The state of e-commerce checkout design
Thanks to Christian Holst at Smashing Magazine for posting “The state of e-commerce checkout design 2012.” We here at mShopper have never seen such an in-depth and analytic review (e.g., lots of insightful numbers and charts) of one of the most important, and often overlooked, parts of an e-commerce website.
The usability of the checkout flow is vital to computer-based shoppers, but now imagine you are a mobile shopper, which means you typically are distracted, in a rush, sometimes bumping around on a bus or while walking, and have a more simple shopping use case in mind. Christian’s article focuses 99% of its attention on the non-mobile checkout, but we would challenge him and his team to perform the same analysis on the mobile sites of the top online retailers.
Let’s jump right to the end and share the bottom line from his analysis: For the top 100 grossing online retailers, the average one violates 33 usability guidelines for the checkout process. Yikes.
Here is a summary, but please read the article for yourself
- The average checkout process consist of 5.08 steps.
- 24% require account registration.
- 81% think their newsletter is a must have (opt-out or worse).
- 41% use address validators.
- 50% asks for the same information twice.
- The average top 100 checkouts violate 33% of the checkout usability guidelines.
The article also goes on to talk about why checkout flows are so unusable and often ignored when redesigns happen. His list is very insightful based on mShopper’s technology experience with retailers. It includes:
- Flows are much more difficult to improve than single pages.
- Checkouts often need deep, back-end integration, and thus require more IT capabilities to modify/test upon.
- Checkouts haven’t been on the agenda for top management (although, I believe this has changed a lot in recent years).
- Checkouts are for most designers much more dull to work on than product pages, home pages or new ad-campaigns.
- In a few cases, a poor user experience can still be good for business, at least in the short run (e.g. sneaking people into your newsletter).
- No Web convention for a checkout process exists.
- “Best practice” for checkout designs are scattered and scarce (only two to three research-based resources exist).
- Feedback from those who use the checkout process are only several degrees of separation from those who design and develop it.
- Improving most somewhat-optimized/decent checkouts aren’t 1 to 3 “big fixes”, but are most likely to be 10 to 30 smaller checkout changes.