Convincing customers to add a product to their online shopping cart is only half the battle. Because then you have the tricky task of getting them to convert and click the 'Place Order' button.

As an ecommerce business, you may already know that 80% of online shoppers abandon their cart before completing their purchase. Some are just browsing to reference products they may want to buy later, while others are comparing prices. And plenty of people get put off by the user experience or shipping costs or want to sleep on the idea of purchasing before they commit.

Some of these factors, like causal browsing, are beyond your control. Fortunately, when it comes to creating a seamless and user-friendly ecommerce checkout experience, there are many improvements you can make to boost the chances of conversions.

How to enhance the checkout experience for your online store

Here are eight strategies worth implementing to get your checkout page and customer communications in tip-top shape for conversions.

1. Design a user-friendly interface

Shoppers will be instantly deterred if your online store is hard to navigate and slow to load. So invest in a well-designed, fast-loading website with simple navigation, a logical layout and clear, concise copy.

On the checkout page, provide visual cues to inform shoppers of their checkout progress. For example, include an easy-to-read progress indicator or arrow buttons/animations that tell the customer what to do next. Provide an autofill option to save the customer re-entering information. And use red box highlights to draw attention to errors, tips, and instructions for correct form-filling instead of elaborate popup error messages.

2. Simplify account signup and login processes

34% of online shoppers abandon checkout because of forced account creation. So do offer a guest checkout option instead of making account signup mandatory. The latter can extend the checkout flow unnecessarily, even if there are benefits to the customer when they create an account (such as being able to save payment information).

For account creation, integrate single sign-on technology, for example, by using Google or social media logins. The quicker the process is, the greater the likelihood of shoppers wanting to create an account in the first place.

Some online shoppers worry that the checkout process isn't secure enough, so use two-factor authentication (2FA) to reassure customers that you take digital security seriously. An example is SMS verification, where you issue a unique one-time password (OTP) by text message as a second security layer after the customer enters their username and password online. SMS is a good option for 2FA as it's quick, secure and user-friendly for the average online shopper.

3. Optimise your online store for mobile ordering

Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, mobile commerce has been on the rise – in 2022, over 40% of all U.S. ecommerce sales came from mobile shoppers.

It's imperative, therefore, that your online store is geared up for mobile shoppers. This means making sure your website is mobile-responsive – you may even want to consider creating a different version of your site for this purpose. Here are some tips to help you optimise your store for mobile.

  • Ensure super-fast loading speeds – internet connections are often slower on mobile, and today's digital user is particularly impatient.

  • Minimise written copy – mobile users like to scroll, so keep written content highly relevant and targeted.

  • Emphasise call-to-action (CTA) buttons – these need to stand out and be 'thumb-friendly' (aka big) to grab attention.

  • Reduce data fields – typing on mobile phones can be cumbersome, so only use the most essential fields in data capture forms on your mobile checkout page.

Why not allow customers to place orders via SMS? This can boost store revenue and is very easy, quick and convenient for customers, especially if they don't need to leave their native SMS app at any point during the transaction.

Person making a purchase via mobile using a credit card

4. Display transparent pricing

Customers like to know precisely what their order will cost before they press 'Buy'. If you charge extra fees such as shipping and taxes, display this clearly on your checkout page and in an FAQs section on your store website.

There should be no hidden fees that catch the shopper off guard; otherwise, they'll click away from your site in the blink of an eye. Show discounts clearly, along with the grand total, and ensure the customer's shipping details and billing information is easy to check and return to.

5. Provide multiple payment options

Did you know integrating multiple payment options into your ecommerce checkout page can help generate more revenue? Providing a choice of options means shoppers should see their preferred payment method at the checkout, so they may be more likely to complete their purchase.

Consider accepting all the major debit and credit cards, plus mobile payment options like digital wallets and payment by text, the latter being very convenient for a frictionless, one-page checkout experience. SMS is also useful for sending out payment confirmations to assure customers that their payment has been successful.

6. Allow easy promo application

Nothing is more frustrating for customers wanting savings than entering and applying a promo code that doesn't work at checkout. This can happen for various reasons – like expired codes, the customer's basket value not being high enough or even a website glitch.

When offering special discount codes for customers to apply at checkout, test them first. Make sure the codes themselves are correct, along with the expiry date and that it's obvious where to enter the discount code online.

Send promos and coupons by text for easy communication and access by customers (and remember to clearly state the expiry date in your promotions).

7. Display encouraging signals on the checkout page

Even as customers work their way through the online checkout, they could reach a hurdle that puts them off buying. Reassure customers by incorporating social proof and user-generated content, such as short, positive customer reviews, star ratings, awards and accolades.

Ensure information about shipping, returns, and payments is easy to access from the ecommerce checkout page. For example, provide links that open up the details in a new browser tab, so they can be read without the customer losing any half-entered information at checkout. Why not also include after-sales assistance links, such as a click-to-text link for chat support via SMS? This can help reinforce the message that your brand is trustworthy.

Consider adding a subtle sense of urgency at this final stage by highlighting that other customers have just bought the same item. You can do this with a popup banner stating, 'Customer X just bought this item! 02 left in stock.'

8. Add value with after-sales services and offers

Once a potential buyer converts, don't let your efforts stop there. Send an order confirmation by SMS or email to let the customer know their order has been received and is being fulfilled. This also gives the customer chance to check their order is correct.

After dispatch, send a shipping confirmation message to update the customer and get them excited that their order is on its way. Providing the customer has opted into receiving marketing updates, you can then start sending personalised emails or SMS marketing content to encourage repeat purchases and cross-sell other products. Invite new customers to your loyalty and rewards program (if applicable) and explain the benefits. This works well for customer retention.

What to do if a customer still abandons their cart...

What if, after implementing all these checkout best practices, customers still leave before completing their purchase? This will undoubtedly happen (remember, potential buyers will abandon the checkout for many reasons outside your control).

In this case, email marketing or SMS messaging plays a vital role in recapturing the attention of would-be customers. SMS reminders are particularly effective in tempting people back to the checkout to finish what they started. This is because 98% of texts are opened and read quickly.

For best results, offer an incentive for completing the purchase, such as free shipping, a small discount or a free surprise gift included with the order. Personalise your texts or emails for greater impact.

Shopping cart concept

Prioritise the checkout experience for reduced cart abandonment

Many factors affect checkout abandonment, some of which you can't do anything about. However, a lot can be done about the experience customers have while browsing your ecommerce website and navigating their way through the checkout process.

If you arrived here with the question, "How can I improve my ecommerce checkout experience?" these tips and strategies will give you plenty to go at. First, ensure your site is well-designed, built for mobile, works appropriately and is fast-loading. Simplify account creation (and don't force shoppers to sign up). Clearly display pricing, shipping and returns information and offer customers a choice of payment methods. Check promotional codes work and are easy to apply, and use social proof on the checkout page to help persuade unsure buyers.

Finally, utilise abandoned cart reminders to tempt would-be shoppers back to your store and, once converted, follow up with after-sales care and personalised, targeted marketing messages.

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