How to Improve the Online Checkout Experience to Win Loyal Customers

by
May 18, 2021

Guest post from our partner, Linnworks.

Take control of online selling with Linnworks Total Commerce platform. Linnworks helps you grow, automate and control your business, meeting customers exactly where they are and capturing every revenue opportunity. The cloud-based software seamlessly connects and automates all of the processes related to multichannel selling, allowing businesses to manage their inventory, orders and fulfillment from a single dashboard. By providing deep insights across sales channels and operations, businesses are equipped to drive profitability and growth. Find out more at www.linnworks.com.

The most frustrating thing about running an ecommerce business is abandoned carts—for every sale, there’s another customer who left their cart in the virtual aisle, abandoning their purchase before checking out. 

While it’s easy for customers to get distracted or have second thoughts about a purchase, there are a lot businesses can do to convert potential shoppers into long-term customers. Before brainstorming an innovative marketing strategy or trying to lure customers in with promotions, you need to cover the fundamentals. This includes offering a seamless online checkout experience.

Completed purchases are your bread and butter, so improving your checkout UX can bring very tangible rewards. Here’s what you can do to create a better checkout experience for your customers and how it can translate into more loyalty and, in turn, more sales. 

Find out what customers really expect from their ecommerce shopping experience:

Linnwork’s The Effortless Economy 

ShipStation’s Last Touch, Lasting Impact

Create the Best Online Checkout Experience 

According to trends in ecommerce research from Linnworks, 76% of consumers say that convenience is the top priority when making online purchases. It should be yours as well. 

Having a usable and effective user experience is the key to ensuring that your customers see the purchase through.

Optimizing your online checkout experience involves maximizing two things: the customer’s motivation to complete the purchase and how easy it is for them to do so. Fall on the wrong side of either of these and you’ll get an unpleasant cocktail of apathy and frustration, instead of a steady stream of satisfied customers.

Any experienced online shopper will be familiar with the moment that browsing becomes shopping. It involves three magic words — add to cart.

Once a customer hits the Add to Cart button, it’s clear that they’re at least somewhat serious about seeing their purchase through. However, a lot of businesses mess that up by making the customer work too hard for it or sending mixed signals about whether they actually added their item to their cart.

The most important thing is letting the customer know that the mechanism worked. This is usually done with a visual cue, like a small animation or confirmation text. Otherwise, you risk keeping the customer in the browsing mindset, making it easier for them to abandon the purchase.

So, what should you do once the product is in the cart? 

There is no set formula, but most companies either show the confirmation and keep the users on the same page or redirect users directly to the cart page. The right strategy depends on whether you want to push customers into the checkout process or encourage them to keep shopping.

Be As Transparent As Possible 

Customers really hate hidden fees. After all, this can make them angry enough to close their tab. This hurts your business — especially if, upon further thought, the customer would have stuck with the purchase.

This isn’t just logic at play. Unforeseen costs actually make people abandon their carts, with 72% of customers having abandoned a purchase over shipping transparency. Better transparency begins when displaying the cart contents. Consumers should have no problem understanding what is in their carts and how much it will cost, including shipping and taxes. 

Customers should feel in control over adding and removing items, or selecting shipping options. If you offer free shipping, make it clear to your customer so that they can acknowledge the money they are saving. In order to remove any confusion, anticipate key questions your customers might have, including when their order will arrive or how they can return it.

A visual hierarchy is a great way of getting customers to complete purchases. Make the most crucial action items, like quantity and the “checkout” button, stand out on the page while minimizing less important ones, like coupon codes. 

If the coupon code is too prominent, many users will start searching for one and, if they don’t find it, they might give up on their purchase. The key is giving them the opportunity to save money without reminding them of the money they aren’t saving.

Secure, Frictionless, Flexible Payment 

While the payment process is often the most grueling part of the checkout experience — who is excited to type out their entire credit card number? — you can’t overlook it.

Once you have established the infrastructure for secure payments, let your consumers know. A button like “Pay Securely Now” will implement this trust and highlight the efforts you are taking to ensure your customers’ safety.

It can not be overstated how important convenience is for customers these days. 46% say that they are willing to sacrifice cost for convenience, which means it’s worth putting money into features that simplify the process. Make sure that customers can start shopping on one device and finish their purchase on another. Establish an accessible and usable search feature to create a more frictionless journey.

Flexible payment options, like “buy now and pay later,” get more customers to buy. 70% of customers are more likely to make impulse buys and 89% more likely to make larger purchases. 

Remove Any Barriers 

The longer you make the process for your customers, the more likely they are to shrug and ask themselves, “Is this even worth it?” It also gives them more time to second guess themselves, succumbing to the anxiety that they are potentially overspending.

This brings us to a mistake businesses make: forcing your customers to make an account to complete a purchase.

It might seem like requiring accounts forces your customer to commit to a long-term relationship with your brand, but it actually does the exact opposite. Very few customers feel more loyal to a brand because they have an account on their website, while one in four abandons are due to forced registration. Don’t make it harder for your customer because you think it will get them under your thumb.

Therefore, a guest checkout option is a necessity. The fewer forms customers need to complete, the better. The more they feel like the process is dragging on, the more inclined they will be to close the tab.

Overall, you should give your customers no reason to abandon their purchases. This applies to other parts of the checkout process, including your approach to cart expiration. There’s no reason to let carts expire, other than to provide fodder for emails meant to bring your lost customers back to the site. If your site has persistent carts, customers will be reminded of their abandoned purchase when they revisit, giving them some time to rethink their decision not to buy.

Conclusion 

The online checkout experience is much more than an obligation. It’s a pivotal strategic element of attracting and retaining customers. Make sure the fundamentals — checkout, payment, and the implementation of an inventory management system — are well-implemented so that you can complete the most essential part of any transaction: getting the product in your customer’s hands.