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If you could only improve one section of your online store, and you wanted to make the biggest impact on your conversion rates, chances are you’d focus on tweaking your shopping cart / checkout.

By far the most crucial step in the purchasing process, the checkout is where customers commit to purchasing and small improvements can make a huge difference to reducing cart abandonment and sealing the sale.

Here at TweakDorks improving conversion rates is a bit of an obsession. We’ve helped over 3,000 customers around the world customize their websites and in that time we’ve implemented quite a few changes that have increase conversion rates.

These are some of the best ways we’ve seen to increase ecommerce conversion rates on your shopping cart / checkout.

Add urgency with a timer

Once customers add a product to their shopping cart you want to get them to purchase as fast as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to add a timer or time limit on how long you can reserve the product for them.

This sense of urgency encourages people to make their purchases right there and then or risk missing out (who likes missing out). ASOS do a great job of this in their shopping cart page telling customers that items are only reserved for 60 minutes.

Online furniture retailer Made.com also do a great job with an active timer that counts down on their shopping cart page.

Always display all cart items

Another essential of any ecommerce shopping cart is to make sure customers can always see exactly what they are paying for. This is especially important if you offer up sells in like express shipping in your checkout process.

The last thing you want is for customers to not know exactly how much their purchase is now costing them, freaking out and abandoning the checkout process.

Threadless.com always make sure customers know exactly how much they are paying as they go through the checkout process. It assures customers that they aren’t being hit with hidden charges

 

Remove all distractions with closed checkouts

There has always been some debate on the true effectiveness of closed checkouts. If you’re not familiar with them, a closed checkout involves moving the customer into a checkout process where the only way to exit is either to purchase or close the window.

This is in contrast to most checkout processes that retain the top navigation bar and footer links which can distract purchases and cause them to visit other pages and abandon the purchase.

Amazon are probably the most famous users of the closed checkout. They do this because they want to make sure that once you’re ready to buy you focus entirely on that one task. Anything that does not help you get to purchase is a distraction

 

 

Live chat

Live chat is one of the things I see very few online retailers implement in their shopping cart purchase page which is a real shame. Having live chat support can make a big difference to increasing conversion rates and it’s something you should definitely do.

When customers are in the shopping cart page and suddenly have questions the last thing you want them to do is have to navigate out of the purchasing flow to go view your FAQs, searching for answers. The better way to do things is just have live chat support ready for any questions.

Olark is a great live chat tool that we use here at TweakDorks and we highly recommend it.

 

 

Single page checkout

Another goodie that is fast becoming industry standard is the single page checkout. Usually checkout processes have multiple steps / pages for various steps such as delivery address, discount codes, payment details etc.

It’s been shown that the more pages that customers need to visit the higher the chances of them abandoning the purchasing process.

A better way to do this is to offer a single page checkout flow. One page, put in all your details and you can purchase right there and then.

 

Clear progress bar

If you can’t or don’t want to have a single page checkout (why not?) then you need to make sure your multi step checkout has a clear progress bar.

Customers want to know what is involved with purchasing from you and what comes next. If you can show them exactly what stage they are at and what information is needed next they’ll feel more secure of their purchase. The less questions the better!

 

Don’t require registration to shop

One of my biggest pet peeves whenever I shop online is being confronted with a website that requires me to create an account before purchasing. In all honesty I can see very very few products where creating an account is justified.

Forcing customers to create an account has been proven to reduce conversion rates so why not just give customers the option to either create an account or purchase as a guest.

For those who decide to checkout as a guest you can offer the option to create an account after purchase.

 

 

Offer a wide variety of payment options

This one is a no brainer for most sites but it’s still worth noting. Make sure that you offer as many payment options as possible. Different customers will have their own preferences for how they want to pay so offer it to them.

A really simple example is to make sure you don’t just offer credit card purchases but also Paypal and potentially other options like Google Wallet for example.

 

Guarantees on each product

Another thing that works really well is always driving home your value proposition through out your shopping cart by using guarantees.

Appliance online do this really well by consistently showcasing their best price guarantee on all line items.

It helps to reinforce that purchasing from them is a sure fire way to get the best price.

 

 

Lots of trust signals

Something I find myself repeating a lot to customers is that getting customers to buy online is always a question of trust. Do customers trust you enough to give you all their credit card details without every meeting you in person?

A key element for any checkout / shopping cart page is to have lots of trust signals. Many people mistake trust signals for credit card logos but it encapsulates so much more.

Simple symbols and badges for your free delivery guarantee or free returns are just as valuable for growing trust with your customers.

Be sure to have these symbols prominently displayed in your shopping cart. Zappos do a great job of this with not just recognized symbols but also additional ones like the padlock to communicate security.

 

 

Remove all friction in your forms

People don’t like forms… there I said it. Yea that’s right, people don’t like filling up forms. Oh and guess what? Your checkout is one big form which you need to simplify as much as possible so that people can purchase stress free.

I really get annoyed with forms when I click submit only to find out that I need to go back and change something cause it’s not in the right format. These small annoyances can cause customers to get frustrated so why not remove the pain for them.

A great way to do this is to provide inline validation so customers know immediately that when they enter in their email address it is in the right format.

 

Another simplification is to make sure that your credit card expiry date fields are in numbers not months. People read their expiry in months so it makes sense to do the same in your checkout page.

 

 

Abandoned cart emails and retargeting

And the final piece of the puzzle is not really a website change but more of a marketing tactic to make sure you rescue customers who’ve abandoned the purchasing process.

Abandon cart emails are one of the best ways to bring customers back to purchase. Essentially abandon cart emails send reminders to people who’ve gone to checkout but not purchased, nudging them to come back and purchase.

Customers abandon for all sorts of reasons (got distracted, ran out of time etc). Going the extra mile to send an automated email with a direct link back to their shopping cart to purchase is an excellent way to get more sales.

 

The other tactic is retargeting. If you’re not familiar with retargeting it basically involves showing targeted banner ads to people who’ve visited your site but not purchased. These ads again serve as a reminder that they should return to purchase.

These ads can be shown through the Google Advertising network or even through platforms like Facebook.

 

Have you tried any of these tactics? How have they worked for you? Share your comments below!

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