In 2020, the eCommerce industry grew by 46% - its strongest growth for over a decade. This was partially helped by a global pandemic that forced in-store retail to close and confined people to their homes, but it’s still reflective of an industry that can’t stop growing. By the end of 2021 for example, the industry is set to be worth $4.9 trillion (£3.6 trillion).
One of the most important parts of an eCommerce site is its checkout process, which can often be a sticking point for those who are hesitant to purchase goods and services online. If you’re spending money on marketing, it doesn’t matter if you’re selling direct to consumers or an omnichannel retailer, your checkout process is key to converting those visitors you’ve paid to get.
The checkout conversion rate is ultimately what a business’s success will be judged on, and it’s never been more important for businesses to have an optimised checkout process as the market continues to grow. This is because the latest research shows that 79% of consumers expect a streamlined checkout process and 67% will abandon a purchase if there are too many steps in the checkout. So, in this blog post, we'll cover 7 ways you can improve your checkout conversion rate by making it easier for customers to complete their purchase on your website.
The average checkout form on the internet is often extremely long and tedious. This can lead to a lot of shoppers abandoning their purchase because they simply don't have time for it, but there are ways around this issue. One way that eCommerce stores can consider is shortening their forms so that only essential information such as billing and delivery details are required.
Other ways include differentiating the eCommerce brand with distinctive clues. An example would be creating a distinct colour outline for an item that was correctly filled in, like green or blue lines appearing around the box. For items incorrectly filled in, red lines could appear around the boxes so that users are visually prompted and can then decide how much time they are willing to spend completing it now or later.
These prompts become especially effective when you consider new customers who may get slightly discouraged by having to register details with you right away if this doesn't suit them. Avoiding introducing a "create account" step before purchase makes things more accessible from start to finish without requiring any signup.
This really works. The checkout process is a time when many customers feel vulnerable. The last major part of the purchase can be an uncomfortable, and even intimidating experience, before they hand over their personal information. To help alleviate this feeling of vulnerability in your shoppers’ minds, eCommerce brands can do a number of things including placing easy-to-read headings throughout the forms. Make your forms easier to fill in by displaying progress bars or visuals at appropriate moments throughout the process.
Chatbots are quickly becoming the preferred customer service option because of their immediacy and multitasking capabilities. They also offer a more personalised touchpoint for customers who can receive responses faster than other channels like email or phone calls, which take much longer to reach an agent.
79% of consumers surveyed admitted they preferred live chat solely due to its convenience; they can get answers fast while simultaneously completing another task such as navigating through the store’s website on the computer screen at hand-- all without ever having to end their conversation. Targeted live chatbots not only provide customers with an interactive FAQ by answering their questions quickly and easily, they also assist in building trust by informing your customer that you are available to answer any of their needs at the click of a button.
Trust badges are seals that can be placed throughout an eCommerce store and are designed to instill trust in potential customers. These seals serve as visual cues that assure the shopper their personal information will be kept secure and that their privacy is protected. Worthwhile trust badges to add include those of major financial companies like VISA, MasterCard, Norton Security, McAfee Verisigns. All of these signs when coupled with an SSL security certificate provide shoppers with reassurance and increase conversion rates.
Research from Barclaycard suggests that free returns are the 'new normal', with a fifth of shoppers saying they will only shop at retailers that offer them. Free returns can help you make an emotional connection and encourage your customers to buy more merchandise since there is no risk for them if they change their minds or want something different after wearing it around the house - this means less stock leftover on shelves which results in higher sales figures!
Make sure you have every aspect of your returns policy nailed down and clearly communicate this to users so they know what is expected and how much it costs when returning items. Take advantage by offering free shipping both ways (or even one way), as well as having preprinted labels available online. Free shipping alone is an excellent way to increase sales and minimise shopping cart abandonment, but many eCommerce stores fail to offer the service.
To combat this shortcoming, try offering free or reduced shipping costs where possible as a means of enticing customers with incentives they can't refuse. If this is not possible for your shop - consider deploying on certain products only or if shoppers bundle items together. You could also be more creative by adopting one of these other initiatives:
There are many reasons why shoppers may not want to open an account immediately with you - their purchase may be a one-off, or they may not see themselves returning regularly enough to warrant signing up. This is where providing guest checkout options becomes especially beneficial. Nowadays shoppers are hesitant to sign up for an account that might expose them to marketing emails -- which can be both annoying and overwhelming (even if they were initially interested).
Providing guest checkout options will not only drive customers back but also increase their willingness to share information by giving them more control over what is shared or purchased from you. Forcing their hand will drive them to competitors, so it’s best to provide a guest checkout option.
The power of a loyalty programme can be lost if it is only used as an afterthought. It takes time to build loyal customers, but the rewards are worth investing in and this type of customer will come back for more. Loyalty programmes that promote special offers and discounts on purchases have been proven to encourage repeat business, which builds brand loyalty over time.
The cost of the customer acquisition process is always higher than that of retention so loyalty programmes can provide a great incentive for repeat custom, boosting both average order and lifetime order values. If a new user also spies the potential for reward, they may be more inclined to complete their purchase and even sign up.
To summarize, checkout processes are an integral part of the customer’s purchase decision and a vital opportunity to make or break your conversion rate. Your chosen eCommerce platform should allow you to customise and tweak its checkout process in a number of ways. If this isn’t something that can be easily done, it will be worth looking into development to improve things and give you more flexibility. Get the most out of every customer by adding features that promote reassurance and trustworthiness to influence customers into completing their orders. Effective methods include free shipping, displaying trust badges, and providing live chat features. These can make a major difference to your business's checkout conversion rate and improve it radically to keep your business profitable and growing.
by James Garnier | 30 Sep 21
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