Zuko Blog

Optimizing your eCommerce checkout: 13 tips to improve conversion

Advice to reduce basket abandonment and increase checkout revenue

eCommerce checkouts are one of the most common form types we come across for Zuko’s analytics platform and consultancy services. They are the final step in the user journey before a successful sale so it is critical to get them right and avoid unnecessary basket abandonment. Historically, they have high dropout rates (70% on average based on Zuko’s benchmarking data) so there tends to be room for significant improvements in the checkout procedure to increase customer conversions.

We’ve pulled together our highest impact tips that you can apply to improve the user experience of your eCommerce site and grow your incoming revenue.

  1. Offer a guest checkout
  2. Optimize for mobile
  3. Use specific delivery dates
  4. Make the payment section easy
  5. Offer a variety of payment methods
  6. Use inline validation
  7. Don’t distract the user
  8. Use progress indicators
  9. Let users jump between stages
  10. Address autofill
  11. No hidden charges
  12. Use trust badges
  13. Don’t overplay coupons / discount codes


1. Offer a guest checkout

We get that your CRM team wants to capture those lovely consents so they can email the customer to sell them some more stuff. However, if you are forcing the potential customer to create an account you could be losing out on business as users who want a smooth experience or don’t want to share their data, opt to go elsewhere. Salecycle found that 34% of cart abandoners cited the fact they had to create an account as a reason to leave. Adding a guest checkout feature allows these users to complete a purchase with the peace of mind that they won’t be bombarded by all your emails post-sale.

If you are offering a guest checkout do make it clear and easy to find. Don’t follow this example from ASOS where it isn’t obvious that “Continue to Checkout” means proceed as a guest.


Where is the guest account? It's not as obvious as it should be.



2. Optimize for mobile

This shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s estimated that 54% of eCommerce purchases in 2021 were made from a mobile device so you should make darn sure that your site stacks up on mobile.

But what does that mean in practice? Here are our main pointers:


Which would you prefer to use when typing a figure?



3. Use specific delivery dates

What does “Delivery within 3 business days” even mean? Why are you making the user take a maths test to calculate when they will get their item? Can’t you just tell them when their package will arrive and cut out the fuss? At the very least, say “By Xth of January” so it is clear what the worst case scenario is.


In this example from Macy’s it is not clear when my sweater will get to me.


Whereas Amazon is pretty clear when items will be delivered, reducing customer uncertainty.


4. Make the payment section easy

The customer has made it through and has pulled their credit card from their purse. Don’t mess it up now:

For a more detailed overview, check out our article on capturing payment details on your form.


5. Offer a variety of payment methods

The Baymard institute found that 7% of users had abandoned an eCommerce checkout in the last 6 months because it didn’t offer their preferred payment option. This makes it important to provide a selection of payment options to users.

As well as credit card (the most popular option), you should use the main 3rd party providers (Paypal, Google Pay, Apple Pay) and perhaps a credit provider or two such as Klarna. Don’t forget any local providers that your users may be expecting (such as giropay in Germany or iDEAL in the Netherlands). Stripe reported incremental sales uplifts of between 6% and 45% when these were added. Just be careful that your checkout doesn’t suffer from the “Nascar Effect” - dozens of logos making it cluttered and confusing for the user.


This is probably too cluttered!


6. Use inline validation

One of the most powerful techniques you can use, inline validation rarely fails to deliver conversion uplifts. A classic study found a 22% average improvement when it was implemented on forms and that is consistent with what we see across the Zuko client base.

For the uninitiated, inline validation is a technology which provides immediate feedback to the user rather than waiting until they submit before pelting them with error messages. For a deeper review, including advice on how to use it correctly, read our inline validation blog.


Inline validation in action - providing insight as soon as the user moves on from the current field.


7. Don’t distract the user

When the user is on their way through the journey, you want them to be laser focused on the objective; entering all their details and pressing the “Place Order” button. Any distractions from this goal make it more likely they will be disrupted and never complete. They don’t need to be seeing your flash banners, pop ups, cross sell pitches or menu buttons. You can start with that malarkey when they’ve successfully converted.


8. Use progress indicators

Progress bars are a great way to manage user expectations. They show upfront how long the checkout is likely to take, what information is needed and where they are in the process. Breaking the journey into a multi-step structure also often has a positive effect on conversion and allows you to run funnel analysis to understand which stage users are abandoning on.


A simple progress bar example from UK furniture store DFS


9. Let users jump between stages

If you are a multi-stage checkout, make sure that users can easily return to previous stages to edit / correct their inputs, ideally by clicking on the progress bar.

You especially want to make sure that the user doesn’t use the browser back button only to find their previous answers have disappeared. From Zuko’s experience, fixing that issue reduces abandonments by up to 10%. Most reputable eCommerce platforms should have this functionality but you should always double check, particularly if you have built your own checkout from scratch.


10. Address autofill

Entering your address into a form is a pain, especially if you have to input every single character. Much better if you can just enter your postcode / zipcode and select your address from a list of options. Some sources suggest that this method could yield a 30% uplift in conversions.

Fortunately there are many services available off the shelf (Loqate and Woosmap for starters) that you can just plug and play into your platform so it should be easy to implement.



An address finder in action…


11. No hidden charges

“Tax?”, “Insurance?”, “Surcharge?”, “Enhanced Shipping?”

We’ve all been there. Worked our way through a long checkout, ready to submit only to find a selection of charges we weren’t aware of, added to our bill.

Don’t be that site unless you want a large abandonment rate on the commitment step. If you charge shipping, or have to add taxes on top of the price, make sure you quote them early on so the user can mentally account for the additional costs. Ideally, you should bundle these charges into the prices of the product so the customer never sees the “add-ons”.

12. Use trust badges

Customers can get funny when they are about to part with their credit card details. If their gut tells them that your site is “dodgy” they may bail out of the transaction at the last minute, not trusting you to deliver what you promise.

One of the best ways to mitigate this is through the use of trust badges - third party authentication that you are a reputable site. We’ve previously written a dedicated article on trust badges that goes into this in more detail but, topline, trust badge tests have delivered between 3% - 30% uplifts in conversion.

In an eCommerce checkout, you’ll probably want to focus on trust badges that cover payment security. The Baymard Institute produced data showing which ones are most trusted by US adults:


Source: The Baymard Institute.



13. Don’t overplay coupons / discount codes

At first blush, discount coupons can seem like a great idea. Drive new users to your site and use price to convert them.

Not so fast.

What’s the first thing most people do when they see that juicy discount code box just before they’re ready to buy? That’s right. They get straight onto Dr. Google and go hunting for a code to save themselves some money. This leads to three potential outcomes:

  1. They find an applicable discount code and progress with the purchase. You still get the sale but you have lost margin.
  2. They can’t find a discount coupon (or they find one that your site won’t accept). They grudgingly complete the sale but are annoyed at the time they have wasted.
  3. They get so frustrated because they can’t find a code so they leave the process altogether, costing you a sale you would otherwise have made.

These scenarios differ in the severity of impact on your business but they are all negative. You want to avoid them if you can. We go into more detail on how to mitigate the downsides of in our specialist coupon codes article but the topline options are:


Optimizing your checkout: A checklist

In summary, here’s the short list of the most effective ways to reduce basket abandonment in your checkout and deliver an improved conversion rate.

  1. Offer a guest checkout
  2. Optimize for mobile
  3. Use specific delivery dates
  4. Make the payment section easy
  5. Offer a variety of payment methods
  6. Use inline validation
  7. Don’t distract the user
  8. Use progress indicators
  9. Let users jump between stages
  10. Address autofill
  11. No hidden charges
  12. Use trust badges
  13. Don’t overplay coupons / discount codes

For more tips on improving the conversion of your forms and checkouts, read Zuko’s Big Guide to Form Analytics and Optimization


Zuko's Big Guide to Form Optimization and Analytics Cover Shot

"The best book on form design ever written - 80 pages of PURE GOLD"
Craig Sullivan, CEO, Optimise or Die

Check out Zuko's Big Guide to Form Optimization & Analytics

More from our blog:

Optimizing your eCommerce checkout: 13 tips to improve conversion
A guide to reducing basket abandonment and improving conversion on your eCommerce checkout
How to use Funnel Analysis with your Forms and Checkouts
Advice on improving your form conversion by breaking it into stages with funnel analytics
Online Forms: Conversion Killers to Conversion Winners
A webinar sharing advice on how to diagnose and fix the issues in your online forms
The Top 5 Trust Badge Ideas To Test On Your Forms
A guide on how to get the most out of Trust Badges and maximize social proof on your forms

Zuko is the most powerful form analytics platform available on the market. Find out how to improve yor form and checkout conversion by taking a product tour.

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