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Checkout has 99 problems…and speed is only one

Jay Myers
Jay Myers, co-founder of Bold Commerce.

Checkout abandonment is currently a $4 trillion problem for retailers.

This number represents all merchandise left in carts by the 70% of shoppers who don’t complete their online purchases. With this much revenue on the line, it’s no wonder that solving for shopper abandonment has become an industry all on its own.

Retailers and brands are finding, however, that the most widely adopted strategies for reducing abandonment have left much to be desired. Specifically, solutions that are aimed solely at getting shoppers through checkout faster are introducing new challenges–and more abandonment.

The implied promise of the “speed” approach is that if you can make the checkout process faster, you’ll reduce abandonment. But is a speedier checkout alone the solution to improving conversion?

Answering this question correctly is important, considering that many brands are attempting to reduce checkout abandonment by removing features in checkout and solely focusing on driving quick payments.

Of course, if speed alone were the solution, then the adoption of express pays from PayPal and Amazon, of digital wallets like ApplePay and GooglePay, or one-click solutions like Bolt, would remedy the billions lost each year. Yet checkout abandonment remains pervasive and costly for brands.

Why? Because checkout has a lot of problems and speed is only one of them.

What’s actually happening at checkout?

Once shoppers proceed from cart to checkout, less than half (48%) end up actually completing their purchase. On mobile, this number is even lower. Only 42% of shoppers complete their purchase. In other words, about one out of two shoppers who proceed from cart to checkout abandon their purchase during the checkout stage, not before.

These numbers reflect a lack of delivering on shoppers’ needs during checkout.

Checkout isn’t only about capturing payment. It’s also the place where shoppers select delivery or pickup options, enter discount codes, select shipping methods, confirm quantity, and more. When shoppers don’t see the options they need to feel confident in their purchase, they bail.

This is why side-stepping the functionality and options that actually make shoppers convert, in favor of a quick-buy button, has not proven to be a silver bullet for combatting shopper abandonment.

What are the problems at checkout that need to be addressed?

Checkout is home to a number of conversion boosters that retailers rely on to keep shopper purchase intent high. Many of these elements are being treated as though they’re at odds with the focus on quickly capturing the payment.

Here are some of the real reasons shoppers abandon their cart during checkout that need to be factored into optimizing the checkout flow.

They can’t figure out how to pick up their purchase in store instead of defaulting to home delivery. A speedy checkout process in and of itself becomes irrelevant if shoppers are only willing to buy if they can pick up their order in store that day.

The same is true of curbside pickup. For stores that offer this convenience, not making it prevalent in checkout–solely for the sake of getting the shopper to pay quicker–will inevitably backfire.Checkout should house pickup times, much in the same way it houses shipping delivery options, in order to alleviate one less unknown for shoppers.   

There’s a lack of payment methods, or not the preferred ones. Many brands confuse speed with convenience. This is especially true when it comes to piling on an ever increasing selection of  payment methods for a shopper to choose from. With so many payment options now available–buy now, pay later; credit cards, digital wallets–it’s nearly impossible for streamlined checkouts to correctly surface the right default option(s) for each individual shopper.

Especially for the mobile shopper, the friction increases with the added clutter of multiple payment options, or the hassle of reentering payment information not stored from their last purchase.

Checkout page load speed is too slow. Ninety percent of shoppers say they will abandon a purchase if the website loads slow. And according to Unbounce, 18% of all checkout abandonment is due to checkout not loading quickly enough

Every second of additional checkout loading time can deter shoppers, especially those on mobile devices.  Load speed is impacted by browser, device and network, but also by the amount of data and images that need to be loaded on the page and the volume of data requests that are happening in the back end to make this happen. Modern checkout solutions are maniacally focused on improving load times for this reason.

Shipping fees are a turnoff. Free shipping has become table stakes for most online retailers. As a result, there’s a direct relationship between increased shipping fees and decreased checkout completions. According to the Checkout Benchmark, with zero shipping fees, checkout completion rates are at 56% (desktop) and 45% (mobile). As shipping fees increase by 10%, checkout completion rates fall 6% on desktop and nearly 4% on mobile.

Mandatory account creation is required. Requiring shoppers to create an account rather than letting them checkout as guests drives one in every four shoppers to abandon checkout. Instead, opt to give shoppers the ability to create an account with a couple clicks after order placement. To incentivize account creation, let them know they will receive faster checkout on future purchases and perhaps include a tailored offer to promote customer loyalty. 

Inability to edit order details - Shoppers often look to edit details such as delivery, shipping, and quantity during checkout–and they drop out of the checkout process when they’re not able to.

According to the Checkout Benchmark, mobile shoppers who convert into buyers are 41% more likely than those who don’t convert to review or edit their checkouts. This behavior reveals that checkout experiences must be flexible enough to allow shoppers to review and revise in the final moments leading up to conversion.

There’s nowhere to enter discount codes. While many retailers entice shoppers with promotion codes or sign-up discount codes, many one-click and buy-now checkout solutions often don’t accommodate these codes. Not only does this dampen conversion, it creates post transaction customer service issues over missed savings.

So, does speed matter?

It absolutely does, but achieving speed by stripping conversion boosters isn’t the way.

Instead, brands can make use of all that first-party shopper data they already have to tailor the checkout flow by shopper, channel, source, device and more. Brands should consider solutions that allow them to transform any logic they have–and they have a lot–into better, higher converting checkout experiences.

Jay Myers is co-founder of Bold Commerce.




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