How to Build an Effective Ecommerce Checkout Flow for Your Business

September 24th, 2021 Comments off
Building an effective Shopping Cart Checkout Flow

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


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


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.


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

Small Business Saturday Tips For Online Sellers

November 20th, 2020 Comments off
Retail Holiday Tips: Small Business Saturday

Every year small businesses across the U.S. look forward to one of the fastest-growing retail holidays, Small Business Saturday. Falling on the last Saturday of November, November 28th this year, Small Business Saturday gives independent retailers a chance to promote their businesses and reach out to eager holiday shoppers. Last year, American shoppers spent nearly $20 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday. With many small businesses facing hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s holiday could have more of an impact than ever.

Here are a few tips to help your online business maximize the holiday:

1. Get your business listed on the American Express Shop Small Online Directory

Getting in front of more customers is always a good thing, especially when it’s free. If your business accepts American Express, it may be eligible for a listing on the American Express Shop Small Online Directory. This directory is specifically for business without a physical presence—it allows online shoppers to easily see deals and services they can take advantage of with their American Express card. In your directory listing you can provide key details about your business and even spotlight specific offers.

If your business uses a third-party payment aggregator, the criteria for creating a directory listing gets a little complicated. Businesses that fall into this category will need to provide additional information and my not be eligible for a listing.

2. Create a Pop-up Store in an existing business

The barrier to entry for brick-and-mortar business is high, leading many businesses to exclusively sell online. Pop-up stores give online businesses the opportunity to connect with shoppers in person without the hassle opening a permanent physical location. By connection with an existing brick-and-mortar store you can bring your products to a whole new audience and build brand awareness. Pop-ups don’t only benefit the guest business; owners can see a bid increase in store traffic with a whole new line of products in their store.

3. Take advantage of social media

In 2020, it’s hard to deny the impact of social media on retail trends, but you’d be surprised how many businesses underutilize social media to promote their products. Whether it be Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, or Reddit, each and every one of your post is a chance to communicate your brand with customers. Your customers should know that you plan to participate in Small Business Saturday. Find ways to build excitement about your products, brand, and special offers.

Additionally, always remember hashtags can be a business’s best friend; sales and deals can be promoted using #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallShop, and #SmallBizSat. These hashtags will help new shoppers connect with your business. With a variety of small businesses participating nationwide, you may even find inspiration for your promotions by exploring these hashtags.

4. Try to convert new customers into loyal customers

Small Business Saturday is your chance to put your online store in front of new customers—and hopefully convert them into loyal customers. It’s important that you put your best foot forward and give the customer a reason to come back. Make sure that you have the bandwidth to ensure a great online experience for your customers. This means you must be able to provide top-notch customer support at all stages of the customers experience. Whether the customer has questions about a product, shipping status, or returns, they should have a means to contact your business and get assistance. Customer support is especially important during the holiday season when many shoppers are in a rush and don’t have time to be bogged down by a poor experience.

For more information about Small Business Saturday and how your business can participate visit the American Express Shop Small page.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

4 Tips to Increase E-Commerce Revenue on Cyber Monday

November 11th, 2020 Comments off
Retail Holiday tips: Cyber Monday

The term “Cyber Monday” – the first Monday after Black Friday – was first used in 2005 as a way to promote online holiday shopping. It has since become the biggest online shopping day of the year. This year, Cyber Monday is predicted to bring in $12.7 billion in sales, up 35% from last year. In fact, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is expected that 9% of all holiday shoppers will be making their first online purchase this year.

Here are four tips to increase revenue on Cyber Monday.

1. Bring Customers to Your Site and Make Your Cyber Monday Promotions Visible

Just because people visit your site on Cyber Monday, it doesn’t mean they know what your sales and promotions are. It’s up to you to let them know. You can make them visible and clear on your homepage with a banner that announces special deals. Tell your customers about your best sales and what they need to know about them. You can also get their attention with a modal or pop-up window. Some online retailers send an email or newsletter to all of their existing customers around Thanksgiving Day, letting them know about upcoming deals. This can be followed up with a second volley on Cyber Monday morning.

2. Create Product Bundles

Promotion of products in bundles is a strategy often overlooked by online retailers, but it can be a great selling method for a number of reasons: 1) improved customer experience, 2) increased average order value, and 3) personalized sales and deals. Bundling also helps you get rid of dead stock because pairing unwanted items with your most popular products makes them seem more desirable. Remember that customers are more likely to purchase bundles if you group products that are often bought together. And if you combine a low-ticket item with a high-ticket item, the cost won’t be much more than the high-ticket item by itself, so customers will feel like they’re getting a real deal. Be sure to highlight the cost savings of buying bundled products.

3. Create Quick Lists of Products by Price Point

When holiday shoppers embark on a shopping expedition, they already have an idea of how much they want to spend on gifts. In fact, price is often among the top criteria as they browse through various products. You can make it easy by creating a gift guide that organizes products according to price – group items for $10, $25, $50, etc. Use your analytics data to find common sales data points. When customers can shop this way, they’ll be more likely to stay on your site to see what else is available within a certain price range.

4. Add an AI Chatbot to your Site to Assist With Customer Support

You might have more visits to your site on Cyber Monday than any other day of the year. That requires a lot of customer support. While your FAQ section will likely take care of most inquiries and concerns, an AI chatbot can be added for the harder questions. Chatbots are cheap, easy to install, answer customers’ questions in real-time, and work 24/7 without a single break. So when shoppers hit your site at 3 a.m. and want immediate answers, you can give them the support and information they want; any delay could mean losing a sale. If you can predict questions and script answers, you’ve got a chatbot that is a fast and efficient part of your customer support team.

The message is clear: This could be the best Cyber Monday ever for online sellers, and they should prepare for a lot of traffic to their sites.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

5 Tips for Small Business Saturday

November 26th, 2019 Comments off
5 Tips for Small Business Saturday

Everyone knows that the frenetic Christmas shopping season officially kicks off on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Following shortly after Black Friday is Cyber Monday, a retail holiday started in 2005 as retailers sought to capitalize on the growing trend of online shopping. Sandwiched between those two retail extravaganzas, on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving is another shopping holiday known as Small Business Saturday.

What makes Small Business Saturday different from its well-known counterparts? While Black Friday and Cyber Monday attract people to national and big-box retailers as well as online shopping, Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick-and-mortar businesses that are small and local.

What can small businesses do to take advantage of this special day that comes at the very start of the busiest shopping season of the year? Read these 5 helpful tips and find out.

Tip #1 – Introduce Customers to the Business

It’s easy for a small business to get lost in the massive world of retail. What can a small business do to rise above the fray and get noticed? Because fewer hands are involved in shipping packages to customers, each shipment can be personalized in some way. A business card that features the business’s physical address, website, and social media accounts can go a long way. A thank you note can be included in the package—bonus points if it’s handwritten and personalized with the customer’s name. Additionally, a social media page that includes photos of the business, owners, and employees will let customers know who the friendly faces are behind the package they received in the mail.

Tip #2 – Spread the Word Throughout the Community

While online promotion can be very effective, a small business can make its presence known offline as well. One of the main reasons people shop at small businesses is to support local businesses and put money back into the community. By engaging your local community, you can effectively boost your holiday sales—especially on Small Business Saturday. The local Chamber of Commerce, local organizations, and locally published newspapers and circulars can be used to get the word out.

Tip #3 – Maintain a Presence on Social Media

Any and every social media account can be used to promote Small Business Saturday. Remember, hashtags can be a business’s best friend; sales and deals can be promoted using #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallShop, #SmallBizSat, and others. The voice on a social media account should match the store’s branding and products. For example, a small business that sells toys and games would present itself a bit differently than one that sells haute couture clothing and accessories.

Tip #4 – Promote Products That Make Great Gifts

After all, the holiday season is all about gift-giving, so businesses should place emphasis on items that would make good gifts. Just like any other seasonal sale, product selection and merchandising are key. Grouping products by intended recipient is a great way to showcase your offerings. Categories like “gifts for mom” or “gifts for grandpa” are always popular.

Tip #5 – Don’t Forget About Loyal Customers

Any business is happy to get a new customer, but Small Business Saturday is also about engaging existing customers. The day can be advertised several weeks ahead of time by posting signs in windows and putting flyers in customers’ bags when they pay at the register to remind them about it. If the business maintains a customer email list, a brief but friendly email can encourage them to stop in and check out the deals on Small Business Saturday.

By following these tips, small businesses can start off the busy holiday shopping season on the right foot!

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

Big Ways to Improve Your Google Shopping Campaigns

September 26th, 2019 Comments off

Helpful tips for Google Shopping

Have you ever noticed those little picture ads near the top of a Google search page? Those are Google Shopping ads. They’re unique in what they can do – and great for increasing online sales. So, let’s run down a few ways to make the absolute most of a Google Shopping campaign.

Optimizing Your Google Shopping Data Feed

To begin your Google Shopping campaign, you’ll need to upload a data feed in CSV or XML format. Your data feed document should have all the info that appears on your ads: Price, Taxes, Title, Description, Product URL and Image URL. Depending on what kind of product you have, there may be optional fields you can add. For example, you can add color and size for apparel items.

Which additional details need to be added? Make sure your feed is optimized with all the relevant details. Imagine if someone asked if you wanted to buy a “Sweater”? The first thing you’d ask is… what kind? Then if you liked the description of the sweater, you’d want to know if they have it in your size.

The important thing to remember here is that unless the product info is part of your data feed, it won’t make it to your ad. Give your prospects everything they need to buy.

The Right Titles and Descriptions for Your Shopping Ads

Now, let’s look at a few ways to juice up your ad. Make sure to include relevant keywords in the title and description, which will help your product get matched to a query. It’s not enough to just list the model number, which will only attract people looking for that exact model. You’ll be losing out on a lot of potential customers.

Let’s play a little good product title/bad product title to get it right:

  • Bad product title – “Black Shoes”
  • Good product title – “Black High Heel Pumps – Size 8 – Women’s Shoes”

See how much more targeted the second option is? A good title has specific keywords like “high heels” and “pumps” to perfectly match anyone looking for a pair of shoes like that.

Next, be sure your description also has keywords, plus the selling points that would make someone want to buy. The description is where you can put your best selling points. Think of it this way… the title is the “what,” and the description is the “why.” Once someone clicks through, give them your best sales pitch to convince them to buy.

Successful Bidding Strategies for Google Shopping Ads

Google Shopping works the same way as an auction. When a user types in a search like “floral throw pillows,” Google checks all of the prices bidders (retailers) are willing to pay. The highest bidders will win the opportunity to be shown to the consumer looking for “floral throw pillows.” That’s how the system works, now we’re going to give you some tips to make the system work for you.

Don’t Set the Same Bid Across Your Campaign

One of the biggest mistakes is to blanket the same bid across an entire campaign. Determine the bid by looking at the value and profit margin of each product.

Start with Best-Sellers

You’ll have enough variables to deal with when beginning a Google Shopping campaign. Start with your best products, where you have a strong competitive advantage. Some products with low profit margins may never make sense to include in your feed.

Use Custom Labels to Create Bid Groups

Custom labels can be applied to your data feed to create price groupings. Try putting higher converting products together, and giving them all higher bids. Put lower bids on the group of products that don’t convert as well.

Optimizing your campaign is a continual process, but following these tips will give you a big head start.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

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