The current rate of checkout abandonment is 68%. That means that over two thirds of people who add items to an online shopping basket will abandon them.

Many websites, particularly ecommerce stores, concentrate on drawing more people to their site. In fact, you can make more money, not by increasing your visitor traffic, but by improving your online checkout.

A better user experience boosts loyalty too, helping you gain loyal customers to nurture.

First I’ll explain common problems with checkouts that cause shoppers to abandon the buying process, then I’ll discuss two optimisation techniques to increase the purchase value.

Fix problems in the checkout form

Before making changes to optimise your checkout, you must first understand where the problem lies.

#1. Start with form analytics

Form analytics are the truest way to see where problems lie in your checkout. In a simple overview you can see the rate of abandonment in the checkout at first sight and the rate of abandonment amongst those that start filling in the form. This information alone tells you there’s a problem with the checkout.

Going to the checkout shows intent to buy. There are several reasons why shoppers might go to the checkout but abandon it without even starting it e.g.

– Shoppers go to the checkout, trying to find information not available earlier in the buyer journey. If you don’t prominently display shipping charges, delivery options or your returns policy (for example) then lots of shoppers might start the checkout to see if the information is given there. Those people have not reached the end of decision-making.

– Other shoppers might be fully prepared to buy but become put off by the checkout. This could happen if the checkout looks long and confusing.

Moving beyond just an overview of conversion statistics, form analytics can pinpoint problems with specific fields in your form.

Learn which fields have the highest drop off rate, which elicit the most corrections and where shoppers are delayed in the checkout. Quantitative data ensures you’re not optimising blindly. By following the data you know you’re looking in the right place. From there can investigate further with user testing and qualitative analysis, testing solutions and looking at the data again.

#2. Don’t force users to make any more decisions in the checkout

A survey by Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) found that 28% of shoppers who abandoned their carts did so because of unexpected shipping costs, the greatest cause cited by respondents.

Both of these reasons for shopping cart abandonment show that surprising shoppers with additional decision-making right before the purchase point scares them off. What you should do to avoid this scenario?

– Be upfront with shipping charges. You should have taken note that the key thing about cart abandonment caused by shipping costs is that they were unexpected. Make the delivery/shipping charges visible before the checkout. Show the true cost of the purchase on the product page and in the basket to help shoppers make their final decision before they go to the checkout.

– Allow shoppers to checkout without logging in. This is as simple as providing a guest checkout, that doesn’t ask for additional information and doesn’t store shoppers details. For many shoppers this route appears faster. The perception of speed is very important.

The exception to this latter rule is member sites that offer exclusive deals (like Secret Escapes). Another exception is Asos’ decision to introduce social login but no guest checkout, prompting the checkout. (Source: Is social login better than guest checkout?)

#3. Get the card payment form right

The survey by VWO further revealed that card security worries cause 13% of shoppers to abandon their purchases. If you see drop offs at the payment stage try experimenting with the trust signals e.g. SSL certificates, text that says “This checkout is secure”, in your online checkout.

Shoppers on the move are under additional time pressures and are likely to feel less secure in public places and over mobile networks.

This anxiety is reflected in the data our customers get from their form analytics. It’s common for payment-related form fields to feature high on Most Corrected Fields and Time in Field reports.

Here’s an example of top line data on fields that are most corrected by users:

Most Corrected Fields

The report above shows fields in the form with the most number of corrections, many of which are related to card payments, as follows:

– ‘Cardholder name’ is responsible for 19% of all corrections in the form.
– ‘Card number’ accounts for 14% of corrections.
– The first line of the cardholder’s address causes 10% corrections.

Why are payment forms a source of pain?

The credit card form could warrant a high rate of corrections if the labels for the fields are not clear enough. For example, the cardholder name needs to be exactly as it appears on the payment card. However, unless this is made clear, shoppers could fill out their name in a different format.

Speaking of format, your form should either be flexible or be very clear about restrictions in the data formats it accepts.

A long time spent in the card number field could indicate that lots of shoppers haven’t got their card out and ready to copy. Help shoppers by prompting them to get their card ready before they head into the checkout. Checkouts that time out after a certain period of time can cause anxiety so prepare shoppers and give them time to complete their purchase.

Optimise your sales tactics in the checkout

#1. Cross sell in the checkout

Cross selling means marketing products to shoppers that are related or will increase the value of the item they’re about to buy. If you’ve ever bought anything on Amazon you’ve probably seen this on product pages:

Amazon cross selling examples

Amazon show examples of items paired together and works out the combined price for you. Amazon also show items that other people bought along with the main item, another cross selling tactic based on social proof.

Although the example from Amazon appears on the product page and not in the checkout, it’s worth considering advertising in this style during the checkout process. It won’t work for everybody so run tests before rolling it out permanently.

The importance of personalization during cross-sell

Personalization enables you to cross sell products more accurately based on the shopper’s habits.

Start by getting customers to login in order to gather insights. This needs to be done with care to avoid drop offs and lost sales where shoppers don’t want to log in.

Encourage shoppers to create an account on your site.

Don’t create a login wall i.e. don’t force shoppers to log in before to buy.

Make it as easy as possible to create an account by offering the option after the purchase has been completed, just like Speedo do. On the post-purchase “Thank You page”, they allow shoppers to add a password to save all the details they had to enter in the checkout. It’s quick, easy and is framed as a benefit to the shopper.

Incentivise shoppers to log in. Speedo incentivise shoppers to create an account by offering 10% off their next order. A loyalty scheme is the ideal medium to incentivise customers. Get tips on how to make your loyalty program rewards irresistible.

#2. Upsell with live chat

Live chat is a great customer service tool that allows you to help shoppers who are struggling with their purchase as quickly as possible. It’s highly valued by shoppers with 44% of online customers saying live chat is “one of the most important features a web site can offer”.


Upselling should always seek to solve a problem, which is much easier to accurately identify if you’re speaking directly to customers.

By talking through a problem with a customer, even if it’s a problem with the checkout, your representative has an improved insight into the customer’s needs. With this knowledge they can target the customer with better recommendations.

Proof; Virgin Atlantic customers who use live chat convert at nearly 3.5 times the rate of those who don’t and the average order value is 15% higher.

Nurture the shoppers you have

With these methods you’ll make the most of the shoppers already landing on your site without needing to attract a high rate of new traffic.

Always look at your own data and tackle your own problems. Test solutions and check the results by continuing to monitor your checkout.