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The e-commerce checkout process begins the moment a customer proceeds to the checkout stage by clicking on a call-to-action button. It includes the step-by-step procedure that a customer goes through to successfully purchase items in their shopping cart while shopping online. After adding an item to their shopping cart, and in a bid to complete the purchase, an online shopper would have to input details such as their billing information, shipping information, and shipping method before payment can be made.

While the steps that lead up to a customer’s arrival at the checkout – product development, website development, marketing, – are important, they ultimately do not matter if sales are not finalized. This makes the checkout process one of the most important aspects of an e-commerce customer journey, as it can directly decide whether a purchase is finalized or not. As a result, a checkout flow must be entirely optimized to ensure an optimal user experience.

A modern e-commerce checkout process is one that is optimized to lessen the rate of purchase abandonment during online shopping. The best checkout processes have a seamless flow that promotes the user experience by implementing strategies that make the process easier and faster. Examples of such strategies include providing a guest checkout page, making available different payment methods, and keeping the number of pages in the checkout process to a minimum.

Why Do Customers Abandon Transactions During Checkout?

Information collected by the Baymard Institute, based on averaging figures reported from 46 separate studies on e-commerce shopping cart abandonment, shows that the average cart abandonment rate is a whopping 69.82%. This indicates that almost two-thirds of online purchases are not finalized. Now, if this isn’t a major concern for online retailers, what is?

Now, there are several different reasons why customers drop out of a purchase at the checkout level. These reasons are not static; they vary from site to site, and customer to customer. Here is a quick overview of the most common ones:

1. High Additional Costs

According to the same report from Baymard, 49% of online shoppers abandon checkouts because of extra charges – taxes, shipping costs – added to the price of products. This means that these costs, which are usually added at the time of payment, deter approximately five out of every ten online shoppers.

2. Forced Account Creation

Mandating customers to create an account before checkout is a major issue encountered by several customers across e-commerce sites. Having to create an account slows down the checkout process, stopping around 24% of online shoppers from completing their purchase.

3. Complicated Checkout Processes

Online shoppers have a short attention span; most are simply looking for a speedy, simple, and convenient online checkout process. Cramping up pages with too much information, such as advertisements, could distract or confuse your customers and discourage them from completing their purchase.

4. Unfavorable Shipping Conditions

One of the main reasons people shop online is to minimize the amount of stress they have to go through in a bid to get their goods home. This makes delivery a very important aspect of online shopping. If customers find the available shipping options limited or too expensive, they could decide to abandon the purchase.

5. Lack of Trust

Shopping online requires customers to input their personal information, such as credit card details or a home address, before they can go through with the purchase. If a customer gets the slightest concern about how secure their data is on your site, it could deter them from completing a transaction.

6. Limited Payment Options

Whether for security reasons or for convenience, most online shoppers like to stick to one means of payment. If they do not find their preferred payment option available on your site, it could lead to them abandoning the transaction.

7. Lack of Mobile Optimization

In recent times, the number of online shoppers who access e-commerce sites through their mobile phones has been on the rise. However, e-commerce sites are commonly optimized for only desktops and not handheld devices. Customers who would rather shop on their phones than on a desktop might lose interest in the purchase if faced with challenges.

8. Performance Errors

Errors with website performance such as crashes, credit card decline, and slow loading time for checkout pages would not only put customers off transactions but can also cause them to lose trust in an online store.

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Why are Modern E-Commerce Checkouts Important?

The various reasons customers abandon checkouts mid-way are all characteristic of the “non-modern” checkout process. A non-optimal flow has numerous disadvantages and can risk the growth and development of online stores. Modern checkout processes are built to optimize conversions but not only:

1. Improved Customer Satisfaction

A modern checkout process improves the customer checkout experience, ultimately increasing their satisfaction. A satisfied customer has a higher tendency to see a purchase through to the end than a non-satisfied customer, thus increasing the number of sales made on a site.

2. Increased Rate of Returning Customers

It goes without saying that a smooth customer experience will encourage a customer to return to the same online retailer for subsequent transactions, thereby increasing the chances of long-term retention.

3. Positive Recommendations

A customer who has had a seamless checkout experience while shopping on a site is highly likely to refer friends to the same site. Good recommendations from satisfied customers not only generate more traffic for your site, but also increase the chances of new sales.

4. Increased Revenue Generation

With a higher number of customers – both returning and first-timers – completing purchases on an e-commerce site, the site automatically sees an increase in the amount of revenue generated from sales. 

Reducing Checkout Abandonment With A Seamless Experience

To reduce the rate of checkout abandonment on e-commerce sites, a seamless checkout experience for customers must be guaranteed. This can be achieved by putting in place new settings that customers would find easy, simple, and quick to use. Here are a few strategies that can be employed to optimize the e-commerce checkout process:

1. Keep The Process As Simple As Possible

Most online shoppers have a short attention span and could easily get distracted or put off. The idea is to hold their attention by making sure that the process is as simplified as it can get. Generally, a checkout process that is concise with minimal distractions (few upsells or pop-ups), will have a higher percentage of finalized transactions.

2. Keep Registration Until Later

Generally, registration is an excellent idea for online shoppers because it gives them a chance to amend or track orders and makes subsequent purchases easier since their billing and payment details have been saved. However, obliging customers to create an account before they checkout could serve as a discouraging factor. Best practice would be to postpone until after the transaction has been finalized.

3. Offer A Guest Checkout Option

Making provisions for one-time buyers or visitors could be done by creating a guest checkout option for customers so that they can simply input their email address and continue to the checkout page. This makes the entire process much lighter for your customer, hence, improving their experience.

While some sites do this by taking customers from the shopping cart page straight to the checkout forms, other sites work by providing options for customers: guest checkout, registration, or login.

4. Allow Social Signing In

To make account creation easier, you could provide an option for customers to sign in via an already existing social media account, such as Facebook, Google, or Twitter. This way, rather than spending time inputting the personal information needed for registration, customers can simply connect via an account that already possesses these details. 

5. Do Not Request Unimportant Information

You should only ask for information that is absolutely necessary for the transaction in process, such as billing and delivery details. Doing this not only shortens the process but also keeps your customer from being wary about the amount of information they are giving out. 

If you need to collect a customer’s email for communication or marketing purposes, it is advisable to do this early in the checkout process, and not close to the end. 

6. Autofill Addresses

To make the checkout experience much easier and simpler for customers, you could make use of software, such as address predictor tools that offer matching addresses while customers type in their addresses. Some software also validates the address information provided in real-time, thus saving time and ensuring accuracy. Front-Commerce proposes SmartForms as a part of its e-commerce frontend service to do just this.

7. Provide An Easy Means of Resetting Forgotten Passwords

It is a regular occurrence for returning customers, who only pop in to shop occasionally to forget the passwords to their account. Resetting passwords should be made as easy as possible. A common method is to email a reset password link, however, methods such as giving password hints or asking questions whose correct answers have already been provided by the customer are much more efficient as the user is not obliged to leave your website.

8. Make Use of Progress Indicators

Progress indicators tell customers how many stages they must go through to complete their purchase. Progress indicators are great because they ease the checkout process on the psyche, act as a visible guide, and reassure customers.

9. Take Secure Purchasing Seriously

Of course, customers do not want to be slowed down by too many steps while checking out, but at the same time, they do want a transaction that is highly secure and trustworthy. To show your customers that the safety of their details is a priority, you should make sure your site looks professional, display security badges on all checkout pages, and provide contact details that customers could reach out to when they experience any challenges. TIntegrating an embedded payment solution, with a trusted payment solution partner is the best way to ensure that your e-commerce site proposes a secure payment process.

10. Optimize Checkout Pages for Mobiles

Designing your e-commerce checkout page to be mobile-friendly is important to cater to mobile shoppers, who today constitute a larger percentage of the online shopping population. Call to action buttons, form fields and icons need to be rightly spaced and positioned to prevent accidental clicks.

Also, the special capabilities of mobile devices can be exploited to further simplify the checkout process. For example, the camera of a mobile phone can be used to scan credit cards to input payment details making it easier for mobile shoppers to complete purchases.

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11. Summarize Cart Content

It is important to show a summary of the contents of a customer’s shopping cart, alongside all costs before online payment is requested, so they can review and confirm their order.

12. Use Bold Call-To-Actions

During the checkout flow, a call to action will tell customers what the next step is and incite them to take it. As with any CTA, the button must stand out clearly from other page features. This can be achieved by making use of distinct colors, fonts, and font sizes. Green is always a good way to go on a payment page!

13. Provide Alternative Payment Methods

Customers have widespread preferences in payment methods that need to be catered to efficiently. An e-commerce checkout page should be flexible when it comes to the methods provided for customers to make payments. Some popular payment methods are credit/debit cards, Paypal, and Masterpass.

One effective way of optimizing your payment methods is by partnering with online payment platforms such as Checkout.com. Checkout.com provides your business with the expertise needed to maximize your payments’ performance by creating a customized payment model for your business.

Reduce cart abandonment with a modern e-commerce checkout

Reducing the rate of checkout abandonment on your site is not impossible. All it takes is for you to be open to introducing new website technology that could make your checkout process much more optimized for a seamless user experience. Following the tactics above should go a long way in helping you achieve goals.

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