The checkout – what you should pay attention to

Author: Henning Ahlers // 8min

It cannot be denied that the checkout is probably the most critical and sensitive phase in an online shop. Nevertheless, many online merchants pay little attention to the right optimization of the checkout. The result are abandoned purchases, which actually do not have to be. In principle, the customer already shows a clear motivation to buy by adding products to the shopping cart. If they suddenly drop out at the checkout, this indicates that something is wrong at one of the touchpoints in the ordering process.

What makes the checkout so important

Would you have thought that around 70% of all orders in checkout are ended before completion?With a targeted optimization of the checkout, you have the opportunity to exploit the potential by increasing the conversion rate and reducing the abandonment rate. But how can you build a good checkout page and why do customers bounce in the checkout? You should use the findings of the following article to analyze where your checkout can be optimized.

Do you want specific tips for checkout optimization? Then read our article Conversion Optimisation at the Checkout: 10 Tips.

What could a checkout look like?

The checkout is the final step customers must take to complete an order. In brick-and-mortar retail, the checkout is the physical walk to the cash register, whereas in an online shop, customers are guided digitally through the checkout process. Brick-and-mortar retail has an advantage here because it does not require a data query, nor do shoppers have to pay shipping costs. In e-commerce, certain things cannot be avoided during checkout, but they can be made user-friendly. Optimizing the checkout always aims to enhance the user experience and simplify the process.

When it comes to checkout, you basically have two options, which should be based on the requirements of the target group:

  • One-page checkout
  • Multi-page checkout


The one-page checkout

With a one-page checkout, the customer finds everything on one page – from entering the data to the shipping options to the payment options and ultimately clicking the “Order Now” button.


Advantages of one-page checkout:

  • Fast process without clicking from page to page multiple times
  • Clearly structured
  • Provides clarity and is easy to understand
  • Smooth checkout


Disadvantages of one-page checkout:

  • Is not infrequently accompanied by long loading times
  • Must be coherent in terms of structure and convenient for the user
  • In the case of abandoned purchases, it is difficult to understand what triggers the abandonment


Although you might think that one-page checkout is the most convenient and user-friendly option, that doesn’t always have to be true. Multi-page checkout also works wonderfully for many online shops.


The multi-page checkout

The multi-page checkout is still the most widely used variant to design the checkout. Here, the user is navigated through several pages to complete the order. Each page addresses a different piece of information, such as entering the data, selecting the shipping option or deciding on the payment method.


Advantages of a multi-page checkout:

  • Gives the customer a high sense of security
  • Design can be made clearer and the layout offers more freedom
  • More data can be queried
  • More comprehensive analysis data for optimization
  • Guest accounts can be offered


Disadvantages of multi-page checkout:

  • The time required for customers is higher
  • Abandonment probability increases
  • Unstructured pages make a smooth checkout more difficult
  • Cumbersome correction of data or even re-entry of data


The question of whether you should prefer a one-page checkout or multi-page checkout remains a case-by-case decision. In doing so, take into account the requirements of your visitors and target group. Since multi-page checkout has been the most common option for quite some time, older target groups may find one-page checkout rather unpleasant and alienating. Younger customers may want a fast checkout process, which you can meet with a one-page checkout.

Why do customers abandon a purchase in Checkout?

When customers abandon a checkout, this can have several causes. In this case, it is important to research the causes. To do this, look at the individual touchpoints in your checkout. At which point do customers abandon?

Measure the micro conversion rate. Observe all activities of your visitors around the checkout for at least one month. The results will tell you where things go wrong in the checkout and serve as a target for optimization. In the following, we have summarized the possible reasons for a purchase abandonment in the checkout.


Complicated checkout process

A clear checkout with a well thought-out navigation is the be-all and end-all. Often the checkout is abandoned because the customer does not know what to do or lacks an overview. This also builds up mistrust. Furthermore, customers today are no longer too patient. Cumbersome ordering processes are met with a low level of acceptance.


Too much data query

Although it seems logical that an online order can only be processed with certain data, the moment of data request in the checkout is tricky. Due to increased data misuse cases, users are reluctant to give out data when filling out online forms. If the query is too extensive, this can lead to an abandoned shopping cart. The rule is: ask as much as necessary and as little as possible.


The obligation to create a customer account

Customers today should be able to decide for themselves how to complete their order – whether with a customer account or a guest checkout. If a guest checkout is hard to find and customers are forced to create an account to complete their order, this is another reason to abandon the checkout. Flexibility and non-commitment are more important than ever in e-commerce. Of course, every online merchant wants customers to create an account, but don’t jump right in.

Rather, approach it slowly and pay attention to customer loyalty in the process. The chances increase anyway when users have had their first positive experience with an order. Communicate the advantages of creating a customer account. Essentially, this makes the checkout easier because the data already saved is automatically inserted and the preferred payment method is stored. This makes checkout more convenient for the customer.


High and non-transparent shipping costs

Shipping costs can be found in most online shops. These are also nothing new for consumers. However, if shipping costs are not communicated transparently before checkout, the additional charge can cause displeasure at checkout and lead to shopping cart abandonment. Unjustifiably high delivery costs also cause customers to drop out of the ordering process prematurely.


Inappropriate payment methods

Another important criterion in the checkout is the payment method that customers have to select to complete the purchase. Users would like to have different choices here so that they can decide for themselves which payment method they would like to use. While customer A prefers to pay by direct debit, customer B prefers PayPal exclusively. If a visitor does not find his preferred payment method, he will in many cases leave the checkout without making a purchase.

In addition to availability, flawless technical processing is also important. Make sure that all payment methods work smoothly. Tip: Most online shoppers in Germany consider PayPal and purchase on invoices to be the two most secure options and use them accordingly frequently.


Unreasonably long shipping times

Today’s customers are in a hurry not only at checkout. They are also quite impatient when it comes to shipping goods and would prefer to have the product in their hands on the same day. No wonder, the big online shops like Amazon and Zalando show how it’s done – ordered today, delivered tomorrow. Therefore, make sure that you offer acceptable shipping times between 1 and 4 days so that customers don’t bounce in the checkout.

Communicate transparently if there are longer waiting times. Also, pay attention to holidays. A special service that customers appreciate is if you let them know in advance by when an order must be received so that the goods arrive safely before Christmas, for example.

Optimize your checkout

If customers abandon the checkout, this is an indication that something may be wrong. Start with an analysis and optimize your checkout on this basis. Use our optimization tips and smart tools such as exit-intent popups or abandoned cart emails if a customer abandons a purchase. There are many different ways to make the checkout even more demand-oriented for your customers. Make sure that everything is just right in your checkout. Because in the end, this is what decides whether a purchase is made or abandoned.

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