On the Econsultancy blog we often highlight examples of websites that offer a great user experience as it’s useful to be able to see good design in practice.
And we also think it’s useful to highlight examples of brands that aren’t getting it right and could do with redesigning their site to improve the user experience.
QVC falls into this category. Its checkout process feels like it hasn’t been updated in several years, and there are several major issues that could be causing lost sales...
These are some of the main points that sites need to follow to ensure a great user experience during the checkout process:
- Clear calls-to-action (CTAs). The user shouldn’t have to search around for what to do next.
- Standard delivery costs are made clear. Unclear delivery costs continue to be one of the key reasons why visitors abandon their checkout process.
- Clear product details. Alongside a thumbnail, customers want to know the size, colour and quantity.
- Total price is made clear. As well as knowing the delivery cost, customers need to know the total amount they are paying with no hidden costs.
- Delivery options within the basket. Customers should be allowed to choose the delivery option before the checkout process, thus ensuring they know what they are paying and the delivery period.
- Secure shopping is made clear. Though e-commerce is no longer a new concept people still need reassurance that the transaction is secure.
- Clear payment options. Not all visitors have a Visa card – are there options for lesser know cards or PayPal?
- Don't force users to register before checkout. This is a great way to cause people to abandon their transaction. ASOS managed to halve its abandonment rate at the registration page simply by removing any mention of creating an account.
The shopping basket
The first thing that strikes you about QVC’s basket is the old fashioned design. Simplicity is definitely a good thing when designing a checkout as you don't want to confuse your customers, but this looks like it was copied and pasted from a Word document.
The simple layout coupled with the lack of any reassurances about security will serve to undermine the shopper’s confidence.
Furthermore, though the shipping and handling cost of £9.95 is included upfront the ‘Total Price’ doesn’t actually add the price for the item to the shipping cost. Customers hate this sort of thing.
Another issue is the amount of time the user has to complete the order. It’s a good idea to set a time limit as it lets the customers know they might be timed out if they take too long and also helps to encourage a sale by creating a sense of urgency.
But ideally it should include a countdown timer so users know how much time is left. Ticketmaster may be behind the UX nightmare that is the Olympic ticketing website, but it does at least at least provide a good example here:
One final usability issue at this stage is that if you want to order more than one product you can’t simply select the number in the dropdown menu then go to the checkout.
Instead you need to select the number in the dropdown then click ‘Confirm changes’ for the update to be registered before you then move on to the checkout.
I didn’t click the update button and as a result the site showed me the cost for one laptop through the rest of the checkout process even though there were two laptops in my basket.
Forcing customers to register is guaranteed to lose you conversions, yet QVC requires all new customers to click a button that says ‘Establish Membership’.
Calls-to-action need to jump out at the user and encourage them to take the next step, but the drab grey colour and cold language are unlikely to achieve this aim.
In general the choice of colours on this page is quite poor – the CTAs don’t stand out at all and the use of blue text on a blue background makes the instructions difficult to read.
The registration/membership page is essentially a one-page checkout form. It asks for address and credit card details all in one:
As a first time customer, I would be unsure whether filling in card details and pressing continue is a confirmation of purchase. This should be made clear.
Also, there is no attempt to remove distractions by enclosing the checkout and removing links to other areas of the site. QVC is promoting its TV schedules on the left of the form when it should be doing all it can to get customers through the payment process.
Once you’ve established your membership by entering all your personal information you are greeted with a screen that summarises your options and allows you to choose the shipping options.
The choice of shipping options is limited to just on, DX POD, with no explanation of what this is or when the item will be delivered.
But worst of all the shipping cost has suddenly jumped from £9.95 to £14.92, which is a surefire way to get people to abandon the transaction.
The final page is a summary of your order. The system has finally recognised that I amended the order to request two laptops, so the cost has been updated to £1199.76 even though on the previous screen it was half of that.
Finally, the CTAs are again badly designed as they all look the same. At this stage QVC should be trying to encourage the customer to complete their purchase by presenting them with a big 'Submit Order' button that stands out from everything else on the page.
Instead the options to revise or cancel the order are given just are equally prominent.
For some reason, possibly because e-commerce is considered secondary to telephone orders, QVC seems to have neglected to update its online checkout system in line with consumer expectations and with best practice for checkout optimisation.
It displays limited product information and no images during the checkout process, and the poor design and colour scheme give no encouragement for consumers to complete a purchase.
Even in areas where it adheres to best practice, such as presenting delivery information upfront, the site then undermines it by presenting contradictory information and altering details later in the checkout.
With a simple redesign QVC could greatly improve the user experience of its checkout and potentially capture additional sales.