E-commerce That Works - The Ordering Process
October 5, 2011
The cashier is at the end of the tunnel
The steps between the shopping cart and the order confirmation pages are crucial. In order to help your customer in this difficult process, you must make sure to display the right information at the right place.
The shopping cart page
Your customers must be able to keep shopping from your cart page. Make sure to include a link or a button that allows the customer to return to the product catalog.
The order total amount, including shipping charges and taxes (sales tax or VAT) must be displayed on the shopping cart page. There is nothing worse than having to wait for the last page of a checkout to discover extra charges. Show them upfront!
In the case of destination based shipping charges, make sure to include a way for the customer to select the order destination (region or zip code) and update the shipping charges accordingly.
Finally, information about your shipping policies, your return conditions and your terms and conditions should be easily available from the shopping cart page. They are a tremendous help in gaining the trust of your customers.
The checkout process
The checkout process is the meat of e-commerce. The number of steps it takes to complete an order and the layout of each form should be optimized. It is also important to minimize the number of fields that must be filled-in.
The ordering process is a funnel where each step is an occasion for the visitor to stop the checkout process. However, the customer should not feel rushed or insecure about placing his order, and the following 4 steps should be included:
- The shopping cart page
- The order information page
- The order verification page
- The order payment page
Google Analytics allows you to visualize the abandon rate at each step. The image above shows that 641 visits to a shopping cart page generated 16 orders, a conversion rate of 2.5%. Had the site added more choices, check-boxes to check or forced their customers to open an account to place their order, the conversion rate would have been lower.
Conversion rates are usually not made public and change from site to site. It is a fact, however, that if you reduce the number of steps and make them easier to pass, your conversion rate will increase. You've most likely left a store because the checkout line was too long or cancelled an order on the internet because the checkout was too tedious. Your customer will do the same.
Last important point: the methods of payment you accept on your website. We usually recommend that you accept multiple forms of payment, in order to satisfy the needs of most:
- Offline payments by check or wire transfer.
- Online payments with Paypal and/or with a credit card.
For online payments, even though Paypal tends to be a "standard" and does not require a Paypal account, paying directly with a credit card seems to be the payment method internet shoppers prefer.
The choice of the payment method is the last step of the ordering process. Your customers must be aware of their options before this step. It's important to indicate the payment methods you accept on your shopping cart page.
Same page in French.