For an online retail business, a good checkout process is crucial to its survival. There’s no other way for customers to buy the products in a timely, efficient manner than the website’s checkout platform. This is why so many small business owners in the online retail space spend a lot of time and money making sure this process is nearly flawless. In order to avoid the possibility of losing customers due to bugs and issues, you need to take some time to make sure your own checkout process works well.
This means doing more than just setting it up in the first place and letting it run. There are several steps you can take to make sure this checkout process is as perfect as possible without spending a lot of money on reprogramming the code itself unless necessary. Here are a few tips you can follow to make your own checkout process as optimized and perfect as possible.
Review the Intended Customer Experience
Everything about a business, whether it is physical or digital, should revolve around the desired customer experience. Your business survival hinges on a great experience each and every time your customer shops. Problems and challenges within this experience are likely to lose customers and harm your bottom line in the long run.
A digital checkout process is no different. Before it is created, a checkout process needs to be planned out in detail. Ideally, you should also take steps to optimize the efficiency of this process wherever possible. This can include reducing the required number of clicks, simplifying the interface and optimizing the amount of time the customer spends checking out in the first place.
While this step is easier to do before the checkout infrastructure has been created, you can go back to refine an existing checkout process as well. This may require some reprogramming depending on the customer experience your checkout process currently promotes, but it will be worthwhile in the long run.
Working from this point does have one big advantage, however. With an existing checkout process, you already have the experience of customers going through it. This means you can get feedback to see what is working and what is not. Try creating a little digital survey, prompting responses from email or social media, or directly connecting with customers you know first-hand to get this feedback. Use it to refine whatever issues or flaws your current customers experience when they go to check out.
Simplify Where Possible
A digital checkout platform can be technologically perfect and still have a poor user experience. Many web developers have a tendency to overcomplicate the checkout process, loading it up with more features than necessary and potentially losing loyal customers. When it comes to streamlining the checkout process and the user experience, you need to simplify it as much as possible.
One approach to take is to reduce the number of steps involved in the process in the first place. You may find you have too many links, buttons, form boxes or even pages than you need.The amount of simplification does not stop with just the number of steps. The interface of the checkout platform is also an area you should review. Is it easy to understand? Is the font readable? Is it clear where customers should click and where they should go?
Simplification can reduce potential confusion when done correctly. Here again, it’s helpful to get as much feedback as possible from current or future customers. If you’re creating your checkout process for the first time, try to do some beta testing with friends and family members to get their reaction and feedback.
Optimize the Engine
A checkout process is very similar to a car: It has many working internal components that can be optimized for better performance. In the case of the checkout platform, these components are the code and database. All software applications, from programs to websites, use code to define and create the specific features, looks and functionality of the platform. Sometimes, this code can be overly complicated and complex, which will reduce speed and increase processing times. When this happens, a qualified developer needs to go back into the code and revise it to make it more streamlined.
The database that stores product and customer information will also play a role in increasing the performance of the checkout process. A well-structured database on fast servers will decrease page loading times so customers do not have to wait as long for each step of the process. For both the code and the database, this is one area that is best left to the professionals. Unless you have actual programming experience yourself, a professional web developer will be more experienced to streamline the infrastructure as much as possible. They should also be able to do this more quickly than on your own.
Keep Refining the Process
The idea of a flawless checkout experience is appealing but can be difficult to reach if you stop refining it. In other words, true perfection is an ongoing process of revision and refinement. If you stop after you have initially made some changes, you are likely to ignore further problems and issues that develop down the road. You will also miss more opportunities to refine the checkout experience your customers will have each and every time.
A part of this is due to the changing nature of the checkout process itself. While the basics remain the same, there are always new techniques and technologies on the horizon that will streamline the process even further. You may also find different ways to approach common challenges found within an eCommerce checkout platform.
Always spend a little time with the performance data you have available. Keep track of the customer experience using trackers like Google Analytics and other marketing services so you can see where your customers may be experiencing problems. Do not hesitate to make changes if you start to notice certain trends. The best thing you can do is monitor and maintain the health of your checkout process.
Guest Post: About the Author
Jim Rulison serves as the CEO for Media Loop LLC (formerly the National Center for Pain Inc). Jim oversees the day to day operations for all lead generation accounts, with a concentration in the healthcare industry. Before joining Media Loop, Jim was the CEO of PME Home Health and was the founder of one of the nation’s first virtual call centers. He lives in the Rochester New York area where he and his late wife raised their two children. Jim spends his free time with his family and enjoying cooking and his two dogs.