5 minute read

Five golden rules for maximizing website conversion

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Did you know between 50% and 70% of ecommerce sales are lost due to checkout abandonment? Think about this for a moment. Checkout abandonment is the real-life equivalent of running for the exit when the cashier says “next please!” An online visitor has added something to their cart and clicked “checkout,” so what happened after they reached the checkout page to make them rethink their decision?

This blog post will explore the top reasons that visitors abandon their shopping carts and how small changes to a checkout page can make a difference in conversion rates—and increase sales for online businesses.

Why do almost three-quarters of online shoppers abandon the checkout?

There is no universal answer to why visitors decide to abandon an online sale. A poll of 1,044 online shoppers conducted by the Baymard Institute provides valuable insight into some of the reasons why customers may opt to leave the purchase process at checkout. The top reasons include:

  • Extra costs too high (61%)
  • The site wanted me to create an account (35%)
  • Too long / complicated checkout process (27%)
  • I couldn’t see / calculate total order cost up-front (24%)
  • Website had errors / crashed (22%)
  • I didn’t trust the site with my credit card information (18%)

The good news is there are actions a merchant can take to address many of these concerns, helping to maximize conversion and minimize checkout abandonment. Let’s take a look at the five golden rules for maximizing website conversion.

1. Offer a guest checkout

It is common practice for a merchant to want customers to have registered accounts with their business. It signifies loyalty and simplifies repeat purchases, right? Well, not quite. In the survey referenced above, 35% of customers abandoned checkouts simply because they were asked to create an account to complete the purchase. To address this issue, sites can offer a guest checkout option, with an additional option to sign-in if preferred. Online buyers tend to associate a guest checkout with speed and simplicity, which can help increase conversion rates. An option can be added to create an account when the purchase is finalized, but the priority should always be to make the process easy for the customer.

2. Simplify checkout process

Streamlining the checkout process to the very minimum number of steps is crucial for conversion. A maximum of three steps is recommended before the final purchase button is clicked. It is also vital to show a customer the number of the steps they need to take to finalize their purchase in advance. Every checkout needs a visual end point to keep the buyer focused. This can be accomplished with a simple graphic progress indicator showing simple and visible steps to completion.

3. Instill trust in the website

35 percent of customers abandon checkouts simply because they're asked to create an account to complete the purchase.

Online buyers are inherently wary of passing their payment details to websites. After all, they need to trust that security measures are in place to protect their sensitive payment data. Instilling trust is easier for large multinationals, as customers tend to assume that online security measures are already in place. However, websites of lesser-known brands need to visually prove that the website is secure. One way to do this is to display security measures, such as SSL certification. This will create a green web address bar at the top left of the browser with a padlock and ‘HTTPS’ to communicate the website is secure and encrypted. Another way to instil trust is to display security and credit card logos throughout a website—not just on the payment page—and to ensure brand identity is consistent. This is especially relevant if the site is redirecting to a third party hosted payment page.

4. Think mobile-first

In October 2016, StatCounter Global Stats found that mobile devices accounted for 51.3% of worldwide internet access, compared to 48.7% on desktop. However, mobile ecommerce conversions are still straying behind desktop conversions. An ecommerce website should be built ‘mobile-first” from the browsing experience right through to the checkout page. In addition to optimum screen adjustment, merchants should consider the payment form and instant adaptation to alphabetic vs. numeric keypads, based on what information is required. Every element of the purchase experience should be optimized for mobile to maximize conversion rates.

5. Handle errors in real-time

Sometimes it is not what you say, it is how you say it—and this is definitely the case for communicating that an error has been made in the checkout form. Everyone makes mistakes, they may type their name in the credit card number field, or their month of birth into the expiration date. The key is to create instant error messages that are friendly and brief, yet informative. It can be detrimental to wait until the user clicks submit before highlighting an error. They should be shown an error instantly and provided a simple fix—in a friendly way.

These five golden rules serve as a great start in creating a seamless checkout experience that will encourage repeat purchases. And with the help of google analytics, merchants can measure the impact that each implementation has on online conversion rates, and ultimately generate sales.