Tips for Creating a Better Checkout Process

by Guest on March 5, 2010


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Categories : Conversion,Smart E-Commerce

Guest Article by Michelle Strassburg, co-founder at online hard wood floors sellers Wood and Beyond.

The process of converting Web visitors to customers is often harder then getting them to your site in the first place. While there are many factors which might influence your conversion rates such as pricing and even stock availability, one which has a considerable effect is the checkout process. This process describes the actions a visitor takes from placing an item in the basket to making a payment and becoming a paid customer. Therefore logic implies that if you are able to improve this process, you will grow your revenue. Here are couple of suggestions which you should consider.

1. Use strong call to action messages
After placing an item in the basket, visitors should be directed to take one out of only two actions — either continue browsing the site or head to the checkout process. Use bold letters and colors which will standout amongst the other buttons on the page. On this page you should look to remove any noise factors such as banners, email subscription boxes etc so the visitor can focus on what is most important.

2. Only ask for relevant information
The account registration page is very important for the checkout process which is why you should invest time and energy getting it right. Ask for as little information as possible at this stage, getting the visitor to complete the order and follow up later with any other information needed. You might think you need the customer’s date of birth, gender, favorite color, etc and it may indeed prove useful for your marketing later down the line, but you could always ask for this information afterwords.

3. Remove unnecessary steps
If you require the visitor to confirm any forms or take any unnecessary steps on the account opening page, consider moving them. If the step is absolutely necessary, for example confirming terms and conditions, place it just before the payment stage after the visitor has already submitted their information.

4. Keep the visitor informed
It is important to keep the visitor well informed during the checkout process. One way is to offer a one page checkout process where all the stages (hopefully not too many) are visibly shown on the page. Another way is to use a progress bar to indicate the various checkout stages. You increase your chances of conversion by keeping the visitor informed about where they are and where they need to be.

5. Remove the need to open an account
Consider making account
registration or log-in before purchasing optional. Often called ‘guest account’, this type of checkout process is very popular with visitors who are not likely to purchase another item from your site any time soon and those who would rather avoid having to remember another set of account details.

6. Offer flexible payment options
In order to make your offer as appealing to as many visitors as possible, provide as many payment options as you realistically can. This may create a competitive advantage over your competitors and, in the process, widen the visitor groups who might order from you. For example, some groups prefer to pay by using 3rd party payment gateways such as PayPal® or Google® Checkout. Some government customers can only pay by a purchase order.

Before making changes to your checkout process, make sure you have the means to measure your changes. One such way is to install Google Analytics, a free Web analytics software by Google. Once Google Analytics is installed, you will have the ability to define certain goals such as purchase or account registration and analyze how many visitors reach these goals. To learn more about goals, visit Google Analytics help.

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Guest Article by Michelle Strassburg. Michelle manages the online marketing and e-commerce activities for Wood and Beyond.

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