Countless articles will inform you just how difficult it is to set up an online business and make it a success. Indeed this is no lie, while the initial excitement of developing a business model, stock, brand identity, and of course an online e-commerce platform in which to sell your wares can maintain excitement and motivation, soon your endeavours will be put to the test – are you actually making any money?
The dream is to launch a website and enjoy regular sales. This we know must be achieved by gaining strong regular traffic which is a task within itself, however another challenge online businesses face is converting these actual visitors into customers. Your products might be adored and admired, your shop front might provide every detail a consumer might question and your product photography top notch, but in the world of e-commerce, research and statistics indicate that the average checkout abandonment rate is a staggering 67.4%. This eye opening statistic indicates that the most vulnerable aspect of a website, the checkout, is responsible for huge losses in potential custom. The statistics also reveal that even some of the biggest brands are getting it wrong.
Here are some aspects which affect checkout abandonment:
Too Many Checkout Steps
The number of steps within a checkout is an important factor in maintaining customer interest. The online shopper often has little time and wants to proceed through the checkout process as quickly as possible. Any delay in this will cause the customer to double think their purchase, which can lead to a lost sale if they have no patience.
Ideally a checkout should have no more than 5 steps according to research by Baymard.com. These steps must be simplistic, ask the relevant information which is actually required for the purchase, and although many e-commerce outlets are guilty of doing so, never ask for the same information twice. It is worth remembering a staggering 4 out of 5 smart phone users use their phone to shop according to comScore, typing in personal details within a checkout process can be frustrating for mobile users navigating small touch screen buttons, so a checkout system must be though out to make it easy for customers. The age old saying keep it simple, really applies to the design of an e-commerce checkout.
Consumers are becoming accustomed to shopping online, they are more trusting of e-commerce sites and are used to a range of different payment gateways such as WorldPay, Sage and PayPal. PayPal is by far the dominating web payment gateway choice and is responsible for processing around 60% of online sales. This is largely due to its partnership with eBay; however its trusted reputation sees many e-commerce businesses implement it within their checkout. However research by polr.co.uk indicates that 59% of consumers, who do not see their preferred method of payment in place, will simply abandon their transaction. They suggest that having more than one payment option can increase confidence amongst 40% of consumers.
Shipping fees can play an important part within the success of a sale processing. Of course ideally free worldwide postage removes any doubt from a customer’s mind – research by Forrester claims that 59% of consumers will consider shipping costs when making a purchase.
One option is to price shipping costs into the price of your products; another option is to outline a range of shipping services and prices allowing the customer who urgently requires the item to select express delivery (which will cost more) while also offering those who wish to opt for more affordable shipping costs, to select a more economy service. This means you can please more customer’s delivery time and price demands.
Trying to assess just what the consumer is thinking when navigating a website can be difficult. It is best to use user testing feedback services before implementing costly changes which might not make a difference.
The checkout section of an e-commerce outlet is often the weakest link of an online business, causing consumer frustration and loss of interest, although the rest of the site, the brand itself and product might be the best of the best, with a poor checkout service in place, consumer interest will never translate into sales.
Image by ‘michmutters’ [Source]