E-Commerce checking out! Getting it right.

With the country in recession and big name high street stores closing up shop (no pun intended) there is one route to market that is booming. E-commerce is still seeing growth as shoppers move on-line to grab the bargains. It is not a license to print money and if you don't get it right you could actually lose customers.

A Supermarket wouldn't hide the checkouts, so why do some websites?

Consumers are spending more on-line as they get more experienced in using the web and more comfortable with online shopping. Were previously security and safety worries put consumers off buying on-line, now things like hidden charges and poor usability of the site will push your visitors away to the competition.

In studies looking at reasons why people abandon e-commerce shopping carts one of the highest reasons they put people off was having to register before buying.

In his recent post on the language of the web, Charlie gave some good advice on the issue of registration.

Checkout Funnel

However we recently come across a staggering example where usability issues, including requiring users to register, has meant that site lost over 1200 shoppers in less than a month at the checkout process. From over 1900 who started the checkout process only 600 completed their purchase

A number of usability factors conspired to create this high drop out rate. The first being poor signposting (from the basket) to the checkout. Existing users were clearly invited to log-on but new users had to hunt around for where to go next. Once they found the registration form they had to fill in a lot of details that when completed didn't take them back to the checkout process, enabling them continue with their purchase.

Once they got back to the basket (after they logged in) it still wasn't clear how to get to the checkout. With all this confusion, is there any wonder the customer had enough and decided to go else where. It was just too hard for them and was tantamount to a supermarket hiding the checkouts!

Some tips to help retain the customer through the shopping cart

Here are some simple things to consider: "

  • When the customer gets to the basket, make it easy for them to proceed to the checkout. Provide them with all the relevant information and clear direction on where they need to go next.
  • Do not force customers to register before proceeding as an account can automatically be created as part of the checkout process. The details of which can be emailed to them highlighting the benefits of logging in next time.
  • As part of the checkout process automatically log the user in, after all this is easy to do and makes life a lot simpler for the end user.
  • Only ask for the minimum of information, customers feel uncomfortable when asked for too much.
  • When asking the customer for information make sure you give clear communication as to why you are collecting it and the benefits to them in providing it.
  • Do not introduce any surprises " make sure it is intuitive " don't re-invent the wheel in terms of e-commerce checkouts. Users are getting used to using e-commerce sites, so introducing non standard functionality in the checkout process can scare them off, unless there is a good reason for it.


You can take advantage of the growth in the e-commerce market, but if your customer finds it too hard to buy off you all the money you have spent on you site will be wasted. If your customer has a bad experience using your website not only will you have lost a customer, there is a high probability they will tell people about it and your reputation will be further damaged.

In thinking about your customers, offering them a good shopping experience and making them feel important you will only reap the rewards.


E-consultancy Article on best practice on e-commerce shopping carts.

Shopping cart improvement study.

Date: 06/07/2011


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