Would you fire a cashier that turns 25% of your customers away?

The answer is probably a yes. And yet many companies don’t do this. Why? Because the cashier is not a person in a brick and mortar store, but the checkout process of an online store. According to a study, as many as 25% of the customers abandon their purchase on online stores because of a complicated checkout process. If you haven’t analyzed your churn rate of your online store checkout it’s time to do that. Chances are that your business is losing money.

So how to analyse this? Basically all online stores give you statistical information at which step during the checkout customers abbandon it. So a good start is to go through every single step. For each and every step make a screenshot (both, for mobile and desktop). Add notes to the screenshot and describe the klicks/scrolling/inputs that are needed to complete the step. It’s a good idea to print these and put them on a wall – this gives you a good overview. Then combine this information with the churn data to identify the most critical steps.

Aimed with the basic information about your churn rate, the second phase is to think about what steps can be merged. Or even moved away to another part of your customer journey. For example, if you need to select the payment provider every single time, it’s a good idea to do this in the settings of the customer’s account. Also, give the customer the ability to do a one-click purchase for which you use the default settings of your customer. When presenting the confirmation of the purchase, the customer can change the settings AFTER he or she made the purchase.

After having identified potential optimizations it’s time to put them to a test. Unlike in brick and mortar stores this can be done quite easily online with A/B testing. In A/B testing you randomly chose different versions of the checkout process on your online store for different customers and track the results. This needs of course careful planing what optimization to roll out to customers for testing. Fortunately, there is a way to identify the most promising optimizations up front before rolling them out in an A/B test to your customers.

Enter design sprints. A design sprint is a focused activity of several days to confirm assumptions about designs/processes by building a simple prototype and life testing them during an interview with potential users. It’s important to study the reactions of users during the interview. Are they surprised, do they frown, etc.? And of course ask them if they find something confusing, etc.

In the case of optimzing the checkout process you can build mockups of the optimized checkout process that let users virtually buy items from your shop. To do that, you have to modify your online shop in a way that a click on the checkout leads the user to your mockup. It’s important that you do not interfere too much to get good results. Therefore the mockup must be good enough to work properly without an engineer having to intervene with things like “Please wait a minute here. I’ve to enter a code on the backend so that your session doesn’t expire. And here we go. Please continue.”.

The overall process of identifying candidates for the optimization and doing the design sprints can take several weeks. Depending on the number of customers you have during your A/B tests, you might get meaningful results in a couple of days or weeks.

Independent of your exact result, you’ll find that investing time in analyzing your online shop and optimizing the checkout process is definitely a worthwile endeavor. You will learn a lot about the behavior of your customers and your optimizations will immediately bring in some additional revenue.

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