As important as checking your blind spot while stopped at a busy intersection on a road in Hillbrow. THAT’S how important your checkout procedure is.
So important in fact, that at EvaluNet, we spent over R150,000 developing a customised checkout solution for our online stores 3 years ago. And here’s why …
Many online stores suffer from what we term “shopping cart abandonment”. To give a physical illustration – you walk into your local Checkers, grab a trolley, throw a few things in, and halfway through your shopping you get an urgent phone call from your neighbour to let you know that your house is on fire, or your dog is attacking the postman, or you forgot your garage door open, or whatever. So you leave your trolley half full right there in the middle of the aisle and make a swift exit. You get the drift.
Except in the world of ecommerce, shoppers abandon their cart for far less drastic reasons than burning houses or open garage doors. According to a study by Baymard Institute, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is as high as 67.75%. And by “shopping cart abandonment” I do of course refer to a shopper leaving your online store before actually following through with the checkout procedure, in simple terms meaning that you lose the sale and make no money.
Generally you can consider the following as very valid reasons a customer doesn’t complete a sale:
- Sudden unexpected shipping (delivery) charges popping up at the last minute.
- Not providing a shipping method that best suits the customer’s needs, like door-to-door delivery.
- Not knowing how to add a voucher or discount code to the order – this frustrates shoppers big time.
- Only offering credit card payments.
- Pages that ask for too much unnecessary information and take too long to complete.
Steps we took to address this …
Shipping charges … SURPRISE!
Let’s be honest, we all hate shipping charges. And for that very reason, rather be upfront and honest about the shipping cost associated with your items. We did this by placing a prominent, yet sophisticated banner on all our site’s pages informing customers that they’ll get free shipping on orders of R1,000 or more. Kalahari.com also did this very nicely a while ago with a banner stating customers get free delivery on orders of R500 or more. At least this way, the customer is subtly informed that they should expect some kind of shipping charge and they won’t feel cheated when they get to your checkout page.
Another thing, if you do charge shipping, make sure that the customer sees this upfront on the checkout page. Don’t make them fill in all their details only to find out about your shipping charge right at the end.
Shipping methods that are convenient.
We previously only offered counter-to-counter delivery of orders via the South African Post Office. In our naievity, we assumed customers would always opt for the cheapest shipping method. We were proved wrong. We had numerous calls and emails from customers who wanted speedy, courier delivery. And they were prepared to pay extra for it. In fact, quite a lot extra.
Take the time and effort to explore all the various shipping options available to you. The SA Post Office is great, and due to their massive footprint across the country, they’re also cheap. But cheap is not always the best. Particularly with the number of times Post Office employees decide to go on strike in South Africa. This impacts delivery time, and really irritates your customers.
Contact the numerous courier companies and find out who can offer your online store the best service at the best price. Your customers will love you for it. Particularly when their order arrives on time, every time.
Enter your voucher code HERE.
Don’t make it difficult for customers to find what they need on your store. This goes back to a previous post I wrote about the usability and design of your online store. If you offer vouchers or coupons on your store, ensure that customers know where and how to enter their voucher code. We found that even although we made it pretty clear at what point of the checkout process to enter your voucher code, customers still got it wrong.
We solved this quite simply. Every individual voucher should tell your customer where and how to enter the voucher code. Whenever you hand out a voucher, whether it be a free promotional voucher such as “Get a R50 voucher when you sign up to our newsletter”, or a voucher that someone has purchased from your site as a gift, be sure to tell the customer how to redeem it.
E.g. Enter this voucher code in the COUPON BOX before checking out from our store.
This will go a long way in reducing customer irritation and reducing your inbound support requests.
Electronic Fund Transfers wins trust.
This is South Africa. Apart from the fact that we still think khakis and long socks look good together, there are thousands of potential online shoppers who simply refuse to take that first leap of faith and purchase something online with their credit card. And this is not because we’re a backwards country. It’s simply thanks to the infamous Nigerian fraudsters.
Many people have been totally put off from providing credit card details over the internet due to security concerns. So make it easy for them, provide EFT or a direct bank deposit payment option. While most of our shoppers at Click2Learn pay by credit card, we get a huge number paying by EFT.
If you’re only accepting credit card payments, you’re missing out on potential sales.
Less really is … less.
Nothing irritates an online shopper quite like a lengthy 5 page checkout process. The reason we spent all that money to build a customised shopping platform was because we wanted a ONE-PAGE checkout process, and at the time, we didn’t like any of the existing one-page checkout solution providers.
Do you really need to ask questions on your checkout page that don’t matter? As a rule, never ask for information that you’re not actually going to use. Take the time to read through every field on your checkout page and determine whether or not it adds any value to your business. If not, click delete.
Also, the fewer clicks a customer needs to make to checkout from your store, the better. This will definitely reduce your shopping cart abandonment rate. If your online cart platform can’t get by with asking for your customer’s details on one page, then it’s time you think about getting a new platform.
Don’t have separate pages for customer login, personal details, billing address, shipping address, payment method, confirm your order etc. Rather have ONE page that asks for all of these details (but in a logical and easy to follow step-by-step method). This means that the customer doesn’t have to click “Next” and then wait for the next page to load before entering even more details. Get them to click your “Place Order” button as soon as possible with as little effort on their part as possible.