Key Points:

  • The checkout page is the most important part of the customer journey as it results directly in a sale
  • Based on Baymard Institute’s 2019 research, the average cart abandonment rate is 69.57%
  • Easyship’s real-time shipping rate tool displays shipping costs upfront and also shows trust signals to help customers feel comfortable with sharing their credit card information

There are many beautiful eCommerce websites that have high traffic volume – yet high cart abandonment rates. So, what gives?

Often, it’s because the online retailer has failed to optimize their store checkout flow and customers end up getting frustrated and abandoning their shopping carts. So why does someone abandon their cart? And what can you, as an eCommerce business, do to prevent this?

In this article, we’ll go through the eCommerce checkout process. We’ll also see why customers abandon their carts and how you can optimize the purchasing flow to prevent it.

Table of Contents

What is Checkout in eCommerce and Why Does it Matter?

The checkout page is the most important part of the customer journey as it results directly in a sale. To have customers leave their shopping carts because of small errors you could have fixed is nothing short of tragic.

Although the process may seem fairly straightforward, you’ll be surprised to know how many businesses fail to create a seamless experience for their customers, especially when it comes to their checkout page.

The typical checkout flow for a customer is:

  1. Shopping cart: The checkout process begins when the customer heads to the shopping cart and proceeds to make a purchase. Most stores have a “buy now” button to make the flow seamless. At this stage, businesses provide customers with various options at the checkout page. Typically, customers are given the option to create an account with the store (register) or continue as a guest.
  2. Billing info: An essential part of the checkout process is when customers select the payment method and enter their billing information.
  3. Shipping info: Customers like to know that their products will arrive as quickly as possible. Before they get that information, though, they need to provide their shipping details. To streamline this process, create a checkbox for “shipping address same as billing address” so they don’t have to enter this information twice.
  4. Shipping method: This section shows customers all of the possible methods that can be employed to get their orders shipped in a timely manner. Shipping options that are both fast and affordable can help avoid cart abandonment.
  5. Preview order: Once customers have put in all of their information, make sure that they can preview the complete order with total costs.
  6. Payment and confirmation: This is the last part of the checkout process. On the preview order page, there should be a call to action to have the customers complete the purchase. This call to action should be prominently displayed.

What is the Average Checkout Abandonment Rate?

Checkout abandonment rates vary based on what industry you’re operating in, what product you’re selling, and who exactly you’re selling to. Based on Baymard Institute’s 2019 research, the average cart abandonment rate is 69.57%.

Ideally, you’ll want to optimize your cart abandonment rate to be lower than this, but if you’re hovering around this number, just understand that this is a benchmark for average performance and that with some optimization, you’ll be on your way to improving your conversion rate.

To calculate the cart abandonment rate, divide the total number of completed purchases by the number of created carts, and subtract from 1. For example, if you have 300 carts created, and 100 completed purchases, then your cart abandonment rate is 66%.

According to Baymard Institute, customers abandon for many reasons:

11 Tips for Optimizing an eCommerce Checkout Page

To help improve your eCommerce cart abandonment rates and increase sales, it’s important to make your process as easy as possible. Help your customers understand where they are in the purchasing flow and what information they need to provide.

Let’s look at several ways you can optimize success.

Make the checkout process fast

Many customers abandon their carts because the purchasing process isn't fast enough and is too complicated. Here are some ways to make it seamless:

Offer Guest Checkout
Registration is a big source of customer friction. Allow customers to complete the purchase as a guest. Instead of having to complete registration forms, customers can proceed to just enter their billing information.

Here we see Larq let shoppers do guest checkout or do express checkout via Amazon or GooglePay.

Autofill addresses

Customers want their purchasing experience to be as quick as possible. Use an autofill feature for the shipping and billing sections. This will make the process very convenient.

Allow social sign-in

If you are trying to capture the customers’ email addresses earlier in the process, allow customers to use social media to sign in. Social sign-in gives customers the option to sign in through their social media accounts, like Facebook. Once customers have signed into their accounts their address information will also be populated.

Checkout page design should entice customers to buy

A big part of the order completion process is the overall web design, especially that of the checkout page. The simplicity and organization of the design can help your customers easily complete their orders.

Here is an example of a clean and simple checkout page design from Pink Lily:

Summarize cart details

Customers want to be reminded of the products that are in their carts. On the order page, add a summary of the cart details so that customers can check what items they are ordering.

Simplify the process

Keep the checkout page as simple and clean as possible. Remove any large buttons or pop-ups that could distract the customer from completing their purchase.

Prioritize the mobile experience

79% of smartphone owners have bought something online using their phones in the last six months. Make sure that your page has been optimized for mobile users, or else you could be missing out on many sales.

Prevent customers from leaving at the last minute

The last thing you want is for a customer to have completed half of the process and then abandon their cart. Use the following checkout optimization techniques to close on a high note.

Prevent shipping surprises

Many eCommerce websites offer free shipping to stop customers from leaving after seeing high shipping costs. If that isn’t an option, use a real-time shipping tool that displays dynamic shipping rates on the checkout page at the beginning of the flow so that customers are aware of the costs.

Use error notifications

Sometimes users are not aware that they have input something wrong, causing an error. Clear error notifications help users understand what they have done wrong and allow them to go back and fix the errors without having to complete the forms from scratch.

Offer multiple payment options

Offer your customers various payment options. Having a range of checkout options gives customers the flexibility to pay according to their convenience. Look into which payment platforms are most popular among your customers and offer them as options.

Display trust signals

When a customer wants to make a purchase from your eCommerce store, they want to know that their credit card information is secure. You need to show that your website is trusted for handling sensitive information.

Connect customers to support

Customers may have questions they need to be answered before they can confirm their purchases. Encourage customers to use live chat and email support to help resolve their queries quickly.

Cart Abandonment Metrics to Track

A low cart abandonment rate is one sign of a successful checkout page. But, besides comparing the pre-optimization abandoned cart rate to the post-optimization rate, there is another metric to track to ensure the new tactics you’ve put into place are actually making a difference. You should also be evaluating your overall eCommerce conversion rate.

The eCommerce conversion rate is the percentage of completed orders. Compare your pre-optimization conversion rate to your post optimizations rate. This will show you if your optimizations have positively impacted your site.

To stay up-to-date you’ll want to regularly check best practices and use those strategies to make the best process for your customers. Test changes and campaigns, measure results, make adjustments, and repeat.

Designing a Better Checkout Experience

Your store checkout page and process are crucial aspects of your eCommerce business. Your customers have already invested a lot of time in your business and are ready to purchase. Unfortunately, many customers never complete the process, which in turn causes you to lose revenue.

Customers often leave because of unexpected costs, complications in the process, and a lack of support from your business. But, implementing checkout optimization can help you avoid falling victim to this.

There are also many tools and tactics that eCommerce stores can use to reduce their cart abandonment rates, like using Easyship’s real-time shipping rate tool to display shipping costs upfront and also showing trust signals to help customers feel comfortable with sharing their credit card information.

It’s up to you to figure out why your customers are abandoning their carts and how to optimize the checkout page so that they enjoy a simple and pleasurable shopping experience on your site.

Leigh-Anne Truitt is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist at BigCommerce where she researches and discovers strategies to increase organic traffic. Prior to joining the eCommerce industry, Leigh-Anne perfected her marketing skills at The University of Texas at Austin and CanIRank.