Now, more than ever, brands need to take a good hard look at their checkout process and make sure it’s as seamless as it can possibly be. Customers are increasingly getting exposed to great customer experiences in almost every area of their lives. Think about how Uber has changed how you get from A to B? You create an account, load up your credit card and other details once, then get in and out of cars without even taking your wallet out.

Customers are coming to expect similar experiences in all aspects of their day-to-day life, and e-commerce is a big one. Why should customers who shop at the same sites regularly be forced to enter their credit card details every single time? The checkout is arguably the most important part of any website, and an area that not nearly enough people are trying to improve regularly.

Here are a few things that are worth considering when it comes to your checkout.

Capturing an email address
One of the first things a checkout should do is capture the email address of the customer, and make sure it’s stored against their cart. There are countless reasons why a customer may not complete their order first time round and it’s critical to have a simple abandoned cart reminder in place to try and get them to come back and purchase.

That doesn’t mean you should send them six emails pleading for them to come back and complete their purchase. But you should send one or two simple, well thought out emails that demonstrate your brand and simply remind them what they were about to buy.

Don’t present too many options
Once the customer has started the checkout process, you don’t want to overwhelm them with options. Good customer experience isn’t about limiting options and forcing people down one path; it’s about providing one simple path that just works.

Giving customers five different shipping methods and four different ways to pay is not simple. What may be considered ‘great options that help customers’ could in reality be mere distractions. Draw a parallel to the tea or coffee question, “Would you like a tea or coffee?”. It’s easy to answer – it’s one or the other, or neither if you aren’t thirsty. When that same question comes at you with a few more options, for example, “Would you like a tea or coffee? Coke? Milo? Herbal Tea? Water?”, it’s like visiting your grandma’s house – you just don’t know which option to pick, but you know you need to pick one!

Make sure entering an address is easy
Capturing the customer’s address is critical. If it’s entered incorrectly, the courier will deliver it to the wrong place, or won’t be able to deliver it at all. In any case, it’s going to add more time and cost for the brand to sort it out.

Address look-up is an easy solution that helps customers because it saves them entering their entire address, and helps brands because it limits the margin of error for incorrectly entered details.

It’s important to find a system that works for your business. Unfortunately, some look-up systems don’t play nice with flat numbers. For example, Google’s Address Look-up doesn’t recognise most New Zealand flat numbers, so once you’ve found your address, the flat number will drop off (which you might not notice). Now you have the wrong address, which has done the complete opposite of what a look-up function is meant to do. NZ Post’s works perfectly for all Kiwi addresses, but doesn’t work for any international addresses. Finding the right address look-up tool can be hugely beneficial for your customers and customer service team, but only if it’s going to work on 98 per cent of orders.

Capturing payment at checkout is the most important part. If any of the other details are wrong, they can be corrected post-order with some good customer service, but getting the payment information right is critical.

Again, presenting five different options is not necessarily the right way forward. One great option that just works will allow your customers to quickly pass through the checkout. Services like Braintree (used by AirBNB & Uber) are becoming more common with e-commerce, simplifying the payment process and allowing customers to securely save all their information to make purchasing a one-step process.

The checkout is the final hurdle for your customers. They’ve navigated through the site, found what they like and they’ve just got one final step before it’s theirs.

Just remember to keep it simple. The checkout should be the easiest part of the site with minimal fields, straightforward shipping and easy payment solutions.

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