11 October 2017
Shopping has evolved, and the numbers back it up.
eCommerce sales in Australia have risen from $26.77B in 2013 to $32.56B in 2017, and four in ten Australians buy products from eCommerce stores every month.
If you’re not selling online, then you’re putting your business at a massive disadvantage, particularly if you’re in the clothing, baby, health and beauty, or sports equipment industries which make up the fastest growing online categories in Australia.
But if you’re already selling online and your sales aren’t performing as well as they should be, or your checkouts are being abandoned regularly, or people are contacting you because your payment gateway didn’t work properly, then it’s time to evaluate your checkout experience.
Doing so could dramatically improve your sales, increase your customer base and encourage repeat purchasing. The best part is that it’s easy to do.
Firstly, let’s quickly look at why it’s important to have an online store, and to optimise that store’s checkout experience.
Why Do Customers Shop Online?
It may seem like a simple question, but asking yourself why people prefer to shop online will guide you towards creating a great checkout experience. Let’s consider the basics first:
You can search for the exact products/services you want, and purchase them from your phone, desktop or tablet.
Customers are more informed than ever. By shopping online, you can browse multiple retailers/providers, read reviews, and do your research all in the comfort of wherever you happen to be.
Regardless of the time, day of the week, or location, you can shop whenever you feel like it.
You can choose to purchase things from all over Australia and the world, meaning your geographical location doesn’t play into a customer’s buying decision anywhere near as much as it used to.
Shopping Cart Abandonment
Shopping cart abandonment is when a customer has items placed in a cart, but exits your site without completing that purchase. According to SalesCycle, a behavioural marketing solutions company, Australia had the highest abandonment rate in the world in Q2, 2016.
Shopping cart abandonment can be caused by many things, but a poor checkout experience almost always plays a part. Here’s a few simple ways that you can improve that experience and encourage more purchase completions.
Keep Your Customers Informed
One of the key frustrations for online customers is a lack of information. In order to build trust and value in your business and the product they’re considering, they need to be informed of everything that affects their purchase.
Product details, inclusions, exclusions, pricing information, and shipping information are critical details that you must cover in order to put your customer at ease and encourage them to complete their purchase.
Many small businesses are cautious over placing their prices online. For many, it’s a matter of trying to maintain a competitive advantage, for others it’s a matter of wanting to encourage a dialogue with a potential customer in order to convince them of the value of purchasing from them over a competitor.
However, not including accurate pricing online, or shielding some of your pricing information from your website visitors is likely to do the exact thing you’re trying to stop.
When you’re pricing your items, include any additional costs that a buyer may not be aware of, like shipping. Furthermore, it’s important to note additional shipping information where relevant. For example, if that product takes three weeks to make and send, the customer needs to know that before they hit the checkout.
Product and Service Information
Strong eCommerce websites display as much information about a product or service as possible. A transparent representation of what the customer is purchasing is key to them choosing you. What are the frequently asked questions you get about a product? Include those answers on your product page. It could be product details or warranty information. Regardless, you must include it.
Payment Options and Mobile Functionality
Making an array of payment options available to your visitors increases their likelihood of completing the purchase as they are able to use a payment option that they trust and use regularly.
Some simple considerations are credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal (which has over 5.5 million Australian account holders) as these are the most used methods of payment for online purchases in Australia.
Not offering these payment options is analogous to visiting a cafe that is cash only. While some people will be OK with this, significantly more people are likely to choose somewhere else due to the inconvenience of having to find an ATM, withdraw cash, and return to that same cafe.
At 76%, Australia has one of the highest smartphone penetrations in the world, higher than the UK, US and most of western Europe. With the Australian population now just over 24 million, there’s never been a clearer sign that if your checkout isn’t optimised for mobile, you’re probably losing a significant amount of customers.
Your website should have a responsive design that changes dependent on the device the customer is using to browse. If it doesn’t then customers may not complete a purchase because they’re either frustrated with the experience, or the website is actually stopping them from purchasing.
Making your mobile checkout experience seamless is key to capturing the ever growing mobile-first market in Australia, so make sure that it’s factored into the creation of your payment gateway.
Optimising your checkout isn’t just about completing sales, it’s about building a relationship with customers and encouraging return visitors. A convenient and effortless checkout experience is akin to polite, friendly and helpful service in a physical store.
That attention to detail leaves a strong lasting impression with customers, and if you offer it online, then they’ll remember how easy it was to purchase from you when they next need something you offer.
Here’s some quick tips to provide a better experience in your checkout.
1. Needing to Create an Account
While capturing details could be important for a variety of reasons, many consumers see it as a way to invite a bombardment of sales collateral. By making people register for an account before continuing to complete their goal (purchasing) you’re putting a big roadblock in front of them that’s unnecessary. Here’s why.
When online shopping (software/downloads excluded) you’ll need the customer’s details in order to ship the product and stay in touch with them in relation to that purchase. Hence, you’re going to get their details anyway.
The difference is knowing when to ask and how that stage in the purchase affects customer sentiment. Asking them to sign-up before proceeding takes their power of choice away and can make them ask ‘why do I need to sign up’. Asking for their details in a ‘shipping and contact information’ context though is a practical necessity for them receiving their items, so it’s not seen as anything but helpful.
Consistent design between your website and your payment gateway is essential to building trust with a potential customer. Moving them away from a site they’ve become used to and delivering them to a different looking, different feeling website can confuse the user and result in checkout abandonment. Think of it as convincing someone to buy something, then sending them next door to purchase it!
In order to remedy this, ensure that your checkout is branded consistently with the rest of your website. Good payment gateways will allow you to customise the checkout process so that there’s no confusion for the customer.
3. Make Form Errors Easy to Fix
One of the most frustrating things for a customer is filling out a form and only finding out they made an error right at the end, forcing them to revisit a section, or in the worst case refill the form!
Having a form that quickly and easily highlights a problem like an a phone number with too many digits, an email address with no ‘.com’, or an address that’s been misspelled, makes it so simple to correct at the time of input that it doesn’t affect the user experience at all.
Whatever you do, never have a customer details form that reloads blank if there is an error. This is guaranteed way to lose customers.
4. Reduce Distractions
If you browse some of the best eCommerce examples on the web, you’ll likely notice that when you hit the checkout some of the top line navigation disappears and the design is far less busy. Here’s why.
Consider the user’s frame of mind. They’ve browsed your store, made their choices, now they just want to make a purchase.
By removing the distractions of unnecessary navigation buttons, sales information or special offers, you’re helping the customer stay on track to completing their purchase.
Imagine, for example, if you were about to purchase a car that you’ve had a long discussion with the salesperson about. At the last moment, the salesperson introduces new deals and offers on other, similar, products. Chances are, when faced with other options that you haven’t thought through yet, you’d lose confidence in your decision to buy. This is exactly what happens online.
Improve Your Sales with Bambora
Having an online checkout system that’s easy to use, can be customised for your brand, and is able to take a wide, and alternative, range of payment options is key to improving your online sales. Whether you’re a small business or an enterprise, Bambora provides a secure online payment solution that’s easy for you to setup and manage, and is fantastic for your customers to use.
Get in touch with Bambora today and learn just how simple it is to have a online checkout that’s actively helping you get more sales.
About the author
Victoria Galloway is Bambora APAC's Technical Copywriter, and has been writing and producing in the payments and eCommerce space for a number of years, both in the UK and Australia.