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Just under 50% of online customers abandon their purchases during the checkout process - one of the biggest causes of lost revenue for online retailers.

While many of the reasons for this are beyond the control of the retailer, such as comparison shopping by users with no intent to buy, there is still much that can be done to reduce abandonment rates.

For instance, customers hate finding out about any hidden charges/delivery costs at the last minute, so making this information clear at the beginning of the process can prevent many from bailing out.

Our Online Retail Checkout Special has a number of tips to improve the flow of the checkout process and make it as smooth as possible to minimise abandonment and increase conversions. Here are a few: 

  • Make the process clear and appear simple.
    Make sure the customer knows what to expect from the checkout process, how long it will take and what details are required. Giving some visible signs of progress through the stages also helps, as in the example below.

  • Enclose the checkout process
    This means removing all links to any parts of the site other than the stages of the checkout process, to focus the customer's mind. Once in the checkout there should be only one place customers can go - purchase confirmation.
  • Make the process navigable without loss of information
    Customers may need to make changes at different stages, so making it possible for customers to go back and forth through the process without losing any of the details they have already entered is vital to minimise frustration.

    Back buttons on the form, which save data when clicked, are a good way to achieve this, and save customers from losing information by pressing the back button on their browser. Enabling them to use the browser to navigate through the checkout and still not lose data would be even better.

  • Reinforce trust in the checkout process
    Don't give customers any doubts over this, so display clear signs of server security, and third party verification logos. The company's full address and phone number should also be provided, as well as links to information on terms and conditions, delivery and payment.

Further reading:
Interview: Mike Baxter on checkout best practice

Graham Charlton

Published 16 August, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

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Matt Ambrose, Copywriter at The Copywriter's Crucible

If people are abandoning a purchase it's because their confidence hasn't been gained. There's plenty of other studies to indicate that this is due to the lack of information that answers their questions and builds trust in the company. It's not just about designing your site to try and push them through the checkout till.

over 9 years ago

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Nick van Noorden, Head of Marketing at Fusion Workshop

There are other factors outside the basket and checkout process. If a customer can not find all the products they want on the site, then they may well abandon the basket at that point. Some people advocate emailing customers who have abandoned - I have yet to think of a way to do this tastefully and without simply being an annoyance.

over 9 years ago

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