Everyone has thoughts on how to make e-commerce checkout more customer-friendly and streamlined to increase sales. But Baymard Institute went ahead and conducted a study over the course of several months to determine what really works, and what doesn't. They tested over 500 usability issues on fifteen of the biggest e-commerce sites, including American Apparel, Zappos, 1-800-Flowers, Newegg, and Walmart.
The full report offers 63 guidelines to improve your customers' checkout experience. Here are the key takeaways from Baymard Institute's "E-Commerce Checkout Usability" study.
What to Do:
Maintain a Linear Checkout Process
This was the biggest usability offender. Do not have "steps within steps" in your checkout process, it only confuses and intimidates customers. Make sure it's simple and they can go from point A to point B to point C without any backtracking or branching out into new steps.
Take Care with Your Form Fields
You might think that the difference between a billing address and a shipping address is obvious, but to some customers, it can be unclear and frustrating (and most want them to be the same, so provide an option to autofill one to match the other!)
Make sure your form fields are clearly labeled, and offer guidelines for required fields. It's also a good idea to explain why you need certain fields, like their email address.
You'll also want them to have their own column to make everything visually clear.
SEE ALSO: How To Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment
Design Your Checkout Page with Security Images
Images of security symbols like locks and badges made the users feel more secure in handing over their credit card information, so make sure to use them.
Format the Credit Card Fields
To avoid confusion, format these exactly the way they appear on the customer's credit card.
Make Errors Obvious
If they forget to fill out a required field, don't just send them back to the page. Highlight the forgotten field and put in a noticeable error sign at the top of the page explaining what went wrong.
SEE ALSO: The Good Return Policy Check-List
What NOT to Do:
Don't Use Vague Directions
Don't just say "continue", tell them to "continue to checkout" or "continue shopping."
Don't Use an Apply Button
Customers were routinely confused by "apply" buttons. Just leave them out.
Don't Force Customers to Register
There is nothing customers hate more than being forced to register for your site in order to complete the checkout. Make it an option to sign up for an account, or you risk losing a third of your customers.