As with all purchasing journeys, the steps that are taken to reach a sale are pivotal to making the process as smooth and seamless as possible which is why optimising your checkout to ensure procedures don’t involve jumping through hoops is always best practice.

Speed, security and simplicity are the 3 key points to remember and identifying where the process trips up allows you to tweak and improve to plug any future conversion holes.

Below are 5 great ways to optimise your checkout and if you’re interested in funnel analysis then continue reading to find out how and why it works.

When To Gather Data

  • Although gathering customer data is obviously something that we’d like to do, try not to let it impact on the customer’s checkout experience and only ask for their non-essential data once the sale has been reached. This is probably the number one factor which puts people off buying a product online and if you can provide an excellent purchasing journey then they’ll be more inclined to share their details once the process is done and dusted

Count Your Steps

  • Cut down on the amount of links that need to be clicked to reach your checkout and also only ask for data that’s relevant to just nailing that sale i.e. bank details, email address and shipping address. Also, keep your customer advised as to where they are in the sales process i.e. how many more pages are left to complete and were they need to go next once each stage is finished.

How To Design The Perfect Form

  • Use drop down lists to give customers definite choices rather than asking them to write info manually. Always have a postcode recogniser to fill in the blanks when completing an address section. If there are mandatory fields then make sure that these are obvious and properly highlighted with an asterisk. Ensure more info is readily available in the form of a hidden drop down box rather than opening up a new tab or switching pages. As mentioned, only ask for data that’s relevant to the sale as more info can be asked for later once the process has been successfully completed.

Be Transparent About Costs

  • There’s nothing worse than being slapped across the face with an extra cost after you’ve spent the last half an hour filling out an online form. Used, cheated and tricked are all words that spring to mind (as well as Ryan Air and Easy Jet) so aim to be as up front as possible and present extra costs at the beginning of the process rather than at the end. Also, if you have any less expensive alternative buying arrangements (e.g. collect in-store or lengthier delivery times) and special promotions to ease the route to the checkout then make sure you shout about these from the start as they could also help to seal the deal.

Inspire Confidence In Security

  • Shopping online has taken a long time to be regarded as a trustworthy way to shop and there are still plenty of people who wouldn’t dream of sharing their card details with someone that they haven’t met. Explaining what you do with card info, showing key security affiliates (bank and card icons) and encouraging customers to read more about your privacy policy is exactly what you need to be displaying to gain confidence and provide the perfect place to buy online.

Why Funnel Analysis is key to the conversion process

Tools that allow you to discover where and why a customer decides to drop out, abandon their trolley and run kicking and screaming from your online store are extremely handy and will certainly help you to act swiftly to prevent future non-sales taking place.
Cart abandonment tools, identifying drop offs, A/B testing and visual representations of the customer conversion journey, are all exactly what you need to be delving into to improve your checkout process and increase your sales.

Setting up funnel analysis in Google Analytics, in particular, presents a report on the entire customer conversion experience and allows you to pinpoint the pages and options that need to be navigated prior to reaching the checkout.

It’s only once a funnel is in place that you can begin to see correlations in drop offs and then start to analyse reasons why and how these can be rectified as quickly as possible. It has to be said that viewing the whole user journey as a visual map is an excellent means of working out what’s going right and what’s going wrong and also helps you present your findings with meaningful statistics as opposed to simply sticking your finger in the breeze and hoping for the best.

Note: Funnel visualisation reports can be found in GA by following Conversions and then Goals.