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Thursday, Sep. 29, 2011 at 6:00 am

Are You Losing Visitors at the Worst Point? One Page Checkout Wins Again!

By Melissa Burdon
September 29th, 2011

Whether you’re completely redesigning your site or working to improve it by testing and making incremental changes, don’t overlook the value of the shopping cart and checkout.

It’s interesting to notice that most everyone looks at the shopping cart and checkout as something to throw into the mix once the entire site has been designed and developed. It’s simply an afterthought to most. They spend so much time laying out the foundation of the landing pages, category and product pages, that when it comes time to finding a shopping cart solution, they just take what they can get most quickly.

At FutureNow, we start our process by looking at the buying experience that late stage visitors are going through and using data to help us understand where the stumbling blocks exist for the late stage visitor. In most cases, when we first dig into the data, we find a problem or two in the shopping cart or checkout. In a lot of cases, testing and making changes in the shopping cart and/or checkout results in an incredibly valuable win.

Recently we noticed some high exit rates in the shopping cart and checkout steps for one of our newer clients, ThePartyWorks.com. They sell complete party packs for various themed parties: plates, cups, balloons, etc. Although ThePartyWorks has some work to do to improve performance of their landing pages, category pages and product pages, the low hanging fruit is in their shopping cart and checkout. The visitors getting to the cart are ready to buy, with money in hand, so improving their experience in the cart and checkout should result in some easy wins and extra revenue for ThePartyWorks.

You probably hear about best practices on checkout pages, but I’ve seen some of these best practices work for some clients but not for others. It’s important to come up with the hypothesis for WHY something might not be working effectively (based on the data you are looking at) and then test it to take that first step towards continuous improvement.

ThePartyWorks originally featured a two step checkout process where shipping, billing and payment info was gathered on the first step and then the visitor needed to click in order to choose their shipping option on the second step.

(Click to the left, to enlarge the original two steps in their checkout process).

The more times you make the visitor click in order to give you their money, the more opportunity there is to lose them. There were several stumbling blocks.  One big setback was that they were asking for the visitor’s payment information before giving them the opportunity to review their order.  The visitor was then asked to choose their shipping option which is a backwards way of presenting the shopping experience.

We recommended that they feature a one- page checkout instead, with reassurances, and shipping options on this one page. We helped mock this up and create an experience we believed would work more effectively to persuade the visitor to take action and place their order. This is the one page checkout they tested their original process against.

(Click to enlarge the variation one page checkout).

The results were strong. ThePartyWorks realized a 28.9% improvement in funnel conversion rate from shopping cart to final confirmation of an order.

Next, we’ll be focusing on how to improve the experience in their shopping cart.

Don’t underestimate the opportunity that lies in creating a strong shopping cart and checkout experience. The smartest place to invest initial optimization dollars is in the shopping cart and checkout. If you’re interested in improving the performance of your website, we can help. We’ll be able to assess where to focus optimization efforts and get the highest return on your investment the most quickly. Ask how we can help and how we can help you make more money online.

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Comments (44)

  1. This will really help a lot of people to make more money online. Thanks and keep it up with good blog posts.

  2. Its helpful and after going through this article i decided to redesign my own website
    thnx

  3. Most of internet users are lazy. It’s best not to force them to click or write too much.

  4. Thanks for this article. Ive been helping my girlfriend set up an online craft shop and this is something I would have never thought of.

    Thanks,
    Mike

  5. I switched to 1 page checkout years ago to be honest. I had read for smaller purchased that 1 page was the way to go. I just installed inline field validation also. Which is another way to increase conversion. I also just added a small status indicator at the top of the page to inform the user that is 1 page only. I will look over the website you mention to see if I can pick up some interesting pointers.

  6. Thank God and Melissa, I read the article when I am yet to handover the mock-ups to the developer!
    I was about to make that mistake.

  7. With the level and quality of google analytics it is impossible to see why businesses continue to have these problems. It’s hard enough to attract quality traffic to your site – it now should be about performance

  8. Good analysis and resolution of the shopping cart abandonment problem at Thepartyworks website! There are a lot of reasons why customers ‘bail’ before completing an online purchase, but making them jump through too many hoops is one of them.

  9. Can you comment on how the previous or current version of Panda by Google will affect any of your SEO efforts

  10. Google Panda should not affect any sound SEO efforts negatively. It was mostly created in an effort to punish content farmers. Mor einformation about Google Panda is available here.

  11. 29% increase in conversion is a very good jump. Congratulations.I also believe that the check out process should be a single page step where customers can see what is asked all by scrolling down.

  12. This is great information. I haven’t added a shopping cart to my site yet but completely agree that the checkout section is very important. I’ve cancelled orders before simply because I have to give payment info before seeing my total bill after shipping and taxes as well because the checkout number of pages was just too many.

  13. Simplifying the online checkout process and adding assurances is the high tech equivalent of lowering sales resistance by creating a pleasurable shopping experience and providing good customer service.

  14. Without a solid shopping cart and checkout in place your business will be losing a large percentage of sales. This is one area where some businesses miss the boat. Good article.

  15. One page checkout when placing is very important. In the past I used Virtuemart for Joomla, which had 4 steps to checkout, loosing some not patient customers.

    Marius

  16. Wow that is pretty good, 29%?. I do agree that the more clicks it takes to checkout, the greater than chance of order abandonment.

    That is true for me when I’m ordering online.

  17. Yes , one-page check out is the best parctice , Magento is use one page , and so it win most users .

  18. This is a hot topic for us at the moment. We have built a number of e-commerce websites for a number of house hold names. Most of our customers are trying to make the buying process as quick as possible (i.e. requesting the bare minimum in order to make the purchase). One of our retailers have seen their sales increase from 2 per second to 4 per second. Admittedly, their original process was long winded to say the least!

  19. Totally agree with this. A professional and easy to navigate checkout page will seal the deal.

  20. “One big setback was that they were asking for the visitor’s payment information before giving them the opportunity to review their order. The visitor was then asked to choose their shipping option which is a backwards way of presenting the shopping experience.”

    This is so true and I don’t get why most e-Commerce sites fail to understand this.

    The streamlining of checkout pages (clean look, big buttons, less clutter) is also big when it comes to my “checkout experience”, but so many sites seem content to make it as confusing as possible.

  21. You’re definitely right, the cart is usually an after thought for most of us. It gets kind of tricky when you have an eBay store as well as a website…not wanting to sell the same thing twice!

  22. I can see how one page checkout really does work as it stops the user from having to go to about 4 different screens and wasting their time.

  23. Losing visitors can be a nightmares to any marketer. Any little trick they can find to get the visitor to stick around long enough to get their email is a goldmime…

  24. this seems so obvious i can not understand how it can be overlooked by anyone. this is actually the most important page to be optimized for user experience. if you sell it so do many other sites and if your checkout is not simple and straight forward users will fond someplace else to buy

  25. I will have to give this a thought for my site. One click check out is excellent idea.

    Thanks for useful post.

  26. Will definitely have to look over my checkout process after reading this. The one-page shopping cart idea is great, however sometimes it can be an information overload for visitors and lose you as many customers. Very insightful article, Thank you.

  27. Good analysis. Need to give this a thought.

    Thanks a lot!

  28. You’re right. There’s nothing worse than being ready to buy and having to wade through a lousy shopping cart setup.

  29. I am currently forced to use an off-site page for checkout and I notice about 15-20% of the people that submit their info never check out. This wasn’t a big problem with an on-site merchant account.

  30. Thanks for your analysis! I changed all my product pages and made them more “1 page checkout”ie :)

  31. I would tell others to seriously consider the point of action even before they design their site.

  32. Thats quite an impressive increase in conversion rate. 1 page checkout it is then. Thanks

  33. This is great..do you have any info on asking visitors to create account vs not asking during the checkout process?

  34. Google Panda should not affect any sound SEO efforts negatively.

  35. Useful Post. Online shopping should be pleasurable and at ease.

  36. You can check from the Google Analytics that where and why users are lacking to use the website and pages. If a user is spending too much time on a page that could not move on other where he would have to go then definitely there is a internal linking problem due to user could not understand from where and how he would move to the page or targeting page.

  37. There are plenty of things you need to mention in your website. Especially BreadCrumbs that tell the user basically where he is and how he has to move on to the next page.
    Content and internal linking are the biggest issues that cause the visitors to abandon the site.

  38. Bounce rate is major concerned nowadays of everyone because Google is also rating the factor of good lower boune rate to rank the website in SERP. So, if your website have higher bounce rate then there is major concern that your website is not user friendly. There may be many aspects to watch like Content, Internal Linking, Navigation Side Bar etc.

  39. It’s hard to argue with the numbers for a one page checkout in this client’s case. A hefty conversion boost was realized and everyone is happy. It’s a shame to spend money on the front end to draw in visitors, only to lose them at the most critical point.

  40. I’m agree, the customer experience should be facilitated not only in shipping, but also and especially in the buying process: the ease in making an order is an advantage enjoyed by all users, especially by those who are not familiar with the tools or who have limited time available.

  41. The customer experience should be facilitated not only in shipping, but also and especially in the buying process: the ease in making an order is an advantage enjoyed by all users, especially by those who are not familiar with the tools or who have limited time available.

  42. We find that we really need to dissect our entire buying process and look at every step one by one to see what hurts and helps our conversion rate. If you try to do it just by reviewing stats at the beginning and end you will miss out on a lot of the key factors that matter.

  43. Yes you are absolutely right that it is time to checkout your on-page strategy when you are loosing your visitors. Usually people neglect on-page side to increase their traffic. In fact, on-page is the key of success in SEO field rather than off-page.

  44. Thanks, very interesting theory.

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Melissa is a Senior Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow.

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