Easing the checkout process
(How to make more money the easy way)
When you go to the shop to buy stuff all you need to do is give the cashier your money, credit or debit card. If the bits need delivery all you need to give them is your address. It’s a simple process that has worked well for hundreds of years.
Why then do so many online stores complicate the process? Shopping cart abandonment is still a major problem for all ecommerce sites so anything you can do to simplify the process increase the chance of competing the sale.
The checkout stages should be limited to:
- Collecting personal detail and delivery address
- Entering payment details
- Confirming order
Anything else just gets in the way of making the sale so get rid of it. And now, a bit more detail than the rather pathetic list above.
What information do you need from the client? Name, delivery address and email for confirmation is about it. Anything else is superfluous so don’t even bother asking.
Even better, just use a single field for the name, splitting it into title, first name, surname might be easier for you but more work for your customers.
Do you need to know where the customer lives? It’s far more important to know where to send the goods. It doesn’t matter where they live as long as you know where to send the parcel. OK so you may need the billing address for the payment but ask for a shipping address rather than home address.
Put a big red warning on the page that the goods need signing for and hopefully they will ensure someone is there to do just that.
There are really only two choices: DIY or use a third party provider.
DIY means setting up a full payment gateway. Only really useful if you are a large supplier of goods but it is the best option for your customers. Most of the major banks can set this up for you if you have a business account.
For the smaller supplier, PayPal, Sagepay and so on are ideal providers but they all take you off site. No problem with this as people are getting used to the idea but tell them first. Add a line which says: clicking the link will take you to the secure xyz site to make your payment. Make sure you have a link back to the shop so people can change their order.
Do not include surprises. Don’t suddenly add £9.99 P&P without warning. Ideally you should be calculating this on the fly so that your visitors know how much to pay before they get to the checkout.
Once all is complete confirm the order and send the email.
Now that you have their money you can add the newsletter sign-up, tell them about upcoming special offers, say thank you and wish them well. You can generate a lot of goodwill if your sign-off is well constructed.
The Checkout killer
Do not ever force the customer to login or register to buy, this is real a killer and will lose you a lot of sales. Even worse is to prevent them adding the product to their basket/cart until they sign in.
If your forms are properly constructed then you are collecting most of the relevant data during the checkout process. All you need is a password and that can be collected at the confirmation if the buyers want to join.
Off the shelf products
Off the shelf products often have very limited options as to how you can configure the checkout process. Some are very good and some are diabolical.
So forget the layout, the shop admin and the product presentation. Investigate the checkout. If it is clunky and difficult to use, the forms are intrusive or the customer information is weak then find another shop.
As easy as 123
So that’s it. The simple checkout process. Nothing a half decent programmer can’t put together in a couple of hours. Just think how much more money your site could make if your checkout process was as simple as this.