Black Friday marks the start of the Winter Sale season and in In Britain, it’s considered to be one of the biggest online shopping days of the year and last year saw a 12% rise in online purchases. Retail analysts IMRG estimated that a whopping £1.23bn was spent that day through retail websites!

With this massive increase in online activity, it's so important that retail websites offer the best user experience, ensuring sales are seamless. There are many e-commerce websites that don’t perform efficiently when it comes to checking out, causing ‘basket abandonment’ and lost sales that were literally ‘in the bag’! A few simple amendments made to the checkout process can reduce the friction that causes basket abandonment and ensures that precious sales aren’t lost. I’ll end with a few examples of websites that are doing it right.


1. Be transparent

Let’s start with the biggest reason for basket abandonment – hidden charges. Nothing will infuriate customers more than having to enter all their details in, only to find out that they’re having to spend more than first thought due to hidden charges such as delivery or VAT. Be transparent with your charges and show the full cost to the customer right from the outset.

2. Offer a quick guest checkout option

Another cause of basket abandonment is when the customer has to register first. In fact, you could lose nearly a 1/3 of your customers by making registration mandatory. Customers may only be making a one-off purchase so could be put out by having to register first. The best checkout processes include a quick checkout option, allowing the customer to click through and complete their purchase, without the need to sign up and stumble through the password creation process. Once the checkout process is complete, there’s nothing wrong with adding a step at the end enabling the customer to create an account if they wish.

3. Keep it simple

Including unnecessary steps during the checkout process is another way to infuriate your customers. The sight of a huge form is enough to turn anyone away so keeping it simple is essential to getting the conversion. Only request the information required to complete the transaction and remove ‘optional’ fields. Adding an ‘address lookup’ field requiring only a postcode really cuts down on the information that the customer has to input and makes for a much smoother, quicker process.

4. Keep the customer informed

The fun part of the whole purchasing process is definitely the shopping around for items. The checkout process is just something we have to go through so making this as painless as possible should be the aim. One way to ensure customers don’t click away is to include a progress bar. Not only does a progress bar inform the shopper where they are in the checkout process, it also lets them know how many steps remain to complete their purchase, reassuring them that they’re almost there.

5. Remove distractions

Another reason why customers may leave a transaction is by clicking on a link taking them away from their shopping basket. Good checkouts will remove unnecessary links and information, ensuring the customer doesn’t exit the process, allowing them to complete their transaction without distraction. The customer should have everything they need to checkout swiftly so there’s no need to display ‘new’ information that could cause friction.

6. Be secure and look secure

It’s essential that you look secure to your customers as very sensitive information is being shared during the checkout process. Proving that their details are secure is essential, if the customer has any doubt at all, there is no way they will complete their transaction. Use SSL to encrypt the page and display clear indications that they’re safe throughout the checkout process.

Here are 5 websites that all use the methods above to very good effect. use a one-page checkout process with a very clean, uncluttered aesthetic. By having the whole process laid out on a single page, it allows the customer to quickly enter their details in one swift action without too many clicks. Here you can see they offer the ‘find address’ function as their primary source of address entry, thus saving the user having to enter this information in manually (although there is a small link allowing the user to do this below).

Security reassurances are displayed under the basket and after sale information clearly outlined at the foot of the page.

Here we see a staged process where customers are taken through 4 simple steps, which is clearly illustrated at the top of the page. It also has a very user-friendly delivery function, allowing users to simply click on their preferred delivery date, whilst being informed of the price the whole way through. The customer only then has two short forms to complete for contact and payment, making the entire process quick and easy.

Habitat display a very good example of a simple, swift checkout process. A clean, uncluttered design greets users, with links that could potentially lead customers astray, removed. Only an email address is required to start the process and what follows is a simple, clearly indicated 3-step process, guiding the users through the transaction. Only the necessary details are required and customers are reminded that it’s secure. A full price breakdown follows you throughout so no surprises await customers.

Another one-page checkout example here, but with a difference. With a strikingly simple design, each step has been separated out and only ‘active’ fields are prominent, with future steps greyed out until the current step has been completed.

Only essential information is required and an address finder function speeds up the process further. When scrolling down the page, the basket details follow so any updates to price are clearly displayed.

A graphic above the basket reassures customers that their details are safe. As far as simplicity, speed and customer experience are concerned, this stands out as a fantastic example.

Whilst Amazon insists on registration, I’ve included this example due to its simplicity for returning shoppers.

Once you’ve entered your details, shoppers can go from their basket and through the checkout process in a couple of clicks. Whilst it’s styling looks a little dated, it’s still functional and intuitive with clear steps outlined, enabling customers to complete their purchases in seconds.


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