A guide to simplifying and optimising the retail checkout journey
By Gagan Arora
Have you ever been to a retail store and absolutely hated the checkout process? That always stays with you as a bad experience. Ease of shopping is the reason why most people are shifting to online shopping. Yet, online cart abandonment rates are at 51%. There could be multiple reasons for this, but it is important for the business to put customer experience at the forefront while maximising sales.
Consider this: when a user is at the product page still researching, she has a higher chance of exiting the page. However, it would be difficult to attribute this exit to the product specifications, price, delivery time or platform UI/UX or competition. There could be another scenario where a user exits the page after adding a product to the cart. This indicates that the user has exited after showing intent to buy. Attribution of this exit is easier to identify and address.
Most e-commerce players focus on optimising the homepage and product pages while the checkout journey optimisation is not well mapped; it is neglected.
There are a few ways to stop making checkout a process and start turning it into an experience. Optimisation of the checkout journey should be carried out on the basis of customer intent and not on the basis of which stage of the funnel comes first.
Here are a few guidelines and best practices that would help business managers optimise the checkout journey:
Let users transact first, register later: At times, users are required to register at the start of the checkout which can lead to a broken experience. This friction in the buy flow is one of the major reasons for cart abandonment as the customer’s intent is to buy and not register!
Keep no surprises: Similar to physical retail stores, a customer may not appreciate any surprises when she has already initiated checkout. This is not the best place to show any offer, information and charges that would make the user abandon the checkout, resulting in an avoidable exit. Once the checkout is initiated, time taken for completion should be minimised.
Safety is the key: Incidents of data breach around the globe have made users sceptical of e-com portals. Any untoward incident may cause a spike in cash on delivery transactions or a decline in overall transaction volume. Business managers should incorporate and display industry standard credentials at the payment page.
Make checkout steps clear: Checkout inevitably is a multi-step process. A business manager needs to determine the information required from customers. This generally means personal information (e-mail, address, phone number, etc) and financial details (card details). The customer should be able to determine easily at what stage they are in the checkout journey.
Use A/B testing methodology: Business managers in e-commerce keep experimenting to improve the customer experience; not all experiments are set up well though. Experimenting without hypotheses and control is not only useless, but also quite harmful to business. Under A/B testing methodology, a concurrent experiment runs on two or more pages. Success metrics of the experiment are pre-defined; for example, conversion rate. You can use A/B tests to check many assumptions such as guest checkout versus member checkout or the colour, icon and size of CTAs.
Accurate information on charges: Nobody likes extra charges. If the cart on an e-com portal can display product prices, it can also display taxes, packaging fee and delivery fee, etc. Unexpected costs, riders and information may lead to cart abandonment. As a business manager, you lose a potential customer and marketing dollars.
The key to a successful conversion is transparency. With just a few tweaks and a focussed approach, you can stop being another number in the cart abandonment statistics.
The author is GM – e-commerce practice, Cheil WW India