Online Buying Silk

Removing friction from the online buying experience

6 min read
John Jantsch

Sometimes the difference between middling online sales numbers and a booming business isn’t about the product you’re selling. It’s not even about how you’re marketing it. You might have a great product that’s finding the right people, and they’re eating up your email and clicking through to your website only to … drift away. If you see otherwise good numbers from your marketing campaign, but you do not necessarily see a corresponding jump in your sales numbers, you might have a problem with too much friction on your website. It’s time to improve the online buying experience.

Friction is all about where you start to lose people on your website.

It could be that they wind up straight at checkout from your landing page, but they haven’t yet gotten a chance to look at the product’s dimensions to see if it would actually fit in their house. It could be that they come across a weird fee that they weren’t expecting and have to go back to look at what it is. These are friction problems, and solving them can give you the boost you’re looking for in your sales numbers.

Tweaking your landing pages

First thing’s first: ask yourself how well you’ve done at creating customized landing pages for each source of leads. You want to provide each customer with a buying journey that takes into account where they’re coming from and gets them to the checkout while answering all the questions they may have along the way.

Anticipate questions they may ask, and see if you can answer those questions with content.

You might have the prettiest product photos in the world, but the customer can be left with no idea of what to expect when they open the box if everything is super close up with narrow depth of field. With both iPhone and Android devices able to shoot in 4K, there’s no excuse not to have at least a demonstration video showing the product in action. This can answer a bunch of questions at once, showing how the product actually works, what you need to be able to use it, and its scale.

Online Buying Video
Product demos and other types of video can remove friction from the online buying experience. Use your smartphone to shoot simple videos, upload them to your business’s YouTube channel, and then embed them on your website.

Abandoned carts

Almost 75 percent of all eCommerce carts are abandoned. It’s a rough number because the cart is the home stretch — all the work you’ve done to get them onto your website and reading your copy has already worked. The good news is that since the cart is the very end of your sales funnel, making even some small improvements in your conversion rate here can pay off big time.

So why do so many carts get abandoned? In short, it boils down to unanswered questions.

It could be something about the product itself. Maybe they want to look at other options for color, or double check that the dimensions are what they think they are. It could also be a question that comes up from the checkout process: “Why do they need my phone number?” or, “There’s a discount box, but I don’t have a code. Am I missing out?” The final reason is unexpected costs, like shipping fees or taxes.

To get a clearer picture of what’s going on, you need to go to your analytics. Which step, specifically, in the checkout process are you getting abandonment? Can you see where users go after they back out? You need to find out everything you can if you want to cut down on abandonment numbers and convert more people.

Establishing trust in checkout

One of the biggest sources of friction in checkout comes down to issues of trust. This section of the buying journey involves a lot of active work from the customer. They have to put in a bunch of information about themselves, take their credit card out of their wallet and copy down the numbers, put in their billing address and shipping address, and make some final decisions about things like shipping options.

If they decide they don’t trust you, if they don’t understand why a particular fee is coming up or why you need a particular piece of information, then they’ll save checkout for another day.

Go through your checkout and ask yourself when new information is being presented to the user. Are they able to get more information if they want it? Finding a way to answer any questions that they may have without leaving the checkout page is the key to stopping bounces before they happen. If you’re asking for something like a phone number, consider adding a little explainer text: “We’ll call if there’s a shipping problem!” If you have a number of shipping options, make sure it’s clear exactly they each mean.

A major source of friction is the discount code box.

It goes against our instincts to leave a box empty on a form. What’s more, it makes us afraid that we’re not getting the best deal we possibly can. Figuring out a way to make discount codes easier to find can bump your conversion rates and cut down on abandonment — even if the deal you’re offering isn’t actually that good. People like to feel like they’re part of something exclusive, so give them a special code and make them feel like they’re in the in-crowd.

Users also want to know that their information is secure.

Branding can help a lot with this. Using a logo from McAfee SECURE, PayPal or any other checkout security source lets users immediately know that you take their data seriously, without you having to spell it out.

Auditing the online buying journey to cut down on friction

Another helpful thing to think about is where someone might have questions. A simple way to look at this is to get a few friends to go through the checkout process and think aloud, talking through any questions they have. Don’t say anything, just listen and watch. Looking at your online buying experience through new eyes will give you important insights into where you can do better.

Getting your message right and getting it to your audience is hard work, and you want it to pay off. If you’re looking at your analytics numbers and noticing bounces and cart abandonment issues, it’s time to take a close look at your website and where there might be sources of friction in the online buying experience.

No journey is going to be completely frictionless— people ultimately have to give you money, after all.

However, the bottom line is that making small tweaks to the end of the sales funnel can pay big dividends.