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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

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13 Tips To Create Effective Ecommerce Checkout Pages

What does any customer want? A smooth, informative and enjoyable shopping process and an even smoother checkout process. A checkout process that’s designed to satisfy buyers, and not just the merchant’s objectives. Here’s how you design effective ecommerce checkout pages.
As a user, my need is to purchase a product – quickly, easily, and securely.

1. No Mandatory Registration
You want to gather as much customer data as possible; everyone understands that. However, forcing your customer to register or create an account even before they complete their purchase can lead to cart abandonment. If the customer is not inclined to build a relationship with you, it should be perfectly fine to let them just purchase and leave. If the overall experience has been good on your site, the customer is likely to come back, registration or not registration. 

2. Reduce Distraction
The checkout area should not contain any distracting and unnecessary information. The process should seamlessly lead the customer to the order confirmation page as quickly as possible. So don’t add any navigational links that can take your customer away from their purchase. If you do have to provide links on the checkout page, make sure the links open immediately on the same page. 

3. Keep The Checkout Process Short
The shorter your checkout process, the happier your customer. Keep this in mind while sorting out exactly what all you need from the customer during checkout, such as credit card details, address and so on. Reduce as many steps as you can, so that the customer can check out in a few simple steps 

4. Display Progress Indicators
At any point in the checkout process, your customers should know exactly where they are and how many steps remain till they’re done. Number each step in the checkout process. Right at the beginning, explain that there are X number of steps, and the exact amount of time it will take to checkout. 

5. Design Institutive Forms
Automatically populate as many fields as you can, using localized analytics. Indicate mandatory fields using asterisks. Use clear drop-downs to indicate list options. Use radio buttons where there aren’t many options. Design field sizes based on the size of the content you expect. Use a legible, bold font for field labels and align them in line with the fields. 

6. Be Upfront About All Costs 
Your customer should know of all shipping costs, delivery costs and additional taxes before the checkout process begins. Provide an Order Summary with detailed cost information including taxes. By doing this, you can prevent cart abandonment and increase satisfaction of shopping experience. 

7. Display Trust Credentials 
Your customer will be concerned about the safety of their credit card information. Make sure you display all trust credentials that you’ve signed up with, such as TRUSTe, or Verisign.  You can display them on your footer, and also at the top of your checkout process pages. 

8. Let Customers Know They’re Safe
Use padlocks and secure HTTP (HTTPS) where appropriate, to let customers know their information is lock-secure on your site. Display a short message about your payment gateway’s security protocol before you ask for their credit card information. You can mention the encryption standards and security information with regard to your payment database. 

9. Offer Multiple Payment Methods
You can offer any number of payment methods – the more you offer, the easier you make it for your customer. So if your customers don’t have a viable credit card, they should be able to pay through debit cards, PayPal, other eWallets, and any other payment method that you’re comfortable with. 

10. Show Remaining Inventory
When a customer selects a particular product, they should be able to see exactly how much you have in quantity. Don’t be afraid that if quantity is more customers won’t purchase immediately. What’s important here is upfront honesty and transparency. Don’t fudge the quantities – that’s a good way to lose trust. 

11. Display Customer Testimonials
Customers love to hear about the experiences of other customers. Gather as many genuine customer reviews as you can. Put up short excerpts from a few top ones on your checkout process page. Customers should be able to click on them to read more. Take care to display expanded testimonial on that page itself, so there’s no distraction. 

12. Offer Real-Time Support
Your customer is allowed to have last minute questions while checking out. Make allowance for this and put up a Live Chat feature on the checkout page. You can do this by using OlarkNew technologies such as Olark and LivePerson. Offering this kind of real-time support is a good way of gaining customer trust, and also to capture real-time feedback. 

13. Put Up An Informative Thank You Page
Don’t forget to display a nice Thank You page after the transaction is complete. Use this page to offer relevant support information including email, phone numbers, shipping details such as time and tracking numbers and so on. 

Hugh Caruthers is online marketer and works as a landing page optimization expert and counselor. He works with several of E-commerce businesses, sharing his expertise in this area.  


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