Improve the checkout experience by mapping and optimizing each flow

blog-improve the checkout experience

A brand’s conversion rate hinges on the checkout experience. 

With cart abandonment at a staggering 78% rate, checkout is what stands between a consumer and a completed order. In fact, "48% of shoppers who move from cart to final checkout will still abandon their purchase. And on mobile, the number is even higher: 58% will abandon their purchase at checkout," according to an article in Digital Commerce 360.

Consumers abandon checkout due to multiple reasons: 

    • lack of payment methods
    • complicated or confusing checkout processes
    • requiring account creation
    • lack of delivery options such as BOPIS
    • slow page load speed
    • lack of mobile optimization.

While cart abandonment is frequent for shoppers, it represents a significant opportunity for retailers to grow revenue. For example, a brand with $50 million in annual ecommerce revenue where mobile accounts for 50%, improving the mobile conversion rate from 2.5% to 3% equates to $5 million more in annualized revenue.

To reduce cart abandonment at checkout, brands must deeply understand their checkout flows and how to optimize each. 

Mapping the multiple ways to checkout

From the customer journey perspective, checkout is what happens from the moment a customer clicks on the button to purchase until the order confirmation page. What many brands overlook — but is foundational to understanding checkout flow — is that there are multiple ways a checkout can happen in today's complex digital world.

Modern checkout processes can vary depending on multiple factors:

  • Origin. Whether a shopper is purchasing a service from a connected car or checking out from a cart on the website, the process will be different. In a connected car, a shopper will probably have just a single click checkout with confirmation because all the rest of the information (authorization, payment method, billing address) is configured during the setup. On a website, a shopper will likely have a more traditional checkout process. Even within a single channel, a shopper can start checkout in different ways. A shopper can start checkout from a cart or product page, or any other place on the website. 
  • Device: A shopper can checkout from a mobile device, a desktop, tablet, or even a smart watch. In all cases, to maximize conversion rates the checkout should be optimized for the specific device. A stunning 39% of mobile users have abandoned their carts after having trouble entering their personal information. A checkout for a Progressive Web Application (PWA) or a native mobile application can differ as well.
  • Customer Segment: The checkout process can differ depending on the customer segment as well. The simplest example is guest vs registered customer checkout. But it can also be more sophisticated, providing differentiated checkout experiences for loyal customers, employees, VIPs and other segments based on purchase history or customer profile.
  • Type: There are multiple formats for checkout. Popular checkout types include an “Amazon style” one-click checkout, a single page checkout, or a multiple page checkout. Alternatively, brands can invent their own checkout because they want to differentiate against competition by delivering unique customer experience.

What is a checkout flow?

There are a variety of ways these variables combine to create a checkout process. 

The number of possible checkout options is a permutation of all the variations: Origin x Device x Segment x Type. Each of these combinations we called a “Checkout Flow”. 

The motivation to consider which checkout flows and how many of them to develop ties back to the overall goal to reduce friction in the checkout process and optimize for improved conversion. 

Checkout flow variations

As with the majority of customer experience projects, start small and iterate quickly. Consider starting with a basic checkout flow and then use continuous development to make changes and implement new additional flows. This can be challenging depending on the commerce platform since many providers lock in the checkout capabilities making them extremely hard to change.

Ideally, brands shouldn’t be constrained by the platform capabilities, and would be able to create, test and iterate on as many checkout flows as necessary. Dependencies to achieve this include: 

  • Support for multiple checkouts. Obviously to implement multiple checkout flows, a solution needs to support multiple checkouts implemented in parallel. This can be a challenging task with legacy platforms that were designed to have a single checkout.
  • APIs. A checkout should be built leveraging an API-first, headless architecture so that a brand has the freedom to create any checkout experience imaginable without limitations. To cut down on implementation time and avoid business logic creeping into the front end, it is preferable to have checkout specific endpoints.
  • Checkout templates. It is possible to build checkout flows with most of the headless commerce platforms, but implementing checkout flows from scratch takes a significant amount of time and effort. Time-to-market is a critical factor for brands, which is why out-of-the-box checkout templates that can be deployed quickly accelerate time-to-market.

A/B testing can drive checkout optimization

With a single or several checkout flows in place, it’s now time to focus on optimization. There will always be a hidden (or visible) maintenance cost associated with a single checkout, so it is necessary to make sure that each individual checkout flow provides the necessary incremental value to justify its existence. 

The best way to do it is to track checkout performance and constantly A/B test:

  • Different checkout flows to answer the question: does it make sense to have an extra checkout flow or a generic one will work?
  • Changes within a single checkout flow including layout, design to answer the question: can we improve conversion rate of our checkout even further?

To make A/B testing easy, a checkout solution should provide all necessary means to quickly make changes and leverage widely adopted A/B testing tools, such as Optimize.

Understanding the unlimited possibilities enabled by checkout flows is the first step to creating a more seamless shopping experience for customers, reducing cart abandonment, and, ultimately, driving more revenue across all channels. 

If you want to learn more about how Bold can help you to increase checkout conversion rates contact us.

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Anatolii Iakimets

Written by Anatolii Iakimets

Anatolii Iakimets is an ecommerce expert and a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Bold Commerce.

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