Martin Abrahams Team : Web Development Tags : e-commerce

Don't scare your customers away at the checkout

Martin Abrahams Team : Web Development Tags : e-commerce

We are well and truly spoilt for choice when buying online, whatever it is your looking for there are hundreds of stores all over the world fighting for your business. It's not always about who's got the best price, just as with bricks and motar retailers people are prepared to pay a little more for convenience or better buying experience.

From my experience what separates the stores apart is their checkout process, most importantly the shipping aspect of it. The stores that get my business are able to give me a shipping price without forcing me to sign up for an account or worse yet except me hand over my payment details before being given a total price. I've even completed checkouts online where they take my details and attempt to contact me afterwards with a shipping price, or worse yet you get asked to sign into your PayPal account without any explanation. This is extremely behind the times and I'll simply look elsewhere if I get even a hint of uncertainty from the checkout process.

The other aspect of shipping is the rates. Rates are usually negotiated with the stores based on volume, so obviously the smaller online stores may be forced to have higher rates than the big players, this is a fact of life and virtually out of the control of the online store. However all too often the shipping price you are given is a generic price based on only a couple of parameters, instead of the store giving you a real price based on the particulars of your item and your exact shipping destination. For example once I was given a shipping price of $70 USD for something that would fit inside a standard mail envelope.

Here's some simple do's and don'ts of checkout processes


- Provide a shipping quote facility at the shopping cart level

- Provide estimated delivery times along with shipping prices

- Offer multiple shipping classes where possible

- Make it clear to the customer how many steps are involved in the checkout process and what they are

 - Make it clear at which point the payment will be taken (the actual transaction)

- Use your shipping provider's API to obtain a real-time quote based on weight, parcel size and destination postcode

- Provide the user with a parcel tracking number

- Provide information for international buyers

- Provide a guest checkout


- Force a user to register for an account to obtain a shipping price

- Ask the user for payment details before the details of the order have been finalised