When users get stuck: how to apply best practices in the order check-out flow

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Shopping cart abandonment can happen at any step of the check-out process if online shops do not understand the user behaviour behind it and make an effort to apply best practices. We’ve talked about simple ways to resolve this issue with Christian Holst, Research Director & Co-founder Baymard Institute, and found out many other interesting user research results.

What is causing shopping cart abandonment? Most of the time, the users get stuck in the shopping process mainly because of the following reasons: they don’t know how to proceed to the next step, or get so annoyed that they give up completing the order. E-commerce companies should invest in researching and mapping the user behaviour in the check-out flows, in order to observe if there are issues in the process. They must look for errors and how many users get them. If they can afford it, they should recruit a few users, let them place an order and observe their behaviour. This is one way how businesses can find out what works and what doesn’t in the order placing flow. 

One issue that users have when placing an order online is that they have trust issues when it comes to giving their phone numbers to companies. Christian’s research shows that 13% of all sales are lost because of this. People fear that companies will use their phone numbers for marketing purposes. The same goes for e-mails. Actually, the phone numbers are given to the shipping vendors as a means to contact clients when they deliver packages. 

This fear is understandable, since many online shops actually do use user data for marketing purposes. Christian informs us that in the EU that’s now illegal just to start sending people newsletters, but it’s not illegal for instance in America. A lot of large e-commerce sites, we actually track this, it’s currently 26% of the largest e-commerce stores in the US, that if you just place an order they don’t have a checkbox anywhere for newsletters”. But users do not know the law in the EU, they have prior poor experience with websites from the US and therefore they do not trust anyone who asks for their phone number or e-mail address, users assume the worst. 

“The most important thing is to provide some transparency into what is actually going on and how you intend to use the data. Because once users will realize, for instance, that you’ll use it only for order questions and for shipping related questions, they don’t mind actually giving you their phone number. (…) So it’s not that you have to stop asking for the phone number, you will typically just have to explain what you use it for.”

Another reason why users do not proceed with placing an order is because they don’t see the shipping costs in the early steps of the check-out flow. We found out from Christian that “the reason why 55% of all users have abandoned in the past quarter, it’s because there were too high shipping costs. And another 20% have abandoned because they couldn’t see the shipping cost in the cart alone.” The solution is to at least specify an estimated shipping cost in the cart page. Businesses need to be very clear in their communication and anticipate user issues, as it is in this case.

For those who are interested in learning more about the research in UX that Christian and his team do at the Baymard Institute, they provided access to the free library of resources on their website: https://baymard.com/blog

Watch the full interview on YouTube to find out details about UX and usability. Don’t forget to subscribe to the GPeC YouTube Channel for more interviews, insights and live transmissions!


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