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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : November 04, 2009

Five ways to grease the checkout funnel

Online shopping is supposed to be a stressless activity. Consumers enjoy browsing for products and comparing prices from the comfort of home. But, sometimes, that final stretch - actually making a purchase - can turn a relaxing activity into an experience more frustrating than trying to find a parking space.

by Helen Leggatt

Once consumers have found the product they want, at a price they like, they're ready to whip out their credit card and start the checkout process. This is the point at which you need to keep them moving along the checkout funnel, removing any barriers to that final confirmation click.

But some online retailers continue to put off armchair shoppers by giving them a bumpy ride which decreases consumer confidence, increases frustration and often leads to cart abandonment.

Now that consumers are gearing up for Christmas make sure your checkout funnel is well greased and, at the very least, address the following five points:

1. Display delivery and payment options clearly at the beginning of the checkout process. Ask for postcode information, if necessary, to provide a more accurate delivery specification for individuals.

2. Registration can wait until the sale has been made. Don't force registration upfront - the shopper is there to shop, not fill out forms.

3. Checkout is not the place to tell consumers that a product they have put in their cart isn't available. As far as they are concerned they have taken it off the shelf and put it in their cart. Expect consumers to abandon an entire cart if disappointed by one item being out of stock.

4. Allow for mistakes during checkout and provide adequate functionality so consumers can back-track to make corrections, easily remove/add items to the cart or change a delivery address.

5. Don't hide customer support contact information. In fact, make real-time support contact information highly visible and provide a choice of contact points including telephone and live online helpers. At this critical point in the buying process you need to give consumers as much on-the-spot help as possible.

Tags: buying process, checkout, customer support, e-commerce, online retail, sales conversion, shopping cart

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  • Gregory Creaser

    Great article - you address several key issues missed by many articles.

    "Display delivery and payment options clearly at the beginning of the checkout process"

    Think about those rural communities where PO Boxes are a main source of delivery. I have abandoned several carts when I am not aware upfront- HOW my purchase will be shipped, via USPS or UPS. Most people don't want the PO handling precious cargo.

    Registration information collection should be clearly marked as to what is "required vs. optional" and from my experience at VeriSign a majority of shoppers are looking for a signs of security at this point of the checkout process. The easy cue to display is the "green url bar" through Extended Validation SSL.

    Yes - sites do the old "bait and switch". Especially look for "inventory commitment warnings" on Food-Wine- Gourmet specialty sites. You are generally unaware when product substitution happens, your client has no idea what was supposed to be on their tower or basket of goodies.



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