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20 Strategies to Improve Your Online Checkout Process

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Found in:    snapshot | engage | Retail/Ecommerce

The following article is a guest submission written by Laura Gayle. Laura is an experienced writer who currently works for Business Woman Guide.

If you are interested in submitting a guest article to the Second To None blog, please send over your ideas to 

You may have an attractive website, high-quality products, and great prices. Yet despite all your efforts, some shoppers will abandon their shopping carts without completing a purchase. In fact, more than just some. Research shows that typical cart abandonment rates range from 60 to 80 percent, depending upon the industry.

What makes customers leave their carts without buying? In some cases, it’s because they’re indecisive. But in others, long, complicated, or inconvenient checkout processes are to blame. There is a lot that can go wrong during the checkout process that might cause you to lose a potential sale. Once shoppers have searched for and selected items to buy, checking out should be as smooth as you can possibly make it for them.

Making improvements to the checkout process may be the most effective way to reduce cart abandonment and increase conversions on your website. To help you, here are tips to streamline your checkout process and make it easier for shoppers to navigate.

Tips to Optimize Your Store’s Checkout Process

It’s important that customers don’t run into any issues while they are finalizing purchases. Here are some easy ways to make sure your customers make it all the way through the process and actually make a purchase.

  1. Set Expectations – Use simple graphics and let your visitors know what to expect, never make them have to guess. Clarity is the key to keeping visitors going. Even when your checkout process is more than one page, as long as customers know that, they are less likely to leave without buying.
  2. Show Progress – Use a progress bar, or another tool, that shows your customers all the steps that are required for checkout and where they are in the process.
  3. Don’t Require Registration before Checkout – This is a big issue for online sellers because, while you want customers’ information, they may not want to provide all of it and prefer to check out as a guest. A SaleCycle survey found that 23% of carts are abandoned when users are asked to create accounts. This doesn’t mean that you can’t offer registration to make their next shopping experiences easier – just do it after they have completed their purchase.
  4. Do Collect an Email Address – It is important that you have an email address so that you can update your customers during the fulfillment and shipping stages. Plus, it will give you a way to remarket and follow up with email campaigns.
  5. Keep the Back Button Functional – Users often use the back button on their browser to ‘undo’ actions they have taken on a website. However, some checkout pages don’t allow you to use it. If the back button doesn’t work, it could cause frustration and the shopper to leave without buying.
  6. Stay on the Same Domain – Directing customers away from your site to another causes confusion and decreases trust.
  7. Use Trust Signals – Include credit card logos and other trust signals on relevant pages of your checkout process. This will reassure customers who are concerned about online shopping.
  8. Remind Site Visitors of Your Value – Highlight benefits that you offer your customers. Free shipping, easy return policy, and concern for your customers’ security should all be easily visible on checkout pages.
  9. Declutter Your Checkout Pages – You want it to be easy for your customers to navigate the checkout process. That means that your checkout pages should be simple and straightforward, not cluttered with extra images or information. Reducing distractions helps to increase conversions.
  10. Be Clear about Shipping – If you are able to offer free shipping, it makes this very easy. If that isn’t an option, consider using flat rate shipping fees or add a shipping calculator based on the customer’s zip code. When shipping costs are a surprise to customers at checkout, it may cause them to leave your site without buying.
  11. Offer Real-Time Support with Live Chat – Customers want their questions answered immediately. If you offer a live chat option, you can provide them with answers right away, and that may be the thing that encourages them to complete their purchases.
  12. Be Clear about Inventory Levels – There is nothing worse for a customer than having to wait for a back-ordered item unexpectedly. It’s important to be clear about inventory levels and delivery times. Make sure your warehouse and sales systems are integrated.
  13. Provide Clear Call-to-Action – Make the “Add to Cart” button the most obvious button on every product detail page. Use a larger size and different color for it than you do for other buttons.
  14. List Shopping Cart Contents Clearly – Make it easy for customers to make last-minute changes to their cart before they complete their transaction.
  15. Maximize Efficiencies – Doing things like including a “Use billing address” option for shipping makes your checkout easier for customers to complete quickly.
  16. Use Autocomplete and Data Validation – This will speed up the checkout process for your customers. Anything that makes it quick and easy to checkout will prompt customers to complete their purchases.
  17. Offer Various Payment Options – People have different preferences about how to pay for their online purchases. Make sure that you provide multiple payment options to satisfy customers.
  18. Request Credit Card Information Last – Customers will be more inclined to finish this section after other information is complete.
  19. Make Next Steps Clear – If you make your next step buttons clear, it will make the checkout process simple for customers to navigate. The easier the process is, the more likely it is that customers will complete it.
  20. Keep Shopping Carts Open – Make sure that your shoppers are able to go back to shopping during the checkout process without losing cart contents if they want to.

Final Thoughts about Improving the Checkout Process

The checkout process on your website isn’t the only factor that affects shopping cart abandonment, but it’s definitely one of the most crucial parts of the process. When you optimize the checkout experience for your customers, you’ll likely see your abandonment rate go down and your sales go up.

Second To None empowers customer-centric brands to deliver consistent, intentional and authentic consumer experiences.

We adeptly design and manage mystery shopping, compliance, engagement and voice of customer solutions grounded in strategic relevance, program integrity and actionable insights. Our solutions are developed on the basis of solid research and statistical science. We achieve success through a relentless focus on quality and innovation, consultative relationships and a talented team of professional associates.