ecommerce checkout process optimization guide

eCommerce Checkout Process
Optimization Guide

User experience, best practices, mistakes-to-avoid, examples, and more.


Many eCommerce brands think that once customers ‘proceed to checkout’ and go to the checkout page, the job is done.

Designing a checkout page might seem simple.

The most common components? Product list, price summary, billing and shipping information, and payment options.

But, it’s really not that simple. Because customers can still abandon ship due to various reasons.

That’s why we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to improving checkout conversion rates.

Check it out (pun, absolutely intended)

What is checkout in eCommerce?

So, does checkout mean to pay?

Technically, yes.

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


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

In between is the dreaded zone of cart abandonment — and there are several reasons your customers are leaving without buying.

That’s why the checkout process is so important.

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.

How can you improve the checkout experience?

Everyone will tell you the faster the checkout process, the better results.

The checkout might be the last stage in the sales cycle, but it s the step that leaves a lasting impression. Customers expect a quick and easy buying process. That s why it s important to tap into their needs and decrease cart abandonment rates.

See how you can set apart your checkout processes from the rest.

1. Absolutely avoid hidden costs

Customers don’t like surprises on the checkout page other than discounts. They like to know the costs upfront including the subtotal, applicable taxes, surcharges, delivery cost, and the final cart value.

If you include a couple of fees right before the checkout, customers will drop off, causing a decline in conversions. You need to be transparent to customers about the breakdown of costs early in the checkout process.

Nike is a good example here. They show the entire breakdown at an early stage when a customer is filling out their shipping details


2. Simplify your forms

You don’t want customers to turn away because of too many questions. They’ve made up their mind to purchase and asking them too many questions can lead them to abandon their cart.

Ask yourself what information is necessary for customers to complete the checkout. Keep those fields mandatory. Leave the rest to the customer’s discretion.

Research shows that websites with lesser form fields have a better chance to increase their website checkout rate.

Simplify your forms

Make sure to ask for only as much information as you need to complete a transaction.

Also: look into data validation & auto-complete options. If you need a customer's name during the shipping details and payment process, rather than asking them twice, use the auto-fill option on Chrome and Safari that fills the details by itself.

Say, a customer’s billing and shipping address are the same. Instead of asking them to fill it twice, have a checkbox below indicating the details, which they can tap for the details to be auto-filled.

This reduces the number of steps in the process and increases the likelihood of checkout.

3. Always autofill (or autocomplete) for shoppers

No one likes filling out information to make a purchase. Least of all the returning customers who have already given their information before.

So how can you make it easy for them? Set up a form that can auto-fill their information.

Whether it’s their name, email ID, contact number, or shipping address—everything can be saved when they make a purchase the first time.

It becomes more convenient with tools that can look up the address of the customers based on their postal code and auto-fill it.

Always autofill (or autocomplete) for shoppers

This reduces the number of steps in the process and makes it easier for customers to keep going until they complete the transaction.

4. Help customers update as they please

Give customers the flexibility to change their minds and remove items from the cart. At the same time, make it easy for them to continue shopping after they’ve added items to the cart.

Flash Tattoos shows a pop-up window after a customer adds an item to the cart. Customers can either proceed to checkout or continue shopping from here on.

Flash Tattoos

Erdem does it on a single-page layout. Instead of showing a pop-up window, they notify users about the cart details when they are still on the product page.


5. Keep promo codes at easy access

Picture this. You’ve scored a customer, they’ve added products to their cart, and are on the checkout page BUT they see no coupon codes, discounts, or offers. What do they do? Search for a coupon code externally (which can take a while & end up frustrating them) or sign off and abandon their cart.

This is a reality for a ton of eCommerce businesses — very likely including yours — since 46% of customers leave because their discount code didn’t work.

So, don’t do that. Keep your promo codes easily accessible. Ensure they’re available on the checkout page itself. After all, why would you want engaged customers to go off that page?

Take a note from Lord & Taylor. See how easy it is for a customer to actually make a saving AND check out?

Keep promo codes at easy access

6. Offer guest checkout

Sometimes customers want to make a quick purchase. These could be the first-time customers got directed from ad campaigns—and you don’t want to turn them away by asking to make a profile before purchase.

It’s counterproductive for your business. A study found that asking people to make an account first is the second most common reason for cart abandonment.

Take a leaf out of Walmart’s marketing strategy below. They allow visitors to checkout without creating an account, thus, attracting more visitors.


We do get that at some point you’d want your customers to sign up. After all, that’s how you can get their information to target them for future purchases.

You’d want to know about their preferences, dislikes, and behaviors to spin a marketing strategy. We get all of that.

And you know the best way to do it? Check out how Nike gets customers to sign up.

They offer free delivery to members who sign up. People would spend a few minutes making an account if they’re saving money in return.


7. Offer Subscribe & Save options

Amazon is one of the most popular brands known for its Subscribe & Save offer. Here’s what it constitutes:


This worked phenomenally for the brand and actually helped improve their Customer Lifetime Value. And it might just be for you too.

Subscriptions continue to be the latest trend in eCommerce – from beauty products to coffee or even dog food – subscriptions have been taking off.

Being able to offer a subscription option with all of your products can provide tremendous benefits to your customers and can lead to boosted sales.

When shopping online, many consumers are looking for the best deal possible and subscriptions allow them to receive discounts for some time in exchange for automatic shipping and regular deliveries.

For businesses, it’s a great way to connect with their customers and build long-lasting relationships.

8. Be upfront about delivery dates

The second most important factor when checking out online is providing estimated delivery dates & shipping costs early in the process.

You want to provide instant gratification to customers every single time. Providing an estimated or guaranteed delivery date will tell them when they can expect the order, fulfilling their need to know.

Take a leaf out of Amazon’s rulebook. They tell you when you can expect the order if you decide to buy a product in a stipulated time frame


9. Throw in supplementary items during checkout

The truth is that most customers shop with a purpose: they’re very likely buying something for a certain reason — and they would be interested in other products that are good for the occasion.

For example, if they’re buying a sports t-shirt, they’d likely also be interested in joggers, shoes, or accessories.

And that’s what you’ve got to bank on, like Under Armour does here.

When you build an entire picturesque ensemble for that purpose, it gets them excited and they’re more likely to check o

Under Armour

10. Express the urgency

Want more checkouts? Get them to hurry up and not think twice.

A great way to do that is with urgency tactics. Marketers have used urgency tactics for years to increase conversions.

People respond to emotion. So, when we’re a little more emotional (for example, at the end of a sale), we’re much more likely to make impulsive decisions.

Urgency tactics are persuasion triggers that rely on scarcity and deadlines, like in this example from Debenhams.


Urgency tactics don’t have to be limited to a certain time frame. You can also use urgency about the danger of missing out or scarcity, building on the feeling of FOMO. These are great with limited edition deals, Selling Out Fast tags, and Sold Out in X Days reminders.


Your eCommerce checkout flow can become a solid reason for either lost customers or skyrocketing conversions. Of course, you’d want it to be the latter.

Work from reverse, i.e. optimizing the checkout flow to get the most bang for your buck.

Make effective changes: 40 brilliant insights to increase your website’s checkout rate

How do you optimize the checkout process for mobile?

In 2020, mobile payments in eCommerce stores grew by 29% in the US.

The key focus lies in offering a frictionless mobile checkout experience to help close the sale.

One of the most important aspects of that is the mobile payments page. The more user-friendly the mobile payments page, the more likely it will be for sales to close.

mobile payments ecommerce store

The good news? Mobile payments are growing in popularity. In fact, the market value of mobile payments is anticipated to reach $12.6 trillion by 2027.

Some of the common reasons for low mobile checkout conversion rates are:

  • lack of a secure checkout process
  • product details not clearly visible
  • difficult navigation
  • no option to compare products/prices etc.
  • difficulty in updating customer information

Here are some ways to optimize the mobile checkout experience for your retail business:

1) Authenticate payment details promptly

Route payments through payment arbiters. With the presence of arbiters like ApplePay and PayPal, customers can easily purchase products without having to re-enter their card details every single time. They help make the payment process more efficient and less risky. Moreover, they offer customers greater control over their data and identity.

Use biometric identification to offer another layer of security. This helps shoppers access their payment information securely and rapidly. They also reduce unnecessary friction during the payment process.

2) Simplify checkout experience with mobile navigation

Utilize customized keypads when entering sensitive information. Instead of the usual system keyboard, using a customized keypad to enter authorization codes, passcodes, or patterns keeps the checkout process more secure. This way, it deters fraudulent programs from accessing your touch coordinates.

Avoid manual data entry with a card scan method. 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.

Auto-detect their geographical location and address. You can do this by asking for their pin code and then pulling up the city and state through API.

3) Nudge customers to proceed to checkout

Adding a progress bar improves your mobile form UX immensely since it helps shoppers to estimate how much time it’ll take for them to complete. They’ll also feel less frustrated about sharing the details as they have an end goal in sight.

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

These are called ‘microcopy’ or small blocks of text that help users complete an action or offer context to help them perform a task.

A clear and concise microcopy on your mobile payment forms can help users get an overview of what data they need to fill in and how to complete filling them. This makes the form far less overwhelming to them.

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

What checkout page mistakes should you avoid?

What checkout page mistakes should you avoid?

A study found that the average cart abandonment rate across all eCommerce industries is nearly 69.82%, meaning only three in ten shoppers will buy.

Baymard Institute reported that sellers lose $260 billion of recoverable money due to checkout flows and design flaws.

1. Offering too many cross-sell options at checkout triggers choice paralysis

Shoppers don’t always know what they want, so product recommendations can go a long way to helping you boost sales.

Giving shoppers options could help them make quicker and more informed buying decisions. Ironically, the more choices they have, the less likely they’ll buy.

And it’s based on buyer psychology.

Hick's law says the time it takes to decide depends on the number of available choices. Too many options could become a cognitive burden, triggering choice paralysis and making the sales journey unnecessarily longer.

Offer only a small number of cross-selling products, limiting it to between two and five items.

The rule of three suggests that a trio of events or words grouped into threes are more appealing or effective than other numbers. Also, three is the smallest number needed to create a pattern.

Three is the magic number, but four is not bad either.

Bliss cross-sells multiple products but displays them in a set of fours, making their options less overwhelming. In addition, shoppers can use the navigation arrow to reveal more options.

Offering too many cross-sell options

2. Not flaunting your sales activity (if it’s happening)

Humans love to follow the crowd. It is a natural, evolutionary trait.

The desire to belong is so strong that people often conform to a group consensus even when it's against their judgment.

People conform to group behavior for various reasons, including:

  • Need to win approval
  • The belief that everyone cannot be wrong on the same thing at the same time
  • Fear of missing out (FOMO)

Showing live notifications of sales as they happen can have a bandwagon effect. Shoppers see it as social validation and are more open to buying.


Live sales notifications play on shoppers' fear of missing out and reinforce social validation to persuade them to complete their purchases. Rafflepress believes that live sales alerts can boost sales on eCommerce websites by up to 15 percent.

However, fake sales alerts are a colossal mistake. Shoppers can see through the charade, and you won't want them to see you as untrustworthy.

3. Offering cross-sell offers outside the 10% to 50% range

Cross-selling products that are above customers' budget is a huge mistake.

The price of the product they add to the cart can give you an easy clue of how much they're willing to spend. Suggesting products within their budget will stand a chance to convert, and we recommend products between 10% to 50% of the main product’s price.

Anything higher than that price range is tempting fate.

Of course, recommending a $100 product to a shopper that added a $10 item to the cart is a big ask. It doesn’t even make sense. It’s one of the easiest ways to lose the sale.

Several top eCommerce brands have made this mistake, and you shouldn't. Macy's probably understands how ineffective the practice is, so it often recommends products that have comparable prices with the items buyers added to the cart.

For instance, the brand suggested clothes with prices ranging between $33.99 to $64.75 when I added a $53.70 Charter Club Petite Gingham-Print Midi Dress to my cart.


Below is the product I added to my cart.


You'd notice Macy's cross-sold dresses that are within the price range of the main item. Here’s another example from The Iconic. They cross-sell items I might like right on the checkout notification popup; you’ll notice that their prices remain within the product’s 10% to 50% range.


This website has products that sell for significantly higher but won’t show them on this page, knowing the conversions won’t be high.

4. Ignoring assisted shopping (where possible)

Customers could get distracted, confused, or need a little nudge when completing their checkout.

So, you don't want to leave them feeling stranded at those critical moments. Here comes assisted eCommerce. Enabling assisted shopping throughout the buying journey streamlines customer experience, making shopping more convenient and fun.

Make a human customer service agent available or use a chatbot to assist shoppers in real time and provide support without interrupting the experience.

Also, virtual assistants can guide them through their buying journey and provide hyper-personalized product recommendations.

LuckyVitamin uses assisted shopping to make sure buyers complete their purchases. The health and wellness brand provides helplines right on its uncluttered checkout page.

Shoppers can get instant help through these channels:

  • Phone call
  • Chatbot
  • FAQ for self-assisted customer support
lucky vitamin

During Alibaba's 2019 Global shopping festival, Tmall Genie's voice shopping feature generated over a million sales, thus highlighting the importance of assisted commerce.

5. Violating tax laws when selling to international buyers

Violating tax regulations is a crime, and you won’t want a face-off with the law.

Make sure you comply with local tax laws. Some countries will require you to pay taxes on the products you ship into the country, including customs fees.

So even if you offer free shipping worldwide, ensure you take care of any taxes or let buyers know they’ll pay charges the product might incur from arriving at the country's port.

Belroy ensured shoppers from Brazil knew of the customs charge that comes with using express shipping to Brazil.


Not disclosing your product as a sale might get your buyer on the wrong side of the law, making you lose brand loyalty with them and reducing your chance of repeat sales.

Taxes and tariffs can significantly add to the product costs. Set clear expectations by detailing these additional fees and the final price payable by the customer. Consider using third-party fulfillment services to reduce shipping costs and delivery time and improve operating efficiency.

If you want to take this point seriously, hire an experienced eCommerce lawyer to help you take care of any international commerce complexities.

6. Forcing the local language on all site visitors from a country

Not all 30 million tourists who visit Paris speak French. However, that doesn't mean they won't find services in a language they understand.

In the same fashion, users love eCommerce sites that they can read and understand, and this is not only about the English language.

Make your site design responsive to buyers so they can change languages if the default site language is different from the one they understand. A multilingual website means more customers, and more customers equal higher conversion.

Since most eCommerce businesses are buying into this, you must step up your game and build your site to reach broader markets by making it available in several languages.

iHerb caters to its international buyers—the eCommerce brand supports up to 17 languages, allowing customers to shop in their local languages.


7. Not using the scarcity principle to drive urgency

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is one of the primary drivers of impulse buys. But what’s interesting is that consumers like impulse buying.

In one study, 72% of respondents said impulse buying improved their mood.

So, you’re doing a good thing when you use a message that triggers buyers to act on the spot.

Using phrases like "3 items left" and "5 people are looking at this item” helps them get decisive. Copies like that also remind the buyer that the product might be off the shelf soon, so they must make a decision now.


See the “Update,” in this example below, warning buyers that the product is selling out fast.

And then, there’s the time pressure created with the countdown timer, plus the “6 items left” notification on the timer to send a clear message to the buyer to either buy now or miss out.

The mix of a discount offer and time pressure would make it hard for shoppers to ignore the deal.


However, please don't abuse this tactic or lie about your sales performance or product availability.

And don't take it too far. If your product doesn't have this sales activity, don't display it. Employ other legitimate tactics. Why? You can lose buyer trust and brand equity and get yourself in trouble with the law.

For example, the online ticket seller, Viagogo, attracted the attention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) when it falsified its marketing message by abusing this tactic.


Explore more: Top 20 checkout mistakes eCommerce businesses unknowingly make

7 checkout page examples to inspire eCommerce brands

1. Everlane

A millennial-driven brand, Everlane is known for its modern clothing and accessories.


The Everlane checkout page has a step-driven format with an expandable menu for each. This allows customers to fill the checkout page in their own time without being overwhelmed by a barrage of information. It finally ends with an order review and a prominently placed ‘Place Order’ tab.

What stands out: PayPal checkout. These checkouts allow customers to securely make their purchases without having to register with the brand. This gives them the flexibility as well as the ease to actually go ahead and complete the order.

2. Couture Candy

Couture Candy brings together a variety of prom dresses, wedding dresses, and gowns from exclusive designers at affordable prices.

Couture Candy

Like Everlane, Couture Candy follows the step-by-step format for their checkout page. What’s even better is that they have a guest checkout & AmazonPay option on the very first step.

What stands out: Guest checkout. One of the biggest motivators in eCommerce is the need for speed — when customers can quickly complete their purchase, they’re more likely to check out and even make repeated purchases.

3. Quip

An oral health company, Quip is known for its people-first messaging as well as its durable range of products.


The checkout page Quip uses is a multi-page checkout flow that is optimized for subscriptions as well as one-time payments. What’s interesting is that they also offer gifting capabilities and let you fill in different addresses simultaneously, while also offering delivery options.

What stands out: Gifting capabilities. A lot of customers turn to eCommerce brands for their gifting solutions. By optimizing for this and providing gift wrapping as well as delivery options, brands can expand their vertical.

4. Chubbies Shorts

Specializing in “radical shorts for the weekend”, Chubbies Shorts goes the extra mile by providing free shipping, free exchanges, and guaranteed fits.

Chubbies Shorts

This checkout page is a fabulous example for those in the fashion space. It considers everything by having an editable cart, a clear order summary, and even giving customers the chance to opt for text alerts.

What stands out: Editable cart. Especially when it comes to fashion, customers like being able to make changes even at the last moment. By allowing them to change the quantity, and size, and even add/remove items, they help ease the last-minute anxiety that customers sometimes face.

5. Sierra Designs

Established in 1965, Sierra Designs has become a premier vendor for high-performance camping gear and outdoor clothing.

Sierra Designs

This page quickly captures all the necessary information before moving on to the next step: the payment. It provides an overview of the order and provides shipping costs for delivery.

What stands out: The shipping section. Why? It only asks for what’s needed to calculate the shipping cost (also providing free delivery where possible), before customers commit to the total cost. It keeps things transparent.

6. Brandless

Brandless is an omnichannel commerce platform committed to helping people take care of themselves.


This checkout page is a classic. It has all the essential elements built on a classic template, yet what’s different about it is the color palette. By maintaining a color palette across the website, they can build it as a brand differentiator for a unique recall proposition like Amazon has in the example below.

What stands out: Email/text me with news and offers. Having this capability in place allows the brand to score some emails for their newsletters and then engage customers & drive more value.

7. Samsung

A leading technology brand, Samsung provides cutting-edge electronics ranging from smartphones to home appliances.


The Samsung checkout page is a great example of a brand in the technology space. It offers multiple payment options, prominently displays trust seals, has a modifiable cart section, offers a place for the promo code, and has wishlist capabilities.

What stands out: The overall design. Everything on this page is well-thought-of and accounts for the shoppers’ mentality in the eCommerce electronics space.

Looking for more inspiration? 25 stunning examples of checkout pages

Build the perfect checkout page

Now, that you have reached the end of this guide, you’re equipped to design checkout pages that see high conversions.

However, to build the perfect checkout page, it’s important to A/B test. Here are free hypotheses to test on the checkout page:

  • Is the information in an accurate order?
  • Are the form fields deterring experience?
  • Are customers feeling safe to pay?
  • Are there visual cues for different actions?
  • Are there any distractions?

It’s important to fine-tune the checkout process. It takes time and constant experimentation.

Once you get it right, you’ll start seeing results and happy customers who will return to shop again.