Checkout Psychology: Are You Losing Customers Before They Pay?

Your customer is happily flitting through your online wares, loading up their shopping cart with your various offerings, and leaving you primed for a nice sale. Then they reach the checkout process, the moment of truth when they must pay for those goodies gathered from your virtual shelves. Only they don’t. Instead they abandon their cart, most likely never to return. It’s a scenario eCommerce store owners know all too well. The rate of lost shopping carts is in fact much higher than many people might suspect. According to the Baymard Institute, data gathered from 28 different studies over the past nine years suggests the average rate of shopping cart abandonment is 68%. The potentially million-dollar question then is: What about the checkout process is preventing them from completing their purchase, and what can be done about it? While certainly not every aspect of a lost sale is within your power to control or influence, there are numerous factors that drive shopping cart abandonment more than others. Some of the major ones are probably obvious: shipping times are too slow or shipping fees are too high. There’s a lack of payment options available for the customer, such as having a platform that can accept Bitcoin payments. Or, the checkout process is simply too complicated. But what about some other factors in your website’s design that might be coming into play, or could be tweaked to improve conversion rates? Let’s take a look at some of those now, and see what you can do to get your customers completing their purchases, and prevent abandoned carts from building a tower to the moon on your checkout page.

Make Security Features Prominent

Customers of smaller eCommerce stores are more concerned with security than they are when visiting larger online retailers. If they don’t feel comfortable enough with the security of your store to handle their sensitive information, they’re likely to bolt. Displaying trusted and well-known security signs like Verisign and BizRate will help ease their concerns and let them know their information is secure.

Display Other Trust Signals

You should also take advantage of other benefits of your store here to further ease their anxiety and coax them to make that purchase. One of the biggest is to assure them that you have an easy returns or exchange policy, and this information should be displayed prominently in a nice button somewhere on your checkout page. When they don’t have to agonize over the finality of a purchase, it becomes much easier to hit the “Buy Now” button.

Avoid The Option of Coupon Codes at Checkout

You may make promotions now and then involving coupon codes, or have deals in place with affiliate marketers that involve providing them with coupon codes to give to their viewers. You may even have coupon codes built into your checkout process without actively using them at all. This would be a bad idea. Unless coupon codes are a major part of your business, such as through the aforementioned affiliate marketing route, you should avoid them altogether. Seeing the option of providing a coupon code at checkout leads many savvy customers to go looking for such a code instead of paying, and if they can’t find one or get distracted in their search, their cart often gets abandoned. Instead, find other ways to provide your customers with offers and discounts that don’t utilize such codes at checkout.

Employ a Closed-Checkout Process

Aside from the security and trust signals described above, you want your checkout process to be as uncluttered as possible, so the customer is focused solely on completing their transaction. This is best accomplished through a closed-checkout process. This is essentially a closed-off area on your website does not have the same layout or links to other sections that your main website does. Your checkout process should be limited to only those elements necessary to complete it, and the interface simple and clean.

Allow Easy Modifications of Orders at Checkout

Lastly, provide an easy way for them to modify their order at the last minute, by allowing them to remove items from their cart altogether, or change the quantity of items right at checkout, without having to leave the process entirely; possibly never to return. eCommerce site owners that employ a psychological philosophy to their checkout optimization will have a much lower ratio of customers opting out during the checkout process. Does your site really NEED all of those checkout pages? Does your checkout process take too much time, is it too involved for new and returning customers alike? These are all areas to consider, and the suggestions listed above will help ensure your site’s checkout experience is as convenient and swift for your customers as possible. After all, how many time have we wound up like this poor fellow? Do you want your customers to have the same experience? Checkout should be swift, accessible and most of all: convenient?