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. The conversion rate motto says to prioritise checkout optimization because fears, doubts, and questions surface when it’s time to pay. Any last drop of anxiety, deficiency in credibility, or doubt about the product, divulges at checkout. Expect an element to have greater influence on profit the closer it is to when the customer is charged for their purchase.
Shopify handles a lot of what makes a good checkout page, yet there are customizations possible to increase sales. You’re about to learn how to make your checkout a smooth sequence of ease and reassurance.
This chapter on checkout optimization covers advice that is unique to pages from the cart to payment confirmation. For example, a free delivery threshold reduces cart abandonment, but the tactic is revealed earlier in the chapter on product page optimizations so it is not shared here. Follow other chapters of the book to squeeze more sales out of the checkout. Read every prior lesson on design—especially social proof and usability testing—plus upsells, cross-sells, and down-sells to optimise the checkout for shoppers.
Laws of the Checkout
Most trust should be established before the checkout. You have 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 decorates their cart page with messages of security, free shipping, lifetime technical support, and a customer phone number. The trust-builders are brilliant, but their mistake is the visual prioritisation 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 customise the logo used on the page with extra trust messages. In the one image you can include other images to let people know they can call you to get last-minute questions answered. The funny thing is, most people will not call—the number provides confidence that customer support is real and available.
A survey or live chat at checkout can reveal where your store most lacks trust. Refer to the positioning chapter for the best post-purchase survey questions to ask. Record questions then support’s answers in a Google sheet. Use the captured data by addressing objections before they arise to increase the conversion rate.
The cart page is another chance to increase the average order value by offering an upsell. Prompt visitors to order something else to complement a product in their cart or meet the minimum order value for free shipping.
I’ve seen a slipper company suggest a slipper bag and gift wrap. I also saw a shoe company suggest shoe horns when I viewed my shopping cart that had a pair of shoes in them.
The PetLab Co. offered me paw balm and an ear spray at a heavily discounted price. The items were framed as a bundle, available to be added to cart beneath the dental kit subscription I added to cart.
On top of product upsells, provide a small service upsell that costs no more than $4. The goal is to increase profit per order. The checkout page can offer “Priority processing”, “Expedited delivery”, “Present wrapping”, or a “Shipping protection plan”.
I tested a shipping protection plan for one client using Navidium Shipping Protection. The service upsell has customers get their order sent again if their item is lost or damaged in transit. After 1,000 orders, it had an 83% uptake rate on all sales with no impact on conversion rate. Previously, the company would resend orders when items became lost or damaged, but now the service is packaged as a product for more profit.
Diversify Payment Options
What payment options should you provide for the store? There is no answer that one payment method is best. The best payment methods are trusted by customers, minimise the effort to buy, and even help fund the purchase.
If it is available in your country, enable Shopify Payments offered to Shopify through Stripe. Enable Google Pay, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and Shop Pay that saves people from having to find their credit card. I also suggest enabling PayPal. A Nielsen study found that merchants get a 28% higher conversion rate when PayPal is offered.
The payment method you select can also affect average order value so if you’re testing payment options, consider that metric. When skin care brand Kiramoon enabled PayPal at checkout, the average order value of customers that paid through PayPal was 6.25% higher than other payment methods.
On top of the payment method, let customers pay the full amount of their order later in instalments. PayPal, Klarna, Affirm, and Afterpay are all payment providers with a buy now, pay later solution. My favourite is Shopify’s Shop Pay that lets customers pay in 4 interest-free payments or monthly instalments up to 12 months. Shopify claims the flexible payment method can result in “up to 50% increase in average order value” and “up to 28% fewer abandoned carts”.
Forms and Fields for Checkout Optimization
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 solution had such an impact because people had to register an account before checkout. Visitors could not remember their email, had difficulty authenticating their account, and experienced problems resetting their password. When all of this went fine for visitors, 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 “Settings” > “Checkout”. Disable the setting, “Require the customer to log in to their account before checkout“.
Customise Opt-In Text
Having more interested people on your marketing lists is always better than less. Capturing the emails or mobile numbers of engaged shoppers results in better conversions from quality traffic.
Improve the email opt-in offer at checkout. Shopify’s default email opt-in description is “Email me with news and offers”. Keto-cereal company Magic Spoon is losing email subscribers with a bland invitation to opt-in.
You can collect subscribers at the checkout and edit the opt-in description within Shopify by following these steps:
- Log into the Shopify admin.
- Click “Settings” > “Checkout”.
- Scroll down to “Marketing options” then enable the “Email” and “SMS” options. (If you’re not doing SMS, it is an easy channel to add revenue. We can launch your SMS for you.)
- Click “Save”.
- Click “Customize sign-up labels” in the “Marketing options” section to edit the text. If your brand is fun and funky, make your message reflect that. Give people a reason to subscribe.
Make Fields Optional or Explain Them
Marketers crave information on their customers. The digital manifestation of this desire are web forms that ask for more information than required. 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”. 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 to be filled. The text of “Required” or “Optional” next to each field is effective, as opposed to the vague red asterisk.
If a piece of data is not needed to process a person’s order, don’t even present the field. The next best option is to make the field optional. Required fields are more likely to impact abandonment than optional fields, because when someone wants to avoid an optional field they go to the next step.
Change the required fields, like company information, address line 2, and phone for your store by going to your Shopify admin then “Settings” > “Checkout and accounts”. People are more willing 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.
Another field that can be removed on the cart page is order notes. The purpose of the order notes field on the cart page is often unclear and can be disabled most of the time.
Another rule for field optimization proven effective in ecommerce is to explain why the data is needed. People will wonder, “Why do you need my full name?” or “Why are you asking for my phone number when you already have my email?” It is obvious to you why you need their email, but not all people know their email is used to send tracking information or an order summary. Explain that phone numbers are required to process orders through customs in Australia.
Share the reason you request such information beneath the label rather than hiding it behind a tool-tip. Shopify Plus users can customise the labels at checkout while others can 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.”
Any time you minimise the effort for shoppers to checkout, you are likely to increase revenue. Check off these best practices to make the checkout simple for shoppers:
- Use Shopify’s one-page checkout. Fewer fields and page loads reduce friction.
- The “Tab” key can be used for effortless navigation between form input fields.
- The numeric keyboard appears for number-only fields on mobile devices.
- The width of input fields correspond to the expected data entered into it. For example, a credit card security number field should be smaller than the credit card number field.
- Dedicated buttons for “@” and “.com” appear when entering an email field on mobile devices.
- Placeholders of input fields save thinking or reduce doubt.
- When a user leaves the checkout, input fields save allowing the user to continue checkout at a later time.
- Clear error messages displayed for improperly completed input fields, with guidance for correction.
- The billing address can be set from the shipping address to avoid duplicate entries. In Shopify, go to “Settings” > “Checkout” then check “Use the shipping address as the billing address by default“.
- A street address database prevents user errors in address entry and speeds up the completion of forms. In Shopify, go to “Settings” > “Checkout” then check “Use address autocompletion”.
Coupon Fields and Remorse
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 the brand plus “coupons”, “promo code” and “discount code”. If they fail to find one, they either abandon checkout or proceed feeling disappointment that they’re missing out.
One approach to handle this is to give the visitor a coupon on a page, FAQ or blog post that is SEO-optimised for coupon searches. On the page, have an email capture to claim the coupon. Request something from the person if you’re going to give away profit. Display the coupon immediately to new subscribers through the page to discourage checkout abandonment.
The second approach is to remove the form field altogether. Bionic Gloves, who sell a variety of sport gloves, tested removing their coupon field and increased revenue 24.7%.
The Thank You Page
The customer sees the thank you page after his or her purchase. Every thank you page should do the following:
- Clearly confirm a successful purchase completion. Congratulate the user to affirm their choice. In Shopify, you can personalise the congratulations with relevant content based on the order.
- Summarise order contents.
- Provide delivery date and courier information.
- Offer easy contact options through live chat, email, or phone.
- Explain the package tracking process.
- Include a clear ask that is valuable to the business.
The last point can be asking the customer to refer a friend, like the store on Facebook, do a survey, or make another purchase. Most direct-to-consumer brands would do best to provide an upsell and show a post-purchase survey. People who missed earlier cross-sells and upsells may still buy these products. ReConvert lets you customise the thank you page, offer upsells, and run surveys.
Analytics company RJ Metrics studied 176 ecommerce retailers and 18-million customers to find, “The fastest growing ecommerce companies have a customer lifetime value 79% higher than their peers.” The research went on to reveal the first 90 days is critical to get the customer purchasing again to build a high lifetime value.
All of the contents on the thank you page, can be replicated in the order confirmation email to further boost conversions. If you offered a coupon code on the thank you page, include it in the email. If an upsell was offered on the thank you page, include it in the email. The worst mistake is not asking your new customer to do something.
Where to Next?
Well done on reaching the end of the ultimate guide to boost your Shopify conversion rate!
What you finish reading means nothing if you fail to apply the lessons. Learning is behavioural change. Every day you put off conversion optimization is another day sales fall through your hands.
All I ask of you is to make one simple change right now that will have a large impact. Create a free delivery threshold calculated from the average order value, fix broken links, or change the price of your best-seller. If you’re uncertain of yourself or short on time, get someone you trust to execute this conversion plan. We’d be happy to help.
Once you get your first lift in revenue from conversion optimization, you will become addicted to the process. Go on and seize your first victory.