6 Best Practices to Simplify Your Online Checkout Process and Get More Orders

shopper enjoying a faster online checkout process

Modern eCommerce marketing is complex. But in many ways, it can be boiled down to a simple two-step process: make sure that your customers fall in love with your products, and make it easy for them to buy those products through your online checkout process.

Countless marketing guides focus on the first part of that process. But what if you already have a customer who is ready to buy your product?

That’s where the online checkout process enters the equation. Simply put, it has to be simple, streamlined, and intuitive enough that you don’t lose the low-hanging fruit — customers who just want to complete their purchase. In this guide, we’ll discuss just why the checkout process matters so much. We’ll also explore six best practices you can use to ensure a smooth transaction and welcome a new customer.  

The Importance of an Optimized Online Checkout Process

The importance of an effective online checkout process may be best summed up by a single statistic: 

According to a study by the Baymard Institute, the average shopping cart abandonment rate across industries is just under 70%. 

In other words, seven out of ten online shoppers like products enough to add them to their cart but not enough to complete the online payment process.

A different survey by Forter related the concern more closely to the checkout process. It found that 50% of shoppers will become less likely to buy a product online if the checkout process takes more than 30 seconds. Finally, research by Statista found that a quarter of online users who abandon their cart later buy an identical or very similar product from another competitor. 

6 Best Practices to Optimize Your Online Checkout Process Design

shop owner seeing better results after changing their online checkout process

The above statistics are drastic. They point to just how important this final part of the new customer journey truly is. This list of eCommerce checkout flow best practices can help ensure that after you’ve convinced your audience about your products, you can bring them home and generate tangible revenue.

1. Reduce the Information Required to Check Out

The first and most straightforward step is to reduce the amount of information you’re gathering from your audience. A 2021 study found that the average online checkout process requires about 15 form fields; that’s almost twice as many as your users will expect to fill out before they begin to abandon their cart. Some easy steps to reduce that number to less than ten fields include:

  • Use a single “Name” field instead of asking for first and last names.
  • Hide the optional fields like “Address Line 2”, “Company Name,” and “Coupon Code” with ‘expand’ buttons, so they only show if needed.
  • Use Shopify’s Google Autocomplete integration for easier address entry.
  • Set the billing address to be identical to the shipping address by default, allowing users to change it when necessary.

2. Add a Guest Checkout Option Early…

Studies show that the second biggest reason users abandon their cart is because the online store requires them to create an account. Adding a guest checkout option prominently and early in the process can assuage that concern for new customers.

At the same time, move the account creation option to after the purchase. Then you can dynamically insert the data already provided by the new customer. Shopify’s dual Guest Checkout and Account Creation pages can make this easy for online stores on the platform.

3. …And Make Purchasing Even Simpler for Account Holders

The above is a great solution for new customers. But repeat customers might already have an account and expect an even simpler online checkout process as a result. Think Amazon’s “one-click buy” button that just requires a simple confirmation for logged-in users instead of having them go through multiple screens. 

One such option is Shop Pay, which only requires a security code for all personal information to be populated automatically and instantly for any verified users. According to a Shopify-internal study, merchants who enabled this feature increased checkout conversion rates by 172% across devices and 191% for mobile device users.

4. Clearly Address and Ease Any Security Concerns

Security concerns around the online payment process are among the biggest reasons why most users abandon their carts. Especially with first-time users who don’t yet know your store or brand well, establishing your trustworthiness from the start is key.

Fortunately, there are some easy steps for accomplishing that goal. Include any security certifications and seals you have as graphics on your checkout pages. Also, link directly to your privacy and return policies. Finally, visually highlight the payment section and auto-format spaces in the credit card field; studies have shown that can increase credibility and conversions.

5. Increase Transparency Around Additional Costs

The single biggest reason for cart abandonment, according to Baymard Institute, is that extra costs, like shipping, taxes, and handling fees, are simply too high. Of course, action steps here tend to be limited. After all, some of these costs must be added to the product costs. But a few optimizations can go a long way:

  • Allow users to estimate shipping costs by entering their zip code on product pages.
  • Offer free shipping for high purchase order values, like orders above $50.
  • Include any handling fees in your shipping costs, rather than showing a separate line item.
  • Add taxes into your product costs on product landing pages and early in the checkout process.

Some of these may require additional testing to determine success. Shopify’s A/B Testing tools can help you determine which of them actually drive conversions and deserve further emphasis.

6. Expand Your Checkout Process Design Beyond the Purchase

Finally, it pays to expand your concept of (and emphasis on) the online checkout process design beyond the initial purchase. From the moment they push that ‘buy’ button, your site should:

  • Reinforce their decision.
  • Confirm information.
  • Introduce the next steps to improve product onboarding.

The easiest way to accomplish that is through post-purchase email flows that include a purchase confirmation, shipping updates, and more. The flow can also include some basic product use tips, tutorials, and testimonials that reinforce their decision. A positive post-purchase experience makes your new customers much more likely to come back and complete the process again in the future.

Apply eCommerce Checkout Flow Best Practices to Optimize Your Customer Experience

While winning over the hearts of customers early in the buying journey is certainly important, appealing to their minds when closing the deal in the online checkout process matters just as much. It requires thoughtful checkout and payment process optimization, along with a post-purchase follow-up that meets and surpasses your new customers’ expectations.

The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, our experience in both Shopify builds and strategic email marketing can help your business succeed in applying these checkout flow best practices. Ready to start a conversation? Contact us today.