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6 Common Mistakes Preventing eCommerce Purchases

Typical Barriers to Purchase for eCommerce Websites

Typical Barriers to Purchase for ecommerce Websites


Every time I visit an ecommerce checkout page, I look for these 6 common mistakes. Almost every ecommerce website fails to pass this six point test. This article will show you six common ecommerce checkout mistakes and how to fix them in order to increase sales.

First, let's get an idea of where your ecommerce website checkout process stands in comparison to others. Most websites have 5 steps in their checkout process, with the lowest number of steps being 1 and the highest as much as 9 steps. This chart from Christian Holt's article in Smashing Magazine shows the breakdown of steps in ecommerce website checkout processes:
e-commerce check out process guideline number of steps



  1. Requiring Registration Before Checkout:
    This is a surprisingly common issue that can be a ecommerce sales conversion killer. According to Holt's article, around 24% of ecommerce websites STILL require registration before checkout!

    Even large ecommerce websites are guilty of this checkout process sin. Here's a comparison between Sears and Macy's checkout pages:

    e-commerce checkout guideline examples for websites
    Notice how Sears asks for an email before taking you to the checkout page? Even though they qualify the request by saying they need it to send you receipts, this process creates friction by preventing you from getting the prospective buyer to where they want to go: the checkout page.

    e-commerce checkout guideline examples for website development

    After clicking the 'checkout as guest' button in the Macy's shopping cart, the user is taken directly to the checkout process. Even more impressive, after leaving the site and trying to repeat the process, the user is taken directly to the checkout process, skipping the 'checkout as guest' step!

    Yes, gathering an email is important for re-marketing and targeting people who abandon shopping carts. However, you want your online customers to buy TODAY and presenting any barrier against this end is counterproductive.

    Instead of demanding an email early on in the process, ask for it when the user puts in their shipping or billing information. There's even services like Bounce Exchange that triggers a pop-up email request when the user shows intent to perform an exit action.

  3. Showing a Checkout Progress Indicator:
    Showing customers how simple the purchasing process can be is a huge sales conversion booster. A simple progress indicator showing the simplicity of steps increases the liklihood of initiating the transaction process as well as decreases the chances that the customer will abandon the transaction half way through the process.

    e-commerce checkout guideline examples for websites

    Again, I'm using an example from Macy's. Notice how the indicator let's me know where I am in the process as well as how easy and simple the checkout process is?

  5. Displaying Clear, Compact and Concise Forms:
    When a customer decides to purchase, a large number of forms can be daunting and can turn the consumer off, causing them to abandon the process. Your checkout process should contain fields requesting only the information you absolutely need to complete the transaction.

    e-commerce checkout guideline examples for websites has concise forms that allow them to have a one-page checkout process. Also, as you'll discover in the next section of this article, Overstock eliminates the need for the customer to input the same information twice with a simple 'My shipping address is the same as my billing address' check box.

  7. Asking for the Same Information Repeatedly:
    50% of ecommerce websites ask for the same information twice during checkout!
    No one likes redundant tasks, especially customers. Yet if this is true, then why do so many ecommerce websites ask for the same information over and over again? Most of the time, shipping and billing addresses are the same, so why not save your customers some time?

  9. Allowing ecommerce Website Customers to Edit Their Order During the Checkout Process:
    We all make mistakes from time time, especially when it comes to ecommerce checkouts. Allowing your customers to return to the previous page and edit the items in their cart without having to re-enter all their shipping or billing information can go a long way in reducing lost sales.

    A common strategy includes introducing a functional 'back' button during the checkout process. This allows users to move throughout the checkout process without losing any of the information they've entered. Another option is to allow the user to change quantity, size, or color options during the checkout process.

    It's also a good idea to show the product image throughout the process as it triggers excitement emotional reactions from the user during the process, which encourages them to complete checkout.

  11. Including Trust Signals:
    Customers are very concerned with their privacy and the security of the personal information when shopping online. Your consumers and website visitors need to be reminded that your platform is safe and secure.

    e-commerce checkout guideline trust signal examples for websites

    Icons such as locks, well known security company branding, and phrases such as 'secure checkout process' can go a long way in garnering the trust of the website visitor.




The CrazyEgg blog has a great post showing more examples of great and not so great ecommerce checkout pages. You can check it out here.

Did I miss anything? Do you have any ecommerce website pet peeves? Let us know by leaving a comment below! Also, don't forget to tweet this article if you found it helpful!

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