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Smooth Checkout Spells Success for Online Retailers

If you’re one of the UK’s army of SME owners who sells goods or services online, then keeping up to speed with technological advances is vital for success.  This means making sure that your website is user-friendly and that visitors (who are all potential customers) can navigate easily to find what they are looking for.  When it comes to the checkout process, ease and transparency are a real “must” if you want to make sure you don’t sacrifice potential sales.   Here are some tips you can use to make sure the checkout process on your website does not lose sales for your business:

  • Be Transparent – each product description should display sufficient information about the product to enable the customer to make an informed purchasing decision.  Some websites don’t include the price of the product (or force shoppers to register with their business before displaying prices) which is off-putting for the average online shopper.  If you neglect to display prices clearly, you may find that most potential customers are clicking away and looking for the same product elsewhere.
  • Shopping Cart – this enables the customer to see an itemised view of the products in the cart.  Make sure that when a customer adds an item to the shopping cart that there is an option to return directly to the page (by pressing a link button) they were viewing so that they can carry on shopping on your website and add more items.  Shoppers who want to carry on looking at more items on a website often get frustrated when they pop an item in their cart and then find they have to go through a whole search process to get back to where they were.
  • Review Purchases – this is usually the next step in the shopping process and should display information on items (name, description, price, number ordered), along with the cost when tax has been added.  Make sure your potential customers have an easy way to modify the items in their cart - it should be simple to alter the number of items (or delete items) or save items for later.  It’s a great idea to include shipping costs here too.
  • Sign In – this should include an option to complete the order as a Guest shopper, without having to register.  So many e-commerce websites make the mistake of requiring potential customers to register with their business before they are able to complete their purchase.  Whilst this may appear to be good business sense, it could actually prove counter-productive and drive visitors away at the very moment that they’re ready to buy from you. 
  • Shipping and Delivery – be clear about shipping costs and delivery times.  There should be no confusion and shipping options, costs (and other information) should be clearly displayed.  Plenty of sales fall through at the very last minute when the shipping costs are finally revealed.  Most people researching buying items online add shipping costs to the product cost when making comparisons, so this should be made easy for them to do.
  • Confirm Sales Immediately – once the customer has committed to buy, make sure that a confirmation email (with the order information and delivery time estimate) is sent to them immediately (this can be automated) so that they have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their order has been successfully placed.

Making the checkout process as simple and quick as possible is key when it comes to online commerce, so optimising your website for sales success is essential for doing business online.