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Manish Bhalla

Checkout Process Planning: 10 Things E-Commerce Stores Should Not Ignore

Manish Bhalla
Checkout Process Planning: 10 Things E-Commerce Stores Should Not Ignore

Online shopping means convenience, and that's an integral part of the checkout process on an e-commerce site. Users expect smooth sailing; if you fail to offer it, they leave your site in no time. It’s no use designing great landing pages unless you have a smart checkout process, too. If you are losing on sales despite a decent looking website, then it’s time to work on details.

In this context, that means optimizing the checkout process to cut down number of steps and make it quicker and easier. The following points will help you create a useful checkout process for the user.

1. Do Not Force Registration

Some e-commerce sites force users to fill out lengthy signup forms; many users choose to quit right there. It is certainly better for a website to have enough registered users as it helps send updates about offers and attract revisits, but registration shouldn’t be imposed on users.

Give your visitors the option to proceed through guest checkout and give a ‘register later’ option. Dealforday.com is a perfect example of an ineffective checkout process; it gives no other option to a buyer except ‘login.’ Refrain from this approach in order to save your shopping website from high bounce rates and cart abandonments.  

Cart Abandonments

If you're eager for more signups, plan them with some incentives. You can show benefits (incentives) of registering right in the beginning of the checkout process and prompt users to register instead of choosing easy/guest checkout. That would be the right way to do it. Snapdeal.com does it beautifully.


2. Offer Shipping Deals ASAP

There are more chances of cart abandonment if shipping charges are shown after buyers add products to cart. It comes as disappointment to them and affects conversion rate, too.

One should be more careful about offering shipping details in case of a multi-vendor e-commerce store. All vendors have different shipping policies due to which their delivery speeds (and associated costs) vary. Transparency must be preserved in order to convert visitors.

Apparel Website

This apparel website (shown above) has done it best by adding shipping estimator to calculate charges for various countries based on flat, standard and expedited charges. It clearly shows shipping details in the first stage of checkout. That’s how you win the trust of buyers and increase chances of gaining loyal customers.

3. Be Up Front About Stock and Availability

Imagine how frustrating it could be for a buyer if they the product out of stock at the last moment. A visitor zeroes in on a product after extensive browsing and filtering. Informing about the unavailability of certain color, size or item in the end can be highly regretful for a user when they're all prepared to pay.

You can lose a potential customer by not updating stock information. Do it as frequently as products get sold so that you lose no buyers.   

4. Offer Social Login Options

Social logins are the best way to convert impulsive shoppers. Again, registering is a trouble for some users, especially the ones who land on your page through an advertisement. Some potential buyers are in a hurry to order the product that they saw in banner ads while browsing something online.

Offer them easy login through Facebook, G+ or any other popular network, just like Jabong gives. The bottom-line is, ‘save their time and energy to save your sales.’

Social Login at Checkout

5. Make the Checkout Process Clear

The whole checkout process must be stated clearly so that users know how long it can take. If you keep adding steps one after other, they may feel impatient and lose interest. In such cases, visitors either leave items in cart with the thought of buying later or just abandon it in haste.

Sites that give too many surprises on the checkout path often have high bounce rate and low conversions. Don't just minimize the steps; make them easy-to-view on a page. Also, give the options to navigate the site.

Clear Checkout Process

6. Avoid Hidden Costs

Customers feel cheated if you show hidden fee at later stages of checkout. More than half of visitors do not reach final stage of checkout due to shocking revelations that look devious to them.

Whether you levy nominal charge like one or two dollars, it is going to come as a shock to them and they would prefer to abandon on most occasions. These small changes make big difference to buying decision of visitors and also impact the reputation of an online store.

If there are any additional costs, state them too in the first stage; don’t save for later.

7. Manage Navigation Effectively

Offering shopping suggestions is fine, but not when the visitor has already decided to buy few products and entered checkout process.

Online stores are quite acquisitive about upselling and cross-selling and show too many products in footer; that’s a disappointment for users who are almost ready to pay and waiting eagerly to place the order.

The checkout process of an online store as shown below exemplifies displeasure of such users. In the picture, you can see that the site shows big images of similar products, which is making the page unpleasing in the first place and sounds forcible too.

Too Many Options at Checkout

On the other hand, eBay keeps it simple and easy to choose whether user wants to shop more or checkout as guest.

Checkout as Guest Option

E-commerce websites should limit navigation options at the point where all items added to cart are ready to enter first phase of checkout. Instead of showing too many products, you can give option of visiting products catalogue or simply add ‘shop more’ and link to home page.

8. Provide an Order Summary

Always provide order review/summary before asking customers to pay. It’s a general habit of online shoppers to quickly check through the whole order before agreeing to pay. E-commerce stores that miss this step eventually fail to please buyers. Topman.com does it brilliantly by including product details (size, quantity, price, etc.) in the order summary.

Order Summary

9. Create a Lean Checkout Process

Do not draw out the checkout process. This is key to the optimizing conversion funnel. Minimal steps do least distraction and make sure that buyer doesn’t drop a purchase. Lengthy checkouts, on the other hand, have more chances of sending away customers even after products get added to cart. Three steps are enough to complete an order. See below how Farfetch wraps up the whole checkout in three simple steps: shipping, payment and review.

Lean Checkout Option with Indicator

10. Show Progress with Indicators

Many stores tend to neglect the importance of showing checkout progress, but the ones that take it seriously increase their prospects of order completion. Progress indicators act as instigators for users to complete order. Just keep in mind that users will never like to fill long forms, but if you keep telling them they are just one or two steps away of completing their order, they will get a firm reason to continue.

Designing a website’s checkout process is not tricky but working on its details certainly is. Points mentioned above indicate the value of details that make a checkout process successful and more powerful from a conversion viewpoint. If you want to ensure high sales and less cart abandonment, follow them religiously.

For any questions regarding this post, you can leave comments below.

Manish Bhalla is the founder and CEO of India’s e-commerce web development and marketing agency FATbit Technologies. He acts as an e-commerce strategist and leads the way for businesses looking for secure space in a specific industry. Manish is acknowledged as an e-commerce expert who has helped many startups find strong footholds online with customer driven-solutions and high-powered growth. For latest marketing strategies and insights, you can follow Manish through his company’s Twitter profile.

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