Horrible or Awesome #4 – The Checkout Process

By | March 5, 2008

Who needs a quick checkout? People love clicking through 8 pages of forms they have to fill in before buying stuff. Better yet, add in a couple more pages and hoodwink the customer just when they think they are finally through!

Sure, you need the customer’s age, gender, and the name of their first born son to sell them your hand painted dishrags. Make it as hard as you can for the customer to actually complete a sale and pay you money because that’s how you can tell if a customer is truly dedicated (or if they love pain).

Have you ever been to a website and realised that they want you to give over more details than you are prepared to part with?  Sure, a site needs your delivery address and payment details – but anything more than this?  No.   Quite often, I make it a mission to NOT shop at osCommerce stores as I know the checkout process is so crap.  As a shop owner, have a think about that!

There are numerous industry studies and reports that say shorter, fewer page checkouts improve conversion rates. I personally think the ideal is a two or three page checkout- Enter your stuff, confirm, you’re done.

There is a long and still active thread (after 5 years!!!) on the official osCommerce Forum with many code hints, tips, and tricks. It covers checkout, account creation, making the customer log in, etc. It’s a great read, and I would say a requirement for anyone wanting to run an osC shop.

So, my idea for a simplified checkout would be as follows;

  1. Change the in-your-face “Account” functionality.  Who wants to set up an “account” when they are only going to buy from your shop one time.  Change the wording to “Your profile” or “Your details”.
  2. Show the shipping cost (even if it’s an estimate) BEFORE the Account Creation.  So obvious and yet almost ALL osCommerce stores FAIL BADLY at this.
  3. Redirect to “account set up” rather than “login”.  Known to increase conversion rates substantially.
  4. Remove Passwords from “account set up”.  Have a tickbox that says “remember my details for next time”.  If they tick it, send a randomly created password by email.
  5. Get rid the welcoming email.  They already know that they are shopping at your store – why tell then again?
  6. Get rid the useless checkout pages, like “create account success” and “checkout success”.  What the heck is the use of “checkout success” anyway?  The product notifications don’t work!  If you have to have it, make it useful.  How about an UPSELL, or a miling list signup?  Or maybe a special offer discount code for their next purchase!  Come on, THINK ABOUT IT.
  7. Merge multiple pages.  Merge the shipping and billing page.  Marge that into the customer details page.

The point of this post is to get YOU, the shop owner, to think like a CUSTOMER.  Make shopping at your site as painless as possible.  By cutting down on crap, you won’t hurt your sales, but you might just increase them.

Most of this post is courtesy of my good friend Jason over at JC Commerce.

4 thoughts on “Horrible or Awesome #4 – The Checkout Process

  1. jared

    Gary,

    Doesn’t your “More Logical Checkout” take care of most of these issues? Not the shipping estimate, but the rest are addressed by your contribution from what I recall.

  2. Gary Post author

    Hey Jared – I don’t think I ever got around to making a nice checkout contribution. I know that there’s a _very_ long thread that I started which has a load of hints and tips in it!

  3. Gary Post author

    Haha – yeah, that one is mine! I had totally forgotten about it!

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