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5 tips to boost your checkout conversion rate

Optimize your checkout conversion

Checkout process conversion rate is by far the most important metric for e-commerce businesses. Actual revenues are generated on the checkout page, meaning the smallest variation can mean thousands in losses or additional revenues.

How to calculate conversion rate?

The conversion rate is a measure of online marketing. It describes the correlation between website visitors and the "conversions", i.e. the visitors who made a purchase, a download, a newsletter registration, etc. In general, the conversion rate is given in percent.

Conversion rate = (# of conversions x 100%) / (# of visits)

Watch out for shopping cart abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment can also be monitored through the conversion rate. The Baymard Institute estimates the average e-commerce shopping cart abandonment rate to be around 69.23%, as of January 2017. In other words, roughly 7 out of 10 shoppers who will leave your site after entering the purchase process.

How to calculate cart abandonment rate?

The shopping cart abandonment rate is the percentage of online shoppers who add items to a cart without completing the purchase. It shows the rate of interested potential customers who leave without buying anything compared to the total number of shopping carts created.

% Shopping cart abandonment rate = 1 - [# of completed purchases / # of shopping carts created] / 100

Reducing the cart abandonment rate will have a huge impact on your conversion rate. A seamless checkout process can entice customers to go forward with their purchases.

TOP reasons for cart abandonment

Why do customers abandon their shopping carts? Generally, the reasons fall under price and usability issues. UPS commissioned a study taking the pulse of online shoppers in the United States. Here are the top reasons shoppers abandoned shopping carts:

Table: Shopping cart abandonment reasons statistics

Source: UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper: A customer experience study (2014)

Overall, most problematics can be addressed through better checkout design aimed at removing friction elements and adding motivators. We have listed 5 tips to optimize your checkout process.

Tip 1: try single-page checkout process

Whether single-page or multi-page checkout convert better is highly debated. In some cases, a single-page will perform significantly better, in others, a multi-page checkout will do better. There is really no definitive answer.

Single-page checkouts appear shorter and simpler requiring fewer clicks, as all the fields are on the same page. This might give the customers an incentive to complete the transaction. If you choose to use multi-page, make sure to give the shopper a visual indicator of how far they’ve progressed in the checkout process.

Most retailers stick to a multi-page checkout process without experimenting with a single-page alternative. The only way to know what works best for your shop is to conduct tests.

When designing a single-page checkout, you should keep in mind to:

Tip 2: guest checkout, no mandatory sign-up

Customers dislike having to register for yet another account. In fact, only a small portion of buyers are willing to create an account. This is especially true among one-time buyers and shoppers unwilling to share private information.

Of course, all e-commerce businesses want customers to sign-up. However, forcing shoppers to create an account can have a disastrous impact on conversion rates, as potential customers would often rather not buy the selected product than to deal with the newsletters, promotional offers and upsells associated with an account. In their Checkout Usability report, the Baymard Institute underlined that 30% of users abandon their carts when asked to sign-up before checkout.

Avoid getting in the way of the purchase process. For example, automatically create a user account when a purchase is made and send the account information with the order receipt. Users can be prompted to create an account on the “Thank you” page. Since most of the needed information was entered at checkout, only a password is needed to create an account. Alternatively, letting customers login through their social media account simplify the process and give the impression of using an already existing account rather than creating a new one.

Find the right combination for your shop, don’t be afraid to experiment with different options.

Tip 3: free shipping, free returns and secure payment gateways

News of fraud and leaks are regularly being shared. Customers have become careful with their cards information, which is a good thing. This means, however, that they should feel safe and reassured when buying on your online shop. You can reassure your customers by offering free shipping, free returns and boasting a secure payment gateway. A forgiving return policy with an easy process reassures potential customers. It can encourage more impulse purchases, as mistakes can be later corrected.

The power of free shipping

The promise of free shipping is of the upmost importance for your conversion rate. It is the most successful marketing tool for e-commerce shops. Free shipping is often more appealing to customers than a discount of slightly higher value. Furthermore, Forrester Research found that over 60% of customers prefer shopping where free shipping is offered.

Prominently advertising your free shopping, policy return and any discounts on your homepage or checkout page can boost sales tremendously. Some online shops also choose to add a reminder of their free shipping above the checkout button.

Tip 4: quick and easy forms

People hate filling out forms, especially on mobile devices. Therefore, forms should be kept as simple as possible. Complicated or cluttered forms may frustrate users and deter them from buying altogether. Only ask information that is absolutely necessary.

Google autofill address & credit card

The personal information of Chrome or Android users is likely to be saved on Google. This is the case with many of your customers.

Google autofill allows you to take advantage of that. Customers save time by letting it fill the form for them. This facilitates and accelerates checkout.

Mobile first design

M-commerce has been growing steadily, with users turning more and more to their smartphones to shop online. In 2017, mobile commerce brought American retailers 156 billion USD in sales, accounting for 24% of all e-commerce sales. Many customers are now mobile-only online shoppers.

Increasing the conversion rate of your mobile website should be a top priority. The first step is to design a form that works on smaller screens.

Mobile forms should have:

Additionally, make sure to leverage mobile UI element, such as increment selectors or buttons, instead of using drop down menus. It is essential to avoid menus or complicated multi-step checkouts.

Ask for payment information last

Customers are, understandably, very careful about entering their payment information online. Requesting this information too early in the form might raise suspicions.

Therefore, ask for the payment information on the last field of the form. Doing so will also help offer alternative payment options such as PayPal.

Tip 5: optimize shopping cart

In the end, it all boils down to micro-interactions between your site and the user. They will either make or break your business. Optimizing the checkout experience is therefore crucial to increase your conversion rate.

Here are some simple steps that can be taken to optimize your shopping cart.

Buy now

On the product page, offer your customers the choice to buy now or to add to continue shopping. According to the choice made, the customer is either redirected to checkout or the product is simply added to the cart.

This way, shoppers who were just interested in that product get a faster checkout process, and customers wishing to browse your selection are free to do so.

New item added to the shopping cart

When a product is added to the cart, customers should immediately be shown what’s in their cart. This is a great opportunity to upsell by presenting product recommendations. For example, many shops will show “Buyers who bought this item also bought:” selections.

This page should have buttons redirecting customers to checkout or to the shop, for example “View shopping cart” and “Continue shopping”. Visually separate both buttons by using different colours to lessen the chance that the user click on the wrong one. Remember: customers should always be just a click away from checkout at all times.

Perpetual shopping cart

Some shoppers will abandon their cart before checkout. There is no avoiding it. However, allowing them to pick up where they left off can help increase your conversion rate. Remember their preferences and keep their earlier cart intact for their next visit.

This is especially efficient with shoppers who leave your website to research the products or compare prices. Further persuasion measures, such as coupons, can help convince them to complete the purchase.

Alternatively, customers can be given the option to save items for later or to add them to their wishlist.

Tell customer about discounts

Make sure that customers are aware of discounts that may apply to them. It will give shoppers the feeling that you have their best interests at heart.

At checkout, customers can be reminded of an ongoing promotion. This is especially important with promotions based on the order value. Remind a customer of how much more they need to spend for the discount to apply is good for sales, but also for customer service.

Include trust seals, security seals and payment logos

Reassuring visitors of the trustworthiness of your shop should be a top priority. Including trust seals, security seals and payment logos at checkout sends the message that your site is a secure, trusted place to do business. Payment and credit card logos are small yet reassuring visual cues for users. Just remember to keep the logos small and tidy.

Popular security seals include the SSL certificate seal, Norton Shopping Guarantee, Verisign and BizRate. Some shops choose to also include the logo of their payment gateway.

Extra tips to reduce cart abandonment

Some websites use exit popups to remind customers that they are leaving items in their cart. While these are effective to some degree, antivirus or browser software often prevent popups. Retargeting and shopping cart recovery emails can be used as an alternative or in combination with popups.

Retargeting ads and emails

Out of the visitors who will leave your shop without buying, ca. 10% had already added products to their cart. It is far easier to sell to shoppers who had already selected product as it is to completely new visitors.

Retargeting helps you bring back customers to your shop. It can be done using advertising or emails.

Retargeting with advertising requires an added ‘pixel’ or Javascript tag to your site. You can then use this to track non-purchasing visitors. When these visitors search for a keyword similar to yours, your banner or PPC ad will appear.

Retargeting with email is quite similar to the method above –visitors are tracked using an added pixel. However, instead of showing them ads, visitors are sent an email reminder (for example “You have left items in your cart”).

cart abandonment recovery emails

Sometimes, abandoning visitors only need a small push to complete their purchase. Shopping cart recovery emails can be that push.

These emails are automatically sent when a shopper leaves checkout process halfway through. It is simply a reminder that some items where left in the shopping cart. To increase conversion, it might put emphasis on a free shipping offer or current promotion.

However simple, this measure is highly effective. SaleCycle reports that 47% of shopping cart recovery emails are opened, converting in 31% clicks and generating an average 4.1% increase in sales. On average, every cart recovery email sent adds 5$ to a store’s sales.

To maximize your results, the perfect shopping cart recovery email should:

Find your perfect combination. Experiment and monitor the impact on the campaign.


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