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How to Build an Effective Ecommerce Checkout Flow for Your Business

September 24th, 2021

Online sales are skyrocketing. In the first quarter of 2021, ecommerce sales increased by 39.1% from the same period in 2020. If you run an ecommerce business, there is a vast market where you can get significant revenue.

However, while your small business website has high traffic and your customers fill their carts with products, your sales might still be lower than expected. The reason? High cart and checkout abandonment rates.

This guide will explain how you can optimize your ecommerce checkout flow to guide customers from filling their cart to completing a purchase. You will learn what a typical checkout flow looks like, the difference between cart and checkout abandonment, and discover seven ways to improve your website’s checkout flow.

What is a typical checkout flow?

The ecommerce checkout flow consists of the steps your customers take to browse for products and make a purchase. The checkout flow transforms website visitors into buyers. It typically has seven steps:

typical cart checkout flow

The ecommerce business checkout flow serves two main purposes:

  1. Allow customers to pay for products
  2. Gather information about the customer, such as their name and email address.

You’ll need customer information for future promotions. Gathering customer data also allows you to make future purchases more convenient for the customer.

Checkout abandonment vs. cart abandonment: what’s the difference?

We’ve outlined the typical checkout flow, but where do customers abandon their cart or abandon the checkout in this process? And what is the difference between checkout abandonment and cart abandonment?

The difference between checkout abandonment and cart abandonment lies in when the user abandons the purchase.

understanding checkout abandonment

Image Created By Writer

Cart abandonment occurs when a customer adds products to their cart and leaves the site without proceeding to payment. According to Statista, customers abandoned an average of 88.05% of online carts in 2020. The typical reasons for cart abandonment include a lack of genuine interest in products or unstable websites.

In contrast, checkout abandonment occurs after the customer enters their payment details and before making the payment. Customers abandon the checkout process because of high shipping costs or additional fees, complicated processes, or forced account creation.

Luckily, whether you’re already running an online shop or plan on starting an online business, there are many ways you can optimize your checkout flow to reduce rates of cart and checkout abandonment and boost your sales.

7 ways to make your checkout flow more efficient

The first part of this guide sets the context. Now we get to the meaty part of the guide. What follows are seven strategies you can implement to make your checkout flow more efficient.

#1 Be upfront about extra costs

Extra costs at checkout, such as shipping, tax, and fees, is the top reason for checkout abandonment. There is nothing worse than being shocked by extra costs when they try to check out a purchase for customers.

top customer reasons for cart abandonment

Source: Baymard

Removing additional fees at the time of checkout doesn’t mean you need to shoulder the costs of shipping and taxes. However, you need to be transparent about costs before the checkout process begins. When customers view their cart, your site should display all the added fees, so there are no surprises at the end of the process.

Providing a way for customers to control these costs will help keep cart abandonment rates low. You could offer multiple shipping options such as USPS Priority Mail, increase your listed product prices upfront to account for shipping and handling, or waive shipping costs for orders over a certain amount.

#2 Optimize loading speed

If you want to buy a product, but the website keeps crashing or won’t load, there’s a good chance you won’t go ahead with the purchase. In addition, poor website performance can also damage your visitors’ trust in your business.

Many factors could affect your website’s loading speed. These include:

  • A poor web hosting provider
  • Third-party ads
  • Widgets and plugins
  • Large image and video files

The checkout flow has many steps and different pages, so all the pages in the checkout process should load quickly. You can use Google Pagespeed Insights or other free services to check your website’s load speed.

If your pages consistently take too long to load, it might be time to find the reason. If widgets, ads, or large images and video files slow your website speed, you may need to remove these. Otherwise, it might be time to upgrade your hosting or ecommerce platform provider.

#3 Don’t force your customers into creating an account

Many ecommerce businesses encourage users to create an account as it can facilitate repeat purchases and lets the retailer send marketing emails to the user. However, some customers would rather abandon their cart or checkout process than provide their email address as they feel it’s an unnecessary step.

example of cart checkout as guest

Source: UXdesign.cc

Giving your customers the option to check out as a guest will help improve conversion rates. You may also use an API to allow customers to register using their social media or Google account.

#4 Make the purchase sequence as simple as possible

A complicated and confusing checkout flow can be a killer for your conversion rates. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can streamline the purchase sequence to make checking out easy and fast for your customers. These include:

  • Offer multiple payment options: Letting your customers pay with a digital wallet such as Apple Pay, PayPal, or Klarna will make checking out more convenient.
  • Create a mobile app: More and more ecommerce businesses have dedicated mobile apps to allow customers to make purchases and access after-sales support.
  • Display cart contents in real-time: When a customer views their cart, they want to see thumbnail images, size and color selection, price and quantity clearly.

By making the purchase sequence clear and easy to follow, you make the overall experience more pleasant for the customer, which helps reduce checkout abandonment.

#5 Add trust badges to your checkout page

When checking out, ensuring that your website appears trustworthy to customers is essential to getting your customers to complete their transactions. After all, they are entering their payment details and are about to give you their hard-earned money. Online shoppers are increasingly wary of websites that could be stealing their data or scamming them.

Trust badges are a great way to show customers that you are a legitimate business. Some trust badges to add to your website include:

  • Money-back and returns guarantee: Adding badges to the checkout pages that remind customers you offer free returns and/or a money-back guarantee is a great way to reassure them while making their purchase.
  • Free shipping: A free shipping badge displayed on your website and at each stage of the checkout flow reassures customers that shipping will be free and they won’t encounter any surprises at checkout.
  • Accepted payments: This badge shows your customers the payment method your site accepts, such as Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, or American Express.
  • Third-party endorsements: Third-party endorsement badges show that your business is credible. The Better Business Bureau Accredited Business and Google Customer Review badges are both trustworthy badges to add to your ecommerce website.

Trust badges are a great way to reassure your customers that your ecommerce business is legitimate, trustworthy, and flexible in terms of payment methods, shipping, and returns.

#6 Send cart and checkout abandonment emails

Even if you’ve made your checkout flow simple and straightforward, a few are still bound to fall through the cracks. Cart and checkout abandonment emails can boost conversion by encouraging customers to complete their purchases.

sending emails for cart abandonment

Source

When customers abandon their cart or checkout, they tend to forget it altogether. However, sending a checkout abandonment email can help your business save abandoned transactions. One report found that 50% of users who clicked on cart abandonment emails pushed through with the purchase, proving that abandonment does not need to be a dead end.

To create that FOMO, you can provide a discount for a limited time. You can use an email countdown timer to add that extra bit of pressure to make them complete a purchase.

#7 Add an auto-save feature to your shopping cart

Sometimes customers need time to decide whether or not to buy a product. If they leave an item in their cart, leave your site, and return to see an empty cart, they probably won’t be inclined towards repeating their browsing experience.

Adding an auto-save feature to your online shopping cart means when customers return to your site, their cart will still have all their chosen products in it. An auto-save feature makes it easy and convenient for customers to continue with their purchases.

Removing additional fees at the time of checkout doesn’t mean you need to shoulder the costs of shipping and taxes. However, you need to be transparent about costs before the checkout process begins. When customers view their cart, your site should display all the added fees, so there are no surprises at the end of the process.

Providing a way for customers to control these costs will help keep cart abandonment rates low. You could offer multiple shipping options such as USPS Priority Mail, increase your listed product prices upfront to account for shipping and handling, or waive shipping costs for orders over a certain amount.

Wrapping Up

When you run an ecommerce business, it’s easy to focus your efforts on driving website traffic and optimizing your website’s appearance and usability. However, you should not forget to build an effective checkout flow to encourage your customers to complete their purchases.

The methods we’ve discussed in this article aim to improve your process flow by removing barriers to smooth checkout and reducing cart and checkout abandonments. While they may seem different, they all seek to make the process simple and convenient for your customers. When you accomplish this goal, you can expect an increase in orders and revenue.

Bio

Jimmy RodriguezJimmy Rodriguez is the COO of Shift4Shop, a completely free, enterprise-grade ecommerce solution. He’s dedicated to helping internet retailers succeed online by developing digital marketing strategies and optimized shopping experiences that drive conversions and improve business performance

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