Best practices for your eCommerce checkout

3 MINS Team

Why do online shoppers abandon their shopping carts—and what can you do to prevent it? Recent data reported by MediaPost offers some insights for best practices to help customers actually buy—not abandon their purchases—during the ecommerce checkout process.

  • Don’t require registration to make a purchase. Just 9 percent of brands in the study forced customers to register for an account in order to buy. Stopping to register can derail the excitement of the purchase process by raising concerns about data security or making the process take too long. Instead, offer customers the option to create an account later. That way, you still have the opportunity to collect the data you want.
  • Keep it simple. Ecommerce checkout processes average 5.6 pages from the cart to the order confirmation. At the opposite extreme, one site had a process where the whole purchase was completed in one page. The study suggests a middle ground—putting too much information on one page can get overwhelming, but so can an endless string of pages. Limit checkout to a few pages, and use tabs or breadcrumbs to show customers how far along they are in the process.
  • Display shipping costs early on. Customers hate getting halfway through checkout only to discover shipping costs more than they thought. Make it easy to find shipping info on your home page and throughout the site so customers can estimate costs, include a shipping cost estimator where customers can put in their ZIP code to get an estimate, or just display shipping costs as early in the checkout process as possible.
  • Use images. Keeping customers’ “eyes on the prize” by showing photo/s of the products they’re buying in the shopping cart makes them less likely to abandon a shopping cart, the study found. A whopping 98 percent of brands in the study do this.
  • Allow for easy editing. Lots of consumers use an online shopping cart as a “wish list” and load it up with more than they plan to buy. Make it easy for users to add, delete or edit size, color and other variables from within the shopping cart. (Ideally, offer the option to save items for later or move them to a wish list so they can be purchased later instead of abandoned altogether.)
  • Make them feel secure. Show your security information near where the credit card or payment information is entered. Make the customer feel confident about the order by summarizing it before the order is placed and allowing a final review.
  • Offer support when needed. Problems often arise in the payment stage or when entering promotional codes. Use live chat or prominently display customer service phone numbers in this checkout area so customers can quickly resolve issues instead of giving up in frustration.

Last, but not least, the report recommends making additional purchase recommendations based on what’s in the customer’s cart. Suggestions for complementary or related items, similar products or “frequently purchased with” products can boost your sales just like impulse buys at a brick-and-mortar retailer’s checkout counter.

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Author information

Karen Axelton

Karen Axelton is Chief Content Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at

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