The Checkout Page Checklist: 9 Tactics to Optimize Your Page for Conversions

Ecommerce Best Practices | 11 mins

A compelling advertisement, a stunning product page, affordable pricing—you’ve given your shopper everything they want to see, and, finally, they’ve clicked “checkout.”

You’ve accomplished a lot if a shopper makes it this far, but your work isn’t over. Unfortunately, many people are likely to abandon their cart once they reach the checkout page. Using data from 41 studies, the ecommerce research institute Baymard found that the average cart abandonment rate is 69%.

The good news? According to Baymard’s data, small changes to the design of a checkout page can make a big difference.

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Keep shoppers engaged by using our nine checkout page optimization tactics below. These tips will help you create a checkout experience that’s trustworthy, simple, and helps shoppers focus on completing their purchase.

Trust: Providing a transparent payment process

According to the bar graph above, the number one reason for cart abandonment is extra costs revealed during the checkout process. Other payment concerns, like confusing calculations and security, aren’t far behind on the list of complaints. To keep people on your checkout page, you have to address these concerns by building a fully transparent payment process.

1. Remove last-minute charges

Shoppers who click “proceed to checkout” are happy with the price listed on the product page. If you add extra costs during checkout, you run the risk of losing customers who didn’t want to pay more than the listed price. Plus, they feel misled by your brand and trust it less.

Keep shoppers happy by being upfront about shipping, taxes, and other extra costs as early as possible in the checkout process:

  • Reveal all fees. Clearly state extra charges on the product page and in your checkout page calculation. Better yet, bake extra charges, such as installation fees, into a product’s price.
  • Offer free shipping. It’s one less charge to surprise guests with, and it will help you compete with Amazon and other large retailers that offer free shipping.
  • Give buyers a heads-up. If you are going to charge shipping and taxes, let shoppers know on the product page or at the beginning of the checkout process.

Shoppers are much more likely to finalize their purchase if they know what they’re paying as early in the buying process as possible.

2. Reveal the total cost at the beginning

Break down the total cost at the beginning of the checkout process—don’t expect shoppers to input their card number or name and address first. The more upfront you are about the bill, the more confident shoppers will be about finalizing their purchase.

Maybe you need the customer’s address before you can calculate the shipping cost. That’s understandable. Make it obvious, like the cookware company Made In does. Though the company can’t calculate the shipping cost on their first checkout page, they clearly indicate that shipping will be a part of the total cost.

Display the cost calculation clearly during checkout with these design ideas:

  • Present the calculation in the sidebar of your checkout page, so shoppers can see the breakdown of costs at every stage.
  • Highlight any discounts you provided along with the original price to make the purchase seem more attractive.
  • Include charges that you can’t determine immediately, such as taxes and shipping, in your cost breakdown with a note saying that they will be finalized later in the process. It’s better to be upfront about these costs at the beginning of checkout than surprise buyers with them later.

Seeing this cost calculation at the beginning of checkout will leave shoppers feeling reassured about the price. Knowing what they’re expected to pay, they’ll be more likely to complete their purchase.

3. Show that your payment process is secure

With new data breaches reported every week, it’s no wonder that many shoppers are concerned about submitting their payment information online. Your checkout page must appear credible and trustworthy to shoppers. Otherwise, they’ll follow their instincts and abandon their cart.

Boost shoppers’ confidence in your payment process with these checkout page ideas:

  • Post a trust seal on your checkout page to shows shoppers that your store is protected by a cybersecurity software, such as McAfee.
  • Hire a professional graphic designer or use professional templates to create a checkout page that looks up-to-date and respectable. A sloppy, dated design will make your checkout page seem suspicious.
  • Get an SSL certificate for your site, if it doesn’t already have one. At this point, shoppers know that sites that don’t have a lock symbol and “https” at the beginning of their address don’t have the certificate and aren’t secure.

Customers who have a shred of doubt about your payment process won’t complete their purchase. Encourage them to complete their checkout by being transparent about costs and showing them that your site is secure.

Simplicity: Asking for as little information as possible

Along with a transparent payment process, shoppers want a convenient checkout experience. People don’t want to spend a long time completing form fields. Not to mention, they may be concerned about giving away too much of their personal info. Encourage people to finalize their purchase by asking for as little information as possible during checkout.

1. Allow users to check out without an account

Many online stores ask shoppers to create an account to start the checkout process. But setting up an account takes time, and shoppers may want to become more familiar with the brand before creating one.

Instead, give shoppers the option to check out as a guest without creating an account. By reducing the friction, more shoppers will be likely to complete their purchase.

The furniture company Lovesac takes this approach by directing all new users to check out as guests.

Follow Lovesac’s approach:

Ask shoppers to submit their email address to check out as a guest. With this information, your company will be able to send them order updates as well as promotions for your products in the future.

Ask shoppers if they would like to create an account at the end of your checkout process. They may feel more willing to set one up now that they’ve made a purchase, especially if you offer order tracking through your site.

f you don’t force account creation at checkout, you get the best of both worlds as a retailer. Shoppers are more likely to complete their purchase, and you’re able to connect with them through email or via a future account.

2. Reduce the number of form fields

According to Baymard’s research, a long, complicated checkout process is the third most common reason for abandoned shopping carts. Not only does it take time to fill out multiple forms, but shoppers may not want to share all of the information you’re requiring.

Simplify your checkout process by including as few form fields as possible. The less information you ask for, the more likely shoppers are to finalize their purchase.

Consider the athletic watch company FitBit’s checkout experience. It only includes 10 form fields across contact, shipping, and payment information (though there are slightly more form fields for shoppers with different shipping and billing addresses).

Revamp your checkout experience to include only necessary form fields with these tips.

Aim to use 20 or fewer form fields on your checkout page — enough to cover basic contact, shipping, and payment information.

Fit all of your form fields on a single page. Even if they’re separated by different, expandable categories, keeping the entire checkout experience on a single page will make it seem less cumbersome.

Offer an express checkout option through a payment service, such as PayPal, so there are even less form fields for shoppers to fill in.

Shoppers will be more likely to finalize their purchase when they see a short, simple checkout process laid out on one page.

3. Autofill customer information

Even if a checkout page is short, the experience can still be tedious, especially on mobile. Just the sight of form fields may lead shoppers to abandon their cart.

Encourage people to complete their purchase by offering an autofill option. Once shoppers begin typing in form fields, they are completed automatically.

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Here are a few suggestions for setting up autofill form fields, depending on what type of online store you run.

  • If your online store runs without an ecommerce software, ask a developer to include autocomplete attributes in your checkout page code.
  • If you run your store with an ecommerce software, add autofill by following the instructions from your tool:

Once people see that their information can be added in an instant, they’ll be much more likely to complete your checkout process.

Focus: Help shoppers concentrate on making a purchase

A number of factors can pull shoppers away from your checkout—indecision, distracting checkout elements, a surprise fee, higher-than-expected shipping costs, and more. Once people leave their cart, it’s unlikely that they’ll return without being prompted. Build a checkout page experience that keeps shoppers focused on purchasing through a clean design, fast site speed, and email campaigns.

1. Minimize distracting elements

Posting extra information about your brand and products on your checkout page is risky. With more content on your checkout page—upsell offers, FAQs—shoppers are more likely to lose focus on the task you care most about—completing the purchase.

Help people finalize their order with a clean, minimalist checkout page design that shows only information directly related to their purchase.

The stand-up paddleboard brand YOLO Board, for example, uses white space on their checkout page to help the reader focus on providing the necessary order information—billing, shipping, and payment.

Consider these tips to avoid distracting elements on your checkout page.

  • Organize your checkout page around the information that you absolutely need to complete the buyer’s order, such as the customer’s contact, shipping, and payment information.
  • Only include images of the products being purchased. If shoppers see pictures of related products, they may leave their cart to search for these items on your store.
  • Don’t link any text or images to other pages. The goal is to move the shopper through the checkout process. Links that go anywhere else don’t belong on checkout pages.

By only featuring essential text and images on your checkout page, you’ll help shoppers concentrate on their purchase and finalize their order.

2. Maintain a fast checkout page speed

Shoppers are unlikely to complete their orders if your page loads slowly or, worse, if it crashes. Forty percent of shoppers will leave a page if it takes three or more seconds to load, according to research, so it’s important to keep your loading times as quick as possible.

Plus, slow speed raises security concerns—it’s unnerving to input your credit card number, press submit, and wait for the checkout page to load.

Maintain a fast checkout page speed by asking these questions:

  • Is my hosting service fast enough? If the uptime of your hosting service isn’t in the high 90s, and there are limits on bandwidth and transactions, shop around for a faster option.
  • Am I using too many images on my checkout page? The more photos that you have on your page (and the larger they are), the slower your page will load. Use small photos of ordered products.
  • Am I using too many apps for my store? If you’re using an ecommerce platform to run your store, like BigCommerce, you may have also downloaded a number of integrated apps. Before other code is loaded, these apps have to be rendered, and that takes time. Keep only the apps you need.

Making these changes doesn’t guarantee a faster checkout process. Use this resource from the checkout platform Bolt to measure and evaluate your store’s site speed.

3. Send cart abandonment emails

Sometimes a shopper reaches a checkout page but isn’t quite ready to make a purchase. They may love your product and brand but still need some time to think over the purchase. Remind them with cart abandonment emails that summarize their order and ask the buyer to finalize their purchase.

The mattress company Purple, for example, sends shoppers the email below a few hours after they leave their cart. The message is compelling with funny copy and bright colors.

Keep your cart abandonment email messaging timely and engaging with these tips.

  • Ask customers for their email before they begin the checkout process. Without an email address, you can’t send a reminder.
  • Send the cart abandonment email within 24 hours. The product should still be fresh in the shopper’s memory the next day. Make it easy by automating the process using an email management platform.
  • Highlight the products they added to their cart with text and images. You also might include customer ratings and whether the products have gone on sale to emphasize their value.

Nudge shoppers back to your checkout page with a gentle reminder email. After seeing their order details in the message, buyers will remember why they wanted to order those products and will feel motivated to complete their purchase.

Your checkout page optimization checklist

To help you remember the strategies in this guide, we created a checklist of our nine checkout page optimization tactics.

Download this list, and you’ll always have a resource for building and refining your checkout page experience.

Boost your conversion rate with an optimized checkout page

In brick-and-mortar shops, customers rarely leave the checkout line because they know that the process is fast and reliable. A cashier scans their items, accepts their payment, and they’re done.

Ecommerce is different. Shoppers are less likely to automatically trust the online checkout experience or are hesitant to finish their purchase since orders require personal information. Retailers must thoughtfully craft their checkout page. Every element must be trustworthy, simple, and focused on the order.

Build a checkout experience with all of these qualities by following the tactics in this guide. Once you optimize your page, shoppers will be more likely to finalize their purchases.