Shopify Conversion Rate Optimization

The Ultimate Ecommerce Guide to Increase Sales from Drive-By Visitors in Shopify

by Joshua Uebergang of Digital Darts

Part 7: Checkout

How to Make Your Checkout Compel Visitors to Buy

“Like an airplane pilot landing in the dark, we want runway lights on either side of us, guiding us to the place where we can touch down our wheels… Thinking is difficult and sometimes unpleasant.”Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational

Improve near the money. That’s my motto for the effectiveness of checkout optimization. Expect an element to have more weight on profit the closer it is—chronologically and visually—to when the customer is charged for their purchase.

The checkout is the sequence from the cart page to payment confirmation. What happens within the process is seen in revenue or cart abandonment because it affects every customer. Shopify handles a lot of what makes a good payment page, which is only customizable if you are a Plus subscriber.

The checkout chapter of this ecommerce conversion guide covers specific advice that applies only to checkout. Every lesson on design (especially usability testing) and others like urgency can improve the through-rate of visitors.

A customer that hands over money reveals trust in the store and belief in the product. Any last drop of anxiety, deficiency in credibility, or uncertainty from your almost-customer divulges at checkout. You’re about to learn how to make your checkout a smooth sequence of ease and reassurance.

Cement Trust

Most trust should be established before the checkout. You learned the ecommerce trust-builders like live chat, trust icons, value propositions, and policies like guarantees, shipping, and returns.

Repetition of trust messages can still boost sales. Turntable Lab decorate their cart page with messages of security, free shipping, lifetime technical support, and a customer phone number. (Their mistake is not a repetition of trust messages on the cart page, but the visual prioritization of what to click next.) Pirate Fashions list the top three concerns and questions people have during checkout on the cart page.

If you are not on Shopify Plus, you have limited control over the checkout page design. A little hack to build trust is to customize the logo used on the page with extra trust messages. In the this image you can edit in other images to let people know they can call you to get last-minute questions answered. Few people will call you—they mostly want the option to know you’re there for real support.

A survey or live chat can reveal where your store most lacks trust. iMagnet have a little survey widget that appears at checkout to see if the visitor has any concerns.

Make Fields Optional or Explain Them

Checkout validation

Marketers crave information on their customers. The digital manifestation are web forms that ask for more information than a first-date stalker. Users feel invaded when asked to provide seemingly unnecessary information.

The Baymard Institute from their usability tests recommend an approach of “make it optional or explain it”.

If the requested data is not needed to process a person’s order, either don’t ask for it or make it optional. Change the required fields for your store by going to your Shopify admin then “Settings” and “Checkout”. The special instructions field on the cart page is often unclear and can be removed most of the time.

The Baymard Institute found required fields are more likely to impact abandonment than optional fields. People have increased willingness to share personal information for expensive purchases like a laptop where they want to be easily reached as opposed to an impulse buy of a shirt. When someone wants to avoid an optional field, they simply proceed to the next step.

Mark every field as either required or optional to create a smooth checkout process. Tests show people intensely focus on one field at a time and need to be told simply what is needed so they can get their purchase quick. “Required” or “Optional” next to each field is effective as opposed to the vague red asterisk.

The second approach of field optimization proven effective in ecommerce is to provide a reason why you need the data. It seems obvious to you why you need their email, but people have been trained to expect the worst with personal details. Phone numbers are required to process orders through customs, at least in Australia. People still ask, “Why do you need my full name?” “Why are you asking for my phone number when you already have my email?”

Share the reason you request such information openly beneath the label rather than hiding it behind a tool-tip. Shopify Plus users can customize the labels at checkout while others can only alter the placeholder text. The Baymard Institute found the best justification for requesting a phone number is, “Only used to contact you in case of problems with your order or delivery.”

Cart Up-sell

The cart page is another chance to increase the average order value by offering an up-sell. Prompt visitors to order something else to complement a product in their cart or meet the minimum order value for free shipping.

New York shoe company Kith suggested shoe horns when I viewed my shopping cart that had a pair of shoes in them. Mahabis sell slippers and suggested at checkout a slipper bag and gift wrap.

The Product Upsell app I recommended earlier lets you suggest products based on what is in a person’s cart (and now even on the post-purchase page.) Provide a custom explanation why it complements their purchase to increase conversions.

Payment Options


Should you accept PayPal and Google Wallet with your standard credit card processor? After it all, it makes sense to let people use their preferred payment option. Electronic retailer Crutchfield added a PayPal option for mobile users and got an increase of 33.7% in conversions.

There is no universal answer that a particular payment method or two is best. Most Shopify stores either have a single payment method through Shopify’s Stripe integration or one that also includes PayPal like clothing company Sevenly.

Your visitors may love PayPal because they don’t have to stand up to get their credit card or multiple payment options may confuse and distract. If I had to force a single recommendation for all sellers, it’d be to use the standard credit card processor and PayPal.

You have to test. It is simple to find out what is best for you in the split-test by removing the button elements at the cart page. Remove any other reference of the payment methods for the tested variation.

The Three Hundred Million-Dollar Button

One form made of two fields, two buttons, and one link stopped 45% of customers purchasing from a major ecommerce site. When fixed, the store saw an extra $300 million in sales over the following 12 months.

The problem? People had to register an account before checkout. Visitors could not remember their email, had difficulty authenticating their account, and experienced more problems resetting a password. When all this went fine, emails were lost in the spam folder.

In place of the account registration form, the designers put a “Continue” button with a simple message: “You do not need to create an account to make purchases on our site. Simply click Continue to proceed to checkout. To make your future purchases even faster, you can create an account during checkout.”

Do not require people to register an account. Full stop. Enable the guest checkout option in Shopify by going to your checkout settings then selecting “Accounts are optional“. Customers are given the option to create an account at the end of the checkout.

Coupon Manipulation

The coupon field disrupts the purchase when the visitor does not have a coupon. People are enticed to leave the checkout, jump over to Google, and search for a coupon. If they fail to find one, they either abandon checkout or proceed feeling slight disappointment that they’re missing out.

A high volume store can search its brand name in Uber Suggest to see the list of Google Instant suggestions (which show queries people search) for the brand. If the checkout of the store has a coupon field, you will see search variations of “coupons”, “promo code” and “discount code”.

One approach to handle this is to give the visitor a coupon. Request something in return by giving a coupon to someone when they subscribe to your email list. Also have a page, FAQ or blog post that is SEO-optimized for coupon searches that provide a discount to capture the search traffic.

The second approach is to remove the form field altogether. This can be done in Shopify Plus. Bionic Gloves sell a variety of sport gloves. The company tested removing their coupon field and increased revenue 24.7%.

Thank You Page

The thank you page is what the customer sees after purchase. You can make many requests post-purchase like get the customer to socially share their order, like the store on Facebook, refer friends, do a survey, or make another purchase. The worst mistake is not asking your new customer to do something.

Analytics company RJ Metrics in their 2015 study of 176 ecommerce retailers and 18-million customers found, “The fastest growing ecommerce companies have a customer lifetime value 79% higher than their peers.” The research went on to find the first 90 days is critical to get the customer purchasing again to build a high lifetime value. See the importance of lifetime optimization? Harvard Business School found an increase in retention of 5% can increase profits by 25-95%.

I recommend you prioritize actions in a descending order on the thank you page with the most important goal of getting your new customer on your email list. If the customer is not automatically signed up to any list, tease them with a free bonus that complements their recent purchase. If you sell tea, provide a one-page well-designed infographic to make the best tea. You could ask them to sign-up to claim a customer-only coupon for their next purchase.

Do you struggle with positioning your products and store? Now is the time to trigger a customer survey.

Do you sell other products that go well with the purchase? People who missed your cross-sells and up-sells may still buy these products. Shopify lets you show specific content based on the product ordered.

Shopify Plus members can control the technical part of checkout pages while everyone has control over core content and some design.

Where to Next?

Well done on reaching the end of the ultimate guide to boost your Shopify conversion rate.

What you have completed means nothing if you fail to apply. Every day you put off conversion optimization is a day sales fall through your hands. Learning is behavioral change.

All I ask of you is to make one simple change right now. Test a trust element on the cart page, mention of free delivery in your header, or price change on your best-seller. Get someone you trust to execute this conversion plan if you’re uncertain of yourself or short on time.

Once you see your first revenue lift, you will become addicted to the optimization process.

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About the Author

Joshua Uebergang
Joshua Uebergang is owner and Head of Strategy at Digital Darts, a certified Shopify Marketing Expert company. He helps Shopify stores rapidly get more visitors and profit. At 6’9″, he plays basketball. If you liked the guide and want help to increase your sales, see the Digital Darts growth services for Shopify.