Maximizing E-Commerce Checkout: Less is More

Checkout is one of the most critical components of your e-commerce website’s experience.  No matter how well you convince customers to buy your product, when it comes down to it, the checkout process can turn away even the most determined customers if it’s done poorly.  Maximizing the checkout process is a HUGE topic, so in order to make this digestible, I’ll focus on one benefit at a time.

Less is More

amazonHave you ever noticed how bland Amazon’s checkout process is from a design perspective?  That’s because Amazon, more than anyone, knows that a critical component of a shopping conversion is to keep the customer laser-focused on the task at hand.  The task, in this case, is to click the glittering “Process Order” button on the last checkout page.  This is what the eCommerce game is all about.

So, what does a bland checkout process have to so with conversion rate?  Simple; it removes any distractions that might provoke a customer to stray from completing checkout.  But how can we identify those distractions so that we don’t remove something beneficial?

Generally speaking, anything that does not contribute directly to the checkout experience should be removed.  Those things might include:

  • Site Navigation – Don’t tempt customers to click a link that might pull them out of the checkout process.  They’ve made it this far so they’re committed to buying.  We want them to buy above all else!
  • Excessive Design Elements – Your company logo, borders around content containers, and consistent global styles (fonts, colors, etc.) are all you really need to brand the checkout experience.  We want this to be clean and clear, so declutter any extra images, backgrounds, bright colors, rotating gifs, and unicorns that are currently designed in.  The buttons to continue should be far and away the biggest eye-candy on the page.
  • View Cart Buttons – There’s no reason to give them a link to the shopping cart when they’re already passed the shopping cart step.
  • Promotions/Coupons – They’ve already committed to purchasing the products in their cart at the current price.  Don’t provoke the customer to scour the web looking for a coupon code.  Ask for coupons on the shopping cart (but do it with subtlety!)
  • Legal Jargon – Minimize the legal disclaimers you put in front of a customer.  If legally necessary, put all of your legalese in a popup window that the customer must opt-into reading by clicking on a link.  We don’t want to frighten customers with a heavy legal hand.  We should be seen as protecting the customer, not ourselves.
  • Links Back to Products – While showing the cart contents to the customer on the review order step, do NOT link those products back to the product detail page.  They’ve already learned enough about the product to start the purchasing process, and offering a link back to the product might lose you a customer.

This is just a short list of the many things we all may have in our checkout processes that are doing more harm than good.  Share any questions you have about ways to improve your cart in the comments.

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