I love to analyze shopping carts because of the immense variety of designs and design elements that different companies and clients employ to try to “get the cash.” Some elements work better than others, and proper testing can lead the way to optimization.
But, I believe that conversion is cumulative, and every pixel of design you employ in your shopping cart contributes to the semi-conscious feelings of comfort and confidence that prospects get when they decide that your cart is safe and credible enough to do business with.
Many Conversion Rate Optimization practitioners would start by recommending that you run out and buy what is called a “credibility indicator“–some sort of flag or badge that indicates to prospects that you’re credible. Some of the more popular credibility indicators are the McAfee certification and the Verisign security symbol. This is not a bad approach, and some of our testing has proven that it can have a positive effect on conversion rate, but last I checked, it costs money to get this type of badge to place on your site.
I encountered a shopping cart today that didn’t have any security/credibility badges in the active window, yet I still felt perfectly comfortable converting on their website. I’d like to use them as example (click screenshot to enlarge).
Groupon.com has quickly become one of the “darlings” of the FutureNow team. We like their deals, we enjoy their copywriting, and now we like the design of their cart.
Let’s look at the reasons why this cart is so well designed that it doesn’t even need a security badge:
Reason #1: “I was a Late Stage buyer…” I’d already signed up with Groupon to receive coupons. I’d already read several of their emails, and I’d clicked through to “learn more” about a particular deal. I’d read the details, and I’d taken the call to action. Late Stage buyers are always more primed to convert, and need less reassurance about your security or credibility. Invert that statement and it reads “Early and Middle Stage buyers are less primed to convert, and need more reassurance about your credibility and security.”
Reason #2: Clean form design. The page I screencaptured has some really nice elements of form design, including large, legible fonts, field labels above the fields, clean and roomy layout, and a high-contrast call to action button.
Reason #3: Capture of Security Code. The form asks for my credit card security code, also called as the “CCV” number. Whether it actually improves security or not, I always feel more comfortable when an eCommerce site captures this piece of data. It probably helps them avoid fraud, too! Does your cart capture this? Hint: it should.
Reason #4: Fantastic Point of Action Assurances. All the FAQs in the right column are a tad wordy, but they absolutely reflect the “voice” of the overall Groupon experience, and they do a great job of avoiding “legalese.” Check out the questions they address: What happens next? What about gifting? Change/cancel? Is this safe? Each question is answered clearly and confidently, and that builds my confidence.
Reason #5: Custom guarantee. Readers of my posts already know that I’m not a fan of “copycat credibility,” so you know I’m loving the “Groupon Promise” custom graphic and text.
The two key points here are:
1) Good design increases the persuasiveness of your website. Bad design does the opposite.
2) You don’t necessarily have to “pay out” for credibility. And if you pay for a badge of some sort, it’s not a guarantee that your conversion rate will go up. As long as you overcome the challenge that sits between your prospect and a conversion, it doesn’t matter what approach you take.