your conversion funnel. (Note: sounds a bit like what they do to make foie gras...) The end result is more customers, so it’s well worth taking a look at how to do it. 

Kitten in small shopping cart

Checkout Process: What’s the Big Deal?

One of the most common places to lose a customer online is during the checkout process. Stats across e-commerce industries range from 30-70% of customers abandoning their baskets. While it's not entirely avoidable, there’s a lot a retailer can do to get towards the bottom of that range.

Everyone who’s ever made an online purchase, whether it’s for pizza or a new wardrobe, has gone through the sometimes arduous process of checking out. And at times, checking out is exactly what people will do in their heads when the process is too difficult. This can lead to frustration, loss of interest, and inevitably cart abandonment.

Here are 7 easy ways to eliminate issues within the process and make it as straightforward as possible:


1) Remove Obstacles

Long red arrow with stop signs all along


Obstacles can come in the form of extra pages or steps that require unnecessary information to fill in. This is a major source of friction and the more of them there are, the more likely a browser is to bale out. Bring separate pages together if possible, and avoid asking for too much information. Yes, it may well help build a more complete customer profile, but it will annoy the hell out of your visitors in the process. 



2) Multiple Credit Card Options

Golden credit card on keyboard

Present as many credit card options as your company is able to provide, so that customers don’t experience unnecessary friction when deciding how to make a purchase. It's also a great idea to implement a progress bar at the top or bottom of the page, to show where you are in the checkout process.




3) Clear Shipping and Return Policy

Boxes being shipped around a globe

 You should always show your shipping and returns policy clearly during each step. This will also prepare customers who definitely don’t want to be surprised at the end of their purchase. In many cases a final calculation is necessary once they have put in their mailing address, but you can easily provide an estimate at the beginning.


4) Coupon Codes/ Free Shipping

Two blue coupons saying, 'Save 20%'


 Your work is far from over when you have managed to drive a consumer all the way through to check out stage. You should also use this opportunity to provide some incentive for future purchase - because acquiring a loyal, repeat customer is the holy grail of all ecommerce businesses. It is much more expensive to keep looking for new customers than it is to build a positive relationship with the ones you have.




5) Helpline Telephone Number

Old telephone



This is pretty obvious, but you would be surprised how many retailers forget to put a customer
service helpline directly in line of view. You should display this info prominently at every
step in case someone is having difficulty.






6) Live Chat

keyboard button for 'Live Chat'


You should certainly consider this advanced feature option. Some customers are afraid of picking up the phone, and it’s important to remember that not everyone has the navigation abilities of millennial tech wizards, and even they get stumped by glitches in the process. Having a live chat option is a great way to get around particularly difficult issues, and will also present these issues to a representative who can relay the message to IT or another appropriate department.


7) Guest Checkout 

Undercover agent hiding under jacket with hospitality bell on head


Naturally your retailer instincts will compel you to get all the information you can about a customer during checkout. But stepping into the shoes of a first-time customer makes you realize that people don’t always want to spend the time to register all their personal information. You should always allow a guest checkout for those who do not want to set up an account.






These 7 tips are only a few of the features that will make the checkout process smoother for your customers, and minimise obstacles or interruptions in their path to buying your products. But making sure these features are part of your checkout process is not just a first step, but an essential first step. 


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