Optimizing the Ecommerce Checkout

Posted in CRO, Platform Talk

Optimizing the ecommerce checkout process is crucial for maximizing conversions and ensuring a smooth customer experience. But what should you prioritize? Where do you get started?

This article takes you through:

  • key metrics to track
  • various ecommerce platforms and their checkout options
  • essential elements for A/B testing.

Key Metrics to Track

When it comes to the checkout, you first need to ensure you are tracking the right metrics. Before you start optimizing your checkout, you should know your baseline. This will help you understand how well your checkout is performing and if or where it needs optimization. You may need additional tools to track some of these metrics but most can be done within free analytics tools like GA4 (you can set up custom metrics). 

Below we’ll go over some key metrics you should be tracking when it comes to the checkout. 

Checkout Abandonment Rate

The percentage of shoppers who go to the checkout but do not complete the purchase. High abandonment rates can indicate issues in the checkout process.
Benchmark: Average is around 70%. The lower, the better.

Checkout Conversion Rate

The percentage of visitors who complete a purchase out of those who start the checkout process. Directly measures the effectiveness of your checkout process.
Benchmark: Aim for 50% of all users entering the checkout and completing a purchase. This should be a lower benchmark if you are sending visitors directly to the checkout, such as straight from the product page. Visitors in that case may not be prepared to go right to the checkout and therefore leave at a higher rate.

Average Order Value (AOV)

Higher AOV indicates successful upselling and cross-selling strategies. Lower AOV means there is room for growth when it comes to personalizing the store to show visitors related items or incentivizing them to add a higher quantity of a particular item.
Benchmark: Varies by industry, but increasing AOV is beneficial

Time to Checkout Completion

The time taken from the start of checkout to the final purchase. Shorter times usually lead to higher satisfaction and fewer abandonments.
Benchmark: The faster, the better—ideally under 3-4 minutes.

Add to Cart to Checkout Completion
How many of your visitors are adding items to the cart and completing a checkout? If you notice the rate going down, there could be lingering questions or doubts preventing a visitor from starting/completing the checkout. There could be surprise costs they weren’t aware of until the checkout. Visitors may also be using the cart to store items (this can be confirmed with visitor recording tools like Hotjar or Microsoft Clarity).
Benchmark: This is not a widely used metric, so there’s no benchmarks to go by.

Mobile Checkout Conversion Rate

The percentage of mobile visitors who complete a purchase. With mobile commerce on the rise, optimizing for mobile users is crucial.
Benchmark: Aim to get close to the desktop rate. You likely will not meet or exceed it, as this is the nature of mobile visitor behavior. 

When it comes to these metrics, you should not be measuring them in a vacuum, but rather track them over time. If you see a downward trend, it could mean something is going wrong and you could potentially pinpoint when. This can help you investigate if it might be a technical issue or due to another change on the site. 

Ecommerce Platforms and Their Checkout Options

There are plenty of ecommerce platforms out there, all with their own strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to the checkout, these platforms like to tout their benefits (of course). Many platforms don’t offer much customization when it comes to the checkout page, so it’s important to pay attention to the pros and cons of each, and what you want to accomplish. 

Here are some things to consider when it comes to checkouts on different ecommerce platforms: 

  • Average loading time
  • Payment options
  • Ability to customize and edit checkout code
  • Ability to add tracking codes
  • Cost per transaction
  1. Shopify

Checkout Options: One-page checkout, multiple payment gateways, express checkout with Shopify Pay.

Pros: Easy to set up, highly customizable, robust security.

Cons: Transaction fees unless using Shopify Payments, limited checkout customization without third-party apps.

  1. WooCommerce

Checkout Options: Flexible checkout fields, numerous payment gateway integrations, guest checkout.

Pros: Highly customizable, extensive plugin library, no transaction fees.

Cons: Requires more technical knowledge, performance can vary based on hosting.

  1. Magento

Checkout Options: Customizable checkout workflows, support for multiple payment methods.

Pros: Extremely flexible and scalable, strong B2B features, robust out-of-the-box features.

Cons: High complexity, higher hosting and development costs.

  1. BigCommerce

Checkout Options: Optimized one-page checkout, Amazon Pay, PayPal One Touch, Apple Pay.

Pros: No transaction fees, robust SEO features, easy integration with various payment gateways.

Cons: Limited customization compared to open-source platforms, additional costs for advanced features.

A/B Testing for Ecommerce Checkout

Now to the fun part! There are plenty of things to test in your checkout, but be sure to pay attention to the potential problem areas and where you think visitors are getting hung up. This is the best place to start when deciding what to test first. Also, make sure your platform allows for A/B testing in the checkout, some don’t allow for extra code or tags in the checkout which will limit your ability.  

Guest Checkout vs. Account Creation

Determine if allowing guest checkout increases conversion rates compared to requiring account creation. Visitors are highly likely to abandon a purchase if they are required to make an account to checkout.

Checkout Flow Steps

Optimize the number of steps in the checkout process. Test single-page checkout vs. multi-step checkout. There is no one “best” checkout style so it’s important to test this rather than rely on what your ecommerce platform tells you is “best”.

Form Field Optimization

Identify unnecessary fields that might deter users. The fewer fields a visitor needs to fill out, the more frictionless the checkout will feel.

Trust Signals

Increase user trust during checkout. Test adding things like trust badges, SSL certificates, and customer reviews to the checkout. These elements can help increase trust or could hurt by distracting visitors. Most users are comfortable checking out online, but you’d be surprised how much of an uplift you can get from reminding them they’re using a “safe” checkout. 

Conclusion

Optimizing the ecommerce checkout process is an ongoing task that requires careful analysis of key metrics, understanding the capabilities and limitations of different platforms, and rigorous A/B testing. 

Although many ecommerce platforms claim to have high-converting checkouts, improvements can likely be made to optimize the checkout for your audience and their particular needs. 

 

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