14 Big Ideas to Bulletproof Your Checkout Process

checkout process

The checkout process is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, overlooked obstacles in running an ecommerce business is mitigating the revenue lost to shopping cart abandonment. 69% of intended purchases are abandoned on ecommerce sites daily. Why? Well, there are endless reasons someone abandons their ready-to-go shopping cart. Perhaps your shopper’s wife walked in just as he was going to book that hunting vacation he ‘failed’ to mention to her. Or maybe your shopper just realized that she missed her stop on the bus while adding items to her cart. And maybe, most commonly,  *your* checkout process is too complicated and untrustworthy so your customer lost patience and gave up on you. 🙁

Today, more than ever before, a smooth, reliable checkout process is crucial to your business’ survival and success. The average attention span when online is about 8 seconds. In other words, your checkout process better not take more than 8 seconds to figure out.

Don’t worry, all is not for naught. Take the success of your company into your own hands and DO something about it. Here are 14 steps you can take to prevent shoppers from abandoning the checkout process.

1. Dude, where’s my cart?

How frustrating is it to forget where you parked your car in the never-ending parking lot at the airport? (Yes, I have done that…)Why would it be any different during the checkout process on a website? Displaying where a user is in the checkout process is crucial. What happens if they want to go back and edit their order? The last thing you want is confusion.

2. Do I really need to register?

Rule number one of online optimization – every extra required field, page, or step you force a shopper to complete can increase your dropout rate. Your customers don’t need yet another item on their to-do list.  Bottom line – less is more! Given this simple and proven fact, consider that your shoppers might not even want to register all their details with you when buying something. Hence the question – Do you really need to introduce a “register” section while trying to make another sale?


3. Driving sideways ain’t wise…

If you’re going to consider a one-page checkout option, don’t make the mistake of splitting out your sections from left to right. A horizontal cart process has proven time and time again to be a loser compared to breaking out sections one on top of the other. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

4. Avoid distractions at all costs!

The average attention span while browsing the web is about 8 seconds. Distract shoppers with anything slightly out of context, and away they click, forever. Be sure you don’t copy Sears in this case where they request users to fill out a survey after clicking “checkout as guest.” Not good!


5. Use simple, clean call to action buttons

The golden rule of call to action buttons – keep them simple, strong and visible, and make sure they are uniform in placement, position and color on each page. You actually want to train users on your site to look for your call to action buttons in the exact places they’d expect them to be.


6. No one likes a surprise (unless it includes winning LOTS of money :D)

Leave nothing to surprise. Make sure the actual text you use inside each call to action button describes exactly what is about to happen when they click on it. “Login and Checkout” or “Proceed to Billing” or “Review Your Order” is so much more comforting than “continue” or “next step”. This all comes back to keeping the user’s concerns at bay and not losing sales along the way.

7. Provide links back to product pages

Have you ever tried some clothes on, proceeded to pay at the counter and then decided to re-try them on, or want to find out more about them before finalizing your purchase? Shopping online is no different. Just because customers are at the checkout doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the option to click back onto the product page and keep fiddling around.

8. Provide reassurance, use thumbnails…

Yes, it’s true, pictures play a large role in reassuring the customer that the item they are about to buy is in fact the item they wish to purchase. Placing a thumbnail of the picture can help conversions by up to 7-10%. We humans are a very visual species. The more imagery directly related to the product the better.


9. Provide shipping cost as early as possible

Given that the top reason for cart abandonment is due to unknown, unclear, or undesirable shipping costs, best practice is to let shoppers know exactly what the shipping costs are as early as possible. Ideally, you can display shipping on product pages. If that’s not your thing, you can display shipping fees or a shipping calculator on your checkout page before shoppers “Proceed to Checkout.” The last thing you want is to hide these fees only to be revealed right before you ask for a credit card.

10. Are the items even in stock?

Another big mistake. Make sure shoppers never reach checkout just to find that their selections are actually out of stock. “Thanks for wasting my time” you can hear them say…. Most shopping carts today have the ability to place stock availability options on product pages. It’s wise to check this one off the list and make sure you save your customers the frustration. If it’s out of stock, don’t display it or provide an out of stock icon.

11. Ability to edit the cart

Another typical behavioral reaction when buying items is to suddenly consider buying more, or better yet, other related products. Very simply, allow shoppers the ability to edit their order during their checkout. Why limit the quantity they have ordered when they might in fact want to order more which could possibly increase their basket value? Riiigggggghhhhhhhhhttttttt?

12. Quick shop to cart buttons

Some shoppers know exactly what they want. Why bog them down with extra information and extra fluff? Provide these eager beavers with quick add to cart buttons and allow them to beeline towards the finish line faster. Why get in their way?

14. Optional versus required fields

Providing shoppers with very clear messaging around what they are required to fill in and what is optional can sometimes make all the difference. Best practice is to have a “required field” message at the top of the page along with a red * next to each required field, just so there’s no confusion. Seems like a minor idea but it’s the little things that add up.

14. Provide sample text inside fields

Never assume that over simplifying a process is a bad thing. You almost want a user to flow through the checkout without using their brain at all. A great way to help lower the brain drain is to include sample text in light grey of exactly what is required in that particular field. You’d be surprised at how effective this idea can be in eliminating distractions and keeping a shopper feeling warm and cozy while in your checkout process.


Remember, don’t make your customers struggle to spend money on your site. They shouldn’t have to beg – begging is for the dogs, woof!

Want more optimization tips for your online store? Visit www.abandonaid.com  to learn how you can prevent and recover abandoned carts on your site today.

Rachel Oppenheim is AbandonAid’s Official Pep-Talker and Community Manager. When Rachel isn’t blogging for AbandonAid or managing the AbandonAid community, she is managing her own community of 9(!) children (oh yea, and a husband), doing yoga, or riffing on the electric bass. Rachel is passionate about writing, bringing people together, dancing, organization (hello, IKEA!), laughing, NOT cooking, doing 5th grade homework, and radiating GOOD VIBES. A native Texan, she studied education and midwifery at Binghamton University, moving on to graduate from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She eventually settled in the Holy Land, living life to its fullest in Israel’s capital city and is proud to be a part of the prestigious Israeli hi-tech revolution.

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