We used to think of the shopping cart as the beginning of checkout: the pivot point between browsing and buying, the moment a shopper decides whether or not to buy. But the path is no longer linear. Since traffic is predominantly mobile for most retailers, the shopping funnel paradigm has fundamentally changed.
The shopping funnel isn’t much of a funnel anymore — it’s a bouncy, zigzagging path in which your shoppers are on the move and multi-tasking with texts, notifications, emails, TikToks, work, family and the like. There are SO MANY demands for a customer’s attention. Even when shoppers show high intent and add to their bags, you will lose them if your site doesn’t make the path to purchase super friction-free and fast.
Throughout the benchmarking of the 2023 Omnichannel Retail Index this year, we found many retailers have made progress on prioritizing the mobile experience. Meanwhile, others still show significant opportunities to remove friction points and improve experiences to increase the shopper’s likelihood to buy.
So how do you improve performance? By reducing decision points and noise in the process. By removing friction. By making it easy and fast for your shoppers to make a decision to buy and get it done before they have time for second thoughts. Most importantly, it’s about prioritizing the needs of your mobile shoppers.
Gathered here is your cart and checkout checklist: 10 imperatives to maximize the checkout funnel. See how your site experience stacks up:
1. Simplify the design & messaging: Avoid adding unnecessary distractions in the shopper’s path. The old maxim, “don’t make me stop and think” still holds true. Keep shoppers focused on why they should buy now. Show contextual messaging (right place, right time) that helps shoppers move forward rather than taking them out of the natural path.
2. Offer free shipping: 80% of shoppers expect free shipping when shopping online. If you need to set a threshold, show the progress to the threshold when a shopper adds to the cart. Bonus points if you show the shopper items she can add to help drive to the threshold without leaving the page.
3. Create a sense of urgency: Use social proof to create a sense of urgency, e.g., “In demand! 25 people bought this in the past hour!” It’s incredibly effective, and we’ve seen many customers drive more conversions with this method on the PLP, PDP and cart.
4. Speed it up: Offer your shoppers mobile and deferred payment options directly in the cart. Advantage: Your shoppers never have to get out their wallets, and it’s only a few clicks to “done.” Reducing steps here helps your shopper complete the purchase while intent is high. Every additional field or page you add to the process increases the opportunity for distraction or abandonment.
5. Don’t make shoppers commit! Make it easy for your customers to checkout as a guest. Shoppers are increasingly concerned about privacy. They may be more reluctant to commit to creating an account. Don’t let that stand in the way of the sale. You can follow up with an invitation to register or join your loyalty program at the end of checkout or with your transactional emails.
6. Provide expected delivery dates: Many retailers show the specific expected delivery date on the PDP and in the cart, which provides the needed reassurance to the shopper. Bonus points here for showing that “next day” as an upsell is also available.
7. Make it easy to edit the cart: Offer a ‘save for later’ function, then make it easy to add saved items back to the cart. Many customers use their carts to collect items they’re interested in but then edit when they balk at the total. A Save-for-Later function makes it easy to make the edit while also saving items they care about for the next time.
8. Offer help where needed: Make it easy to chat or call throughout the journey. These callouts are especially important to show in context on pages like PDP and checkout, where the shopper is most likely to have a question or need reassurance.
9. Simplify DTC and BOPIS delivery/pickup options: Your shoppers may prefer one option or the other, but inevitably, you will have mixed carts due to inventory availability. Make the choices easy to navigate in the cart and allow your shopper to change her mind. This example from Nordstrom allows the shopper to “Change all to pick up” or to toggle between the pickup and shipping options at a line-item level.
10. Account creation AFTER checkout: Don’t interrupt her flow by trying to sign the shopper up before or during checkout. Let her checkout as a guest and get the sale. THEN share the benefits and ease of saving her order info to an account (award points, easy order tracking, order history, and so on).
Optimizing the shopping cart and checkout process can be daunting. These are the most critical and complicated pages of the site. But it can be extremely rewarding when it’s done right. Every tenth of a percent of improvement here can represent millions of dollars for your company. It’s worth spending the time now to prioritize some of these key improvements pre-holiday.
These are my top 10. What are yours? I look forward to hearing how these work for you and what your big wins are with cart and checkout optimization.
Jessie Jackson is a Senior Consultant, Practice Lead in OSF Digital´s Strategy group. She has many years of experience executing strategies for brands and agencies, including system implementation, branding, copy direction, roadmap planning, analytics, site optimization, SEO, content, merchandising, and much more.