10 strategies to design a better ecommerce checkout experience

When we think of an ecommerce transaction, we often think of attractive display of products, striking landing pages and well-thought out categories. However, we cannot underestimate the importance of the final point of transaction: ecommerce checkout process.

The checkout page is the final step that either breaks or make a deal. An easy-to-use and efficient checkout design leads to better shopping experience because confused shoppers will abort the sale and will start looking somewhere else. An online sale is not completed till the time customers give their credit card numbers and successfully make the transaction.

Let’s look at some of the key strategies to design an elegant ecommerce checkout process:

1) Display error messages at the correct point and place

It’s common that a new shopper might make some mistakes while filling out the forms. Mistakes should be pointed out in crisp, user-friendly messages, right besides the field that is causing the problem, making it easy to identify the mistakes. A confused shopper can easily get frustrated, and we need to avoid that at all costs.

2) Only required info should be asked

Checkout process should not include any unwanted question that baffles and annoys the shoppers. It’s best to leave survey questions, additional comments, etc. from the checkout process. The marketing efforts and customer grievance efforts should be done separately.

3) Include live chat

If live chat is embedded in your website, include that as well in your checkout process so shoppers can solve their queries swiftly. It will instantly decrease confusion in the mind of the customers and will boost the sales.

4) Make the process completely linear

One of the worst mistakes that we can make is to have processes that have steps within steps which will only end up in intimidating shoppers.

For example, it creates confusion when the shopper has to set certain fields like “Preferred shipping address” or “Create an account” and then is again redirected to a previous checkout stage when he/she completes that field. A sub-step should never redirect a shopper to a previous stage, but rather it should lead the user to the next-step in the ecommerce checkout process. Making the entire process linear is very critical to the checkout procedure.

5) Put instruction where they matter

Without proper description, filling details in many fields can be extremely perplexing to many shoppers. For example, many first-time buyers are confused between the differences of fields like ‘Billing Address’ or ‘Shipping Address.’ Many of them give up purchase because they are rattled by the fields. Short description describing the various fields can help simplifying the entire process.

6) Highlight all the sensitive fields on the payment page

It is highly probably that if shoppers don’t feel secure while giving their credit card numbers, they might altogether abandon the sale. Perceived security of the shopper can be increased by adding security icons, badges, and security texts around the credit card field, leading to more sales.

Research suggests that it is imperative for ecommerce websites to make their customers feel secure, even though their security measures are in line. Even addition of background color, GeoTrust seal or padlock image can go a long way in gaining the trust and loyalty of shoppers.

7) Always display payment icons

There is nothing more frustrating than completing the entire process only to find out in the payment gateway that your preferred payment type is not accepted. By listing, the information beforehand, shoppers will be prepared and less annoyed.

8) Don’t force your shoppers to register

Registration should be optional and need not be mandatory to conclude the shopping. Customers often show resentment when made to register compulsorily to continue shopping. Instead, look for unobtrusive ways to encourage shoppers to make an account. Explain them about the various perks subtlety and create an easy way to get them registered.

9) Handling the user’s progress and timeouts elegantly

Nothing can be more exasperating than filling out an entire form only to find out that your session has expired. It can be highly annoying when your carefully filled out form loses all its data without saving any of the history.

Timeouts can occur due to variety of reasons as connectivity issues, and each are perfectly understandable. If care is taken to save user data at the correct time, it adds to the user experience if nothing is needed to re-enter again and again.

10) Pre-populate the fields

It adds to the experience when you don’t have to keep filling up the same fields. For example, some websites make customers fill both the billing and delivery address, even though when both of them are identical in many cases. Always try to pre-populate the common fields like names, addresses when the site already knows the same. It saves time and energy making the ecommerce checkout process smooth and fast.

Creating an elegant design is an art, and all the efforts should be directed that require minimal efforts from your shoppers to finalize the sale and minimize the chances of abandoning the sale at the last moment.

If we have missed anything, post your ideas in the comments sections below.