Guide to Ecommerce Checkout Best Practices

Businesses that want to increase sales on their e-commerce websites have an urgent need to make their checkout and payment processes as easy and frictionless as possible. However, these companies must also balance customer demand for a smooth and user-friendly checkout experience with the pressing need to ensure security in today’s complex landscape of cybersecurity threats. For businesses that are struggling to create a checkout process that does not turn customers off or put their data at risk, a good first step is to take a look at this best practice guide to e-commerce checkout design.

Why Does the Checkout Experience Matter So Much?

Once customers have browsed an e-commerce website and loaded up their shopping carts with the products they want to buy, they reach their final destination: the checkout page. This is the culmination of the customer’s experience with the brand; they’ve made a cost/benefit evaluation and are either clicks away from making a purchase or exiting the website. So it is vitally important to make a good impression and make them confident that their personal information, such as credit card information and addresses, will be secure. While poor security at checkout can leave businesses vulnerable to data breaches that can destroy their reputation with their customers, checkout pages that are too frustrating lead to customers abandoning their carts. To maximize conversions while keeping valuable data secure, businesses should use the following best practices.

Ensuring Security at Checkout

In 2014, Home Depot experienced a serious data breach, in which hackers stole data belonging to more than 50 million cardholders in the United States. The criminals used malicious software that had never been seen before to intercept and steal credit card data. Antivirus software is often not able to protect against the latest forms of malware, so it is important for businesses to be vigilant about the security of their checkout processes rather than blindly relying on security software to keep them safe. The following security features can help to improve security and consumer trust.

Secure Payment Systems

All businesses should use secure payment systems to process their customers’ payments. Once these systems are in place, it is a good idea to include a logo on the checkout page letting customers know that their data is in safe hands. These logos lend credibility to the business’s security protocols and help to increase consumer trust. Customers recognize the brands behind the logos and feel safe handing over their personal and financial details.

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication provides an additional layer of security and a means of verifying users. Instead of allowing users to log into their accounts with just a password, two-factor authentication uses two pieces of information to identify each customer: these are something the user knows, like a password, and something they own, like a mobile phone or email account. By sending an SMS code to a customer’s phone that they must use to complete a transaction, businesses can help keep their customers’ data safe.

Customer Retention

As we’ve looked at before, there are clear business benefits to integrating SMS.  Collecting customers’ mobile phone numbers at checkout also provides a second channel for user identification and enables brands to stay in touch with their customers. Making a second sale to an existing customer can offer a much better return on investment than attracting a new customer and convincing them to buy for the first time. Businesses that have mobile phone numbers for their customers can send marketing messages via SMS, which offers a much higher open rate than marketing emails. People also typically keep their mobile phone numbers for much longer than their email addresses, making SMS a good long-term method of keeping in touch with customers that businesses want to retain.

Reduce Friction

In addition to ensuring security during the checkout process, businesses must also work to make it as easy and hassle-free as possible. Any amount of friction during the processes of creating an account, choosing a password, logging in, entering payment and shipping details, and verifying identity will increase the risk of users abandoning their shopping carts and going to another website to purchase the products or services they need. Businesses must strive to make checkout as easy as possible. For example, they can allow customers to save multiple shipping addresses and payment methods on their accounts so those customers can easily select the options they want every time they make a purchase. Some businesses find that offering a mobile app that their customers can use to make purchases and manage their accounts reduces friction and allows their customers to shop with greater ease, which can increase sales.

Summary

Designing an optimal checkout experience is vital to the success of any e-commerce business. By creating checkout processes that balance the need to protect consumer data with consumer demand for a fast and easy checkout experience, businesses can increase conversion rates while reducing their risk of being the victim of a hacking scandal or data breach. Businesses can build on these e-commerce checkout best practices to improve their brand’s reputation and forge strong relationships with existing customers.