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There are now more than 100m smartphone owners in the US according to comScore, which accounts for one in every three Americans.
Almost half (48%) of those smartphones use Android, so it’s important that retailers are able to offer a mobile checkout that caters to this market.
Above all else mobile shoppers want simplicity and speed, so checkout processes need to be a frictionless as possible.
I recently reviewed the top UK retailers’ mobile checkouts and found that in general most adhered to best practice, but how do the top 10 US retailers stack up?
The criteria that these sites are judged on can be viewed in more detail here, but these are the key points:
- Don’t force customers to register before checkout: making customers create an account is a proven barrier to purchase – removing it means less hassle for the customer, one less page to load, and a smoother checkout.
- Keep form filling to a minimum: entering in personal information and bank details is difficult on a mobile, so speed up the process by removing any unnecessary fields. Also, use a few pages as possible and offer shortcuts such as a pre-populated billing address.
- Display contact details and security reassurances: some people are still wary of the security of mobile transactions, so offering trustmarks and reassuring signs like clear contact numbers can help.
- Offer alternative payments: even with the smoothest checkout process, entering credit or debit card details can be a pain. Offering alternatives like PayPal can mean a faster process and may also ease consumers' security worries.
With these criteria in mind, I've looked at 10 top retailers to see how they handle mobile checkout:
Though Amazon forces customers to register before checkout, it’s likely that most mobile users will already have an Amazon account so they won’t have to go through this process.
But even for new customers, Amazon only requires you to enter the shipping address and card details, so it is a quick procedure. It also offers security reassurances when entering card details, but doesn’t show a contact number.
Staples allows new customers to make a purchase using a guest checkout, but does offer registration during the transaction.
It also speeds up the process by pre-populating the billing address and shows a progress bar so customers know how many more screens they have to complete.
Overall it was a very quick checkout process that keeps form filling to a minimum, and also offers security reassurances plus a contact number.
Apple doesn’t have a mobile website, though it does have an iPhone app.
The retail giant forces users to create an account which is likely to put off some shoppers, but the information it asks for is no more than you would be required to enter for a guest checkout.
The pages are extremely basic and don’t include any security reassurances or contact details, but as a result they look extremely clean.
Also, the text fields and continue buttons are huge, so the pages are very easy to navigate.
Though Office Depot forces customers to setup an account, all the payment details are then condensed into a single page. Customers only have to enter their card details, billing address, phone number and email address before completing the transaction.
Some will still be put off by having to create an account, but overall it is one of the quickest processes I have seen.
Sears has stripped out any unnecessary text and graphics from its mobile checkout, so it looks very clean and uncluttered. Form filling is kept to a minimum, and it also has a progress bar to let you know that there are only three stages to completion.
Sears also scores bonus points as it is the only retailer on this list that accepts PayPal.
Even though Netflix lets you watch movies on mobile, it doesn’t have a mobile site.
Best Buy is another site that offers a guest checkout and then forces you to enter loads of personal information, including your telephone number and email.
In a move that is particularly frustrating for mobile users, if you enter one piece of data wrong on the first page it wipes both the email fields so you have to re-enter the same information twice.
However, overall the process is still relatively quick, and it displays a progress bar and security reassurances on each page.
OfficeMax offers a quick and easy guest checkout process that only has three screens before completion.
It offers security reassurances and a freephone number on each page, and assumes that the shipping and billing addresses are the same.
Computers and electronic retailer Newegg offers a very fast mobile checkout, but it’s not particularly user-friendly.
The text boxes are tiny, and it doesn’t offer any reassurances that it is a secure process. In fact it doesn’t really look like an official website. That said, it does keep form filling to a minimum so consumers don’t have to enter a great deal of information.
Eight out of the top 10 US retailers have mobile checkouts, and in general they are quick and user-friendly. Nearly all of them use large text boxes that are easy to fill in and keep the number of form pages to a minimum.
Only three of the retailers forced users to register before checkout, but those that offer guest registration still require quite a lot of personal information.
However, US retailers are not as bad as their UK counterparts, which occasionally ask for date of birth and gender information.
Sears is the only US retailer that accepts PayPal. The others therefore risk losing conversions from users who either aren’t comfortable or don’t have time to enter in credit card details.
Overall, while all the mobile checkouts were generally fast and easy to use, Office Depot is probably the best as it condenses the entire transaction into one page.