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Friday, Jun. 15, 2007 at 7:43 am

Unconscionable Conversion: When Will it End? (Part 1)

By Ronald Patiro
June 15th, 2007

Knock Knock…

“Who is it?”

It’s your order.

“My order, who? I don’t remember you! Your checkout didn’t give me a chance to review, and now you want my credit card info!??”

Remember the first time you made a purchase online? Recall the uncertainty surrounding the whole process? Feel those reservations about pulling out the plastic and whispering your credit card number into the megaphone of this new “World Wide Web.”

Scary stuff! Most of us have come a long way and buried those creepy feelings beneath receipts of airline tickets and impulsive eBay purchases, unless you’re like my colleague Anthony Garcia who’s a guru of online shopping yet hates doing it.

Lets bring the beginner’s anxiety of buying online back to the surface. Not knowing exactly what you’re going to get, when you’ll get it, how or even if you’ll get it is a ridiculous buying proposition. Yet while analyzing websites with Future Now, it’s painfully obvious that anxiety hasn’t dissipated thanks to any improvement in checkout processes. Only our acceptance of uncertainty can help us type our credit card numbers without cold, sweaty hands.

Let’s consider the standard online checkout process: Shipping -> Billing -> Review -> Confirmation.


Why should anybody have to enter billing information before they get another peek at the order without going back to the shopping cart? It’s unconscionable, yet somehow it’s common.

Sure, the indicator (if there is one) says “Review,” but conventional credit card wisdom says that when you hand over your card, you get charged. So, the online practice of entering info, then reviewing, then proceeding to purchase (if you’re lucky) totally conflicts with everyone’s experience in the physical world.

Instead of asking us to “submit,” e-commerce checkouts should submit to common sense; never ask for any credit info without an explicit order review.

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Comments (8)

  1. If at all possible I will never work with an online merchant who will not let me review before committing m card data.

    I’m in the process of building a site and when I went back to look at the checkout package I had planned to purchase—yup it made the customer commit without review. Oh well, I needed something to do.

  2. Good thing they didn’t get you to commit without reviewing the page first! Great job on catching that. Your site is now helping out the cause of ending unconscionable conversion on the web.

  3. On our site, the order review page summarizes their payment info, shipping info and product info. They have the ability to update this info off of the order review page. If the order review wpage ere placed before shipping and payment, they wouldn’t be able to review that information before submitting the order. The shopping cart seems sufficient in reviewing the products before the checkout process. The customer is able to access shipping information in the help section of our site. If an item is on backorder, they would get an alert on the product detail page (which is where they should get it so they can decide if they want to order the item).

  4. David,

    Relying on the cart for a product review may seem sufficient to your site because you are very knowledgeable about your site and are full of confidence in it. Try putting yourself in the customers computer chair and imagining that all you want is another look at your order to feel certain that you got everything right before committing to sharing your precious credit info. Having to go back to the cart is a major conversion roadblock for only wanting a look at the order for reassurance. It will stop a visitor’s momentum while in checkout by requiring them to leave the checkout and view their cart.

    Your concerns regarding shipping info would be answered by keeping the shipping info before the review and the payment after the review.

    It is never good to rely on the help section for important info, particularly regarding shipping.

  5. Thanks for the info!

    I guess this would be accomplished with a pageflow that looks like this:

    Shipping > Review > Payment > Checkout Page (Final review page with all info verified)

    The only option that I can see to keep it at 3 pages would be to have the option to review after the shipping info is entered.

  6. That sounds good David. Your customers will really appreciate that!

  7. You can also keep an order summary on each step. You can see it in our shop at

  8. Knock knock, who is it?

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