Fix 3 Leaks in Your Checkout Process

Tired of seeing abandoned carts pile up? Learn the preventable causes of lost sales and the best ways to streamline your checkout process.

Checkout Leaks

There is no such thing as half of a sale. Abandoned carts combine the thrill of having supplied a product that people are interested in with the dread that you did something to extinguish that interest along the way.

Thankfully, considerable research has gone into the top causes of abandoned carts. Many of those factors are beyond a merchant’s control, and have to be considered part of the psychological cost of doing business. If a non-customer is unsure if they are ready to purchase, or if they are using the cart as a way to price check or build a wish list, there is little that the checkout process can do to convert that person.

But what about the remaining factors? Three major leaks in the checkout process can be patched with very simple changes.

1. Shipping Costs

The chief reason for abandoned carts—the biggest leak—is the cost of shipping. Even if a storefront makes no attempt to hide these costs, seeing the price at the end of the checkout process is the biggest mental obstacle preventing visitors from becoming customers. This culprit is responsible for 44% of all failed transactions.

The best way to patch this leak is by setting a threshold for free shipping. Yes, it may cut into your margins, but it is a smaller price to pay than a lost sale. If you offer free shipping for all orders over $100, you may find that visitors are more willing to pay that $100 if it means more products than they would if that total cost only covered a single product and its shipping. If you can’t afford to, then focus on adding value to the shipping in other ways, such as same-day shipping. Match added costs with added value.

2. TMI

Another common culprit: lengthy forms that require too much information. Yes, you may want this information for future marketing, but you will lose more leads than you gain by requiring birthdays, pet names, personal interests and other invasive information. Only ask for the information that you need to get the product to the customer, and autofill this information when you can—guest checkout options are a wonderful way to accomplish this.

3. Complexity

Our internet-induced short attention spans do no not suddenly disappear when we pull out our credit cards. A lengthy, complex checkout process dissuades visitors and threatens sales. A one-page checkout is as simple as it gets, and it should be your first choice in combating the problem. However, if there is simply no getting around the need for multi-page information, the second best option is to provide checkout step indicators. Steps such as Shipping > Delivery Options > Billing > Order Review > Receipt keep visitors aware of the stage that they are currently finishing and how many steps they have left to go. If you can’t provide them with a final page at the beginning, let them know how close the final page is.

If you are looking for more ways to streamline your checkout process and make it easier for visitors to buy, check out one-page checkout video series.


Jason was a Communications Specialist with four years of ecommerce marketing experience. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a BA in English and a minor in Speech Communication. When he is not reading and writing, Jason enjoys cooking and spending time with his two rescue dogs.

2 Responses to “Fix 3 Leaks in Your Checkout Process”

  1. Steve

    Is there a way to receive and save email first, and then have buyers proceed with checkout? This would help us with all of the unfinished carts in Orders > Abandoned/Live Carts. We could email the unidentified ones an offer to complete their purchase.

    • Adam Kirsch

      Hi Steve,

      You could set up Members-Only Purchasing and Browsing, but depending on your business model this could potentially turn away customers who would otherwise purchase from you. You have to weigh the benefit of getting email addresses upfront against increasing your site’s bounce rate, as some people are likely to feel turned off when prompted to create an account before they’re able to interact with your site. It’s worth weighing the pros and cons, and if you decide that this is a good fit for your business, I think this will be the answer for you. Hope that helps!


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