The greatest mark of success for an e-commerce entrepreneur is the check-out page conversion rate. For this reason, shopping cart abandonment and conversion rate drop at the checkout page may be a bitter fact.
When it comes to user experience, the best e-commerce websites create an online experience that causes visitors to fall in love with their products. Clear enough, these merchants understand the importance of user experience and present shoppers with emotional and guided shopping experience.
But, something changes:
Once these customers get to the checkout page, there is a different look and feel. There seems to be a change in experience from the cart to the checkout page, causing a disconnect that most times leads to shopping cart abandonment.
In 2014 alone, 68.07% of shoppers abandoned their shopping carts online. This means that 2/3 of the time, online shoppers just add items to their basket and leave them there. Clearly, something halts the buying process at this stage.
Here are the statistics for the past 9 years:
Between 2006 and 2014, more shoppers have been progressively abandoning the shopping cart. This is a confusing problem especially when more e-commerce websites are being set up due to their popularity. As much as it is said this is one of the greatest market players, something is terribly wrong, causing the business to only realize approximately a third of its potential.
Could the problem be the checkout page?
Before we talk about that, a different statistic shows that despite the serious shopping cart abandonment rates, shoppers spend $1.2 million online every 30 seconds. The top contributors to this revenue are Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter at $5483, $4504 and $4308 respectively. This amount of revenue could be better.
So, could there be something that you are doing wrong in your website before shoppers complete their shopping? Here are few strategies on how to improve your checkout page in a bid to reduce your shopping cart abandonment rate and increase conversions.
1. Use A Visual Checkout Process
Conversion studies have showed that the less clicks to check out there are, the higher your conversion rate will be. A different survey to support this idea concluded that every step in the checkout process is another chance of abandonment.
What does this mean?
Minimize the opportunities for your customers to say no. If you need to spread out things across multiple pages, give your customers visual indicators of how far they have progressed. Even when you do this, ensure that you have as few multiple pages as possible.
Look at how this website has ensured that it has a few multiple pages as possible. All necessary information is in one page.
Customers usually want to know how far gone they are. No matter the number of steps in the checkout process, it is still important to show progress bars. Do you know why? The main reason why people shop online is to save time. The best you can do for them is include this in your website.
Look at what Zappos does for example:
The page clearly does not show you how far or close you are to completing the checkout process. But there is a simple solution. Basically, you create space on a page, show completed steps and enable shoppers to go back to a previous step to correct a mistake.
Here is how one website has done it:
As seen, the website has ensured that all the steps are numbered and the space on the right side of the screen is used to show the customer progress, highlighting current position also faintly showing past and subsequent steps. The major advantage is that the customer is already mentally primed on how long the process will take.
Additionally, the client can simply go back to previous steps instead of clicking the ‘next’ and ‘previous’ buttons too many times in order to go to the first page for example. Clearly, this feature is a great time-saver and very convenient.
2. Match The Checkout With Your Site’s Look And Feel
Earlier on, we had indicated that a visual disconnect between the rest of your website and your checkout page is one of the biggest contributors to shopping cart abandonment. Changes such as a different background color, varied front size and plain pages throw your shoppers off.
Take this website for example:
Do you notice the sharp contrast between the checkout page and the other pages? Once a shopper moves from the pictorial set up, which also happens to be mildly colorful, the sudden red and black ambush with a different kind of format, could mentally affect the mental comfort zone your client was in.
This is how it should be:
The transition from the product page to the checkout page should be seamless. Always refrain from visually alarming your customers. The product page and checkout pages should be identical in feel and look.
3. Minimize Your Buyers’ Risk By Making Them Feel Secure
A Google India study reported that consumers cited cash back guarantee and ability to pay on delivery as their biggest motivators to shop online. On the other hand, they cited inability to touch or try the goods before purchase and fear of faulty products as main barriers that deter them from shopping online.
Clearly, buying items online is a risky business. The least you can do for online shoppers is reduce the risk for them and make them feel safer. It is your job to let your buyers know that you have taken care of the risks involved.
Here are a few options:
1. Offer a Refund Option and Guarantee
There are 4 main advantages of using a money back guarantee.
First, it is a great way of influencing your customers by reducing their fears associated with online purchases. Your business also gets to build its credibility while motivating and encouraging your customers to buy immediately. Lastly, your buyers get peace of mind by simply knowing that they can always return the product and get their money back.
The dark side:
There is always a risk that your customer will return the products. It also does not offer 100% satisfaction to your customers and if overused, it can instead cause your customers to be skeptical about the product.
2. Price-Protection Guarantee
Price protection guarantee let’s your customers protect themselves from price drops. In simple terms, if a customer buys a product and the price goes down afterwards within a considerable time, then you are supposed to refund this customer.
This is something that your customers hardly hear about but will appreciate it if you offer that. However, ensure that you include it especially when selling expensive items.
Norm reeves for example offers an exclusive price protection guarantee. In essence the guarantee says that if a customer finds the same new Honda for less within 5 days, Norma Reeves will pay the difference or buy the vehicle back.
Here is a screenshot of their guarantee:
Also remember to include credit card logos and security seals.
4. Allow Users To Register For An Account AFTER Checkout
Reportedly, 25% of online shoppers abandon their shopping cart due to forced registration. This feature annoyingly forces buyers to register for an account before making their purchase, causing them to drop out of the sales process.
For most merchants, forced registrations are a way of making subsequent purchases better, easier and faster as well as creating leads for the business. But unfortunately, as earlier demonstrated, this has a problem:
For a shopper, there is nothing more aggravating than being presented with a “register for account” button before continuing with their purchase. As matter of fact, their intentions of visiting the site were to buy not to register for an account.
Instead of ambushing your customers while making a purchase, here are better ways of doing this.
First of all, you could consider asking your customers to register for an account as an advice. To make this even more effective, you could add an advantage by giving your customers coupons when they register for an account.
This is how Jumia does it:
Secondly, just replace the ‘register’ button with ‘continue shopping’ button like this business did:
User Interface Engineering decided to change their checkout page and increase conversions by replacing the ‘register’ button with ‘continue’ button. This small change, gave the business tremendous results in terms of increased revenue of $300,000.
How the website was before the tweak:
UIE intended to increase user experience by asking first time shoppers to create an account while registering. Maybe this was the best opportunity to compel customers to register as members. Additionally, signing up would help repeat customers make future purchases faster.
While these intentions were good, the business realized that they were not offering the best UX as expected. It was clear that customers were not visiting the site for a forced relationship but just to buy what they had liked.
An in-depth analysis of their checkout page conversion rate revealed that 45% of all clients had multiple registrations, some having up to 10 registrations. In addition to that, the company received 160,000 password requests per day and 75% of people who requested for passwords did not finish the purchase.
The company removed the register button and allowed customers to continue shopping. Customers were also notified that registration was optional and were advised on the several advantages of registering for an account as opposed to lacking one.
After some time, the business noticed that the number of purchasing clients had increased by 45%, a conversion rate increase that earned the business $1.5 million in one month. Within one year, the business was boasting of $300,000 in revenue.
5. Make Your Shopping Cart Conspicuous
The last thing a busy shopper wants to encounter on your checkout page is an inconspicuous button. Important buttons such as the shopping cart should be visible at all stages to help the shopper track all purchases made.
Without a visible shopping cart button, shoppers will most likely picks items needed, add them to cart and forget to checkout.
This is a great example:
The ‘continue shipping button’ is faded and does not show the customer that, that is the next step to take in order to complete the purchase.
A Great way to do this:
You need to differentiate your ‘checkout’ and ‘continue’ tab colors to make each button more visible.
You could also consider using animations which show shoppers that they have added something in their shopping cart. Animations are perfect when you need the user to pay attention to important aspects of a webpage. In this case, the shopping cart and check out page.
At the same time, you can use the animations to give shoppers some sort of update on their progress. The example below shows how animations are used to show shoppers that their preferred item has been added to the cart. At the same time, the shopper is alerted on the position of the shopping cart on the page.
Here is another trick:
Make your shopping cart dynamic! Truth is, online shoppers are always ready to save as much time as possible and will be loyal customers if you help them achieve this. This is why you need to have a dynamic shopping cart that automatically updates itself when a user adds new items and is ready to check out.
Alternatively having a checkout page that requires a shopper to keep refreshing the page after adding a new item to cart will only cause them to lose patience, leave the few items already in the cart and opt out of the page.
Here is a screenshot of how one page improved their shopping cart, automatically updating every added item and total cost.
As you can see, the highlighted green boxes show important aspects of the purchase, which are immediately updated by the system. The shopper also has the ability to remove any item that he no longer wishes to buy, instead of starting all over again.
Here is how Apple for example shows a summary of your order while you move along the checkout process. See the right side of the screen.
Let’s discuss why Apple has been so successful.
As you can see from their website, you are given several options on how to customize your product and ensure that you make a customized purchase. This is a great trick to use because shoppers get to have a personal connection with a brand that allows them to express themselves.
This page for example shows a customer who is buying an iPad. Along the process, the customer is also exposed to an upsell to buy a cover for the iPad. Other accessories such as an iPad camera connection are also showed.
Do you also see the free shopping and ‘in stock’ or ‘out of stock’ status notification?
Give your shoppers one more chance to review their cart in one page before paying for their purchase. Even better, include a print button that they can use to print the shopping details and file for their own use. Such small tweaks will sure increase your conversion rates.
6. Have A Short Checkout Page
A company’s dilemma is deciding whether to make a single or multi-page checkout page. The first thing you need to ask yourself as a business is whether the checkout page is long and full of unnecessary stuff or short and concise.
If you have a checkout that seems long and tedious, truth is customers will not buy it. They came to your website to buy, not fill an extremely long questionnaire.
Some companies have reported frustratingly high shopping cart abandonment rates due to tedious and long check out pages. Here is one company which had 80% abandonment rate and how it aimed to reduce this rate to 70%. In actual sense, after making a few changes, the business reduced the abandonment to 54%.
Basically, it reduced the size of the checkout pages. This is how the old and new forms looked like.
7. Add Third Party Reviews About Your Brand
This must be new to you:
There is a difference on the effect of third party reviews on a particular product and third party reviews on your business as a brand. Do you know why? Even when you don’t sell state-of-the-art products, people will still feel safe to buy from you because you are a trusted vendor.
But, what if……..?
What if you have the best products? Well, that would work for you but a bad online reputation on the quality of services such as customer care or poor delivery would work against you.
Some statistics for you:
61% of customers read customer reviews before making a purchase decision. This fact has made it essential for e-commerce websites to include these reviews in their sites. While this is not a must, there is actually no reason for you to fail to include this in your website because there is no shortage of people to review your brand.
In Britain alone, for example, 47% of Britons and 33% of Americans have reviewed a product online.
Still not convinced?
Site visitors who interact with both customer questions and answers and customer reviews are 105% more likely to purchase while visiting your site and spend 11% more than people who don’t. A different study by Reevoo revealed that reviews produce an average of 18% increase in sales.
Here is how the 18% is broken down.
This is what you do:
Include quality third party reviews about your brand on your checkout page. Ensure that these reviews cover areas that most shoppers would be concerned about. Is the money back guarantee a trusted promise? Do you deliver on time? How do you handle delicate products and ensure that they arrive scratch-free for example? These are some of the comments that should be displayed.
It does not end there:
There should be a balance between good and bad comments. Reviews that only praise your brand will only make shoppers doubt your business and worse still, abandon their shopping cart.
These are the general rules of practice:
Rule 1: Get Rid Of Malicious Content And Don’t Fear An Average Rating
It is natural for any vendor to feel awful when their brand is not rated 5-stars. Normally, people assume that scoring very high rating points is great for business but in essence it is not. In actual sense, it has been proven that public criticism is good for business.
Bad reviews such as bad customer service, poor product quality and expensive prices have been known to annoy vendors but in real sense, these bad reviews are as good as good reviews, for a customer.
Why is this so?
The beauty of constructed negative feedback helps consumers develop more standard and realistic expectations on the vendor, making their pressure to impress even lesser. As a matter of fact, 26% of online shoppers said that a brand performed much better than expected.
Do you see the reverse psychology here?
Brands which have found a balance between glowing reviews and negative feedback have found that their checkout page conversions increased. Additionally, their responses to such negative comments have also played a part in influencing the conversion rates.
Always refrain from malicious content that will immediately drive traffic away instead of causing your shoppers to give you the benefit of doubt. In case there happens to be a very damaging review, you can always remove it and ensure that you deal with the complaint to prevent future occurrences.
Rule 2: Refrain From Biased And Falsified Reviews
Recently, the Competitions and Marketing Authority carried out an investigation that showed that brands and businesses were holding back comments that they thought were a real representation of what was happening in the company.
It gets worse:
It was also discovered that millions of fake reviews were being used to lure customers to buy from brands, and third parties were offering to advertise brands at a fee, even without necessarily believing that the products were okay. In essence, the used bloggers and vloggers did not actually endorse the brands.
Apart from paying for reviews and actively writing their own biased reviews, it was also showed that these brands used the opportunity to write malicious content aimed at their competitors to drive customers away from other brands.
That’s not all:
The bloggers and other paid people who construct fake reviews as well as customers are also part of this in a crazy kind of way. They are now abusing the illegal system and threaten brands with blackmail tactics, mostly threatening to leave negative feedback.
Employees are in this too! Disgruntled employees have also used the blackmail tactics by publishing negative and damaging content about the employers.
One famous incident with online extortionists was the Yelp case. Some users of the review website have decried extortion from the online community where people demand gift cards, free food and coveted reservations in exchange of positive reviews. Failure to do this would amount to negative reviews for these businesses.
One restaurant, Bacon and Butter, suffered this set back just a day after opening the shop when Stephanie B. wrote a bad review after they threatened to negatively review the restaurant because their gigantic table was not seated properly.
Okay, what is the big deal?
Well, it is true there is somewhat a falsified content culture in the internet but this is honestly malpractice by all means. First of all, when discovered, it massively lowers a brand’s credibility, probably hurting sales more than how real reviews would have.
Secondly, this is unfair to customers who are misguided when they need to spend their hard earned money. Lastly, this practice has been termed unlawful and dire consequences are bound to befall all culprits.
Rule 3: Tighten Up Your Endorsement Policies
Despite these shocking revelations on how online reviews are falsified, reports show that 80% of consumers believe that online reviews are genuine. These shoppers actually rely on the review system to make faster online shopping decisions.
What this means for you:
You need not carry over 80% of your potential clients as fools by offering false content. Instead, as a brand, you should sign-post where there is advertorial content on your business and also provide an unabridged account of your services.
Unfortunately in the UK, this is not an option:
Against the backdrop of these revelations in the markets study, the UK government has actually formulated strict guidelines to regulate the market.
These are the rules basically:
Editorial content as paid promotion in the media has been banned, brands have been prevented from masquerading as customers and brands must sign-post where content is advertorial. Failure to do this, a brand is liable for enforcement action against it.
Rule 4: You are responsible For Transparency
The exposure of this information to the public is sure going to increase the number of consumers who don’t believe in online reviews. Therefore, businesses and brands are responsible of proving their credibility through a transparent and trustworthy strategy.
What you need to do:
As a brand, it is of utmost importance that you review your suppliers and weed out fake reviews. You should applaud great reviews, wittily respond to negative ones, if they are genuine, and invest in anti-fraud software which is used to verify consumer reviews and stop any fake or malicious content as soon as possible.
It sounds like a complete loss when you know that your competitors are surviving courtesy of fake online reviews and paid biased advertisements. While we understand the reason for this, always remember that in e-commerce, it is all about the consumer.
Building a credible rapport with them will last you longer in the business compared to generating your own false reviews then getting discovered by your customers.
Brands need to understand that an interactive and genuine relationship with your customers is what will increase the much needed conversion rates on their checkout pages. After all, it is genuine reviews that will help you root out your weaknesses and improve yourself.
To conclude, you could consider adding a customer review widget in your website. Just having a customer review widget will increase your checkout page conversion by 58.29%. Here is how one business, Express Watches, an authorized Seiko watches dealer did it.
After a quick glance at their website, you will notice that the business is dedicated to offering the best service to their customers. The website is neatly designed and has trust-badges of credibility, offering top-notch next day delivery.
Despite the great look and amazing services, at least according to what is reported in the website, the business needed to improve its sales. Several industries, including the watch industry, have been marred with reports of selling fake items, raising customer anxieties.
Express watches set out to make its credibility clear and increase its trustworthy ratings among shoppers.
This is what it did:
Already, the business had placed the ‘Seiko Authorized Dealer’ badge and the ‘Trust Pilot’ Badge on the product pages. These tweaks were doing the business well, giving 107% increase in sales. But, they needed something more.
They decided to add product reviews on all product pages in their website. Now, the problem is anyone can do this. As we earlier discussed, people actually fake some of these things. So, Express Watches wanted to seem more credible.
They added the customer review widget and added a tagline above the widget which was strategically placed under the ‘add to basket’ button just before checkout. Two things worked in their favor. The tagline which said ‘Trust Pilot Says Our Customers Love Us’ and the strategic positioning of the widget.
Here is how Express Watches changed the page to look like:
8. Include A Live Chat Option
Live chat really?
Yes. Online shoppers will always have some doubts on the purchases they intend to make. In some cases, featured third-party reviews and company product descriptions are not enough to address a shopper’s fears. These people need someone who can immediately answer their questions and address their concerns instantly and with precision.
It is reported that 76% of online shoppers prefer to chat about checkout problems. They use this opportunity to ask questions every step in the checkout process and also understand products and services better.
Here are few reasons why you need a live chat in your checkout page:
Advantage One: It Is Convenient For Shoppers
Forester Research conducted a study known as “Making Proactive Chat Work” , which showed that many online shoppers need assistance when shopping online. Factually, according to their report, 44% of online shoppers indicated that having questions answered by a live person in the middle of their purchases is a very important feature for any e-commerce website.
Here is the excerpt:
Live chat offers better convenience than calling the call centre. It is cheaper and the customer can multitask while still chatting. Better yet, after the talk, most websites email the chat session transcript to the shopper for any reference.
It gets better for you:
A live chat could be your way of killing two birds with one stone. Use the opportunity to give your shoppers the much needed convenience while at the same time, use the opportunity as a lead generation avenue. You can store the email addresses you used to send transcripts and save these people as important leads.
And much better:
A study conducted by ATG global consumer found out that 90% of consumers find live chats to be helpful, reiterating the earlier study conducted by Forrester. Better yet, a live chat feature influences the rate of repeat customers, with 63% of consumers more likely to return to a website with a live chat feature. Also, 38% of consumers are influenced to shop using the live chat feature alone.
Here is a graph that compares buying frequency between people who use live chat and those who don’t.
Advantage Two: Live Chat Lowers Expenses
For both the business and customers, live chat software has consistently showed that it can greatly reduce costs in two main ways. Average interaction costs are lowered, thereby reducing overall call center costs.
Additionally, there is improved efficiency where live chat representatives can handle multiple clients at the same time. This eliminates the need to hire more representatives because few of them can handle several clients at a time.
On the other hand, the customer will also have the ability to multi-task and look at other products while chatting with the live chat representative.
Advantage Three: Live Chat Increases Sales
A recent study by Forbes Magazine showed that Wells Fargo incorporated live chat in their business and as a result, it experienced high customer satisfaction scores and double-digit increase in converted shoppers.
A live chat largely influences conversion rates because confused shoppers get walked through a sale to clear up the confusion. In addition to that, they get to have their questions immediately answered, and also offered insightful options if they have any reservations whatsoever.
Check out this example:
Cory Miller from iThemes regularly uses live chat for his business and he has realized that once customers engage with an employee, the business is presented with a perfect opportunity to influence a potential buyer to actually purchase a product and even other additional recommended products.
Advantage Four: Live Chat Puts You Ahead Of Your Competition
TELUS International carried out a study that revealed that many top retail businesses do not offer chat options to their clients. This is useful information for other businesses which compete against these established brands.
You know why?
Statistics show that online shoppers prefer live chat options in an e-commerce website. Now, if you include this in your website, then you will have an edge over your competition. The live chat feature could be what you really need to increase traffic to your website and convert this into sales.
This is your simplest way to connect with shoppers who spend amazingly lots of money online and influence them to direct money to your website. A study by eMarketer found out that almost two in ten respondents did more than 75% of their holiday shopping online, compared to 14% of those who did not chat.
Advantage Five: Live Chat Offers You A Chance To Delve Into Customer Pain Points
Pain points are actually a customer’s needs or frustrations that are yet to be addressed. Normally, businesses will research and sift through online forums, social media and message boards just to know these pain points. This work can sometimes be overwhelming.
There is an easier way to do this:
Why not just use a live chat option, where clients will freely express their frustrations directly to you? Reading a complaint from an online forum is great but it is even better when you can directly interact with the complainant to get a better understanding of the problem.
Generally, the savings made after saving on call-centre operation costs, employee engagement and staff as well as customer convenience is used to improve the business even better due to an increased profit margin.
In conclusion, no matter how great you think your website is when it comes to user experience and using all the tactics that make a website awesome, remember that for an e-commerce website, you are always out to convert. This means that your checkout page is one of the most sensitive areas in your website.
Utilize these strategies and don’t tire from always finding the best solutions here at Truconversion. Ensure that you regularly conduct analysis on your checkout page and general e-commerce website to understand where your sales pipeline is leaking.
Have you tried the all-in-one analytics tool by Truconversion? Use our a/b tests today to find out which checkout page version works best for you in order to realize your business’s full potential.