Whether you call it a shopping cart, a basket or a bag, the process of completing a purchase on your site has to be as simple and pleasant as you can make it. And you MUST offer the assurances your customers need to reduce their security concerns.
1. Let customers know where they are in the process. Number the steps in the checkout process, and clearly label the task for every step. Allow shoppers to review what they did in previous steps and return to the current step if they do go back.
2. Include a link to the product detail page. Shoppers may want to make sure they selected the right item before they complete their purchase. They shouldn’t have to navigate using their “BACK” button.
3. Add pictures in the shopping cart. Including a thumbnail image of the product within the shopping cart has been shown to increase the conversion rate by as much as 10 percent.
4. Make the next step obvious. Include prominent "Next Step" buttons on every checkout page. Be sure that the button you want shoppers to click on is the most obvious item on the page.
5. Make changes easy. It should be simple for shoppers to change the quantity or delete items from their shopping cart.
6. Keep it friendly. If information is missing or incorrect, provide an error message that helps the shopper understand the problem and how to correct it. But never blame him for making a mistake.
7. Reassure your customers. Shoppers’ concerns increase during the checkout process. If they have a problem with the checkout or feel uncomfortable using their credit card online, display your toll-free phone number so they can still complete their purchase. Link to warranties, shipping costs, and return policies.
A clear summary of your privacy practices also reassures shoppers. Nobody reads or understands those endless legal policies, so if you need a legal document, link to it from the summary.
8. Don’t ask for information that’s not necessary. Make the checkout process as brief as possible. If you do request non-essential information make sure that required fields are clearly marked and placed at the top of the page.
9. Include third-party reinforcement. Truste, Verisign, Better Business Bureau and credit card logos help customers feel more secure, as do “real” testimonials.
10. Use an exit survey. If a shopper abandons the checkout process, offer an incentive to complete an exit survey. She may tell you why she didn't complete her purchase— very valuable information!
About the Author
Barry Harrison is the author of "REDiTIPS" eMarketing Newsletter and a partner in Resolve Digital, Web Strategies for the Real World.