Every online business experiences the frustration of customer drop-off. It’s an issue that takes place at every part of the online path-to-purchase pipeline, but at 68%, the checkout process is where retailers experience the highest customer drop-off rate.

That means over ⅔ of customers put an item or item in their cart and don’t end up purchasing. That’s pretty high considering that it costs, about $80 per head for customer acquisition. There are numerous reasons why customers fall off when they reach the checkout page that are tough for online retailers to control: cold feet, change of heart, competition, etc. Some reasons you can’t change, but understanding the reasons for the ones that you can resolve and what you can do to increase checkout completion can make all the difference. Here are some things you can do to clean up the checkout process and improve conversion:

  1. Keep it short and simple

The checkout process is the culmination of the sales funnel, so focus your efforts on closing the sale instead of distracting your customers with ads or more deals. The simpler the interface, the better.

You also want to avoid asking for unnecessary information. The more information a customer is required to fill out, the less likely they will be to make the purchase. It’s important to get the customer through the checkout process as quickly and painlessly as possible. For example, if you want them to sign up for your newsletter, ask them after they’ve completed the purchase, not before.

  1. Don’t surprise your customers with hidden costs

According to a survey by WorldPay, 56% of customers abandon the checkout process when presented with a hidden fee, and it’s not hard to understand why. We’ve all felt the jarring sensation of going to buy an item online, only to see the price jump when we click the “purchase” button. Certain extra expenses are unavoidable, such as taxes and shipping fees, but the more upfront you are with the pricing, the more comfortable a consumer will feel purchasing.

One good example is When they present their pricing, they include the taxes before you even click on the flight. On the other hand, Spirit airlines offers low pricing upfront, but when you click to purchase, they notify you that you will be charged for baggage and carry-on, but don’t tell you how much. The experience is uncomfortable and can cause shopping cart abandonment.

  1. Make sure your mobile site is up to par

Too many businesses overlook the optimization of their mobile sites to the peril of their sales. The statistics are daunting. Eighty percent of consumers use smartphones, but 84% of consumers who use mobile to shop online abandon the checkout process. That means that, compared to the 68% drop-off rate for desktop that we mentioned earlier, mobile consumers drop off 16% more often.

If your site is not optimized for mobile, the customer may face difficulties with viewing tiny images and text. If the customer makes it through the product selection portion of the experience, but faces similar difficulties during the purchase process, combined with a confusing checkout funnel, your mobile abandonment rate will soar. With 80% of consumers using mobile devices, mobile sales are not something you can afford to miss out on.

  1. Ask for billing information at the end

Before you jump the gun on billing information, make sure the customer has completed the steps most important to them first. The customer wants to know that the item will arrive at the correct address and that it has the right specs. Asking these questions first tells the customer that you’re concerned about getting the order correct before asking for payment. This builds a greater sense of trust that will convert to a decrease in abandonment rate.

  1. Don’t add an unnecessary barrier to entry

When a customer is ready to purchase, you want to take away every possible barrier to entry, not create more. For example, if a customer has to remember a username and password before purchasing, there is a higher chance of abandonment than if they can just simply click purchase. Even if they do intend to come back to the purchase page later, they may forget after searching for their login credentials.

Instead, make it easy on your customers by taking them directly to the checkout form without a password, but offer a highly visible sign in or register option as well.

  1. Provide a progress indicator

Checkout funnels become much more daunting if there’s no clear end in sight. Even if you only have three steps in the checkout process, without a progress indicator, a customer might anticipate filling out endless pages of information in order to complete the purchase. They may abandon out of sheer exhaustion.

Providing a progress indicator is a simple way to clean up the checkout process by letting the customer know how much time they’re committing to purchasing an item.  

  1. Make your customers feel secure

A survey from Forbes found that perceived security risks make up 17% of the shopping cart abandonment rate. In order to assuage the worries of your customers, provide plenty of highly visible trustmarks throughout the checkout process. Trustmarks are visual depictions of the security brands you use to secure your customers’ personal information.

On the other hand, Forbes also found that 18% of customers abandoned the shopping cart because there were excessive security checks. Keep the checkout process secure but simple, and don’t ask your customers to fill out endless pages of security information.

  1. Provide multiple payment options

This is a given, as purchasing an item becomes impossible if a customer cannot pay with their chosen method. Make sure you offer all the most common methods of payment including MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal. The more payment methods you offer, the less chance there is of a customer falling off the checkout process due to inability to provide payment.

The checkout process is the coup de gras of all your marketing efforts and money spent on customer acquisition, so don’t make purchasing difficult on your customers. You can easily improve your sales by cleaning up the checkout process to ensure that your customers get to the purchase button without hassle.


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