The Perfect Ecommerce Checkout Page

Of all the pages on your ecommerce store, the checkout page is one of the most critical. This is no surprise. It’s the last step in closing the sale, so the page needs to be set up for success. However, we find that the checkout page is often overlooked by ecommerce merchants, likely because so much of the setup is already taken care of by the ecommerce platform.

While there is no need to reinvent the wheel, it’s still important to remember that small changes can make a difference in conversion rate. And this can lead to a big impact on revenue in the long run. We’ve already walked through the framework for the perfect shopping cart page here. In today’s post, we will outline our template for the perfect ecommerce checkout page to make sure you’re converting as many customers as possible.

The Goal of the Checkout Page

Of course, the purpose of this page is to close the sale. But more specifically, the goal of the checkout page is to make it as quick and painless as possible for someone to complete their purchase. It’s very important to keep them focused and minimize distractions.

If the product page and shopping cart pages are designed correctly, customers shouldn’t be clicking through to the checkout page just to see what shipping will be or to see what their discount code will bring their total to. If this info is already available on other pages, then customers arriving at the checkout page have high intent because they’ve already made the decision to purchase.

What Can Cause People to Exit the Checkout Flow?

As mentioned, if shipping rates are clearly stated earlier in the customer’s journey and the product’s prices and any promo codes are available on the shopping cart page, why do some people hop out of the checkout page?

Here are a few common reasons:

  • A technical problem or an issue with the page’s experience: The checkout should never break, but in case it does, make sure there is a very clear way to contact customer support. To prevent other issues, the checkout should load quickly, be easy to use on mobile, have a clear place to enter discount codes and view shipping options and be simple to enter payment info.
  • A personal issue: We’re humans, so it is common for a customer to get distracted or realize that they don’t have their payment info handy. This situation is greatly helped by having an abandoned cart email sequence ready to fire.
  • A surprise: Sometimes customers will realize that shipping is higher than expected or will take longer than they thought. Or, their discount code might not work as hoped on the products they selected.

The perfect checkout page will help eliminate all of these situations. As we walk through the framework, you’ll see that setting up the perfect page is less about the ability to customize the checkout page and more about being able to properly communicate with your customers.

Elements to Include in the Perfect Checkout Page

First we’ll outline the basic structure of a checkout page, and then we’ll get into a few additional areas of opportunity.

Basic Structure of the Checkout Page

Simple version of the site header.
No navigation is needed, as we are trying to minimize distractions.

Simply allows the customer to go back to the shopping cart page if they need to change items in the cart.

Basic validation info
This includes price, discounts, shipping, and tax.

Discount code field
Make adding a discount code easy and obvious. Aside from shipping, not being able to find a place to enter their discount code is one of the most common reasons customers exit checkout.

Work area, usually multiple steps
This traditionally includes 2-3 steps for entering shipping and credit card information. Make this as easy and simple as possible, especially on mobile.

Clear CTA button(s)
Unde the work area, be sure the CTA button directing them to the next step is clear and accessible.

Trust building element
This should be a simple callout or logo that reinforces the security of the checkout process.

Customer service contact
This could be a button or link that opens a chat window, phone number, or email to get in touch with customer service.

Optional: Create an Account
Your brand might want to include the option to create an account. Unless your business requires it, don’t require someone to create an account just to checkout. Ideally you could allow them to easily create an account while they checkout.

Additional Areas of Potential Opportunity for Checkout

Below are a few additional areas for potential opportunities on the checkout page. Definitely use these with caution and test them before pushing them live. Remember, we don’t want to create more distractions, potential bugs, or complications because that violates the purpose of checkout.

Payment options:
These days there are several different payment options you might consider in addition to the standard credit or debit card. These include:

  • Quick pay with Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Shop Pay. Quick pay is great to enable because it essentially eliminates the hassle of entering credit card info. It’s much simpler for the user, which helps increase conversion rate.
  • Alternative payments such as PayPal or Amazon Pay. Typically we don’t see a major increase in purchases when these are enabled. They can also cause some tech issues. Consider adding these with caution, depending on whether your customers often use these methods.
  • Post-pay with AfterPay, Sezzle, or other services. This can be a great way to quickly increase conversion rate, assuming your products are higher cost and you are okay with the cost to you.

Order bumps or up-sells in the checkout:
We discussed these in the framework for the perfect shopping cart page, and they are worth mentioning again for the checkout page. If you’re considering adding these to the checkout, be careful. Order bumps and up-sells can be great at increasing average order value, but they can also completely break your checkout if you’re not cautious. For most merchants, it’s much safer to test these on the shopping cart page and let checkout be the final step with no changes.

Subscription payments:
Subscriptions are very helpful for increasing customer lifetime value. If your product lends itself well to subscriptions, it’s just important to make sure the user experience is user-friendly and simple to navigate. Typically this is a slightly different experience and requires a bit of customization in order to make things work really smoothly.

Post-purchase upsells:
These are offers that are presented after the customer completes checkout before the “thank you” page is displayed. Sometimes these are very effective, but they can come with the risk of causing complications or hurting your brand if they are not done well. We definitely recommend thorough testing before implementing.

The “thank you” page:
Just because the purchase is complete does not mean you should stop there. The thank you page is actually an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the customer, as the first step in the post-purchase experience. Make sure the page is visually appealing, reads accurately, and offers some sort of next step to help the customer get excited or be on their way to using it successfully. Do this well and you’ll be on your way to creating a brand fan.

Abandoned cart emails:
As mentioned previously, having automated abandoned cart email notifications are your safety net and one chance to try to recover customers who exited checkout before completing their purchase. They are very simple to set up, and there are also many ways you can test optimizations and make them more unique to your brand.

How to Measure the Performance of Your Checkout Page

One easy way to measure the performance of your store’s checkout page is to look at completed orders vs. incomplete. You can also look at your store’s conversion rate by step of the customer journey. This is an important part of conversion rate optimization and one you should be watching consistently. What percent of customers drop off at each step? What factors could be causing that?

Ready to Optimize Your Ecommerce Store’s Checkout Page?

The checkout page is one of the most important elements of your store (if not the most important), but they are often forgotten about. Apps and tools can help you achieve the various options listed in this post, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is a stable, fast checkout. The best option for this is Shopify Plus. If your store’s conversion rate needs help, start by making sure your checkout aligns with our framework, make improvements, and test!


Want to improve your ecommerce store’s conversion rate for better sales?

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