Having covered how to make your website product pages as effective as possible in my last post, let’s now turn to the final stage of the online purchase process: your check-out page. The key here is to ensure that the check-out process is as quick and easy as possible – by this stage your prospective customer has made the decision to buy and now just wants everything finalised as quickly as possible.

You should therefore look to minimise the number of clicks necessary to make a sale. Bear in mind the ‘two-click’ rule – if a successful action is not possible within two clicks of your homepage (or one click from a landing page), then you will likely be losing visitors. For example, Amazon ‘1-click’ makes it extremely quick and easy for time-pressured customers to make a purchase.

Only ask for essential information for the initial transaction – you can ask for more details at a later stage. The number of responses you get usually falls in proportion to the amount of information that needs to be completed. If your prospective customer is applying for a product that does require considerable information (for example a mortgage application), then it is generally better to ask for one thing at a time (for example name and address), and then ask that they click ‘continue’ – which can be less daunting than asking for all the information at once in one long scrolling form. This approach also allows successive questions to be based on previous responses – avoiding any redundant questions.

It’s also wise to include a ‘security statement’ (ideally featuring an industry-recognised security logo) at the check-out page to emphasise the strength of your security systems. This can help to overcome any anxiety relating to the security of online payment – particularly if you work for a smaller, less well-known organisation.

In order to help your check-out process become as ‘frictionless’ as possible, I strongly recommend that you test the purchase process yourself – noting how long it took you, and how many clicks were required. Ask yourself whether all the information requested was necessary, and whether automation could have been used to pre-complete particular fields, for example, using postcode identifiers to complete the address fields. Were they any ‘niggles’ you encountered – for example being logged out after a very short period of inactivity? How could you remedy these niggles – for example warning prospective customers up-front about time limits for periods of inactivity?

It also helps if you can incentivise the customer to save the details they have entered for next time (ie to set up a user-account) – they will be more pre-disposed to use you again if they know they can make another purchase from you very quickly and easily (again, think of the Amazon ‘convenience factor’). For example, why not offer them free delivery on their first purchase if they save their details for next time and opt-in to receive your newsletter?

So, the key point to remember here is that optimising the check-out process involves a very practical approach: implementing whatever tools you can to make completing the transaction as quick and easy as possible. With that in mind, are there any additional tips or techniques you have picked up to improve the efficiency of your own check-out process?

If you’re interested in exploring this area in more detail (together with relevant examples), you might like my recent book ‘Successful Marketing Communications’.  If you have any thoughts or comments, do drop me a line below.

Written by Rob H

I’m a Chartered Marketer with over 20 years’ experience working in digital and offline marketing communications across the financial services, leisure, education and technology sectors – most recently working for a large financial services organisation, managing the acquisition marketing communications team. I gained an MSc in Strategic Marketing from Cranfield Business School in 2005 and the CIM Diploma in Digital Marketing in 2012. In 2012 I became the part-time course tutor at the Cambridge Marketing College for the CIM diploma in ‘Principles of Mobile Marketing’ – also authoring the accompanying Mobile Marketing study materials for the college. In March 2017 I published ‘Successful Marketing Communications‘ (available on Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks), which has become recommended reading for delegates at the IDM (Institute of Direct Marketing). When I’m not knee-deeping in reading/ writing the latest marketing communications articles I enjoy outdoor swimming and anything involving snow – with my goal for next year being to combine the two…

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