Today’s consumer expects a curated checkout experience that focuses on convenience, speed, and reliability. In fact, 58% of consumers admit they will go with one retailer over another because of the shipping choices provided at checkout.
It’s easy to get so focused on pushing customers to purchase that you forget to think about what happens once they get there. However, putting checkout optimization on the back burner means you could be losing sales to your biggest industry competitors.
Regardless of what you sell online though, there are a few best practices you can adopt to optimize your checkout for reduced cart abandonment and increased conversions.
1. Be strategic about discounts, promotions, and surcharges
Being strategic about how you approach shipping discounts and promotions can not only convert more sales, but drive customer loyalty.
For cost-conscious or high-end brands, one-time customer loyalty discounts or promotions are enticing offers. But if you’re a company with healthy margins, these promotions can happen more regularly—as long as you’re meeting customer acquisition goals.
Another common strategy to help drive ecommerce growth, especially around shipping, is by adding a surcharge for items that are expensive to ship or have delivery insurance. This is industry practice for oversized or fragile items like refrigerators or jewelry.
2. Create a guest checkout
Requiring a customer to create an account on their first transaction slows down the checkout process, and can even turn some buyers away. Avoid this by offering a guest purchase option.
Repeat buyers are likely to register an account the next time around, and will be much happier that it was their choice to do so.
This is not to say that you can’t encourage account creation. One successful method is to advertise incentives like discounts or free shipping if shoppers join your email list.
You can also give buyers the option to create an account right after a purchase is completed, saving them from having to re-enter their information at a later date.
3. Incentivize fast and free shipping
There’s no doubt about it: free shipping is the holy grail of online commerce. In fact, 62% of consumers expect free delivery for everyday purchases.
However, there’s one big caveat: free shipping is free to your customers, but not to you. The good news is that there are still several ways to offer free shipping without eating your margins.
To offset the costs of free shipping, set promotional thresholds to offer it only if your customer’s cart hits a certain minimum number of products or dollar amount. Or, limit free shipping to only items or delivery regions that have lower shipping costs for you.
You can also only offer free shipping on slow or low cost methods such as ground or economy delivery.
4. Provide estimated delivery date information
After a customer has given you money, they want a clear picture of what’s going to happen post-purchase, just like what Amazon does. That’s why showing estimated delivery date is so important.
Not only does it provide more transparency, trust, and assurance to your customers about your business, but it also gives you, the merchant, more information about the shipment.
To offer your customers the best delivery date experience, consider implementing a date picker or time slot delivery in your checkout. These options allow buyers to choose exactly what day or even time window they would like their shipment delivered.
At the very least, showing even a delivery range of “5-7 days” at checkout can be a better user experience to your customers than showing nothing at all.
5. Offer in-store pickup
According to a study by GlobalData Retail, sales where customers ordered goods online and picked them up at a nearby store accounted for nearly a third of U.S. online sales in 2017.
With the BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store) option, both you and your customers can avoid shipping fees and pick up items at a time that fits their schedule.
Even if you don’t have a physical store location, click-and-collect can still be an option for you depending on what carriers you work with. For example, UPS will securely hold packages at their retail locations and let customers pick them up via their UPS Access Point program.
When setting up your carrier network, consider working with logistics providers that offer this type of service so you can still participate in click-and-collect even though you don’t have your own brick-and mortar store.
6. Validate the customer’s address
Most shipping carriers add a last mile shipping surcharge when delivering to a residential address, which can make up 50% of the parcel’s total delivery price.
With residential addresses, delivery is spread out and carriers may have to add administrative costs to the delivery for performing services like address correction. In contrast, commercial addresses are generally in high-density locations, allowing carriers to bundle deliveries together to drive cost down.
This is why incorporating address validation into your checkout is vital to your bottom line.
Determining whether an address is residential or commercial will result in you being charged the correct shipping fees, saving you money in the long run.
7. Provide more transparency for cross-border customers
Buyers in other countries often need full transparency and extra assurance that your company is legitimate. Something as simple as showing security icons, customer reviews, and trust seals can reduce cart abandonment.
On top of this, you should be calculating and displaying duties and taxes directly in your own cart and checkout. Showing these costs from the get-go will not only set you apart from other competitors, but make it easier to compete with domestic alternatives within a customer’s home country.
Your ecommerce checkout page is the last chance you have to convert shoppers. The reality of today is that new customers will compare your checkout and shipping experience to that of your competition, including Amazon.
That’s why working with a shipping experience management platform, like ShipperHQ*, should be a part of your checkout customization strategy. A truly optimized checkout process is exactly what you need to push buyers through that final step to purchase.
If you are seeing higher-than-average cart abandonment rates, implementing the “small” changes outlined in this article can up your conversion rates and drive ecommerce growth.
*ShipperHQ has helped tens of thousands of merchants achieve their shipping goals and exceed customer checkout expectations. With highly customizable rates and irresistible delivery choices, merchants can give their buyers the checkout experience they want, and still control their margins.