5 Steps to Improve Checkout Conversion

October 03, 2012
Chris Hexton

Shopping Cart

E-commerce is booming. Pioneered by Amazon over a decade ago, online shopping is fast becoming the go-to channel for the average shopper.

We recently compiled a guide on how to nail your e-commerce newsletters and as part of our research, were amazed at the number of high quality e-commerce stores that needed to improve their checkout process and could do so with just a little effort.

Every improvement you make that results in an increase in your checkout conversions or average order value compounds to make you dramatically more money. We took the learnings from our research and compiled them into the top 5 things you can implement today to maximize the effectiveness of your checkout process.

1. Make it Easy to Add Items and Continue Browsing

Don’t redirect customers to their shopping cart each and every time they add an item. When a user adds a product to the cart use Javascript or reload the same product page so that they can continue to browse your store seamlessly.

Design Within Reach does a good job of this. After you add an item to the cart you can continue to browse the store without interruption. This keeps friction to a minimum and encourages a higher average order value, something you definitely want.

design within reach

2. Don’t Require Signup

Make checkout as fast as possible – do not require customers to sign up in order to continue checkout. Either implement a ‘checkout as a guest’ feature or setup your store so that any customer who is not already logged in automatically begins checkout as a guest.

It is certainly useful to let customers setup an account – it encourages loyalty and makes it easier for them to buy in the future but you need to do it at the right time. The best practice is to give customers the option to sign up after they complete and confirm their purchase.

Kogan Checkout

Australian retailer Kogan has a three step checkout process that does not require signup. They collect your details, charge you and you’re on your way. It’s simple, the forms are large and clear and checkout happens in seconds. This helps Kogan bring in nearly $100m in sales a year.

3. Save Customers’ Shopping Carts

Store customers’ shopping carts. Most shoppers are multitasking and often get sidetracked whilst browsing the internet. Many will return to your store at a later date – ensure you store their cart so that when they return they are reminded of the purchase they were considering. You can even go one step further and use a popup or slide-out that shows them the products in their cart.

tweet

Saving a cart also comes in handy when customers click through from an email marketing campaign. Having the customer logged in or, at the very least, having their cart full and ready to begin checkout can mean the difference between a customer buying or bouncing.

4. Product Recommendations

Amazon is the king of product recommendations. 30% of their sales come from on-site recommendations. If 30%isn’t evidence that recommendations can drive your average order size through the roof, then nothing is!

amazon

We don’t all have in-house recommendations teams with PhDs but services like Directed Edge make recommendations a no-brainer. Simply install the plugin, place some Javascript on your website and these services will handle the rest. The above example is directly from Amazon when you pre-order the new Kindle.

5. Cart Abandonment Emails

Cart abandonment emails are one of the most powerful conversion tactics out there. As many as 85% of shoppers will abandon their carts before completing checkout. That is a lot of customers leaving your store.

Cart abandonment emails can convert anywhere up to 50% of these otherwise lost customers. Needless to say, this can be very lucrative. The beauty of cart abandonment emails is they are set and forget. Invest some time in setting them up and you’ll permanently move the needle on your sales.

When implementing email remarketing campaigns such as cart abandonment it’s important to be mindful of your customers: limit the number of emails you send to any one customer and make the emails helpful, not creepy. Asking your customers if they want help completing checkout (a common reason for abandonment is issues with the checkout page) or letting them know their cart is ‘about to expire’ are both good places to start.

A novel twist on the ‘cart abandonment email’ is to send an email when the
customers cart is ‘empty and lonely’ – a bit of humor never goes astray!

Conclusion

That’s it! Short and sweet. Hopefully these tips help you keep your customers happier, streamline your website and make you more sales. Feel free to ask questions or leave notes in the comments below or tweet us @veroapp about your experiences and successes from these tips!