There’s nothing more frustrating for you as the owner of an ecommerce site than to see abandoned online shopping cart. Your business may have successfully overcome every objection a customer might have to purchasing, but at the last second, you lost the sale and missed out on the revenue.
What went wrong?
The most likely answer: there was friction in your checkout process.
Understand Buying Friction to Increase Sales
Michael Hyatt calls friction anything that makes it more challenging for customers to make purchases or complete transactions.
“Customers will always follow the path of least resistance,” he explains. “If you want to generate more sales, you have to identify the friction points in your selling system and eliminate them.”
Online retailers have learned a lot about friction in their checkout processes over the last decade. Most companies constantly work to streamline the experience as much as possible, and offer checkout features like one-click ordering, ability to save billing and payment information for future purchases, and automatic calculation of sales tax based on your state.
And if you want to compete with other retailers, you need to do the same. Here’s what to consider incorporating to make your customer’s checkout experience better — and to stop those abandoned shopping carts from piling up.
Use Autofill APIs to Generate Information
You can quickly reduce buying friction by simply reducing the number of fields in a form a customer needs to fill out to complete their purchase. Eliminate any field that’s not necessary to the checkout process and only ask for what you need to collect payment and ship the product to the right location.
After paring down your forms, you can go one step further by using autofill APIs. These can allow you to automatically fill out forms based on a small amount of data.
If you ask for a zip code first, for example, you can autofill the state and country. Or you can get the browser to suggest a completed amount of information based on the address a shopper starts to plug in.
Interested in setting this up for your ecommerce site? Take advantage of an app like Recart to seamlessly integrate this feature for a more frictionless experience.
Slim Down Your Checkout Process
Do customers on your site today need to click through four or five different pages in the checkout process? Major friction.
Consider how you can reduce the process down to a review of the shopping cart and then the request for required information (and a confirmation page after). Or better yet, copy Bellroy’s approach:
The company uses a single page so customers can review their orders, see their totals, and give the retailer all the necessary information from a single point.
Give Customers the Option to Register (But Don’t Force It)
One way to reduce buying friction is to save customer’s information. This way, when they return to make another purchase, they don’t need to fill in their shipping and billing information every single time.
You can offer this as a helpful feature — but don’t force customers to sign up before they can check out. Sephora might make more online sales if the beauty giant didn’t force customers to get an account before they can make a purchase:
This can kill impulse buys and push away customers who may have already been second-guessing their purchase. Make an offer to allow buyers to create an account that they can use in the future — but allow them to check out as guests without registering, if possible.
No customer wants to get to the very last stage of the checkout process only to find a purchase they thought would cost $25 will actually cost them $40 due to taxes, fees, and shipping.
Make this information apparent as soon as you can. Include it on the shopping cart page, so customers can easily see what their total is and decide when they reach the point they can check out (instead of losing the sale entirely after springing additional costs on them at the last second).
MOO makes this fast and easy. Customers can click on the shopping cart and get an estimate on tax and shipping costs based on their location:
Think About One-Click Buying Options
Amazon managed to secure a patent on one-click ordering back in 1999. But that patent is set to expire in 2017, opening the doors for software providers to potentially make it available to more retailers.
If and when this becomes an option, consider using it for your online store. One-click is a feature that, at least on Amazon, customers can turn on for their devices. They fill in their shipping and billing information once.
After that, whenever customers choose the “Buy now with 1-Click” option, Amazon automatically charges their chosen payment method and ships the product to the address specified.
It’s about as friction-free as you can get with a checkout process.
Accept Various Forms of Payment (Not Just Credit Cards)
Plenty of consumers, especially those in younger demographics, don’t like using credit cards to complete online shopping purchases. Some worry about security and data breaches. Others may not have credit cards at all.
There’s no getting around the kind of friction caused when a customer literally can’t pay you for what they want to purchase.
Reduce this by accepting payment methods like PayPal, Google Wallet, or Apple Pay, as retailer ThredUp does.
You don’t need to use these processors exclusively, but give the consumer the choice of how they want to complete the transaction.
Use Your System Yourself
You should audit your checkout process from the customer’s point of view both before and after you add on new features to reduce buying friction.
Note where the sticking points are. What’s frustrating or difficult to do? How could the process be faster, smoother, and less taxing on the customer?
Ideally, you can ask a friend or professional peer to do the same and share their feedback.
A really powerful exercise is to ask them to navigate your site and choose an item to purchase while you can see their screen. You could even ask that they “think out loud” as they go, so you can hear their real-time, unfiltered reactions.
Going through this process will help you ensure the checkout features you implement work smoothly and actually do their job of reducing the amount of friction a customer experiences when they want to buy from you.
And that, in turn, can help you increase sales for your retail business online.
What Changes Will You Make?
Closely looking at your checkout experience from a customer’s perspective is an insightful exercise. Examining the process from beginning to end offers a chance to address potential pain points — and boost your sales as a result.
How have you improved your own checkout process? Share your tips and advice in the comments below.