I find that many store owners and developers spend little time to streamline their checkout and improve its ability to convert. The fact is, this is one of the most crucial elements of your store and begs your dedicated attention. So today we will consider the options and convertibility of your store’s checkout procedure.
There are literally hundreds of checkout methods which are both effective and not effective. Many times something that is effective for one store will bomb in another. Your checkout process requires research and improvement. You cannot just add something and not follow its effects, this will get you nowhere fast. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, just keep the shopper in mind at all times.
- Colors! Have you considered the colors of your checkout buttons? Color psychology is a very real and effective method for eliciting intended responses from you visitors. At the end of the day what works is what works. As a rule I avoid red checkout buttons as I believe the bring a stop or pause from the shopper, I tend to use green… Green for “Go”. Read up on some color psychology.
- Perhaps nothing is more effective and time consuming as troubleshooting the location of your “Buy” or “Add to Cart” button. I am a firm believer that this button should be above the fold on your page, as near to the top as logical, and large enough to grab the shopper’s attention. Many shoppers are in fact spontaneous shoppers and won’t read a single word of your options and description… Fine, let them checkout ASAP! Most remaining shoppers will read a bit, scan it if you will, and then be ready to checkout. Once again, let the locate the button easily.
- Shoppers should be immediately taken to their cart upon adding an item… But allowed the option to continue shopping at the cart summary level. Not taking shoppers to their cart inhibits their desire to checkout and causes concern as to their cart’s contents, very simply its makes them less trusting of your store.
- You want your checkout to be as short as possible. We have become a very impatient society and do not wish to be bothered with “fluff”. The fewer steps in your checkout, the better it will convert shoppers… Its that simple.
- I realize I just told you to avoid “fluff” in your checkout, but be advised I do not mean to avoid clear direction and navigation. Believe it or not shoppers still require a bit of “hand holding”. Add text, colors, and enhanced navigation to your checkout so they can stay on track. If you do not have directional prompts and a progress indicator of some sort in your checkout process, you are losing sales.
- Nothing perhaps is more counter productive than too many options to confuse a shopper. People do not require 5 shipping options or 12 payment options… Honestly, they buy online for convenience and too many options causes them to make decisions they would rather avoid. Keep it simple… For example what is the value of having PayPal and Google Checkout? Both of these payment options are similar and appeal to the same group type of shoppers. You absolutely need a credit card processor, do not be intimidated by the process and cost as this alone will double your checkout conversions.
- Only collect the information you REALLY need from shoppers. Society has become more and more sensitive about the amount of information they provide for transactions and sign ups. Remember, shorter is better also… Do you really need to collect a business name on your silk flowers site? Or does the shopper become concerned you will spam him or worse if you ask for his company/business name?
- Shoppers should be able to select their already provided “Billing” address as their “Shipping” address without typing a single word. Little things like pre-filling their name and details in the fields of the remaining steps will check shoppers out faster and convert higher. Remember, shopping online is a convenience.
- ALL discounts and coupons must be visible or shoppers will assume they are not going to receive them. If you have a discount procedure that is only added on the confirmation or order total screen, then you MUST note that in your checkout. Let the shoppers know when and how the discount will be applied in a very easily located place.
- Do not upsell or cross sell in your checkout… Options in the checkout section which cause shoppers to navigate away or feel pressured are defiantly counter productive. Some believe in turning off template menus and other click able options in checkout. I am of mixed thought on this… On one hand they are less likely to click away, but on the other shoppers feel like they may have been sent to another site to checkout. I think the answer is clearly to limit non-template options such as upsells and coupons and such… Deliver them after checkout.
- I do not believe the number of shopping carts I do reports for that have monetized their site, and even their checkout! Why in the world would you allow a shopper to leave your site, especially in checkout, and collect a nickel for it? Seriously, if your product margin is that bad that the nickel looks good, then find another product.
- Test drive your checkout, frequently. Make sure your processor is not too slow, your pages are loading correctly and fast, and you are sending the correct message for your store’s checkout.
- Lastly, and this one is forgotten most of all. On your checkout success or return page, thank you shoppers in a personal way. Do not leave standard or default text in here, let them know you appreciate their purchase. Invite them back and perhaps offer them a special offer or coupon for future visits.
There are a great many tools for optimizing your checkout. I strongly suggest you make changes slowly so you can monitor the results, if you change 10 things and your checkout conversions go down, how will you know what has caused the drop? I think the most valuable and effective tools for improving checkout are in fact human. Do usability studies, have many different people checkout in your store and research their comments. You can even use a simple comment form on your checkout success page to request feedback about your store and the checkout process.
Heatmaps can be extremely helpful in gaining insight in to your checkout process. Most of all, any serious store owner must have some analytic stats to track their pages and metrics for improvement, most importantly your rate of conversion.
Remember, whats the point if they bail from your cart?