By Michelle McSweeney
With the rapid rate at which the ecommerce landscape continues to evolve, it’s near-impossible to know for certain what the future holds for retailers and merchants alike.
But what we do know is this: customers want as frictionless an experience as possible when it comes to online shopping. That’s not something that we see changing anytime soon. And what part of your online store generally involves the most friction? You’ve guessed it… the checkout.
So how can merchants make sure that their checkout process is primed for conversions, not just today, but for the somewhat (un)foreseeable future?
Here are 5 ways that retailers can futureproof the online checkout process
1. Capture user email addresses immediately
Remember, without valid email addresses, cart abandonment campaigns are virtually impossible. Therefore, it’s vital to capture users’ email addresses as soon as they start the checkout process, so that you’re capturing the data you need in case that user drops off the website.
In order to do this effectively, however, you’ll most likely need to have a multi-step checkout. If you’ve been using one-page checkout on your online store, it’s worth testing out the multi-step approach and monitoring sales recoveries to see which model works best for your site.
2. Highlight ALL delivery options
Chances are you’ve heard this statistic many times before – 60% of shoppers abandon their carts because the costs for shipping, taxes, or other fees are too high. Therefore, it’s absolutely vital that you clearly outline all of the various shipping options available to customers on the checkout page. Well, that’s assuming that delivery options have also been clearly displayed on all product pages – that way there’s little chance that users get an unexpected surprise at the checkout in the first place!
When it comes to delivery options on the checkout page, be sure to clearly indicate WHAT options the customer has (e.g. standard delivery, express delivery, click and collect in-store) as well as WHEN they can expect to receive their items. Number of working days to delivery is good. Actual estimated delivery dates – much better!
3. Stay up to speed with payment options
Along with making it easy for users to enter and autofill their payment details at checkout (which can simply be done through validation tools from your payment gateway provider), it’s just as important to have the right payment methods in place if you trade in more than one country.
Think of it like this. A customer lands on your website and sees that it’s in their native language and currency. They’re instantly engaged and start browsing the site and adding items to their cart. Fantastic! Except, when they reach the checkout, they notice that their preferred payment method isn’t available, and so they leave the store, without buying anything, and have a less than impressive customer experience to show for it. Not ideal.
To avoid this, create logic around preferred payment methods and serve these to specific to countries at their corresponding checkouts – e.g. Germany = Ratepay, Mastercard, Visa. Netherlands = iDeal, SEPA Direct Debit, Mastercard. It’s also important to stay up to date with emerging payment trends and assess whether they could be a good fit for your offering – e.g. buy now, pay later or split payments.
4. Personalisation is key
Use the checkout page of your online store as an opportunity to let your customers know that you understand who they are, as well as planting the seed that encourages them to keep coming back for more. That means giving users the option to save the contents of their cart for later, or email the cart to themselves. Or using AI-based personalisation tools to serve product recommendations based on their search and browsing history at the checkout.
You can also personalise the checkout experience by rewarding return visitors with custom offers or discount codes. Finally, at a basic level, users should be able to easily view and change their default settings at the checkout (address, saved payment methods, etc).
5. Always gather feedback
Gathering regular feedback on the processes in which your online store runs is arguably the most effective way to ensure that your checkout pages are consistently optimised.
Plug in a pop-up box at checkout that triggers when the user is about to abandon the page, asking them why they did not proceed with the purchase. You can keep the response box as free text, or have multiple choices (e.g. unexpected costs, just browsing, unsatisfactory delivery options, etc). Always give users the option to contact customer service, or to use your live chat window to ask any questions they might have.
Don’t stop there, either. Encourage customers who complete their purchases to give their feedback about the checkout experience on the order confirmation pages of your site. Ask if they were satisfied with their experience, if the checkout process was easy/difficult, and if they have any suggestions for improvements.
As far as futureproofing the checkout process goes, the single most effective thing that you can do as a business is to test, test, and then test some more. Is the online checkout process going to look the same as it does now in 10 years? Almost certainly not. But if you regularly test and update the checkout page on your online store, adapting to future trends will be far less of a leap, and more of a natural step for your business.