I often come across purchase processes that look like a maze. The latest one was Telepizza last week. I wanted to order and pay for a pizza online because I had no cash on me and I ended up looking for an ATM and calling Sapri Pizza due to the frustration of clicking with no results and the errors generated by the purchase process. I was so pissed off by the time I got to the checkout that when I was told that it would take 50 minutes to deliver the pizza (it was a soccer finals day), I just left.
Which checkouts are great examples to follow? Vueling and Ulabox have fantastic checkouts. Not only in navigation and UX, but also in the way in which they reinforce purchase intentions and remove obstacles for users.
So, what elements should a good checkout include?
1- If possible, put everything on one page
Don’t include lots of elements in your checkout if you can prevent it. I once entered a checkout process to buy a printer and had to go through 7 screens. It would have been quicker if I had gone to the physical store to buy it.
You don’t need to become obsessed about squeezing everything into a single page, but, if your process and product allow it, try to make everything viewable at a single glance. I mean those 3-column checkouts where in a single glance you can view the data to be entered, the delivery and payment options, the order summary, and the payment button.
2- Avoid refreshing the page
It’s extremely boring when the page is refreshed every time that the server responds, e.g.: the province is changed / the page is refreshed to update the delivery costs, the address is saved / the page is refreshed to save the data in the database.
Whenever possible, prevent the page from being refreshed using AJAX.
3- Don’t ask for too much info
Why do you need the user’s national ID number, age, sex, or foot number? The sex may be useful, because it can be useful for segmentation, OK. But the national ID number, age, or fields that are not required to purchase (e.g. how did you learn about us?) are obstacles for users, particularly when you ask for sensitive information. What do these guys want my ID number for? What if they save my home address, my ID number, and sign me up god knows where?
Avoid this. Make it brief.
4- Running thread
Tell users where they are and how long remains to finish, i.e. tell them about the process stages, at all times. Oh, and number them.
5- Avoid surprises
This is what I call the Ryanair effect. You must prevent at any cost that users find unpleasant surprises in the checkout, such as low-cost airline extra fees.
Prevent surprises such as: “Wow, VAT wasn’t included?”, “But I thought that delivery costs were €6?”, “An extra cost for using a VISA card?” (yes, this happens).
Any surprise that increases the cost of the user’s shopping basket which hasn’t been mentioned before may lead to high abandonment rates. Surprises are not good in a shopping process, even less if they involve payment.
6- Reinforce trust
Avoid obstacles including trust logos, customer testimonials, independent votes such as eKomi, security locks, SSL in the shopping process, the logos of the payment institutions used, etc.
Take a look at the way they do it in Ulabox, up to twice on the same page:
This is extremely important. Many people will call because:
- they don’t trust the online purchase process
- they don’t know how the online purchase process works
- they don’t know what the 3 digits on the bank cardare
- anything you can image: from “I can’t see the page well” to “do I get a discount for calling?” Really!
A telephone line makes your company more trustworthy (you can call someone, there is someone there) and it enables you to solve problems immediately. Including it is a good idea, as is including an online chat.
Provide frequent and not so frequent payment platforms. The VISA card is very well, but many people prefer to pay via PayPal because the company will act as a mediator in case of problems. Making it possible to pay via bank transfer and on delivery will also bring orders from people who prefer not to make online payments. The more options you offer the better.
Clear delivery charges with no need to register
Don’t make it necessary to register for people to be able to see the delivery charges. You don’t need to register a user to know that they live in Huelva and delivery costs there are €5.95. You can find this information with no need for the user to register, and it can be shown from the start (when the user says they live in Huelva).
So don’t force users to register. They may not want to have a username and password or receive your newsletter or your great offers via email and SMS. Activating guest checkout is a good idea.
This is particularly important for refund-sensitive products (the shoe won’t fit, this size L is more M than L). You should make your returns policy extremely clear.
Social networks login
To save the hard work of having to enter all data from scratch, you can use shortcuts such as Ulabox, which makes it possible to log in via your Facebook account. This means less data to enter and less time to register. You can also use the data in these ways:
- Invite “x” friends and obtain a discount for X euros.
- All these friends have already bought on Ulabox (trust reinforcement)
- Your friends have bought these diapers (purchase reinforcement)
But make sure which data you use and keep privacy concerns in mind.
12- Prevent customers from leaving
This is one of the most frequent mistakes in many checkouts. If you want a user to buy, don’t include the header, the main menu, the search and category sidebars, the footer including all the information links, etc. Clear the landing strip. We want users to buy, so try not to distract them.
In the Vueling checkout process the header disappears (companies, braches, groups, language, your booking, Vueling services, who we are…) and the footer (why book in Vueling, your booking, services, etc.) This is redundant information which adds nothing new to the checkout, and which the user has already seen or knows it is there if they want to retrieve it. So don’t include all those exit doors. We want users to walk in a straight line.
13- Discount vouchers are good, but don’t overdo it
There is nothing more frustrating than getting to a checkout and finding a huge box saying “Enter this discount voucher”. Wow! I must be a dummy if I don’t have that voucher.
Include the option of entering discount vouchers, but don’t make it so visible that it may be frustrating for users who don’t have one. Here’s Ulabox once again:
14- Add a free field for users
Perhaps it’s not relevant for you, but a user may want to say that it’s better if the packet is delivered as 08:00 because they leave at 08:15 for work and won’t be back until the evening. Or perhaps they want to say that they need something that wasn’t included in the registration page and they don’t know in which field to mention it.
Let them write. In the worst-case scenario, the field will be left blank.
15- Mandatory fields
Actually, I had always thought that mandatory fields should be mandatory until I watched a video by Ricardo Lop from http://www.aceros-de-hispania.com/ where he says, with a lot of common sense, that there is not a single mandatory field in his registration page.
If a user doesn’t fill in any field, the order will be sent just the same. The user will return later and provide the data or send an email once they see that they have made a mistake.
Or perhaps the user provides all their information in the name field. People do odd things. Once, when I was a Computer Science intern in university, someone asked me if he could download the Internet into a diskette. Users can be flabbergasting sometimes.
This would make the person in charge of CRM’s brain explode. But you can bear it in mind just the same.
16- Cross sell
Oops, I forgot! There is no better place to remind users of something than in the checkout. Santa Fixie does this very well with their “Customers Who Bought This Items also Bought” box, which takes account of items previously purchased which are not included in the current shopping cart. Great!
17- How much more for free delivery?
Hey! If users can get something for free, they should be told how, when, and how much is needed. The remaining amount for free delivery can raise the average ticket in many cases, so tell users.
What do you think about the list? Long, certainly, but I hope you also found it interesting.
I’m absolutely sure that I have left things out, so please leave your comments.