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Marketing  |  9 MIN READ

5 Ecommerce Checkout Mistakes and Strategies to Avoid Them

Don’t lose your customers at the checkout after they’ve made their way through a lengthy sales funnel. Optimizing your checkout process is crucial for securing the sale, but many ecommerce businesses make avoidable mistakes that discourage customer trust and scare prospects away.

What mistakes are you falling prey to, and how can you improve your ecommerce checkout process? These are a couple of the questions we’ll answer in this article. We’re going to explore common ecommerce checkout pitfalls to avoid, and strategies that can improve your customer experience.

What is the ecommerce checkout process?

The ecommerce checkout process includes every step a customer follows on your online store to buy the items in their shopping cart. The process includes inputting their billing and shipping info, selecting their payment method, completing the transaction, and confirming their order.

Why is it crucial to nail the checkout process?

The short answer? To increase sales! Checkout abandonment can significantly hurt your bottom line, and the average cart abandonment rate is around 65%. In other words, after investing in resources to attract prospects and move them along the sales funnel, on average, businesses still fail to convert more than half of them. Thus, nailing the checkout process is vital to improving your bottom line. You should aim to remove friction from the process and maximize conversion rates.

How a poor checkout experience degrades customer trust

A poor checkout experience can mean something different to each customer. You might be losing prospects because of a poor mobile interface, slow site speed, a design that doesn’t inspire trust, or unclear store policies. Let’s take a look at the numbers: 

If your website is slow or has a poor interface, customers lose confidence in your product or services. After all, if a business isn’t investing in their digital storefront, how can customers expect you to invest in their loyalty?

As business owners, we know the importance of optimizing each stage of the customer journey. Acquisition and retention processes need to be optimized, friction has to be removed from supply chain operations, and the list goes on. But all your efforts are in vain if you’re delivering a poor checkout experience — because this is where many ecommerce brands are losing customers.

Common ecommerce checkout mistakes and how to fix them

Many ecommerce businesses make the same checkout mistakes that continue to hurt their bottom line. Here are some of the most common ones that brands keep repeating, and how you should address them.

1 Requiring an account to order

Requiring sign-ups introduces unnecessary friction in the checkout process, and 34% of shoppers will abandon their cart altogether if an account is required. So, if you have prospects ready to buy, don’t kill the sale by forcing them to make an account. 

The fix: Give customers a guest checkout option. Only ask for necessary information like their billing, shipping, and bare-bones contact info. You can ask if they want to create an account after the purchase is complete.

2 Asking for too much 

Baymard conducted a study of 2,800 online shoppers to determine what information customers are hesitant to share at the checkout. Some of the results were expected — the social security number took the top slot, with the passport number as a close second.

But one statistic is quite interesting — 14% of respondents said they won’t provide their phone number to complete an order. Upon further research, Baymard discovered two things:

The takeaway here is to only ask customers for necessary information and explain why you require certain fields, especially a phone number. 

Inadequate product information

Lacking product details is a common rookie mistake that can result in lost sales or costly returns. It’s important to give customers transparent insight into what they’re buying, both for their benefit and yours.

a) Missing product details

Imagine a shopper is browsing your online store, and a shirt catches their eye. They’re warming up to buy it, so they click on the item to learn more. But none of their questions are answered. What fabric is the shirt made of? Is it machine-washable, or is it dry clean only? 

They don’t know, because the product description doesn’t tell them. Discouraged, they move on and buy from another store. 

The fix: To avoid losing sales like this, it’s important to provide customers with relevant product details. Depending on the item, you’ll want to include information like the dimensions, weight, material composition, expiration dates, etc. Consider what you would want to know when purchasing something similar.

b) Lacking multiple product photo views

Brick and mortar stores allow customers to physically browse and examine products, giving them more confidence to make a purchase. Thus, it’s vital to translate this experience online to foster customer trust. Unfortunately, showcasing only one photo of a product doesn’t give prospects enough confidence, and they might shy away from buying.

The fix: Take photos from different views for each product. Don’t leave any blind spots — let customers see everything. You can also use augmented reality (AR) tools to create 3D models of your product so customers can rotate and view them from different angles. AR has become more popular in ecommerce following the coronavirus pandemic as retailers have sought ways to translate brick and mortar experiences to the digital landscape.

3 Lacking customer service options

96% of consumers regard customer service as a driving factor for their loyalty to a brand. Thus, limiting your customer support offerings will hurt your efforts to establish customer loyalty, so it’s important to optimize your customer service options.

Depending on the type of help customers are looking for, they may prefer some service options over others. For example, for basic questions related to warranties or returns, they might prefer self-service options such as consulting an FAQ page. Similarly, they might be satisfied with a shipment tracking page to follow their orders. But, if their order gets delayed, they’ll want to reach out to a customer support representative via live chat. Therefore, it’s important to have all grounds covered. 

So, you might want to consider offering:

4 Opaque shipping rates

Baymard Institute’s research found that high and hidden shipping costs are scaring customers away. In fact, they’re the primary reason behind abandoned carts. Being expensive or keeping fees opaque could cost you more than half your sales.

The fix: There are two main ways to solve the shipping fee problem. You can either offer free shipping by absorbing shipping costs into the product’s pricing or integrate a real-time shipping costs calculator into your store. If you opt for the latter, try to find a tool that provides the best rate after evaluating the pricing across all the carriers you use. If you outsource fulfillment, your 3PL partner can help expand your carrier pool and even adjust boxes and packaging to reduce shipping expenses.

5 Store policies not clearly posted

Online shoppers are expecting better experiences, and here’s how they prioritize different parts of the customer journey:

Here, half of the adult shoppers consider an easy, reasonable returns policy vital to their overall experience. Moreover, according to a study for UPS, most returns are caused by retailers rather than consumers.

Here’s the breakdown:

It’s clear that to reduce ecommerce returns, it’s crucial to optimize your fulfillment processes to prevent wrong orders and damage. Don’t create an unreasonable returns policy instead, because that’s a sure-fire way to discourage customer trust.

The takeaway here is to adopt customer-first returns policies to build trust and establish customer loyalty. The numbers support this approach too. Klarna found that 84% of customers would leave a brand after a poor returns experience. 

At a glance

The importance of nailing your ecommerce checkout process can’t be overstated. If you’ve succeeded in moving customers this far along the funnel, the worst thing is to lose them at the finish. So if your shopping checkout process isn’t optimized, now’s the time to spruce it up. And to summarize, here’s what you should keep in mind:

Getting these elements right can help your business attract more customers and move them through the entire sales process. Plus, working to build trust develops long-term customers who will keep your doors open for years to come.

Jake Rheude

Jake Rheude is the vice president of marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.

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