Checkout Woes: How to Lose a Customer in 10 Seconds

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Every now and then you want to watch a terrible movie and revel in the experience, but we’ve never heard anyone that wanted to revel in a terrible ecommerce checkout process. The shopping cart is the make-or-break moment, and there’s no plucky comedic relief that’s going to save your sale if the process is frustrating.

So, we recently stayed inside to avoid the summer heat and popped in the 2003 romantic comedy How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey. Inspiration struck as we saw all the things that go wrong in a relationship, and how many of them have direct parallels to buying from an online store.

So, ecommerce and movie fans, here are the 10 things to avoid if you want customers to complete the checkout process.

1. Can’t determine cost up-front

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Deception never works out, whether it’s intended or not. Our movie couple find this out when they each enter a relationship with a hidden agenda, only to become angry and initially break up when these are discovered. Where Hollywood differs for you is that there’s very little chance to do the “chase her taxi and stop it to explain yourself” cliché from your ecommerce store.

When a customer feels like they’re being tricked or something isn’t right, they’ll abandon your shop at any point during the checkout process. It’s most common when a site makes it difficult to understand what the cost will be when they’re first selecting an item.

This type of deception is one reason cited by more than 20% of adults as a cause of leaving the checkout process. So, keep everything as clear as possible and provide estimates (tax, shipping cost, shipping date, etc.) ahead of time whenever you can.

2. Mobiles aren’t supported

So, our film example came out in 2003, and it would need some updates if it were to be remade. One of the biggest changes would be the addition of smartphones to almost every scene. Our pair might first meet on a dating app, or at least there would be plenty of looking up and connecting on social media (plus Googling) to discover more about the other person.

It might even bust the plot, if McConaughey’s Benjamin Barry were to discover Hudson’s Andie Anderson is the “How to” writer for a magazine. They threw a wrench into everything.

The same happens with your site. If you’re not mobile-ready, then you’re going to feel outdated and end up with a ton of snarky comments about how the whole plot of someone trying and failing to buy from your store could have been easily avoided. It’s a fate worse than two thumbs down.

3. No guest checkout options

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The dating world can be brutal. And so can the ecommerce world. Our film is looking at relationships through a pessimistic eye and, unfortunately, many of your customers are going to look at purchasing from you through that same lens.

If you let them be cautious, by allowing people to buy from you without an account that’s full of personal details, then you could capitalize on the 34% of people who site “wanted me to create an account” as the reason they say “no” to a checkout.

A first purchase can be like a first date. Let your customers feel you out and treat them right to get that second one.

A hot tip... make your guest checkout even more user friendly. Turbo charge it and effectively turn it into an ‘Express Checkout’. By utilizing Fillr, your customers can fill out forms instantly and accurately every time, eliminating the pain of long forms forever.

4. Other extras cost too much or were a surprise

Different studies combine these factors in different ways, so we’ve got a conservative estimate that as many as 25% of shopping cart abandonments are related to unexpected costs — whether the customer thinks they’re too high or are surprised by them in the first place.

It’s like the first time you take your sweetheart to a fancy hotel for the weekend, only to discover that there’s a “resort fee” tacked on for who knows what reason.

Some purchases, like room rentals, can sneak up on us as we pay after the service is received. However, your ecommerce orders have to secure the full payment before something ships. So, your customers get to see and must agree to all fees before they click the final “buy.”

You can avoid this concern by fully disclosing costs from the outset. Thankfully, not only will this help you counter some cart abandonments, but you just might pick up a few extra sales because customers love ecommerce transparency.

5. Discount codes didn’t work

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How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is all about deception. The majority of our characters interact with each other trying to further hidden agendas for personal gain. To the viewer, the most egregious of these sins are the main characters who start their dates under false pretenses.

Arriving to an ecommerce store only to discover that the code from the ad, email, or other marketing doesn’t work is the same kind of deception. And, it’ll annoy a sizable portion of your audience that visits based on the deal.

So, don’t run promos you won’t honor. Plus, always check your campaigns to ensure that your offer works. As an added bonus, there’s potential to grab additional customers who are coupon hunters. About 8% of U.S. adult online shoppers have abandoned carts when they couldn’t find a coupon.

6. Shipping takes too long or is too expensive

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10 days is a short timeframe to get someone to date you and then break up with you. However, it feels like eternity to wait for your online purchase. The Amazon epidemic has caused customers all over (even in the B2B world) to expect two-day shipping.

Solving this problem is all about your warehouse. If you’re struggling to meet these turnaround times, it’s probably time to look for a partner. Ask for significant coverage of the U.S. and their costs, both of which depend on the location of the fulfillment warehouses they run. We’re bicoastal to help our customers achieve this, but you might need a different setup and set of options to reach your customers.

The same is true if your shipping costs are too high. Our research shows these problems together impact more than 50% of your potential audience, but they can both be solved by having a better relationship with your warehouse and carriers or securing a third-party fulfillment company to help.

If you’re struggling to find them, or aren’t sure what questions to ask to get products to your customers fast enough, check out our list of the best fulfillment service companies of 2019 to get some ideas.

7. Entering information multiple times

If you’re on a date and have to repeat yourself, it feels like the other person isn’t paying attention and isn’t interested. Why would you spend one more second of your time with them? (And looking like Kate Hudson or Matthew McConaughey is only going to get you so far.)

If you want to lose a customer in 10 seconds, make them keep filling out the same forms. Over and over again. It sounds about as great as dental work.

If you still need convincing, here’s the same issue from a different angle. The Baymard Institute has done research showing that the checkout process only needs about 12 to 14 elements, just 8 of which are form fields. Unfortunately, the average U.S. flow has nearly 24. Cut where you can so that the customer isn’t too bored or frustrated to buy.

Fillr has a tool specifically designed to help you tackle this challenge, and it can help you avoid the 23% of people who flee when the forms are too complex or require multiple fill-ins of the same info. Plus, it’s mobile-friendly, so you tackle our #2 as well. Think of it’s intelligent autofill and guest checkout tools as a way to build the perfect express checkout where customers avoid data entry busywork.

8. Return policy unclear or unsatisfactory

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Roughly two-thirds of your audience wants a return policy and they’re willing to spend more if you have one that they feel is generous. At the same time, they’ll balk if your policy stinks and is either too stringent or hard to use. Avoid policies that have too many restrictions based on time and those that charge significantly for return shipping.

If your policy is bad, you may get one sell but then the negative experience will likely stop that customer from buying again. They may even tell their friends not to buy from you.

We know what we said in the first item, but like any good movie character we’re going to contradict ourselves when the time is right. The way you handle returns is your “chase her taxi and stop it to explain yourself” moment, where you can win back the customer’s love, or at least their next purchase.

9. Site isn’t trustworthy with credit card information

There’s plenty of scammers out there, and most of us know them when we see them. Sometimes, your customers will be like our main characters and think they can outsmart the other untrustworthy suspect. Other times, they’ll avoid getting tangled up in that mess altogether.

Roughly 17% of U.S. adults have stopped an online purchase because they didn’t trust the merchant. That’s a significant amount of harm just because someone didn’t take the time to be upfront and honest. You can counter this easily by using verified checkout processes, accepting major credit cards and other payment forms, keeping your policies clear, and allowing customers to ask questions.

10. The whole checkout process is a mess

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One Hollywood trope that shows up somewhat in How to Lose A Guy in Ten Days as well as classics like She’s All That, Mean Girls, and Funny Face, is that people are willing to take time to transform someone into what they want.

It usually doesn’t work out well for anyone involved.

In the real world, however, no one is going to give your online store that much time or commitment. When things are a wreck, they’ll avoid you and find a different site or seller. There’s no roving gang of popular kids out to make your site better or helpful neighbor to see if there’s a jewel hiding under 1990s graphics and slow checkout processes.

So, it’s up to you to fix things and be ready for customers as soon as they arrive. The good news is that making changes to improve ourselves is usually a moral of films like these, so it all comes full circle. Good luck on that Hollywood ending.


Fillr has developed ‘Autofill as a Service’, the world’s most intelligent and accurate autofill that seamlessly integrates into your app.
Contact us today to find out how our technology can help your customers to transact faster and more effectively across millions of merchants sites, boosting your conversions and revenue. Fillr is powering transactions on the world's top ecommerce and meta search apps, software platforms and phone manufacturers.


Guest post by Jake Rheude, Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.