Online business : Simplifying your checkout process
Of all the things you can do when you start your online business, whether your goal is to open a furniture store, sell electronics, ebooks or cosmetics, simplifying your checkout process is one of the most important.
Eliminating as many steps as possible for the customer between making the purchase decision and paying for the item offers a number of benefits for your business.
Chief among them is the actual completion of transactions. Here’s how to get it done.
Verify Product Details
When the customer clicks “Buy”, the first screen to show them is a verification page so they can be certain what they’re about to pay for is what they want. It should include a photo of the product, as well as their sizing, color and quantity choices. This will reassure them they’re about to get what they want.
Resist the temptation to use this page to keep selling. This page is all about closing the sale, not selling them on what they’ve already decided to buy. That’s a great way to talk yourself out of a sale.
Yes, some information is critical to the purchase. You’ll need the buyers’ name, physical address, credit card number and preferred shipping destination. However, some data can be inferred from answers to other questions.
For example, when you ask for a ZIP code first you can autocomplete city and state. Credit card numbers follow certain patterns. So, you don’t have to ask if it’s Visa, AMEX or MasterCard. Additionally, if the customer has bought from you before, you can give them the option of re-using previous information.
Offer Guest Purchasing
Asking people to sign in and give you a lot of personal information can put them off, especially if they’re concerned about privacy, or trying to keep junk mail to a minimum.
Some people just want to buy what they want and be done with it. They aren’t interested in developing a long-term relationship with you. Rather than forcing the issue, let them do the deal a guest and ask if they want to register to make their next purchase faster and easier after they’ve completed the process.
Keep Checkout Pages Simple
The temptation to cross sell and upsell are great at this stage of the transaction. But anything you do on checkout pages other than ask for the information you need to complete the transaction can kill the sale. Do not bombard them with other information until after they make the buy.
A visual progress indicator helps your customer know where they are in a process. This can keep them engaged, particularly in the mobile environment where you’re more likely to need a multiple screen checkout procedure.
If you start asking questions without giving them any idea of how many more steps they need to complete, you’ll run the risk of frustrating them and having them bail out on the sale—possibly one step away from completing the transaction.
Confirm the Purchase
Always show buyers a confirmation screen after they’ve paid, affirming the transaction is complete. This will assure them the transaction went through. That screen can also say; “Customers who bought this item also bought…”, giving you the opportunity to cross sell and upsell. But never do this before they pay.
Simplifying your checkout process will make life easier for your customers and business better for you. Yes, the more information about your customers you can glean, the better you can market them—absolutely.
But they have to buy from you once before becoming a returning patron. Make that first purchase easy, they’ll almost always come back for more.
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— Will Corry (@slievemore) October 8, 2018
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