Improve the online purchase process in your eCommerce shop

6 min read
Tanya Jamal

UPDATE: This online purchase post was originally published on 29 November 2018 and updated on 8 April 2021.

The key to selling more is to improve your customer’s online purchase experience by reducing or simplifying complicated, confusing or unnecessary steps.

By creating a streamlined checkout and payment process, you can lower the number of shoppers who abandon their carts before checking out.

This will not only increase your sales, but build long-term customer relationships.

Editor’s note: Online Store, the all-in-one online shop builder from GoDaddy, increases sales by automatically sending a "you forgot something" email to shoppers who leave before completing their purchases.

Start making more sales today

According to Retail Dive, there are five ways to increase sales in any online shop. Let’s describe in detail how you can incorporate each into your online purchase process.

1. Make it easier to use

Online Purchase Spiral Staircase
More people will make it through checkout if you reduce the number of steps required.
Photo: Brannon Naito on Unsplash

Filling out endless lines of information sometimes seems like the hill we must die on if we really want whatever we put in our virtual shopping cart. But the hard truth is that many shoppers will abandon their purchases midway through that endless questionnaire because they have better things to do with their time than look up expiry dates.

Most successful large retailers offer a guest checkout as an alternative to registering an account.

This strategy works well for consumers in a hurry, or those who are one-time purchasers (who might yet turn into repeat customers if their experience is positive).

Offering an option to log in using the consumer’s social media information is another way to entice those who don't wish to dig up their particulars (yet again) from their wallets or purses. Another terrific idea? Inviting the customer to use their billing address as their shipping address with a single click.

Editor’s note: Online Store automatically creates a mobile version of your website with a streamlined mobile checkout that reduces extra taps and swipes.

2. Speed things up

Justin Alei from Xynergy reports that half of all people expect website pages to open in two seconds or less on mobile platforms. Slow pages lose interest, cause frustration and result in fewer sales.

“When it comes to mobile speed, every second matters,” says Justin. “For each additional second it takes a mobile page to load, conversions can drop by up to 20 percent.”

A few things you can do to speed up your site’s load time:

  • Compress files and reduce the amount of redirection on your web pages.
  • Use a content distribution network (CDN) so that multiple networks can store copies of your site that can then be viewed by different users simultaneously (both a CDN and an SSL is included with GoDaddy's  Website Security.)
  • If the speed issues are related to heavy traffic to your website, congrats! Now check with your hosting provider about adding resources to your plan.

Ultimately, it can be the frustration borne of the difficulty and uncertainty of the online purchase that can make consumers abandon a full cart. So instead of leaving your customers in the dark about where they are in the checkout cycle, provide timely pop-ups with advice for next steps.

Adding a simple progress bar to show the shopper’s checkout status works wonders.

Knowing when they are almost done or have just one more thing before their purchase is final can truly work to keep your customers clicking through to checkout.

3. Visibly secure the checkout process

Giving one’s credit card information and personal details over the internet requires a significant amount of trust. Don’t make the customer search high and low to see what, if any, security features your site has. Clearly displayed and easily located security icons or badges, attesting to the sorts of encryption services your site uses, engenders comfort and trust in your clientele. The last thing a customer wants is uncertainty over whether they can trust your business.

An EV SSL certificate turns the customer’s browser bar green — a powerful visual cue that they are safe to proceed.

It is vital to include clearly visibly information about how any information they provide, financial or personal, will be used, stored or shared. In these days of information leaks and privacy hacks, you must inform the consumer of your company’s policies and obtain necessary permissions with active ‘accept’ buttons. Consider using the simplest version of the standard legalese as a way to help retain consumers and get them over the hiccup of divulging their personal contact information.

Related: Improve your conversion rate with SSL

4. Make it look good

Good design is the meeting of form and function. Once your online purchase process has been pared down to make shopping faster and easier, consider streamlining the optics of your shopper experience.

Online Purchase Woman Selecting Yarn
Use colour to lead customers through the selection and checkout process.
Photo: Josh Edgoose on Unsplash

Use colour strategically

Using clear, colour-defined graphics as another tool to guide customers from selection to checkout is a smart strategy. For example, colour-coding sizes or grouping products by colour-coded categories can help consumers make faster decisions when reviewing their carts.

Present a scannable list

Providing customers with an itemized list of their cart’s contents, along with enlargeable thumbnail photos, aids in a final review before purchase. It’s best to give customers a chance to review their selections with no time limits (i.e. ‘Our sale is ending in 28 minutes, click BUY now!’) as it keeps the customer in control of their experience.

Provide the flexibility they want

Allowing them to easily add to their selections by continuing to shop or to remove items or change sizes from the ‘review cart’ screen are all great ways for the customer to feel as if they are getting personalized service. The more transparent your online shop is, the more your customers will have confidence in other aspects of your business.

5. Delight customers

Online Purchase Woman in Green Dress
Thrill customers by making it easy and fast to purchase and return items (if needed).
Photo: Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Customers shopping online want a stress-free, no-hassle checkout when buying from an online store. Online purchasing is beginning to mimic the ‘tap-and-go’ payment methods people enjoy when making purchases from bricks and mortar stores. People want to feel valued, respected and they want to enjoy the time they spend online. A customer who can make returns and exchanges without hassle will become a customer for life.

Related: Returns and refund policy templates for online shopping sites

Streamline your online purchase process

These days, the faster, simpler and more transparent your online shop can make itself, the fewer customers will leave your site for greener pastures. Delight often ensues when a customer can finish their checkout within a few short minutes from reviewing their cart to entering their credit card number.

Combining the simplicity and ease of online purchasing with a fast and aesthetically pleasing experience is what makes a one-time customer into a repeat customer. That in turn causes a repeat customer to become a lifelong client.

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