Conversion Optimization

Headless checkout: 6 optimization ideas to reduce abandonment (+ 3 tools to use)

Are you considering shifting to headless checkout? Is it right for you? This post answers your questions + shares 3 tools you can use

Headless checkout: 6 optimization ideas to reduce abandonment (+ 3 tools to use)

Customers are disenchanted with traditional eCommerce checkout models. 

It’s evident from Fast’s recent survey that nearly 86% of customers abandon their shopping carts due to the lack of a smooth checkout process. 

why customers abandon shopping carts and don’t checkout
Source

Many customers (72%) purchase a product after seeing a post on social media or being targeted by an ad. About 55% of them said that they’d make the purchase instantly if there was a more integrated way to purchase from the channel they discovered the product on.

The survey further finds that millennials (71%) are highest among all age groups to be more likely to purchase directly from these channels if there was an option to do so. 

With headless checkout, this wish becomes a reality. 

Headless redefines the next phase of eCommerce development by enabling a checkout experience that can happen anywhere. With headless, brands will be able to add shopping capabilities to front-end customer touchpoints that span online and offline, in social interactions, voice, Internet of Things, and much more, while keeping the back-end systems that run the brand’s operations independent of the changes.

In this blog, we discuss why brands need to adopt headless checkout and how they can use it to improve their conversion rates.

What is a headless checkout?

“Headless commerce unbundles the buying interface that the customer usually interacts with (or, “the head”) from the backend that powers it. This means that brands don’t have to have a traditional eCommerce website to sell things. They can make any digital channel shoppable if their checkout is headless.” - Yvan Boisjoli, CEO and Co-Founder, Bold Commerce

Typically when a shopper wants to buy something, they would navigate to the seller’s website, add their desired product to the cart, start the checkout process, and most of the time, just drop off. 

Of the many reasons for cart abandonment, a cumbersome checkout process is the most prevailing with nearly 70% of customers leaving their carts at checkout. That's because they abhor spending a lot of time creating accounts or filling in personal information, payment, and delivery information. So despite the value they’re being offered or the deal they can get on it, they abandon the product. 

Headless checkout is the solution to transform the buyer’s checkout experience and solve the problem of cart abandonment. 

Contrary to traditional online stores where built-in features of the eCommerce platform didn’t allow any change in the store look, headless commerce ushered in a new wave of eCommerce innovation. This resulted in a new form of checkout process called headless checkout.

Headless checkout enables buyers to make purchases from virtually anywhere by separating the checkout and payments experience from online stores. This way, shoppers can buy a product on the spot from a promotional email, a sponsored article, an Instagram post, or through any other digital avenue. 

No redirects to a webpage. Just one click and you’re done. 

By making checkout independent from the platform, online stores can simplify the checkout process by transforming any digital user experience into a unified transaction experience. Moreover, it empowers them to put their checkout literally anywhere and reduces the website’s limitations of selling only from the storefront. 

Retailers can now transform the brand’s shoppable moments into potential revenue streams on any digital channel without modifying the backend functionality or migrating to a new platform.

Headless checkout is a win-win for everyone involved in the eCommerce game: buyers, sellers, and content creators. Buyers get to purchase their items from anywhere without any hassles, sellers are able to generate more revenue than just using their websites, and content creators have an added incentive to sell more products that earn them commissions.

Let’s take a look at 5 ways you can optimize your brand’s headless checkout experience for your customers. 

5 headless checkout optimization ideas for an uninterrupted checkout experience

1. Align customer checkout history across all channels

Customer data is a goldmine of insights, and customer checkout history is no exception. An uninterrupted customer experience begins with insight from these tools. If you're not already using them to track your customers' progress through the checkout funnel, you're missing out on key information that can prove fruitful in building a better checkout experience. The first step to an uninterrupted checkout experience is integrating your customer data into tools that align customer history across all channels.

Customer checkout history is essential for the headless checkout experience. This includes the customer's purchase history, browsing history, and purchase location. Knowing what customers are buying allows retailers to provide them with more customized offers that they might be interested in while browsing on the website or app.

The more information and data a brand has on a customer, the better they can create a personalized experience. 

However, with the ubiquity of online shopping, it is often difficult to keep up with all of the different devices and platforms that customers use to purchase goods. 

To solve this problem, you need to be able to sync your customer’s checkout history across all channels so that you can provide them with a seamless experience.

2. Offer channel-specific checkout experiences

People are using many different channels to buy products. They may use your mobile site, your desktop site, your Facebook site, your Twitter feed, or some combination of all of the above. 

For the most part, these channels all serve up the same checkout experience. ​​If you're thinking about a traditional checkout process, you might want to consider serving up different checkout experiences in different channels. You can customize the checkout experience by adding elements that are appropriate for each channel.

The benefits of a headless checkout are the ability to serve up different checkout experiences in different channels, as well as being able to have a single interface for all your customers. This makes it easy for your customers from anywhere to find what they need because it's all in one place.

Tailor checkout experience by device type and customize checkout flows as per the customer’s previous interactions and checkout history on that channel. 

For instance, if it's a text message or IM chat on your business account on social media then you should include links to shipping options and conversational "chatbot" responses to FAQs. 

If it's a video on YouTube then you might want to include detailed information about the product. Or, your site’s web experience could have a more complex checkout process, whereas on mobile devices it might be preferable to simplify the process by reducing the number of data fields to complete during checkout, display taxes and shipping charges earlier, and add additional conversion points. 

Additionally, headless checkout enables retailers to leverage new channels such as video, voice, social, and augmented reality when conducting commerce. New age retailers are also enabling voice commerce to order groceries or buy outfits while doing video streaming. By connecting customer journeys across all channels, headless checkout facilitates the purchase process when the customer is most engaged with the product. 

3. Offer a buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) experience

One of the biggest benefits of headless checkout is that it provides a seamless and uninterrupted checkout experience for your customers. One way you can create this experience for shoppers is by offering a buy-online pickup in-store (BOPIS) experience. 

BOPIS is the ultimate customer experience for retail stores. It offers customers the convenience of picking up items at their local store while providing retailers the opportunity to increase sales. Customers are more likely to buy when they can see and touch an item, so BOPIS also gives them this chance.

More and more customers would like to buy online and pick up in-store when it is convenient for them. By offering the BOPIS experience, retailers can prove they are more flexible in their customer service and increase conversions. 

The BOPIS experience is one of the best headless checkout optimization ideas because it provides a seamless user experience across online and offline channels. Consumers don't have to worry about going into a store and waiting in line, or getting home and then going back to the store for pickup. The BOPIS experience eases the customer's burden, saves their time, and keeps them from being interrupted by something as seemingly minor as going to the store.

4. Offer a see-it-buy-it checkout experience

One of the main reasons for abandoning shopping carts is that it takes too long to check out. If customers are not confident that they will be able to complete their checkout quickly, they will leave the site or app and go elsewhere. There are many ways to make your checkout experience more streamlined. 

It is possible to speed up the process of buying products, removing the need for customers to wait in long queues or fumble with their wallets. The best way to do this is by making every touchpoint a checkout experience without depending on the traditional eCommerce platforms or in-store checkouts.

Make every customer touchpoint a checkout experience without depending on the traditional eCommerce platforms or in-store checkouts. Help customers buy the moment they see a product in the middle of any activity on any channel. 

Every customer touchpoint should be a checkout experience without depending on traditional eCommerce platforms or in-store checkouts. This means that you'll need to promote the opportunity to buy on every device and on every page of your website. You can also try to create innovative products that eliminate the need for checkout altogether, like Wishlist or direct checkouts on product or review pages.

5. A/B test multiple checkout experiences without affecting the backend

Optimizing a checkout process in a shopping cart can be difficult. You want to ensure that the customer has an easy and efficient experience, but you also want to make sure that the process is easy for your employees. 

One way to do this is with A/B testing. In this approach, 2 variations of the checkout process are created and tested against each other randomly with a split of traffic going to one or the other. The test can be done without affecting backend functionality by simply sending shoppers from the home page to the variation they were randomly assigned to at the checkout.

Headless checkout optimization work by changing the user experience without changing the backend logic. This means that you can A/B test multiple checkouts without affecting your backend, which gives you a lot of flexibility to experiment with different checkout experiences.

For example, Zalora increased its checkout rate by 12.3% by optimizing its CTA button on its product pages. After running the tests, the brand concluded that test 1 was more successful in generating purchases than test 2. 

Zalora A/B Test

Testing checkout optimization ideas is a great way to improve the experience for your customers. Testing multiple checkout experiences is easier than ever with user-centric design tools from Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer. These tools let you A/B test different checkout pages without breaking your backend so you can measure how your customers navigate through your website in real-time.

Keep in mind that when testing, focus on the user's needs, not on feelings or opinions. You often can tell when a test is successful by watching for changes in conversion rates over time, but be careful to take all factors into consideration when making decisions. Check with your backend team to determine any challenges they might face for varying A/B tests of front-end experiences.

6. Introduce a 1-click checkout experience

In 2021, more than 70% of online shopping orders were abandoned. Among many reasons for cart abandonment, 1 major reason was lengthy checkout forms which forced customers to enter too much information, making them reconsider their purchase altogether. 

With more consumers shifting their shopping habits online, online retailers are constantly looking for ways to optimize the online shopping experience - especially on ways to speed up the checkout process and make it as frictionless as possible. 

One of the most popular checkout optimization ideas is to introduce a 1-click checkout experience. This has been proven to dramatically reduce cart abandonment rates and increase conversion rates. With this, customers can log in to their account and then select all items that they want to purchase in just a few clicks.

A 1-click checkout uses the default payment credentials and shipping details that the customer had entered when purchasing for the first time and saves it to the customer account. Since most customers keep using the same information for future purchases, it reuses this data for subsequent purchases, turning the whole checkout process into a single button click. 

A 1-click checkout process not only improves sales and customer lifetime value by treating purchase-ready customers like repeat customers but also converts them right at the point of discovery. 

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3 tools you can use to perfect the headless checkout process

The top eCommerce brands achieve 73.2% and 65.3% checkout completion rates on desktop and mobile respectively. That’s almost double that of the low-performing brands. 

Checkout completion rates of eCommerce sites on desktop and mobile
Source

Amazon was one of the 1st companies to envision headless checkout with their “Buy now with 1-Click” feature. They even had a patent on the technology in 1999 that’s expired now. However, a lot of brands have innovated since then to match up with Amazon’s innovation and reduce friction during the checkout process. 

1-click checkout by Amazon
Source

Here’s a list of 3 tools that can help you achieve checkout completion rates like the top 25% of brands:  

1. Bolt

Founded in 2014, Bolt has pioneered the headless checkout approach by building a 1-click checkout mechanism for any digital touchpoint shoppers want to buy from. This approach has helped them transform 1-click checkout experiences across all platforms: both headless and traditional commerce and amass more than 10 million shoppers globally.

Bolt’s checkout UI enables a customer to navigate through checkout effortlessly and in half the usual time without any redirects or page loads. It allows the customer to experience a seamless and standardized process while providing the flexibility to bring together various retailer platforms and architectures together. 

2. Fast

Fast headless checkout enables consumers to buy a product at the discovery touchpoint in just one click, either by choosing the option ‘Fast Checkout’ directly from a product review page or an advertisement, or by scanning a QR code. It eliminates any redirects to web pages which prompt the buyer to undergo a long and cumbersome checkout flow.  With one click, the whole process is done. 

Merchants can use Fast’s headless checkout mechanism to instantly sell products through the online and mobile advertising channels they already rely on. Promising assured security, the feature is true to its name: it works speedily and streamlines the online buying process.

Fast headless checkout can be used in: 

  • Publisher articles and display ads
  • In-person events: By allowing event participants to scan and purchase merchandise instantly from their seats.
  • Connected TV: By facilitating shopping through QR codes within ads on TV networks and content provider apps.

3. Skipify

Skipify is another headless checkout tool that empowers customers to buy directly from various marketing channels like blog posts, reviews, emails, texts, display ads, and more. Skipify believes that there are numerous moments in the shopper funnel where people can make a purchase: it could be a core merchant’s website or a product advertised in an email. 

Recently, Skipify has also partnered with Google to enable its service within Gmail, in an attempt to turn emails into shoppable avenues and empower merchants to create shoppable emails. The tool enables anyone to buy from inside the email and increases the size of your brand’s sales funnel significantly. 

Conclusion

There are numerous digital customer touchpoints that will redefine commerce and can be leveraged only by headless technology. 

With headless commerce, brands will be able to identify and add a seamless checkout experience at touch points where consumers are most engaged with retailers in their shopping journey. This will provide consumers with more options and place them at the forefront of any purchase decisions, lead to an increase in conversions and build customer loyalty.

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