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In e-commerce, the checkout process is such a bottleneck as it’s the most challenging phase to close sales.

It consists of several steps from entering user data, payment and shipping methods, to optimizing product pages for searching information.

And yeah, we feel you… It’s not fun at all!

You need to take many details into account to prevent users from abandoning their purchases and increasing conversions. Of course, the dynamics will be different based on each sector, site and product market details.

Well, one thing is certain though…

There is a 70% chance that customers will abandon their carts without completing their purchase.

Even though they searched, chose and placed their desired products in their shopping cart themselves.

And unfortunately, a badly structured checkout is the main culprit for that percentage.

But don’t get stressed!

Here in this blog post, we’ll be talking about the stages of the e-commerce checkout process and we reveal some secrets for improving these steps and increasing sales.

Enjoy reading!

What is the e-commerce checkout process?

The checkout process is the set of operations that separate the placing of a product in the shopping cart from the moment the customer makes the payment and concludes the purchase.

This is one of the steps that have the most significant impact on the conversion rate of your online shop.

Meaning that you must design it accordingly.

Wondering how? Take a look at the steps in the checkout process here.

Now it’s time to dive into the details on the optimization part and show you some interesting data from our research.

E-commerce checkout and cart abandonment stats

First things first 👉 Most e-commerce businesses (and even successful ones) can improve their checkout process.

As always, the proof is in the numbers:

  • On average, 70% of the customers of an online shop leave the shopping cart before completing their purchase. Meaning that roughly 7 out of every 10 shoppers are not completing their transaction which is very troubling for e-retailers.
  • Additionally, this figure refers exclusively to visits from the desktop. From mobile, the percentage is even higher: up to 85%.

These are numbers that should give us pause for thought and cannot be ignored if we want to set up a successful online shop.

But above all, they are numbers that need to be understood.

There are several elements that influence whether or not a purchase is finalized:

  • The time of year
  • Product description
  • Guarantees
  • Reviews from other users
  • Product pictures
  • The color of the ‘buy now’ button
  • Type of font

Believe it or not, these things all have an impact on sales.

But to give you some tips that will really help to decrease your cart abandonment rates, we’ll focus on the three fundamental steps that users go through when entering the checkout process.

Good to keep in mind that the great advantage of being online is that everything is testable and can be improved.

The steps of an e-commerce checkout

The e-commerce checkout is the part of the shopping experience where you feel so close… and yet so far away.

This process consists of 3 fundamental steps:

  1. Customer data entry
  2. Choice of shipping method
  3. Choice of payment method

Each of these steps is an opportunity for your customers to reconsider the purchase, so it is important to structure them in the simplest and smoothest way possible.

Always keep in mind that most online purchases are impulsive decisions, made from the heart and justified by the mind after the package has arrived at home.

In order to offer you valuable and pragmatic help, in the following three paragraphs we will look in detail at the main critical issues related to each of these steps.

The customer data entry phase

The fewer data requested, the more likely it is that the transaction will be successful. This is certainly the general rule of increasing conversions.

After all, it is understandable that being forced to fill in a long questionnaire in the middle of a purchase can be discouraging for your users.

For this reason, many e-commerce companies only require the minimum data necessary to ship the order:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email

Other webshops, however, require a more complex registration process, which of course also has its advantages.

For example, collecting additional data to analyze sales trends or doing other analyses on the buyer personas.

How to improve customer data entry

Which of these two strategies to adopt depends largely on the willingness of your customers to register, and how critical the extra data is to increase your conversion rates.

Choosing is not easy because, to all intents and purposes, there is no right or wrong choice.

But here’s a great idea to try and combine the two strategies: let your users buy by using a guest profile (i.e. without too much data to enter) and then, after the purchase is complete, solicit the creation of a full profile by email.

The choice of shipping method

According to our research, 61,8% of consumers see delivery as the most important factor in the e-commerce experience. So, this is another very delicate phase.

Imagine how many things depend on the choice of shipping method: the place of delivery, the time of delivery and the cost of delivery.

While the latter is undoubtedly a thought that plagues your customers’ minds right from the start of the checkout process, excessively long delivery times could also fill your online shop with abandoned shopping carts.

Indeed, 78% of European consumers strictly expect a fast delivery process and 44% of them leave the checkout when the estimated delivery time is too slow.

And when it comes to shipping methods, 71% want to be in charge of how to receive a parcel. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut strategy to adopt, but we have some good advice for you.

But first of all, there are some considerations to be made:

  • What kind of goods do you handle?

The type of products you sell determines whether your shipments are regular parcels, bulky parcels, food shipments, valuable, or to be insured at all costs.

  • Where do you send it?

The type of customer you serve is another essential element to take into account. Your store should offer the same level of shipping services everywhere but this imposes different costs and logistical difficulties.

The challenge is to offer a service capable of covering the needs of all customers and staying within the margins, but the solutions are not always so close at hand.

The good news is that thanks to services like Sendcloud, today even the smallest e-commerce companies can afford to offer international solutions and high standards of customer service. And offer personalized delivery options that get your customers to complete their purchases.

Let’s see why…

How to improve the shipment selection phase

The more options you offer, the fewer customers will abandon their virtual shopping cart.

Until a few years ago, services such as nominated day delivery and next-day delivery were only accessible to industry giants.

Just to name one, the number one: Amazon. The Jeff Bezos-owned giant with its next-day or even same-day deliveries has spoiled many potential customers.

Of course, many people know that not all online shops have the same logistics network as Amazon, but the fact remains that for e-commerce owners, competition is fierce these days.

With Sendcloud’s new checkout optimization feature, you can increase your shipping methods and offer a unique shopping experience.

For example, you can offer standard, nominated day, service point, same- and/or next-day delivery. You can add multiple carriers on top of it and you can offer flexibility with confidence.

All shipping methods you choose to offer can be selected as delivery methods by your customers. For the moment, these features are only available on WooCommerce for checkout, but will soon be extended to other platforms.

The choice of payment method

Payment is the last step, but it is also the most painful one.

Nobody likes to part with their money.

Especially online, if it is the first time they are buying from your e-commerce store and perhaps an unfamiliar payment method can lead to a certain mistrust.

It is understandable, but it’s up to you to reduce this risk and we will reveal some best practices for doing so later.

But let’s give you some examples right away. You can offer the possibility to use secure and well-known payment methods (such as PayPal), guarantees on your products and allow returns.

This last point in particular can have a big impact on the conversion rate during the checkout process. In fact, it has been proven that a good return policy motivates customers to complete their purchases.

In conclusion, even when it comes to paying, it is important to put your customers at ease.

How to improve the choice of payment method phase

The more protected your customers feel, the more likely they are to finalize their purchase. The fewer numbers and bank security codes they have to enter, the fewer problems you will have in finalizing sales.

Make sure to offer peace of mind and security and don’t forget the wide range of choices. Make Paypal payments available to your users, afterpay, or rely on companies that streamline this process.

Also, make the logos of the methods you offer visible (and in color). Make them recognizable and you will see that many more customers will push the fateful “pay now” button.

A final tip on payment methods: the moment of payment is also a good time to offer the customer a summary of the cart and the possibility of checking the shipping address without having to go back to the cart or change screens.

How to reduce shopping cart abandonment rates: 23 best practices

We hope that you’ve found this article helpful to take another step in the long run and improve your online shop.

We have seen how checkout has a major influence on the rate of cart abandonment.

We have also looked at some ways to streamline procedures and increase the conversion rate of your e-commerce.

But there is one last resource we would like to offer you.

If you would like to further refine your processes and do everything that can be done to create the best checkout experience for your customers, you can download this guideline with 23 tips to reduce your e-commerce cart abandonment rate.

We hope it will be useful for you!

Buse Tarakcioglu

Buse is the Global Content Marketing Specialist at Sendcloud. She's highly passionate about content marketing and e-commerce. She's eager to provide valuable content regarding e-commerce logistics and help your online business.

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