Checkout is one of, if not the most important part of your website.
If you get this wrong you’re not just putting people off, you’re creating more blockages and friction.
As long as you have a pretty standard e-commerce site you’ll get people browsing your products, finding what they need, and adding them to basket.
But checkout is where you could be actively blocking them from converting, because of certain decisions you’ve made.
There are dozens and dozens of tips I could provide on how to make this flow as smooth as possible for your customers, but I’ll focus on 3 of the biggest and most important.
It’s something we all expect, and yet some businesses still don’t use them for some reason.
But let me ask you this, what would 45% more new customers to your business mean?
That’s the impact one business saw simply by adding in guest checkout functionality to their site.
It’s a feature that we shoppers simply expect these days, but not every site has got round to it yet, some do still demand you fill in an entire registration form first.
There are two big reasons why having a guest checkout is essential for your business.
Number 1 - It’s a big commitment.
If this is someone's first time purchasing from you they aren’t necessarily ready for that commitment yet. Why do they need to create an account if, as far as they’re aware, they’re only making the one purchase from you?
The idea that you’ll store their details forever, and an endless stream of emails, phone calls, and mailers will begin is pretty off-putting.
The thing is, they’ll provide pretty much all their account information as part of the checkout flow anyway (more on this later), but the idea of ‘creating an account’ is a much bigger commitment than simply filling in the details so you can ship their products to them.
Number 2 - People don’t remember their logins!
If the only options at checkout are ‘Create an Account’ or ‘Login’, you’re simply blocking your customers from purchasing. You’re putting a hurdle in their way while your competition is still running the 100m sprint.
It’s fantastic that they’ve come back to your site to purchase again, but it doesn’t mean they’re fully committed to the relationship with you.
Unless you have some amazing loyalty scheme and build up brand engagement quickly, people don’t care about logging in.
Best case scenario they use a tool like LastPass to save all their passwords and make logging in quicker, but you’re still adding clicks to the process.
Worst case, they try a few passwords, hit the reset button, check their inbox but the email hasn’t come through yet, and they get distracted by something else.
Is it really worth the hassle and the risk just to get a little extra data? Data which you can’t do much with marketing wise unless they opted in at the same time.
In a lot of situations tunnel vision would be considered bad. It implies you’ve lost site of the wider picture and you’re only focusing one thing, missing out on what happens around you.
For e-commerce, this is the best thing that could happen to your customer on your checkout page.
You want them to be super focused on completing these actions.
The reason they’re on your checkout page is because they’ve added products to their cart and they’re ready to purchase and move on.
They don’t need to browse anymore, so why would you leave your navigation at the top of the page? You’re simply introducing a possible distraction, asking the question ‘oh was there anything else I wanted?’
You want them to focus on filling out those forms, and completing the purchase.
That means no menus, no navigation, no header or footer. Nothing that could distract them from filling in their details, typing in their credit card details, and hitting CONFIRM ORDER.
That said, of course there are times when people want to edit their basket, or double check the product details at the last minute.
So make it easy for them. Let them edit the quantity of items in their basket, give them a Quick View option so they can double check the details without needing to go back, and don't be afraid to present relevant up-sells and recommendations (just don’t make them leave the checkout).
Take a look at the examples below. Which is going to convert better? The page asking for all the customers details at once, provides navigation and a nice bright SALE button, or the super focused purchase funnel confirming detail after detail in small steps.
Over £35bn a year is left in abandoned carts, in the UK, in the fashion industry alone, representing 76% of total basket values.
Think about it this way.
76% of all the products on your website that are added to people’s carts, are then left there.
While you do get some window shoppers who just like to add to cart but aren’t intending to purchase on that occasion, there will be a huge number of people who have abandoned their cart because something has got in the way and put them off.
For a lot of people, that problem is shipping.
36% of the people abandon due to delivery options not being satisfactory. No next day delivery, fees are too high, or delivery times are inconvenient.
91% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that offers free shipping, even with a threshold, and this makes sense really. Who wouldn’t want to receive their goods for free?
However, there’s also been an increase in people using Next-Day delivery, and this behaviour has been impacted by Amazon’s push of Prime Delivery.
93% of consumers say they’re decisions are really affected by shipping costs, and while only 65% were happy with a 2-4 day shipping window, only 25% were willing to pay more for faster delivery.
So you might think that offering standard 1-3 or 2-4 day shipping will help you cut down on some costs, but 77% of people say their decision to make a future purchase would be affected by delays in shipping, and while 4 day wouldn’t be a delay, it can still be in the customers mind.
It’s also worth considering the cost to your business of failed deliveries because the customer happened to pop out just as the delivery was arriving. Extra delivery attempts cost money, late deliveries cost you money, cancelled orders because of delivery issues not only lose you revenue but also cost you money.
What customer want is fast, cheap, reliable shipping... great.
In the business world we’re used to being told that you can’t have all 3. You can have 2, but you’ll have to sacrifice the third.
Unfortunately, your customers don’t think that way.
But things are moving forward even further.
Next-Day shipping was last years big thing.
Free shipping is the same, it’s just an expectation now, but a crucial part of the equation.
Free shipping can increase your order values by up to 30%, which is an incredible amount!
But why do people spend so much more to avoid a £5 delivery charge?
Think about it. £5 extra on a £50 order is noticeable. It’s 10%. So instead of spending £5 on shipping which provides little value, why not put that money to good use buying something. It’s almost like being given £5 credit, which will be used to buy something worth £15-20.
Finding the right threshold though is key.
If an average order value is £35, then a threshold of £100 obviously won’t work, but at £50-55 you might find people willing to add that extra item or 2 to hit the mark.
So what’s new for 2020 and beyond?
Now customers want convenience.
I’ve been booking my 1 hour time slots with Ocado for years now, and it makes sense for their business really. An online only supermarket with their own fleet of vans for deliveries, while your standard e-commerce store has to make do with a range of courier options.
Lots of shoppers will now choose to collect from a locker or delivery point of some sort, while others have items delivered to their offices (much to the annoying of the reception team).
But there’s not a lot more frustrating than placing an order and getting the dreaded ‘We’ll be with you between 8am-9pm’ email.
Things have improved recently to a certain extent.
Couriers have gotten better at keeping you informed, and giving you a more accurate time slot closer to the delivery time.
However, it still doesn’t really help at such short notice.
If someone is expecting a 7.30-8.30am delivery they might be able to stay home, collect the delivery, and sneak back to the office a tiny bit late.
But if that SMS comes in and tells them its a 1.30-2.30pm slot, they’re day is already organised, it’s difficult to be flexible around that delivery especially on a workday.
While the solution is obvious, it’s not too simple.
Allowing customers to pick their delivery time slot is a guaranteed way to boost conversion.
There’s a reason Amazon launched Prime Now. It’s because consumers want their products as soon as they decide they want them.
Services like Carryr give you that exact flexibility to give your customers the delivery schedule they want.
You could even try free shipping thresholds at different levels. Want your free shipping at 2-3pm tomorrow, that’ll be a £100 minimum spend. Happy to receive it between 5-8pm then it’s just £80.
Again, Ocado do a great job of this, although their focus is on being green and environmentally friendly so they offer a reduced delivery fee for shared delivery vans.
If you can get ahead of your competition by offering better shipping services, it’ll differentiate you in the customer’s mind far more than other aspects of your website.
And the stats are there to back it. According to Shutl (before being acquired by eBay), offering ASAP delivery, or time slots can increase conversion rates by up to 20%, AOV by up to 30%, and has a huge impact on repeat purchases from those customers, proving that super fast shipping is one of the most important factors for shoppers.
If you’re still just offering standard 3-5 day shipping as your main option, you will fall behind.
It may be more expensive to offer ASAP, time slots, or next day, but the rewards are more than worth it.