Everyone has thoughts on how to make eCommerce checkout more customer-friendly and streamlined to increase sales.
But Baymard Institute went ahead and conducted a study over the course of several months to determine what really works, and what doesn't.
The Baymard team tested over 500 usability issues on fifteen of the biggest eCommerce websites, including American Apparel, Zappos, 1-800-Flowers, Newegg, and Walmart.
What to Do:
Maintain a linear checkout process.
A complicated checkout process was the biggest usability offender.
Do not have "steps within steps" in your checkout process, it only confuses and intimidates customers. Make sure it's simple and they can go from point A to point B to point C without any backtracking or branching out into new steps.
Take care with your form fields.
You might think that the difference between a billing address and a shipping address is obvious, but to some customers, it can be unclear and frustrating, leading to eCommerce cart abandonment.
Make sure your form fields are clearly labelled, and offer guidelines for required fields. It's also a good idea to explain why you need certain fields, like their email address. Ensure that there's an autofill option between the customer's billing address and shipping address.
You'll also want them to have their own column to make everything visually clear.
Design your checkout page with security images.
Images of security symbols, such as locks and badges, made the users feel more secure in handing over their credit card information, so ensure that your website complies with these security badge requirements so that you can promote them on your website.
Format the credit card fields.
To avoid confusion, format these exactly the way they appear on the customer's credit card.
Make any customer errors obvious.
If a customer forgets to fill out a required field, don't just send them back to an earlier page.
Highlight the forgotten field and put in a noticeable error sign at the top of the page explaining what went wrong. Then, your customer can correct their mistake quickly and easily, completing their sale within seconds.
What Not to Do:
Don't use vague directions.
Don't just say "continue", tell them to "continue to checkout" or "continue shopping."
The clearer you can be, the better user experience you'll be providing for your online shoppers - increasing the likelihood of purchases being completed.
Don't use an apply button.
Customers were routinely confused by "apply" buttons. Just leave them out.
Don't force customers to register an account to buy.
There is nothing customers hate more than being forced to register for your site in order to complete the checkout.
Make it an option to sign up for an account, or you risk losing a third of your customers. Guest checkout functionality is key for those who don't want you to store their details or for one-off purchases, where the buyer has zero intent to come back to your online store.