The Ultimate Shopping Cart Design
The transition from Browser to Shopper begins with the Shopping Cart. When a customer adds a product to the cart, make it visible. A clear indication that the product has been successfully added to the cart provides reassurance and clears the way for addition of more products.
This notification needs to be seen distinctly by the customer. You can add it like a text-box, a pop-up, a cartoon, or anything else. This awareness creates a constant reminder that there’s a product to be purchased in their cart and hence can reduce Cart abandonment to ta great extent.
Displaying the call to action prominently, using buttons like ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Proceed to Checkout’ is a way of making sure that customers do not merely add products to the Cart and walk off. Remember, every aspect of your checkout page has to be designed to nudge the customer into completing the purchase.
You can add multiple Buy Now buttons, say at the top and bottom of your webpage, so that it is easily accessible, no matter where the visitor is. These locations ought to be completely clutter-free, and the button of a reasonable size do that it does not dwarf the product, nor is overshadowed by it.
Contrast is very useful in etching the CTA in people’s minds. It helps if the buttons are of a colour that stands out distinctly from your website’s layout, all the better to highlight it and thus prompting your customers towards the checkout process.
Keeping it Visually Simple
Too much text can be detrimental to the checkout process. Instead, it is a good idea to add succinct buttons that can be taken in at a glance.
It also helps to provide a bulleted list answering all the questions a customer might have at the time of purchase. These include:
- Product availability
- Shipping details
- Any extra costs if present
This gives the consumer a clear picture of what to expect, and what not to expect, so that there are no surprises later!
Storing Cart Contents
Once a customer has added all the products to their Cart, the actual Checkout process begins. On the Cart Page, maintaining a clear display of the products to be purchased is of utmost importance. Amazon does this perfectly. The product name, description, image, quantity, price, shipping and delivery charges, and the Product Removal option, all are displayed neatly, and there is an additional ‘Continue Shopping’ option besides. This supplemented by a distinct Call to Action and trust signals ensure that the customer feels completely sure while proceeding to the payment.
Another feature that a good e-commerce website incorporates is the Cart Recovery option. Discarding half-filled carts is a big no-no. Often customers move away from the shopping website temporarily and return to discover that their Cart has been emptied. The conversion rate takes a severe hit because of this, as the customer can hardly be expected to sit and browse all of the products again to add them to the cart. Hence, it is a good idea to store Carts and their contents for at least a week. This ensures that the visitor returns to your website, and more importantly, completes the purchase!
Length of the Process
The checkout can be essentially a single-page or multi-page process. Different companies swear by different strategies, and both these ways have been proven to increase conversion rates. The key is to identify the audience you will be targeting, and optimizing the process accordingly.
For instance, Crazy Egg moved from a single-page checkout to a multi-page format and witnessed a growth of 10% in their conversion rates. On the other hand, the Vancouver Olympic Store cut short their four-page checkout to a single-page format and saw a 21.8% increase in conversions!
The length of the process becomes a hindrance if and only if the process meanders. A short process is not necessarily end-user friendly, nor is a longer one better for collecting information. The best checkout process reflects a logical flow of thought, regardless of its length.
To Register or Not to Register!
Many e-commerce store owners believe that making registrations mandatory, before the product can be purchased will increase customer loyalty and frequency. This is far from true though. In fact, it was statistically proven in a usability survey that 23% of the visitors abandon carts due to mandatory registrations.
You can hardly afford to lose a quarter of your business just because the visitor didn’t register, can you? But if they do not register, how will you send store updates and induce them to come back?
Don’t worry. There are several workable alternatives around this deadlock.
Incorporating Guest Checkouts
This is a must-have option for every e-commerce website. Creating Guest Checkouts lets users sidestep the conventional registration process and buy their product right away. You can limit the number of guest checkouts that can be made per day, beyond which the user will need to register before purchasing additional products.
Adding the Registration Form after the Transaction
This is an excellent alternative, one that satisfies both ends of the store. Adding a Registration Form at the end of the Guest Checkout makes the process a lot shorter and smoother, as you already have all the necessary details of the user. Create an auto-filled form with just the Password and Subscription fields unmarked, and your customers can add an account at the click of a button!
Providing Incentives to Encourage Registration
Everybody loves a good discount. You can leverage this attitude by creating offers on future purchases, if the customers sign up for an account. Where you place these offers is up to you, they can be either before the current transaction is completed, or after the transaction. The two main advantages of this approach are that it is a sureshot way of increasing subscriptions as well as making sure that your customers visit your site again.
Generate an Automatic Account for every Customer
Merge the Customer Details and Account Creation Pages by using one for the other. No matter how minimalistic your forms are, the fields like Customer Name, Billing and Shipping Address, E-mail, and Phone Number are inevitably filled. Add an additional Subscriptions field here so that the same information gets used for account creation, without the customer having to fill out any other forms.
You can send a confirmation e-mail later, with the account and order details, which the customers can refer to in future.
Once the Checkout Process starts, customers appreciate knowing where exactly they are in it. This is especially true for multi-page checkouts, as slogging through pages and pages of forms can get tiresome. A clear progress indicator delineates the length of the process and ensures that customers do not leave halfway. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to keep the checkout process brief and to the point.
60% of online shoppers abandon Carts due to increased costs of shipping, taxes, handling, etc. Not that they are averse to paying these costs, just that not being informed about them up front is very disconcerting. You would be irritated too if you found out that the price of the book you were about to buy suddenly shot up by 50 bucks due to taxes and delivery charges, at the last minute, wouldn’t you?!
To avoid this, be clear about all the extra expenses that will be incurred by the customers, from the very beginning. Do not highlight them, but do not skip them altogether either.
Customers tend to opt for orders eligible for Free Delivery the most frequently, however, it is not always practically feasible.
One way of offsetting the impact of extra costs is by providing discounts and showing customers how much they save by availing of those discounts. This has to be handled on the Product Details Page though, before the checkout process starts.
Coupons and Discounts
As a rule, coupons and discounts are expected to boost sales, or so one would think. However, it is observed that adding a ‘Enter your Coupon’ field to your Checkout Page does more harm than good. This is because, first-time customers, or the vast majority of those who do not have coupons, begin to wonder why they were not given one. Even worse, they leave the checkout halfway to go search for the coupon, either in their account, or across the internet. 30% of Shopping Carts are abandoned due to such futile searches for Coupons. A better solution is place the Coupon field in some inconspicuous place, where it will be found by only those actively looking for it. Or alternatively, you can add an ‘Apply Now’ button beside the field, so that customers need not go off your site in search of one. They can simply get the Coupon there and move on to the final checkout.
For every new website, it takes time to build customer trust. It happens eventually, as your products and service attest to your quality, but in the meantime, you can speed up the process by adding trust signals to your website.
Especially important for checkout pages, people are trusting you with their credit card and bank account details after all, using standard symbols and icons to let your customers know that their information is in safe hands is a must.
These icons include Credit Card logos, your SSL Encryption certificate, the SSL logo, the Google Trusted Store recommendation, security certificates of any specific companies whose products you sell, and the like.
It is also a good idea to design the Credit-card information fields on your Payment Page resembling an actual credit card, which further helps soothe customer apprehensions.
You can opt to store the billing information for registered and recurring users, so that they need not enter the same information over and over; this makes it that much quicker for them to complete their purchases. However, you need to ensure that all this information is stored extremely securely.
Do not Redirect, Stick to Your Site!
This is a part of the trust considerations while setting up your checkout process. Often, several ecommerce platforms ask you to shift the process from your website to their domain, at the last step of Payment Processing. As a result, the customer is redirected to a different domain, which, in all probability, he has never even heard of.
This has an immensely negative impact on the customer psyche, as they are left questioning where exactly they have now been led to. You know that the transaction is still going to be 100% safe, but your customers don’t (not surprising, considering the number of online scams occurring every year), so the next thing you know is the Cart is abandoned, and you have just lost a confirmed customer.
To avoid this, always keep your checkout process on your own website, preferably with a URL like myawesomestore/checkout.com. Not only does this help maintain the trust of your customers but it also ensures that customers stick out till the end.
Customer Reviews and Recommendations
Like the Product Pages, reviews on the Checkout page help sustain the customer through the checkout process. Of course, this is one aspect of the website that you cannot control, but genuine testimonials nevertheless help to eliminate any hesitation the customer might have, about the product quality and durability.
A very strong marketing strategy is to provide recommendations to customers, based on their current or past purchases on the Checkout Page. For example, if a person has purchased a mobile phone online, recommendations can include all the accessories required, such as back panels, display covers, headphones, mobile cases, and the works.
This technique works successfully more often than not, to get customers to purchase another related product simultaneously.
The Final Review
Once all the form-filling, product addition, account creation is done, you can display a concise overview of all the details, just before the final transaction is completed. This helps the customer to be clear with respect to all conditions of the order and leaves no scope for conflicts later. Do not place anything else on this part of the Checkout Page, not even a Return to Shopping button. Minimise all distractions, simply highlighting the ‘Complete Purchase’ link.
The post-purchase process includes retargeting customers and visitors alike. You can send weekly or monthly reminders to customers who have abandoned their Carts, nudging them to return and complete the purchase. Providing information about pecuniary changes of the items in the Cart also helps. For all the customers, sending regular promotional emails, about recommended products, or those they might have looked up but not purchased increases the chances of their frequenting your website again.
Testing and Optimization
No matter how well your Checkout Page is working, keep testing and optimizing it. Even websites with high conversion rates make it a point to regularly update their pages and increase sales. Trying out different strategies and incorporating results from user-surveys are some of the ways you can optimize your checkout process.
WooCommerce has several different plugins that can be used to optimize your checkout process. We shall discuss the pros and cons of a few of these here; you can choose one based on the specific requirements of your website.
WooCommerce One Page Checkout
Created by WooThemes, the developers of WooCommerce, this plugin is one of their extensions for WooCommerce.
- Products can be added and purchased on the same page of the website. Customers need not navigate back and forth during checkout.
- A variable number of products can be added to the Checkout Page.
- The plugin has default templates for product display on the Checkout Page.
- Multiple Checkout Pages can be created as the shortcode can be added to any landing page created on the website.
- The extension is priced at $79 per year per site, which is rather steep.
- There are no options for customizing checkout fields.
WooCommerce Checkout Field Editor
The WooCommerce Checkout Field Editor is a freemium plugin that lets you add and customise various fields on your Checkout Page.
- Provides 12 different Field types for addition to Checkout Page.
- Both ‘Text’ and ‘Select’ options are supported.
- Conditional Fields can be added
- Separate sections can be created and assigned different positions on the page.
- Does not support multi-step checkout.
YITH WooCommerce Multi-Step Checkout
Developed by YITHEMES, the YITH WooCommerce Multi-Step Checkout splits your Checkout Page into multiple pages with sequential fields.
- Four different displays available for the multi-step checkout
- Individual pages are completely customizable
- Inline validation to ensure that customers fill all the mandatory fields.
- The steps can be displayed numerically or using icons.
The plugin has both free and premium versions, but all features are included in only the premium version, which starts at $59 per year per site.
Addition of new, custom fields is not possible
WooCommerce Checkout Manager
WooCommerce Checkout Manager is a useful tool to edit your WooCommerce Checkout Page.
- Includes 15 different types of custom fields that can be added.
- Allows customers to upload files if required, on the Page
- Information entered is preserved if customers step out of the checkout process
- Is compatible with WPML and supports CSV imports and Exports
- Plugin support is poor
The plugin has recently undergone a change in ownership and the latest version released has several compatibility issues
In WooCommerce Checkout Process Optimization, there is not rule of thumb according to which your site is going to work. What works for one might not for another. However, these guidelines can provide a base which can be used to start with optimization.
What other Checkout Optimization tools would you recommend? Comment to let us know.