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eCommerce Checkout Optimisation: Best Practices for Improving Conversion Rates

For many eCommerce website owners, an increase in shopping cart abandonment coupled with a drop in conversion rates on a checkout page can seem to be an unsolvable problem. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In this article we will cover a few checkout optimisation best practices for improving conversion rates and helping shoppers to make confident and informed decisions.

Design and Layout

When it comes to high conversion rates, eCommerce businesses have to take into account many variables. This includes channels that attract potential buyers to the site and strategies for how to keep the shopper on the site until the ‘buy’ button is clicked. Taking a step further, business owners need follow best practice and optimise the process that follows after the ‘buy’ button, as the sale at that point is not completed just yet. A crucial element of the checkout process is the design of your shopping cart, with tactics such as ample use of whitespace and clear delineation of different steps throughout the process playing a key role in keeping consumers engaged.
Here are some of the essentials you need to know:

1. Give users a visual checkout process – An optimised checkout process is like a map. Customers should know where they are and how much longer it’s going to be until they reach their destination. Every good checkout includes a progress bar. The best ones tell you exactly what step you are on and what steps are left. A simple Deliveroo and Uber order process or information given along the way to the consumers (e.g. where is the driver) is a great example of a visual checkout process.

2. Add checkout buttons to the top and bottom of the page – The less time that customers have to spend looking for them, the sooner they’ll take action. This way you are providing more convenient opportunities to add the product into a basket. The consumer can buy the product from the first glance by clicking the top button or choose to buy the product after reading more in depth information, like reviews, placed at the bottom of the page.

3. Include credit card logos and security seals – Trust badges increase buyer confidence and customers are more likely to trust your checkout process and purchase from your site. There is a significant amount of evidence to show that trust badges have a positive impact on a site’s conversion rates and revenue.  Inform your customers that your website is secure and a trusted space to shop. These badges can also impact the average order value, indicating that customers feel better about placing larger orders with sites they trust. A small image can have a meaningful impact on conversion rates, and help you generate more revenue from your existing traffic.

4. Give visitors freedom to check out as a ‘Guest’– It’s extremely tempting to collect customer information, especially if it’s the first time the shopper is making an order on your website. However, from the consumer’s perspective a pop up window asking you to register before even making the order is just another barrier to a potential sale. One study showed that first time shoppers resented registration forms, as they only want to place an order and not get into a relationship that most businesses seek. However, people will gladly give their contact information in order to track their purchase after the order has been placed, rather than stopping to fill everything in beforehand.  So when it comes to asking for information, find the best motivator or a value aspect that would encourage shoppers to share.

5. Let buyers save their cart or add to wish list – Many people use a shopping cart as a wishlist, to save things for later. Why not give them the opportunity to do just that by letting them save their cart or optionally add products to a wish list for a future purchase? Most retailers, including Amazon, have a ‘wish list’ section that they can later convert into an email marketing campaign to remind potential customers about wish list items or even make recommendations.Additionally, it may sound obvious but don’t forget to give users the flexibility to update quantity or remove from cart while they’re still on the checkout page.

6. Exit popups don’t always work – Oftentimes, antivirus or browser software will stop pop ups in their tracks, preventing you from surveying the customer as to why they left their shopping cart.  Instead, use email to follow-up and test adding a discount code or value off if they complete their order.
7. Live chat options – If your design is not on point and your customer still has questions or concerns, consider testing live chat or real-time social media support.

Optimising Product Details

When your checkout design is fully optimised, it’s time to pay close attention to how your products are portrayed on your website. Here are some other factors to consider to make the ecommerce shopping cart experience easier for consumers to navigate:

8. Include a product description – When it comes to product description, keep in mind that it needs to be informative and engaging at the same time. Let your customer know what size, colour and other customisation options are available.

9. Detail shipping methods – It’s important to have your shipping options on your homepage especially if you offer free shipping or have a current offer. An E-tailing Group study revealed that unconditional free shipping is the #1 criteria for making a purchase (73% listed it as ‘critical’). In another study 93% of respondents indicated that free shipping on orders would encourage them to purchase more products. If you are a smaller ecommerce business, consider altering your business plan when it comes to charging for shipping so that you can strongly compete with large retailers. Offers or loyalty schemes might be a way to go to avoid low conversion rates due to shipping costs.

10. Recommend related products before checkout – This is another excellent piece of shopping cart best practice which is sorely underused, particularly in the field of electronics, where shoppers want to be absolutely sure they have everything they need to get the most out of their purchase. No one wants to find out too late that the item didn’t come with an adapter (or that one wasn’t recommended in the first place). For example, when purchasing high-end headphones, Bose’s website recommends helpful accessories to go with the purchase and offers several payment options, progress steps, and the ability to update the cart while preparing to checkout.


The user experience in your store needs to be smooth. Smooth in the sense that shoppers should never have to look for something. It should always be obvious how things work. It’s recommended to conduct user testing on your eCommerce site to find problems with your interface that you might not be aware of, and then implement our recommendations on how to improve your conversion rates. Also, check out our complementary article about best practice for decreasing shopping cart abandonment.

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