Conversion Optimization

Multi-step vs single page checkout, which is better for your eCommerce store?

Checkout UX doesn't have to be complicated. Design the best Checkout UX for your eCommerce store to improve conversions. Take a look at which checkout UX works best with examples.

Multi-step vs single page checkout, which is better for your eCommerce store?

What’s a good checkout process?

This is a question that many eCommerce brands ask us. 

There are some common elements of a checkout page such as a product list, price summary, billing and shipping information, and payment options.

The problem – how to position these elements to improve customer experience and sales?

In this post, we’ll explore: 

How to choose the best checkout UX for your eCommerce store

Pros and Cons of Checkout UX: multi-step vs one-page checkout

- Accordion Checkout UX

- Single page Checkout UX

Check out UX FAQ

How to choose the best checkout UX design for your eCommerce store?

Many eCommerce brands we speak to often have questions about checkout UX design, including the following:

  • What can online stores do to reduce cart abandonment?
  • One-page vs. multi-step checkouts - which is better?
  • Which optimizations can increase my sales?

Now, let’s get one thing clear - no checkout UX is superior to the other. However, there are certain elements that do improve conversions.

Choosing the best checkout UX for your online store depends on various factors:

a. What you are selling 

Small-ticket products or small cart sizes are often bought out of necessity or are impulse buys. 

These products include accessories, accompaniments to a bigger product, or trending products. 

For instance, customers are looking to purchase a product that’s currently trending on TikTok such as glass straws or a dog water bottle.     

In this case, single-page checkout flows let shoppers pay faster and without a lengthy process. 

On the other hand, big-ticket items are bought through careful consideration, and shoppers need reassurance at every stage that they are making the right decision. 

For instance, electronics or home appliances are often bought for long-term use and therefore purchased not more than once in at least 6 months to a year.       

Here, a multi-step checkout process means stores collect enough information to customize a better shopping experience and customer service. 

Online stores can also offer complementary products such as installation, extended warranty, or product servicing.       

b. Understanding why 

Research shows that 69% of shoppers — after adding products to cart — then choose to abandon their purchase. 

So delve deeper into your customer and store analytics to understand your cart abandonment rate. By knowing where customers drop off, brands can optimize elements to improve conversions. 

For instance, shoppers are looking to buy a small ticket item. However, there are too many form fields in the checkout. If shoppers have to create an account just to buy something small, they might get irritated and buy it from an online store that lets them check out faster.   

In this scenario, eCommerce brands can enable social log-in to make it more convenient.  

c. What are you competing against 

It’s essential to understand how competitors in your industry execute checkout UX flows. If shoppers find your checkout process tiresome and complicated, they might abandon the cart and instead buy from competitors.  

Be ahead of competitors by optimizing checkout flows to improve conversions. For example, if you sell big-ticket products, it’s probably a good idea to offer the BPNL (buy now, pay later) feature.     

Checkout UX: Multi-step v/s Single-page 

1. Accordion Checkout UX 

Research shows that of the top 100 grossing e-commerce sites, 14% use accordion-style checkouts.

In the accordion-style checkout flow, when the customer completes a step, it collapses and the new step expands. Therefore, the name “accordion”. 

Customers can see only step titles at checkout or the first step already opened. 

There are two ways to execute accordion-type checkout UX, horizontal and vertical. 

a. Horizontal

In a horizontal accordion checkout style, the panels slide horizontally from left to right. 

Most brands try to keep a maximum of four steps in this type of checkout UX. If there are more steps, it makes checkout longer and invalidates the experience.     

Visual elements can add more value to a horizontal accordion checkout UX. A progress bar above the steps lets customers visually understand how many steps are “left”.     

Pros:
  • Horizontal accordion checkout is a popular choice on desktop and tablet screens as there’s more space to occupy. 
  • When eCommerce brands require long forms, it could overwhelm customers. This style of checkout UX allows customers to instantly see the next steps without scrolling.    
Cons:
  • A horizontal accordion often doesn’t let customers review all the information they have added right before they make a payment. This means they have to keep going back and forth to review that all the information is accurate. Instead, when they click back from any step, it takes them out of the checkout process which breaks experience often with data loss.
  • Since this checkout style takes up more space, it’s often difficult to add any complimentary elements such as trust seals and payment icons.  

b. Vertical

In a vertical accordion checkout style, the panels slide vertically like a filter or in drop-down menus. 

Many eCommerce brands execute 3-4 four steps in this type of checkout UX. If there are more steps, it makes checkout longer and invalidates the experience.     

You can add icons to the step titles to add a ‘visual’ element to the experience.  

Pros:
  • A vertical accordion checkout UX is more suitable for mobile screens. Customers can easily navigate between the steps by clicking on the drop-down menu arrows.
  • Information in vertical accordions are also easier to edit and customers can make any unnecessary changes without losing data.       
Cons:
  • A vertical accordion style can add to scrolls. This could dither potential customers from completing the checkout because it takes too long. 
  • Since this checkout style also takes up a lot more space, it’s often difficult to add complimentary elements such as trust seals and payment icons.  

2. Single-page Checkout UX

Single-page checkout UX displays product selection and checkout forms on the same page. 

This reduces the number of pages and clicks to complete payment, resulting in a faster checkout process.

a. One-page 

In one-page checkout UX, customers can enter all the required details on the same page. This approach makes the checkout experience seamless and takes away uncertainty from the process

Pros:
  • One page also encourages a quick checkout as they can enter all the details on the same page.
  • A one-page checkout lets customers review their order summary, shipping details, and terms and conditions all at the same time, saving them the trouble of checking again and again. 
Cons:
  • On one-page checkout, brands need to display a high volume of content on a single page, which can cause the website to load slowly. A slow checkout can turn away potential customers and make them search for the product in your competitor’s store.
  • Since multi-steps are more popular, customers might not find the one-page checkout easy to trust or navigate. A long checkout form can seem clunky and might discourage a customer from making the purchase.
Read more: Best one page checkout pages

b. One-click 

One-click checkout utilizes a default payment and shipping information saved to a customer's account to make a purchase with the click of a single button. 

Since many customers use the same information for most transactions, it can save time and effort. 

Pros:
  • Keystroke exhaustion is a thing. eCommerce stores that have a one-page checkout require their customers to make fewer clicks than customers checking out on a store that has a multi-page checkout. 
  • Customers are familiar with quick and easy mobile checkouts and one-click fits the bill perfectly. 
Cons:
  • Since customers complete payment through 3rd-party apps, it’s difficult to collect information to communicate after a sale.   

Check out UX FAQ

Check out (oh, pun intended) the basics to implement better checkout UX best practices.

1. What is checkout in eCommerce?

Simply put, check out means to pay.

Checkout is a webpage where you order and pay for goods or the process of paying for goods/products.

A couple of facts to establish why the checkout process is important: 

  • average eCommerce checkout conversion rate is 2.12%
  • average eCommerce add-to-cart conversion rate is 6.96%

You'll love this: 19 eCommerce Store Owners Share Checkout Best Practices for 2024

2. What makes a great checkout experience?

A great checkout experience will establish your brand’s presence in a customer’s mind.

If it s confusing to navigate, customers will remember and skip your store the next time. However, a simpler checkout process will urge them to shop again.

Read more: eCommerce Checkout Process Optimization Guide

3. How to optimize the checkout process for mobile?

The key focus lies in offering a frictionless mobile checkout experience to help close the sale. Here are some ways to optimize the mobile checkout experience for your retail business:

- Authenticate payment details promptly

- Many customers use mobile to complete their payments, you can offer an option to scan their card and automatically update the details through character recognition.

- Since most customers use mobile to complete their payments, you can offer an option to scan their card and automatically update the details through character recognition.

- Field labels, inline hints, and error messages go a long way in making filling out the form a breeze for customers, increasing the chances of completing the form as well.

Read further: 20 amazing (& high converting) mobile checkout examples

4. How many steps should online checkout have?

While there’s no right or wrong number to how many checkout steps should be there, as long as the checkout process is smooth and quick to navigate. 

A typical checkout process has around 3 steps – log in or register, add the delivery address and payment details, review the information, and place order

Customers are often familiar with these steps. However, the second step does take more time to fill in details than the other steps. Also, if the customer clicks back, it might cause a loss of data. 

So, you can divide it into 4 steps for easier navigation:

Step 1 - Log in or register

Step 2 - Add the delivery address 

Step 3 - Add payment details

Step 4 - Review the information and place an order

5. What is multi-step checkout?

Multi-step checkout is checkout UX flow in which which the process is carried out over multiple steps. This checkout flow is known to be effective for high-ticket items, for desktop shopping experiences, and to engage consumers who are less tech-savvy or belong to an older demographic segment

6. What is single-page checkout?

Single-page checkout UX displays product selection and checkout forms on the same page. 

This reduces the number of pages and clicks to complete payment, resulting in a faster checkout process.

This checkout flow is effective for small ticket items and impulse buys, as well as engaging with shoppers who are more tech-savvy and often spend their time shopping on mobile.

7. Should you enable guest checkout? 

Research shows that sites that make account creation optional see a 10-30% increase in conversions. To reduce the number of abandonments, stores began to introduce guest checkouts - a way for customers to purchase from stores without leaving any extra information about themselves like shipping/billing address.

The downside? No customer information for future sales campaigns, no access to abandoned carts, and no way to analyze order history. 

However, there are various alternatives to convert guest checkout shoppers into registered customers.

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