Your customer's on the way to the checkout and you've got this sale in the bag - right? Don't start celebrating just yet. An average of 69.57% of sales get abandoned at checkout - a huge missed opportunity. Today we're showing you how to improve your online checkout process and capture your audience when it counts.


- Causes of cart abandonment

- Understanding the standard online checkout process

- How to optimise your Online Checkout & increase conversions


10 Causes of cart abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment can be more than 80% for some industries. But why?

In order to understand why these rates can reach such heights, let's delve into the minds of concumsers.

Their 10 major pain points are as follows:

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What can we learn from this?

That customers are sensitive.

The truth is that customers are generally not all that willing to part with their hard-earned cash - after all, who doesn't want something for nothing?

It's common knowledge that shopping can induce guilt, and when this is considered alongside other factors such as time restraints and distrust, it's easy to understand why cart abandonment rates can be so high. But it's not all bad.

On the flip side, customers usually do actually want that new mobile/dress/gym pass. They just want it quickly, efficiently and for the best price possible.

Understanding the standard online checkout process

When optimising your eCommerce checkout, it's important to consider every step of the buyer journey.

The standardised process is:

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Making this process as streamlined as possible is essential to reduce friction - remember, ease of use is key for your customers. Every additional step you add is an opportunity for a customer to change their mind.

Payment should always be taken right at the end of the process, as this gives you chance to increase trust and confidence so that customers are ready to convert when the time comes.

Trust and confidence are just two of the benefits that'll lead to increased conversions when you improve your checkout process, which we're now ready to delve into.

Ready to see your cart abandonment rate drop off a cliff? Then continue reading.

17 ways to optimise your Online Checkout to increase conversions

1. Optimise for mobile

Perhaps the most impactful thing you can do to increase checkout conversion rates is optimise for mobile. Half of all internet shopping traffic comes from mobile devices, so it's imperative that checking out is as easy on mobile as it is on a large screen.

For mobile users, the process needs to be as pared back as possible and require as few clicks as necessary. Chances are, if your customer is shopping from a mobile device, they are on the go, and even more pressured for time.

You may want to make UX changes, such as increasing button size or considering a single page checkout to make everything easily navigable. Additionally, simple things such as automating the numerical keyboard when card/contact details are required will make the process easier for customers.

2. Display clear shipping details

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Another of the main reasons that customers back out at checkout are 'extra costs' - especially when they're unexpected.

The best way to get around this is to make your delivery costs clear from the offset. Most established eCommerce sites display their standard delivery options across the site, often in a static header. This means that customers will have already considered the delivery and know what to expect when they reach checkout.

Delivery costs, along with the returns policy, should again be made clear as soon as customers click to checkout.

Offering free shipping will give you a significant advantage, as will free returns. 97% of respondents say that a “free shipping” option affects their purchasing decisions to some degree and 75% said that it greatly affects their decisions. If you can't offer it for all orders, encourage your customers to increase their order value to a certain point to get it for free.

3. Incorporate product images and UGC

Just because it's in the bag, doesn't mean it's in the bag. When entering online checkout, you want the desire customers felt when they initial saw the product to stay at the front of their mind.

That's why product images can work so well in the checkout process. Some eCommerce businesses even include galleries displaying UGC content - arguably the most convincing visuals of all.

Make your checkout look so good, your customers just can't resist.

4. Create a sense of urgency

Another clever tactic you might want to try to boost checkout conversion is a countdown. Creating a sense of urgency on checkout pages has been known to increase sales by 332% as customers perceive their items to be in demand and time-sensitive.

This builds on that ever-important excitement element of checking out and also provides gamification, leading customers to think less about the amount they're spending, and more about getting their order finalised in the allotted time.

5. Improve checkout conversion by offering guest checkout

As we saw above, 37% of cart abandonments are caused by customers being asked to create an account.

The checkout process already requires a fair few details to be supplied - why make your customers do more? Offering a guest checkout option is an easy way to get around this.

By using guest checkouts, you can get your customers over the finish line as fast as possible - a win-win for you both.

6. Add a process indicator

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Time, time, time. We've mentioned it once, we've mentioned it twice, now we're mentioning it again.

Your customers are tight for time, and often, guilt means they're almost looking for an excuse to bounce. A process bar will help keep them in the know by showing how many stages are left to complete.

Progress bars also aid in building trust, as you're being completely transparent with customers.

7. Setup Live Chat

Sometimes things go wrong, and when they do, customers can be impatient. Whether it's a question about shipping or forms not filling out correctly, the easiest way to resolve problems is with Live Chat.

Operating similarly to Whatsapp or Facebook messager, Live Chat provides the instant resolutions modern shoppers crave in a format they're used to.

8. Consider a one-page checkout

Whilst online checkouts traditionally compromise of a page per step, fashion companies including ASOS and Topshop have moved towards a more streamlined approach, where all details are acquired on a single page.

This speeds the process up significantly, as there is no need for pages to load. It's also an ideal solution for shopping on the go, as the form is much more responsive, working with your customers as opposed to against them.

Whilst it's not appropriate - or necessary - for all businesses, it's easy to see why so many fashion brands are moving towards this sleek approach.

9. Remove all unnecessary navigation

Most of the checkout optimisation we've looked at so far involve adding features. This one's a little different.

When your customers reach checkout, the goal shifts. It's no longer about basket size, but about conversions. Just as on sign-up forms, in the checkout, you need to centre your customer's attention to the task in hand - completing their order.

You can help do this by removing any superfluous navigation from the page. The best online checkouts and extremely simple. The only real buttons should be a link back to your homepage via your logo, an edit basket button, and a complete checkout button, with the latter dominating the page.

This makes the page less likely to turn into a 'wishlist' where the customer has little purchase intent, and more likely to convert into an actual sale.

10. Streamline your forms & make completion easy

We know by now that customers want a quick and easy checkout process - it's your job to provide it. How much information do you really need in order to complete their purchase? Could multiple fields of text be condensed into one?

It's worth noting that customers now expect to see things like autofill and postcode finders on checkout pages. After all, most of us spend our days at a desk tapping away - we don't want to have to do the same when splurging online.

The less information your customers have to physically type, the better. Particularly for mobile users, single clicks are much easier than typing, so prioritising this is key.

And with that in mind, you'll also want to put measures in place to ensure customer details don't get wiped. If they do click back or 'continue shopping', make sure the fields remain filled. Similarly, if an error is made when typing, such as too many card number digits, alert them to this immediately. Requiring them to refill fields on a reloaded page will lead to frustration, friction, and may cause them to abandon their cart.

11. Offer multiple payment options

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The way customers prefer to pay online is changing. Adapt your checkout, and it could seriously benefit your sales.

There's a two-pronged approach here, involving PayPal, and it's the new kid on the block, Klarna.

PayPal is a common choice for Millenials, with 32% using it to complete their online purchases.

Why? Speed.

PayPal is quick, easy and - thanks to password autofill and even one-click - perfect for on the go. Compared to Visa, which converts customers at 51.2%, of those customers using PayPal to checkout, 87.5% ultimately convert.

With PayPal, a customer can complete their order so fast they don't have time to reconsider.

Klarna solves a different problem - that guilt.

Klarna works on a buy-now-pay-later basis, enabling customers to checkout in seconds and pay for their goods 14 to 30 days after they've been delivered. This means if they don't like the products, there's no waiting around for a refund to be issued. This provides a relatively risk and guilt-free shopping experience for customers which is increasing in popularity.

If we're going by the stats cited at the beginning of this article, adding such payment methods could reduce your cart abandonment rate by around 8%.

11. Add trust signals to reduce cart abandonment

Before customers reach the checkout, their shopping basket is merely hypothetical. Online shopping is fun, and a basket is a chance to dream up a collection of all the things you wish you could have without spending a penny.

Checkout is different. Taking payment online is serious business and the risk is high. 19% of people abandon their cart because they don't trust the website with their credit card information, so there's a lot at stake here.

It's key to build trust and confidence in your customers through to use of Trust Seals and SSLs.

trust seals and SSL to reduce cart abandonment

Studies show Norton Secure to be the most trusted badge, so it is worth carefully considering your options when deciding which SSL to go for.

Going hand in hand with this are Company Reviews, which can also put customers at ease when placed on checkout pages. Although trust badges build confidence, the average consumer reads 7 reviews before trusting a business. Authentic, verified reviews with a link to their source provide almost irrefutable proof that a business can not only be trusted but will deliver.

12. Be careful with promo box

It's time to talk about promo boxes.

These are a bit of a conundrum, as they can both win and lose you sales.

The problem here is that, most of the time, promotion boxes are actually necessary. However, they not only serve their purpose of allowing customers with gift cards or offers to enter them, but may also alert other customers to the prospect of discounts existing.

Here comes that guilt again - could your customers get this item cheaper?

Promotion boxes can cause uncertain customers to leave the page in order to search for promo code - sometimes, never to return.

Solving this is a tricky one. In general, you'll want to keep your checkout promotion box quite discreet - it should be functional but not shouty.

There are other options. You could actually consider offering customers a promotion code, in exchange for them joining the newsletter. This is a two-pronged approach as:

  1. The customer will get 10% off their order and be satisfied.
  2. Customers who have previously signed up will dismiss the promo box as something for 'new' customers only.

13. Offer little treats

Whilst relatively uncommon, offering a perk such as a couple of freebies with your customer's order is a nice touch and adds to the excitement of completing the process.

It can also help you introduce your customers to different products they've not tried before. Particularly handy for beauty eCommerce sites, you could rotate the products to boost those that are bringing in low sales.

We're now transitioning into new realms. The following tips are for those customers who just aren't ready to complete their order yet. Instead of preventing them from abandoning their cart, the goal is now to recapture them at a later date.

14. Include an option to save for later

We've already brought attention to the danger of customers using their online shopping basket as a sort of 'wishlist'. Whilst this is a concern, 'Save For Later' options can be both a blessing and a curse.

For uncertain customers, the option to save items for later can be a welcome get-out clause, and lead to increased cart abandonment.

However, for those customers who are not quite ready to buy, they can provide a way to increase conversions later on, especially when accompanied by a follow-up email.

When it comes to deciding what's best for your eCommerce checkout, we'd advise split-testing. This may be more timely, but it will limit damage and produce a better solution overall.

15. Create exit-intent popups

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Can you catch your customers before they go? An exit-intent pop up gives you one more chance to win your customers over and secure the deal.

Exit-intent popups may seem like a rather desperate attempt to recapture your customers - and we guess they kinda are - but they do work.

In fact, you could recover up to 53% of cart abandonment traffic using them.

16. Use shopping cart abandonment emails

Just because a customer has bounced, it doesn't mean they're lost forever. Cart abandonment is only a lost sale when the customer never returns to complete their order.

Shopping cart abandonment emails can recreate excitement, desire and - let's face it - tempt your customers back into finalising their sale.

And if you're worried about spamming your customers with unwanted emails, you'll be pleased to hear that almost half of cart abandonment emails are opened - is that something you can really afford to miss out on?

17. Ask customers to sign up after checkout

Last but not least is the final flourish to your online checkout optimisation process - a sign-up box.

Just because your customers may prefer to checkout as a guest, it doesn't mean you can't have another stab at getting them on your database.

To make your proposal alluring, be sure to mention perks including exclusive discounts, early sale access and product drop alerts. As mentioned previously, you could even offer a sneaky 10% to get them signed up and coming back for more.

In Summary

When it comes to improving your online checkout, a little effort goes a long way. Even if you can just marginally optimise the experience you give customers, the rewards are great, so it's certainly worth doing.

Checkout is arguably the most important part of the customers journey and is not to be rushed. Work on getting it right now, and see those sales flood in.