69% of all eCommerce visitors abandon their shopping cart.
The reasons range from lengthy checkout process to not trusting the website with their payment information.
This also has a bearing on the cart to checkout conversion rate or the number of people who move towards checkout against those who only add to cart.
With the average checkout conversion rate stuck at 2.12% and shoppers spending less, online stores are struggling.
In this article on eCommerce checkout best practices, we'll cover:
24 Ways to Optimize Your eCommerce Checkout Process
1. Introduce a progress bar
A progress bar is an absolute must for a multi-page checkout scenario.
A free shipping progress bar with clever copy can make shoppers move towards a higher AOV and reduce checkout abandonment.
2. Implement guest checkout (but collect info)
Sometimes customers want to make a quick purchase.
These could be first-time customers who came through ad campaigns—and you don’t want to turn them away by asking to make a profile before purchase.
Therefore, offer guest checkout.
This can have a significant impact on checkout completion rate since it creates less friction.
However, you’d want your customers to sign up as soon as you can.
See how Crate & Barrel collects customer information post purchase.
3. Make it easy to review and edit changes
Among the most crucial eCommerce checkout best practices is the easy review/edit option.
Customers will thank you for it because it allows them to change their mind.
Interestingly, the ability to choose can in fact make them move towards checkout—improving the cart to checkout conversion rate in the process.
Here’s how Etsy makes reviewing and editing changes super easy on their checkout page.
4. Use the “auto” features
The customer is in a hurry, and would like to make the least amount of effort to get the ball rolling.
Auto-fill & auto-suggest become especially relevant for saving time on address fields and enjoying a faster checkout.
See how JC Penny auto-applies discount code for improving checkout experience.
5. Show up errors quickly
Using form field validation is a crucial best practice when you're trying to improve your checkout completion rate.
This makes sure the shopper knows they’ve missed a field or has put in too much information.
While this may not seem important, it helps shoppers checkout faster and with more ease.
6. Opt for a single-page checkout
A single or a multi-page checkout? The jury’s out on this one.
It depends on the kind of online store you run.
For example, a furniture retailer with a high AOV saw a 38% hike in conversions from the multi-page checkout compared to the single-page.
On the other hand, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Store changed its multi-step layout to single-page and saw a 21.8% hike in conversions.
We love The Shoe Company's one page checkout because it considerably improves the checkout experience:
7. Show a cost summary
Customers don’t like surprises at the checkout page other than discounts.
And most checkout abandonment happens at this stage because of surprise costs.
So, break down the total price into the subtotal, applicable taxes, surcharges, delivery cost, and the final cart value.
See how the following checkout page shows the entire breakdown when a customer is filling out their shipping details.
8. Set up a neat FAQ section or link to it
Shoppers might hesitate before purchasing a product especially if it's high-ticket product or if the product requires extra care.
That's where an FAQ section can come in handy to create a seamless eCommerce checkout experience.
You can choose to showcase a FAQ content block section at the bottom like below (or boldly link to your detailed checkout page):
9. Offer secure payment info capturing (for repeat customers)
Checkout abandonment often quickly spikes at the final stage because shoppers feel unsafe about parting with financial info.
While securing payments and related info, here are a few ways:
- Use tokenization to avoid revealing a card’s PAN and instead generating a unique thread of numbers to finalize the payment
- Ensure fraud protection
- Implement third-party secure payment forms
- Make encrypted payments mandatory
For repeat customers, offer the option of saving a payment method to improve the checkout experience.
When they return the next time, they can use this method to automatically pay up.
10. Set up gifting options
When customers are shopping for others or a special occasion, offering a gift wrapping option can successfully prevent checkout abandonment.
See how Nordstrom does it to improve their website's checkout rate:
They offer a gift box, tissue paper, ribbon, and a tag in their ‘Gift Kit’ worth $2.
You might like: 35 Stunning Examples of Checkout Pages
11. Tell them that loyalty counts
We take it that many love your loyalty program.
You’ve also done the right thing by featuring it on your homepage, category pages and product pages.
But you’re missing out on a BIG opportunity if you don’t highlight how it can help when a potential customer is about to buy.
Just feature how many points or what kind of rewards they’ll earn on the checkout page.
This can also improve your cart to checkout conversion rate since a loyalty reward acts as an incentive to finish the process.
See how to do it:
12. Make the sign-up benefits pop
This will create ease for those who have clicked “checkout” instead of “checkout as a guest.”
To optimize this misstep, ensure you call out the benefits of getting a free account.
But to reduce checkout abandonment, ensure you also offer a link to “checkout as a guest.”
This is how Sephora manages to make people checkout smoothly and also sign up in the process:
13. Subtle recommendations (not more than one)
Shoppers have now seen enough of Amazon’s cross-selling examples, including “Frequently bought together” and “Customers also like” invites.
However, like many online stores, you might recommend on product pages as well.
Here's how you can add product recommendations on the checkout page without being too pushy:
14. Engage with them right after checkout
There's no better time to engage with a customer than immediately after they've checked out.
Why? They’re still in the zone where your brand is on the top of their mind.
And that’s why they can be a GREAT lead to build on with upsell, downsell, and cross-sell strategies.
See how M&S engages with a loyalty card and even a discount code for guest checkout—and this makes the customer look forward to shopping again.
15. Feature varied payment options
A report shows that 56% of shoppers believe a website should provide a variety of payment methods during checkout.
For instance, if a credit card offers them reward points or airline miles, they’d want to use it every time they make a purchase online.
Giving them multiple payment options can improve the checkout experience considerably and also increase your checkout completion rate.
See how Natori does it on their eCommerce checkout page:
16. Offer multiple shipping options
When you’re improving the checkout experience, offer control to shoppers on delivery speed.
See how Lululemon offers delivery options to improve website checkout rates:
17. Offer samples
Sampling has been a customer-favorite strategy for decades.
For beauty brands, samples are a great starting point for later repeat purchases.
If your margins aren’t that high, consider making your prices slightly higher to accommodate for samples.
Featuring samples often nudges customers to move from cart to checkout.
See how Sephora features 2 samples on every order in an attempt to reduce checkout abandonment:
18. Display social proof
Social proof is a big reason why people believe in eCommerce brands and their products.
Sprinkle them across your high-intent pages and most likely, you’ll have a number of potential customers see why your brand should be their choice.
Here’s an example of what it can look like:
19. Use trust badges
Adding security badges on the checkout page will boost customer trust and reduce checkout abandonment.
Let’s admit it—online fraud is still very real.
In fact, from a mere $9.84 billion in 2011, global payments fraud shot up to $32.39 billion in 2020.
Trust seals like McAfee, Norton, and e-trust badges signify a checkout process is secure & trustworthy.
This makes shoppers want to go through checkout completion.
20. Make customer support information self-evident
69% of online carts are abandoned by existing customers.
And that brings us to one of the most underrated eCommerce checkout best practices: feature customer support.
The idea is to have customers believe they can still reach out for help without needing to go back in the funnel.
Bonobos makes customer support option easy to find:
21. Make the live chat button SUPER visible
As the customer makes the critical decision of going ahead with the purchase, they may need a little more instant support.
The live chat option resolves immediate challenges unlike a toll free number (which relies on connection, time zone etc.) and email.
It's one big reason the cart to checkout conversion rate improves.
22. Bring mobile responsiveness into the design
Making your flow mobile responsive is clearly one of the important eCommerce checkout best practices.
Here are a few aspects that makes a checkout page mobile responsive:
- Designed for touch (therefore taps) and NOT clicks
- The checkout process is broken down into multiple short pages (ideally, with a progress bar visible)
- Essential graphics like logos and trust badges hosted on CDN
- CTA buttons with slight gradients (to make them appear more tappable
23. Feature HD thumbnail images
If the product page is about the decision to add items to the cart, the checkout page is about deciding whether one wants to go ahead with paying.
Hence, from a UX standpoint, it’s a good idea to offer customers visual cues of what they are about to spend on.
However, because space and other priorities like address & payment are considerations, thumbnail versions of high quality images are ideal.
7 checkout page mistakes to avoid
1. Recommendation engines throwing up flawed results
By now, we all know how powerful product recommendations are.
While it’s best to not offer product recommendations at checkout, you’ll not be able to contain checkout abandonment if the displayed recommendations are non-personalized.
2. Ignoring buyer identity
In order to optimize your checkout page based on buyer identity, reflect on the following:
- Is the customer a return customer and has already saved their personal information before?
- Do they have a history of interacting with product recommendations?
- Do they qualify for an automatic discount?
- Are they from a different location from that of the regional location of your business/brand?
- Does their profile match with those who have a habit of going through customer reviews?
Once you have clarity, you can bring relevant eCommerce checkout best practices into the fold.
3. Not making assisted shopping a priority
In working with over 500 clients across the world, we’ve noticed that it’s not always possible to predict what questions or challenges a customer would face.
This is where assisted shopping can take out the doubt from the big picture.
Introducing assisted shopping through a detailed FAQ page link (highlighted for easy spotting), a live chat feature and toll free helpline number can be value-adds.
Ensure the icon, link or section is instantly accessible to the customer checking out—any guesswork will cause friction.
4. Featuring just one language option
If you want to contain checkout abandonment, you’ll have to stop assuming everyone understands English.
Leverage geolocation and pick up the customer’s location automatically to show the right language.
Fresh pet food brand Butternut Box, for example, enables updation of both region & language settings.
(You too can do thIS based on which regions you would be catering to.)
5. Hiding charges that buyers need to know
Baymard Institute’s data reveals that 16% of the respondents abandoned the checkout process because they couldn’t see the total cost upfront.
Since an additional fee like shipping is usually dependent on the location a product is being sent to, declare it up front by stating “shipping will be calculated based on location.”
Even if there’s an applicable discount, make sure you make your cost summary sensitive to price updations for shoppers to go through checkout completion.
6. Cross-selling & upselling beyond preferred price points
You’ll need to resolve instances where the product recommendations carry prices beyond 10%-50% of the customer’s budget.
This is an underrated eCommerce checkout best practice critical for higher conversions.
7. Not showing prices in local currencies
Most eCommerce platforms allow you to make changes either to the API or the dashboard to create multi-currency preferences.
Leverage this to avoid customers spending a great deal of time doing back and forth on calculating costs, and then abandoning their cart midway.
Some Quick FAQs
1. Why do shoppers abandon shopping carts?
2. What is a good add-to-cart rate?
Most eCommerce stores have an average add-to-cart rate of about 5%.
A favorable range is between 10.7% (best-performing) and 1.8% (worst-performing).
Some common problems with low add-to-cart rates include:
- Pricing (transparency is of utmost importance here)
- Images (best to have quality product photos!)
- Returns (most customers need easy returns from eCommerce brands)
- Delivery (best to have a range of options)
- Payment (look into EMI options and PayPal checkout)
3. What is a good checkout rate?
The average checkout completion rate (i.e. the % of checkouts that result in a purchase) is 47.0%.
Anything above 62.6% puts you in the top 20% of eCommerce stores.
Anything below 30% puts you in the bottom 20%.
What does this mean?
If your checkout completion rate is above 62.6%, your checkout is quick, smooth, and efficient.
However, if your checkout completion rate is less than 30%, you may have to allot your resources to improve (and optimize) your checkout.
You should look at stuff like payment options, delivery & return policy, number of form fields, etc.
4. How do I generate higher cart value with each transaction?
Simply put, increasing the cart value with each transaction comes from a careful balance between customer retention and upselling.
Here’s how you achieve that:
- Use 404’s to display compatible alternatives & upgrade the deal
- Offer a minimum value threshold for free shipping
- Display alternative products with better ratings
- Use pop-ups to offer a limited-time offer on an upsell
- Offer regular customers access to exclusive deals and upgrades
- Have complementary cross-sell features for bestselling products & services
5. How do I optimize my checkout page?
The checkout page is a crucial final step. Don’t overcomplicate it; instead, optimize it as the final nudge.
- Be upfront with all costs (hidden fees are a big no-no
- Help customers update their carts right from the checkout page
- Offer Subscribe & Save options
- Be upfront about delivery timelines
- Use the checkout page to cross-sell (& upsell)
- Maintain urgency in getting customers to checkout
Use the checkout page to not only close a deal but also keep customers coming back for more.
6. How can I simplify the checkout process?
When it comes to checkout, customers want to be able to do it without having to think too much. The easier it is, the more likely they are to finish the process.
Here are some quick things you can do to simplify your checkout:
- Simplify your forms (3 - 5 form fields are ideal)
- Enable autofill & autocomplete options for quick checkout
- Look into guest checkout (& PayPal checkout)
- Keep promo codes at easy access
7. What makes a good checkout page?
Here are a few elements of a high-converting checkout page, one that will prevent checkout abandonment:
- An aesthetically pleasing layout
- Quick & efficient checkout processes
- Editable cart (and cross-sell nudges)
- Upfront details on delivery & payment options
- Trust seals and reviews
- Company policy prominently displayed
- Customer care details & work hours
That said, it's important to not only have an efficient checkout page but an optimized checkout flow.
A good checkout flow is one that makes customers feel confident and safe, making them more likely to buy if they've shopped on the site before.
8. How do you design an eCommerce checkout flow that converts?
There are a lot of things to consider when designing your eCommerce checkout flow: user experience, product selection flow, add-to-cart button, and more.
It’s also important to consider the experience for mobile and ensure that 79% of mobile-using customers are catered to.
Here are some ways to optimize the eCommerce checkout flow:
- Authenticate payment details promptly
- Simplify navigation (bring in breadcrumbs to keep track)
- Nudge customers to the final step (field labels & inline hints go a long way)
- Enable one-page checkout for a quicker process at the end
9. How do I get more add-to-cart?
You need to showcase what sets you apart from your competition.
This can be through witty copy, excellent images, or a truly unique value proposition.
It can also be through an efficient website, super smooth UI, and quick checkout options.
Another great way to increase your add-to-cart rate is by highlighting your community.
Make social media a big part of your content strategy; put reviews in easily accessible areas of your website; and have fun with your community.
10. Why do people initiate checkout but not purchase?
- They see too many options (and get overwhelmed)
- The checkout is too complicated (and they don't have as much time to spend on it
- They see an error message (that they can't seem to make sense of)
- Something set them off (maybe it was the design or some copy you've used)
- They don't feel strongly enough about the purchase (and don't feel a need to go ahead with it)
- Or simply, they got distracted and forgot about it
Bringing in some of the eCommerce checkout best practices we’ve mentioned in this post can be valuable in reducing checkout abandonment.
11. Why is the checkout process so important?
It's the part of your website where customers make the final decision, choose to spend their money on your products, and determine whether they’re getting enough value.
The explanation is simple — a positive experience on the checkout page can have a huge impact on whether or not people return to shop again.
To optimize the checkout experience, optimize UX
98% of visitors who visit an eCommerce site—drop off without buying anything.
Why: user experience issues that cause friction for visitors.
And this is the problem Convertcart solves.
We've helped 500+ eCommerce stores (in the US) improve user experience—and 2X their conversions.
How we can help you:
Our conversion experts can audit your site—identify UX issues, and suggest changes to improve conversions.