Monday 9 November 2009 | 09:37
Labels: Website Optimiser
We recently released the Make Your Website Work e-book to show common pitfalls of website design and show steps that can be taken to improve your website conversions. Today we'd like to delve further into the checkout process on websites, and give some suggestions on areas to test and ways to improve your conversion path.
Many e-commerce websites suffer from low conversion rates. We have compiled a list of e-commerce checkout tips that you may like to test on your own site.
Think about testing the following...
Product Images and Location
- As a rule of thumb, the more expensive an online purchase is, the more detailed your product shots and information should be.
- Place product images above the page fold (don't require users to scroll your pages).
- Be creative. Make effective use of existing technologies (ajax, flash, video etc..)
Buy ButtonsAlso known as 'add to cart' buttons, these are possibly the most important call to action on your website.
- Colour / Contrast - Eye catching use a different colour to the rest of your page.
- Text - Make it large and easy to read (no fancy typography).
- Icons - Icons aid usability (+ Add to Cart)
- Position - Users expect to find your 'add to cart' button on the right hand side of your product image.
- Make them BIGGER* - Large buttons grab attention, but also accommodate more users.
- Long product descriptions? Try using 2 add to cart buttons (1 above the fold, 1 below)
*Large buttons accommodate users who may have poor motor movement. See Fitts Law.
Checkout Without Registration
- Don't require customers to register before checkout.
- Forms should only ask for essential information.
- Tell customers why you need information. Especially personal details.
Form above clearly displays that you can login if you are a member already or checkout without registering.
Yes we ask for your email address, but here's why.
Progress IndicatorsOne of the most overlooked elements on many E-commerce websites is a progress indicator. This is the online equivalent of the shopping centre "You are here!". It also instantly answers:
- Where am I?
- How many more steps till I finish?
- What can I expect next?
- Do I get a chance to review my order?
You can easily see where you are in relation to completion of the task.
Forms Should Be EasySo many forms on E-commerce websites are difficult to use and don't provide meaningful feedback to users. Believe it or not you can make forms a fun, rewarding customer experience.
The outcome can be amazing as your customers know exactly what information they need to provide to complete the purchase.
Here are some other form tips you could test
- Provide clear labelling free from industry jargon / terms
- Use a checkbox / radio button to reveal optional additional info you may require.
- Eg: Different billing address / shipping address.
- Avoid popup errors. Instead use inline errors that highlight the problem area.
- Don't reset form data if an error occurs or the customer doesn't fill out the form the way you expect them to. Customers don't like repeating themselves. Allow them to correct their error but preserve already entered details.
Answer Customer QuestionsThere are often many unanswered questions a customer has before they complete a transaction. How well does your website answer the following?
- Can I return this item within x amount of days?
- Can I review my order before I confirm the purchase?
- Can I easily contact support or customer service if something goes wrong?
- If I hit the next button, will I be billed?
- If I hit the next button, will I be able to make a revision still?
- What is the total price with shipping to my address?
- How many days before I get my item delivered?
- Is this site secure, can I trust you with my credit card details?
- What payment types other than credit card do you accept?
- If I'm only making a booking, how much is due now and how much is due later?
Permission MarketingMany E-commerce websites ask for customers to opt-in to special promotional emails before checkout, but have you ever tested removing this step from your conversion process?
You can always politely ask them to sign up to your newsletter:
- After checkout (on your receipt page)
- Via email order confirmation (mail out)
- After the item has been posted to the customer
Another popular question on E-commerce checkout pages is 'Where did you hear about us?'
If you are not already, you should start using Google Analytics to help you identify the best conversion sources on your website, thus eliminating the need to ask the customer how they found you. Not to mention that some users don't know the difference between a 'search engine' and a 'browser'. So you may find the data you collect from asking this question is not that useful anyway.
You can always test to see if removing this question improves your conversion rate using Google Website Optimiser
Trust IndicatorsTrust indicators are badges, qualifications, affiliations or security assurances that can help customers feel at ease on your website. Some common trust indicators are:
- Secure payment gateway badges
- Brand names you sell
- Places you have been seen or mentioned in the media (eg: As Seen on TV)
- Money back guarantee
- Industry standards / rating / qualification
- Demonstrating your site is secure (highlight the secure symbol)
Where you place your trust indicators will depend on the context of your trust indicator itself.
For example: credit card payments, any secure payment gateway certificate or seal should be placed in close context to your credit card details form.
Certain payment gateway providers will give you trust indicators to work with. Google checkout provides several.
Test and Confirm
Still not sure if the tips above will help improve your checkout conversion rates?
Remember you should always test and confirm changes to your site with Google Website Optimiser. Website Optimiser is absolutely free to use, to learn more check out our previous Conversion Room post about testing with Google Website Optimiser.