This is a very good article, now if you do one that takes a person step by step through the shopping cart installation process we would be on to something....
9 Things to Do To Improve Your Checkout Process
Why is it that many businesses focus too much on landing pages but do not do the same for their checkout pages? This is a big mistake given that the checkout process is just as important as the landing page. After all, it is not unheard of for the customer to abandon shopping after realizing that the checkout process is too complicated. Below is a list of the things you can do to improve your checkout process.
1. Keep it Clean
Few things are as discouraging as getting to the checkout page and finding it cluttered with many distractions. Remove all the unnecessary links, and let the customer focus on the checkout process only. In fact, you should go a step further and minimize the number of fields to be filled. An easy way of doing this is making a list of the essential fields and sticking to it when designing the page. For example, why ask for a shipping address if the product purchased is a music download?
2. Make Logging in Optional
One of the worst experiences you can have as a customer is to get to the checkout phase before realizing that you need to register and log in to complete the process. If you can purchase the product elsewhere, you will definitely abandon the purchase. When people shop online, they mostly buy stuff they are excited about. This means they wish to get it as soon as possible, and in their minds, expediting the checkout process is one step towards getting the product. Since you also need to nurture leads on your site, the easy way to get around this problem is to enable guest checkout.
3. Show a Visual Progress Indicator
When you are going through the checkout process, you are eager to know how far you have to go to complete it. There are visual progress indicators, such as color bars, that you can include to give your customers an indication of how many steps they have to complete to conclude the purchase.
4. Include Scrubbed Addresses
If your business actually ships physical products, it can be catastrophic to get the address wrong. Luckily, there is a technique known as scrubbing an address that you can use to ensure that your site captures the right address, and that it is formatted correctly. The technology behind scrubbing captures the entered address details and compares it against a solid address database such as that of the US Postal Service. The scrubbed address is correct and helps you to avoid wasting resources to get the right address.
5. Include Processing and Shipping Durations
This one is also important because customers want to get their products as fast as possible, and they want to know when to expect delivery. It is best to put upper limit time estimates so as not to disappoint your customers. This information should be easily visible early in the checkout process. It is actually easy to put in. A simple sentence of “Allow 3 days for delivery” suffices. Just ensure that you have included processing and shipping time in your estimate.
6. Offer Different Methods of Payment
Even though you might find it easy to process credit card payments, this should not be the only payment service in your checkout. Offer different options such as PayPal or Google Wallet. Moreover, many people do not like to enter their credit cards details online either because of the perceived insecurity or because of the time it takes to enter the details manually.
7. Make Navigation Easy and Provide Easy to Understand Forms
One of the greatest mistakes you can ever make on your checkout site is using difficult to understand forms. There are those who will give your online store a wide berth just by the fact that they do not understand how to complete orders on your site. You should also just ask for the necessary information to avoid arousing suspicion on what you do with the collected data. Your forms should not make a customer wonder “now why do they want this?” If there is a detail you wish to capture, but it is not necessary, include it as an optional field. Remember to mark necessary fields (probably with asterisks). Align all the labels, use dropdown menus and any other thing you might think of to make navigation easy.
8. Provide Proof of Trust on Your Page
With the rising cases of online fraud, customers will only use your site if they are assured of its safety. Your customers will not enter their credit card details on your site if they think you will use the details fraudulently. There are trust elements you can add to your site to assuage this fear. A good example is the use of SSL certificates and badges to show your potential customers that their information is secure from hackers. A visible security badge is very useful in these situations. You can also increase customers’ trust by providing guarantees (such as a money back guarantee) for customers who are dissatisfied with your products or services.
9. Provide Discounts and Offers
As an incentive to encourage your customers to complete the checkout process, have some offers and discounts on your page. A time limited offer is a good example of encouraging customers not to abandon the process for another day.