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Get Out of the Way: 5 Things Your Checkout Funnel Needs

Your ideal customer lands on your site, following the path you created from their inbox, Facebook page or a personalized offer. She browses your category pages and clicks through to add items to her cart from several product detail pages. She is a high propensity buyer with a full shopping cart, now all you have to do is help her checkout. But that’s easier said than done. Brands sometimes trip up their customers at this critical moment in the buyer journey. That’s why it is imperative to eliminate any potentially cumbersome or confusing elements before they deter customers from conversion.

By offering a clean, efficient checkout funnel that eliminates distraction, frustration and unnecessary errors, more of your browsers will convert to buyers. It’s easier to know what must be done than it is to know exactly how to do it.

Start by doing an audit of these five areas which you need to get right for an optimized checkout funnel.

1. Progression and Process

If you want your customers to stay the course (i.e., reach the golden “Thank You!” page) clear a path to the finish line. If she knows from the outset how much will be required to complete her purchase, it will make checking out a lot less daunting.

Progress bars are a great way to give a bird’s-eye-view of where the visitor is and how far is left to go. Within that, styled callouts or highlights to the current step are useful tools that guide the visitor along the process. Make it clear what this process will entail and let the visitor know where she is in the process at any point.

2. Delivery and Shipping Options

Extra fees and shipping costs can have a detrimental effect on conversion rate and are likely culprits of shopping cart abandonment. Don’t surprise customers with last-minute hidden shipping costs or fees.

If you offer free or discounted delivery options, make it perfectly clear and don’t let the customer miss that message!

3. Guided Messaging and Validation

Eliminate any chance of the visitor having to question what is being asked of them. The less guesswork there is for the shoppers, the more likely they are to continue through the funnel. Guided messaging helps buyers understand why you need certain information (e.g., phone number, birth date, etc.) which will make them feel better about giving it out.

As the visitor fills in required details, it is best to show visual validation of the input. When a field is filled out properly (i.e., email fits the standard name@domain.com format), show a recognizable checkmark to let the visitors know they got it right.

Conversely, and even more importantly, if something is not filled out correctly, make it very clear to the visitor that the text is incorrect and include a straightforward message of what is required to correct the error. If it is not clear what is needed and the error messaging doesn’t adequately explain what’s wrong, you can be sure the visitor is less likely to complete the checkout process.

4. Upsell Opportunity and Department Navigation

It’s important to consider what upsell opportunities exist within the checkout funnel. Many companies can show customization options and add-ons to the existing cart items, which have the potential to generate additional revenue.

Be careful that this component keeps the customer on the path to completing a purchase. The upsell should become part of the checkout funnel experience and not an exit strategy!

By the same token, visitors should not be tempted to do additional browsing at this stage. You want to put the visitor on a direct course to complete the checkout steps and treat these funnel pages differently than home, category, and product pages.

If a visitor forgets an item and needs to go back through the site to select it, she should have the site’s logo available on the page that returns her to the homepage with department navigation options. In addition, you might position a site-wide search box that sits in the checkout funnel. All the same, if you are serious about getting your customers across that “Thank You!” point, then department navigation should not be available within the checkout funnel.

5. Pricing and Security

There are an estimated 201 million online shoppers in 2015 – and that’s only in the United States! (Statista) While online shopping has become a very credible way to receive goods and services, shoppers want to know that they are using a trusted site and can rely on you to keep their personal information safe. Make it clear that the checkout funnel is secure and private; the customer needs to know that financial information will never be shared or intercepted.

Never leave customers in doubt as to how much they are paying. Shoppers should be aware of their grand total well in advance of their payment confirmation. Remember: No surprises!

In reality, cart abandonment happens – but you should be doing everything in your power to prevent and reduce it. Sticking to these guidelines will help smooth the path through checkout and convert more customers. An optimized conversion funnel is essential to keeping customers on the path to completing their shopping experience — and to a website that delivers strong conversion rates.

For more about getting those conversion rate lifts, check out our collection of FREE eBooks!

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