By Ellie-Rose Davies, Content Executive at IMRG
The cost-of-living crisis has increased buyers’ hesitancy, leading to skyrocketing checkout bounce rates for many UK retailers. By offering a unique checkout experience, and one that customers will remember and wish to revisit, retailers can improve customer retention and grow a good reputation for customer acquisition.
As demonstrated by Amal Ahmed, Director, Financial Services & EMEA Marketing at Signifyd, ‘Positive customer experience has never been more important. Signifyd’s State of Commerce report has revealed that 37% of UK consumers said two or fewer bad online checkout experiences would cost a merchant their business for good.’
This blog offers top tips from industry experts on how to offer a unique checkout experience, specifically looking at how to boost checkout conversion rates, how to not distract your customer from purchasing, and how to personalise the checkout experience.
Focus on your checkout conversion rate
IMRG data has shown that all stages of the customer funnel performed worse in Q4 2022 relative to Q4 2021, including a 3 percentage point decline in customers who go to payment (56% to 53%). The struggle around conversion rates continues in 2023 as the cost of living remains painfully high.
One way to improve conversion rates, explored by James Dye, Country Director UK/I at Talon.One, is to offer rewards during the checkout process. But James says ‘to build a sustainable promotions strategy, brands should avoid giving offers to people who would convert anyway. This can be done by segmenting customers appropriately and combining propensity modelling data with insights on previous browsing behaviour.’
‘There’s a range of different offers brands can use and experiment with – from limited-time offers to create a sense of urgency to offering free shipping for customers who reach a certain threshold of spending.
Monica Eaton, Founder at Chargebacks911 reinforces how ‘providing promotions and special offers targeting those undecided shoppers is an effective method’ to be considered seen as ‘around 75% of all online orders are abandoned before completion.’
She also says that ‘retailers should consider including live chat software on their website to provide real-time support during checkout. This helps address any questions or concerns customers may have quickly to decrease chances of transaction abandonment.’
After all, ‘A well-designed checkout experience minimises Where is My Order (WISMO) requests, mitigates customer service needs post-purchase, and fosters strong and consistent communication throughout the entire customer journey’, says Angus Knights, Head of Product Success at parcelLab. ‘Best practices include providing real-time order tracking, a precise delivery date promise, and hassle-free returns.’
The subtotal is another important aspect of the checkout process, and it’s often the detail that customers check first. Karolina Fialkowska, Senior VAT Consultant at Sovos voices how ‘It is understandable that customers are irritated when they see hidden costs appearing at checkout or when their purchases are delivered.’
Karolina recommends that ‘To avoid unhappy customers and lost sales, online retailers should clearly state the VAT due for each product. Having a clear pricing policy and quoting the VAT at an earlier stage or including this cost in the total price will optimise the conversion rate.’
Do not distract your customers
Multiple messages, pop-up ads, and other distractions at checkout might be detrimental to retailers at a time when conversion is low. In addition, making the checkout process too long may result in lower customer retention rates and higher exit rates.
Chris Gorman, Head of Professional Services at Esendex shares a tried-and-tested way to improve the online checkout process; ‘It seems obvious, but the first thing to do is to remove any page distractions. You want your customers to complete a transaction, and you’ve already caught their attention so now is not the time to distract them with sidebars or pop-ups to newsletters or product pages.’
Another tip from Chris is to ‘limit the number of required fields, remove unnecessary address lines, and use an address fill-in’ which helps to simplify the process for customers and reduces the checkout abandonment. ‘Think about cart management too and make basket edits easy, without the need to leave your checkout page.’
Echoing the point about addresses, Matt Furneaux, Global Commercial Director at Loqate explains how preventing unnecessary typing will improve user satisfaction, decrease error rates, and boost form completion.’ He suggests to only ‘capture the data you actually need to process the order.’
Matt describes address entry as ‘usually the slowest and most demanding part of a checkout flow. Location biasing can return the address closest to the customer based on their physical location within three keystrokes, and predictive address typed out on a single line is easier for the user, and it occupies far less space than a multi-field form.’
Ultimately, creating an efficient checkout with few distractions can prompt conversion.
Personalise the checkout experience
Retailers should avoid overcrowding their checkout with ads and irrelevant information, but they can still subtly personalise the experience without negatively impacting conversion. This strategy might even welcome growth.
One of the most integral things retailers can do ‘in an era where omnichannel is a staple’, says Heath Barlow, VP EMEA, at Emarsys, is to ensure the checkout process ‘delivers a consistent experience across every device.’
Heath provides the example of mobile wallets which can enhance the customers’ experience by being ‘capable of removing the need for internet connectivity when paying or using discounts on phones’, and ‘Combining that versatility with data-driven personalisation to shape communications provides a genuinely bespoke experience – making shoppers more likely to hit ‘purchase’ at the end.’
Borja Santaolalla, Co-Founder & Chief Experience Officer at Empathy.Co shares how to offer effective personalisation. For example, retailers can ‘embrace ethical personalisation and prioritise trust throughout the customer journey to elevate privacy-first, cart-contextual products and content for in-session recommendations.’
Furthermore, ‘Ensuring traceability, explainability, and truthful consent collection in your Data Science and AI practices builds a foundation of integrity.’ Borja emphasises how ‘Explicitly consented and explainable personalised experiences help customers feel more connected, fostering loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.’
Want to read more? Here are some other IMRG blogs which cover a range of ecommerce topics: