How to optimize checkout page for maximum sales

The checkout page plays one of the most critical roles in your e-commerce store. You can potentially lose a customer for life if the checkout process isn’t smooth or if it raises red flags among website visitors. 

We wanted to learn the best optimization tips for e-commerce checkout pages, so we talked to Devin Stagg,  Pupford’s marketing manager. 

Stagg has helped multiple brands optimize their checkout processes and with his advice, you can make sure that your customers complete their orders. 

Optimise for maximum sales

So, keep reading to know how to build the perfect checkout experience for your e-commerce brand.

Shopping cart abandonment vs checkout abandonment

Before we go into the tips, let’s discuss the difference between shopping cart abandonment and checkout abandonment. Believe it or not, these terms are not synonymous. 

The main difference is, that shopping cart abandonment can happen on any page of your website. The customer has added a product to the basket but just ends up leaving without buying. 

On the other hand, checkout abandonment can only occur on the checkout page. The website visitor has started the checkout process but for some reason doesn’t finalise the checkout.

The value of a great checkout page

It is estimated that e-commerce businesses lose 35.26% of conversions due to issues on the checkout page. This means a staggering $260 billion worth of lost orders in the EU and US alone. 

If this doesn’t shock you enough, maybe looking at the average order value (AOV) of your orders that get abandoned on your e-commerce store will get you motivated to start optimizing your checkout page. 

This data gives you an idea of how much actual revenue you have lost because of abandoned checkouts. But remember, that it doesn’t give you the full picture, since each abandoned cart could equal a loss of a lifetime customer. 

In addition to your store’s data, think about your personal online shopping habits. 

You might have had a bad shopping experience where you ended the checkout because the checkout page didn’t build enough trust for you to complete your order. Would you ever return to that same brand to buy again? Most likely not.

A positive checkout experience that results in the customer receiving their product on time and in good condition, makes you gain the customer's trust, and they are more likely to return and buy again.

How to know that your checkout page has issues

First, start by looking at your e-commerce store data and calculating your checkout abandonment rate (CAR).  As a benchmark, the checkout abandonment rate is on average around 70%, and you should aim for a rate lower than this.  So, if you see that more than 70% of your website visitors start the checkout process but don’t finish it, this could indicate that there is a problem with your checkout page.  

You can calculate your checkout abandonment rate (CAR) with this simple formula: the number of people who abandoned their carts, divided by the total number of people who started the checkout process.

Here is an example of how it would look with numbers:

Let’s say you get 100 visitors that start the checkout process on your website in a month and 20 of them complete the purchase, then your CAR would be 80%.

Let’s continue with our e-commerce expert tips on how to step up the checkout process.

Best practice tips for the checkout page

A great checkout process means that it:

  • is fast for customers to complete their purchase
  • has a logical flow with clear steps
  • builds trust by giving customers confidence in their purchase

A good starting point when optimizing your checkout page is thinking of what questions people might still have on the checkout page. 

You can answer these on a specific section of the page. A non-disruptive popup or a banner that appears on your checkout page would be a great way to go about this.

“For example, if you were to go through Pupford's checkout process, you would see this little section on the right, that says ‘Why Pupford?’ And we say ‘Two to four-day shipping, real human support, a hundred per cent safe and secure checkout.’”

Reminding customers of your benefits can simplify their buying decision.

1. Build trust on your checkout page

People will not buy if they don’t trust your brand. Period. Even the tiniest thing can make the customer feel suspicious of your brand when they are buying from you for the first time. 

The checkout page has an important role in building trust. If the checkout page is slow and the flow is bad the customer might change their mind and go to a familiar store they already trust.

2.  Include trustworthy payment options

When people can pay with credit cards, Paypal or with ‘Buy now, Pay later’ solutions, they are more likely to take a risk on your brand. This is because they know that if something goes wrong they will end up getting the money back. 

“Most people offer credit cards and that's a good step there. A lot of people really trust PayPal. So being able to offer PayPal is good,” Stagg says. 

”Originally at Pupford we didn't offer PayPal and now we do,” after offering PayPal Stagg shares that this payment method now makes up about “15 to 25% of our total transactions.” Stagg affirms that “if people don't trust you yet, they at least trust PayPal and know that there are extra layers of security and precaution.”

3. Have product reviews or offer extra guarantees 

An effective way to make sure the website visitor completes the purchase is to showcase positive reviews on your products on the checkout page. 

“Every checkout should have at least some type of review,” Stagg says. “It’s a psychological thing in our brain where it's like, okay, at least there is a reviewer that had a good experience.”

Another way to build trust is to offer additional assurances to customers. You can do this with money-back guarantees. You can also add trust scores of your site from external sources such as Trustpilot. 

4. Guide your customers

The checkout page is one of those pages you should make sure you have your staff members ready to assist the customer if they seem lost. The best way to do this is with live chat

Interview Quote – Big Phone Store  (Blog Website) (612 × 306px)

Having customer support on the checkout page can help the customer overcome their concerns over the checkout process. You can target the live chat to a customer who has been on the page a while but has yet to complete the order. Just keep in mind to make sure that you have enough team members to respond to live chat messages extra fast on your checkout page. 

“If someone doesn't get an answer within a minute or two in a normal chat, you get bothered. If you don't respond to them within like 15 to 30 seconds on a checkout chat you probably lost that buyer,” Stagg guestimates. 

You can also activate a chatbot or a popup that asks if the customer needs help with their checkout and that you are there to assist them if needed. 

Pro tip: Having live chat on the checkout page also opens opportunities for upselling and cross-selling. When the customer chats with you during the checkout page it perfect time to suggest complimentary products that increase the average order value.

5. Make the checkout process fast

People don’t want to spend any extra time just making the purchase, so it is very important to have a fast checkout process. Some way to speed up the checkout is to offer payment methods that prefill the customer‘s shipping information so that they don’t have to fill in their data manually. For example, PayPal is good for this.

“With PayPal, your shipping information's already there and your credit card's already there. You just have to authenticate and you're on your way.” Stagg says. “This is another step that can help people who don't wanna fill in long forms when they are doing payments. Some people might get frustrated by that.”

6. Be transparent about costs and shipping times

People are quick to go to Amazon if they get surprised by your shipping costs or other fees. To have a fighting chance against Amazon, Stagg says you need to be transparent about fees and delivery times from the get-go. 

“The best way to avoid abandonment is to be as upfront as possible about shipping costs and shipping timeframes,” Stagg says. 

“For example, while the visitor is shopping on product pages or in the cart say, this is roughly how much it typically costs to deliver the product.” 

For the shipping times, keep the visitor informed throughout the buying journey of how long the shipping might take, with a message like ‘Our orders leave our warehouse within X number of days. Most of the items ship within X number of days.’

“This will present the expectation to people of you're still gonna get a quick shipment,” Stagg says.

7. Spice things up 

Don’t design your checkout page to look like a ghost town. With this, we mean your checkout page shouldn’t be too bare of information. 

“It is not great If the checkout page is just like this blank page, and it almost feels like when you walk into a doctor's office and it's just plain and white and boring,” Stagg says. 

You can leave a lasting expression by showing you are there to guide the visitor when they need you. 

“Just letting people know ‘Hey if you have issues, this is where you can contact us. We'll make it right.’ Do as much as you can to boost that confidence. So they're willing to make the transaction.”

8. A/B test to find the optimal solution

Stagg has not yet discovered a secret formula that works for every e-commerce brand looking to optimize its checkout page. But the tips that are shared in this article are generally a good starting point. 

“There is no secret formula per se, but a lot of the things I mentioned are the first things I look at when I start working with a new e-commerce client,” Stagg explains.

It is always a good idea to A/B test to find the best working checkout page for your customer base. 

“It is best to test one thing at a time,” Stagg says. “For example, you can test adding in a note underneath the checkout button that says a hundred per cent secure SSL checkout.’”

Just remember to gather enough data so you can make conclusions. Stagg says you should run each A/B test for at least seven days because that way you get a full week's worth of customer behaviour. 

“Just make sure you run it for long enough that you're getting rid of anomalies,” Stagg says.

“Buying behaviour is just different on Saturdays and Sundays than it is Monday through Friday. So, make sure you have enough data to actually validate the hypotheses that you're seeing.” 

Ready to start optimizing your checkout page?

Thanks for reading our e-commerce expert article on checkout page optimization. We have some great tools to help you tackle checkout page abandonment. Please contact our team to get started with giosg. 

eCommerce , Conversion optimisation