9 must-read tips to increase your checkout conversion rate

If you’re selling food or drink online, your checkout conversion rate can be the difference between success and failure. Increasing it is one of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your sales figures.

Often when I come to look at a company’s Google Analytics, and contrary to what they believe, the problem with their sales isn’t attracting people to their website in the first place, it’s getting people to buy things they’re already interested in.

Surely, you would think, if someone has put a product in their shopping basket and clicked ‘checkout’ they’re pretty keen to buy it. In reality, this it true but only if certain conditions are met. You’d be amazed at how many people abandon purchases part way through due to really simple mistakes made in the checkout design.

There are two key truths that any online food or drink business needs to understand about this. First, online shoppers are seriously lazy – if you don’t make things super easy for them then you’re setting out to fail. Second, improving your checkout design can be a really quick and easy way to boost your sales – it’s low hanging fruit. So let’s get stuck in…


Tip 1: Do the right analysis

Firstly, you need to understand what’s happening in your checkout process and whether or not it needs improvement. To do this, you should have the Enhanced ecommerce functionality set up in Google Analytics. The crucial report for you on this subject is ‘Checkout behaviour’.

In brief, the report shows each stage in your checkout so you can clearly see where people are leaving the process. Users who have got this far definitely want to buy your product or service, so don’t give them any reasons why they can’t (because they also want to buy your competitor’s offering too). For reference, a good checkout conversion rate is around 50%.


Tip 2: Make the process short

The more pages you have in your checkout process, the more likely you are to lose the customer. Do whatever you can to make the process as short and simple as possible.

Another key thing to remember is that you shouldn’t ask people to register before they pay. You can always give that option at the end, but don’t make them jump through any unnecessary hoops!


Tip 3: Simplify navigation

Once a customer begins the checkout process you only want them to have one focus – finish and pay. Remove any unnecessary distractions that could tempt them to leave. Create a simplified header and page layout specifically for the checkout pages.

And importantly, don’t show offers at the wrong moment. Yes, it would be great if they bought a second bottle of gin, or another pack of popcorn, but offers that could tempt them to click away and lose track of what they were doing will ultimately make you worse off.


Tip 4: Show a progress bar or breadcrumb trail

If customers can see how many steps are left in the process (and it’s not too many!) it encourages them to continue. For that reason it’s a really good idea to show a progress bar, a breadcrumb trail or even just have ‘Step 1 of 3’ at the top of the page.


Tip 5: Always display a summary

Have you ever been mid-checkout process and just wanted to double check you’ve added the right size/type of item you’re buying? This happens a lot, and the last thing you want is customers clicking away to remind themselves what’s in their basket.

For that reason, it’s a good idea to show a basket summary in an obvious location on the page at every stage of the process.


Tip 6: Capture customer details as quickly and easily as possible

This is pretty obvious, but people don’t want to spend ages typing in all their details. This is particularly true when they’re buying from their phones.

At the very least, have a postcode look-up for address details, and pre-populate the delivery address with the billing address (although obviously make this easily editable). Don’t ask annoying questions or require unnecessary information.

To take things a step further, if you implement a payment system like PayPal checkout (see Tip 8), then you can get the customer’s details directly from PayPal and you don’t need to ask them to fill in forms at all – simply show them a summary of their information once they’ve been through the PayPal checkout.


Tip 7: Be clear and upfront about delivery

The last thing you want is for a customer to get to the final summary before they click ‘Pay’ and find there is an unexpected delivery cost. Even if this delivery cost is minimal, it could stop them buying because it’s a perceived increase to the sum they had in mind.

Be upfront about delivery costs from the get go, and the customer will already be expecting it at the payment stage.

Equally important is showing expected delivery dates. For example, if someone is buying a product from you as a present, then they’re going to want to know it’ll arrive on time. If they can’t see that information they may well abandon the purchase.


Tip 8: Make it easy to pay

Picture the scene – your customer is sitting on the sofa on their mobile about to buy your product. They get the ‘enter your card details’ section and that’s where they give up. Why? Because their credit card is in their bag in the hall and they can’t be bothered to go and get it. And they can’t remember the number or one of the other details.

Are customers really that lazy? Yes, yes they are. That’s why you have to make it as easy as possible for them to pay. Options like Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, Android Pay, Google Checkout and PayPal checkout are all worth serious consideration. They can seriously speed up the process, and because the customer has their details saved with the external provider they don’t need to leave their seat to get a card.

Of course, you may want your own payment platform too for customers who don’t use these other providers. Your choice here is also important. You want something that looks professional, reassuring and is – again – easy to use. Stripe is good – but if you’re not sure, take some advice.


Tip 9: Reassure your customers

There are still customers out there, particularly in the older generation, who are nervous about divulging card and address details online. Make sure it’s clear your checkout process is secure at every stage.


And what to do if they leave…

Hopefully using these tips will mean you have far fewer customers abandoning their baskets, but for those that do you should seriously consider sending basket abandonment emails.

A simple reminder of what they were thinking of buying could be enough to bring them back to complete the purchase. And that’s the aim of the game, after all.

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