Stripping Is Good For Ecommerce

No, not that kind of stripping. I’m talking about taking out everything that is not essential to completing the sale on your checkout page.

You should always be asking yourself:

What else can I remove to make the checkout process more streamlined?

(or for you LOST fans, think of the scene where the helicopter was running out of fuel and they threw everything overboard that wasn’t essential [including Sawyer].)

Image Captcha – Deep Six it!

I’m referring to the tricky little image that people have to type the letters / numbers displayed to prove they are a human (ShopSite calls this the “Human Validation Image”).

I call this the "Lose a Sale" image

Unless you have a very serious problem with automated bots submitting tons of fake orders in your store, you should *NEVER* use an image captcha on your checkout page. These things are quite annoying to most people, and can be hard to get right.

Have a fraud problem? There are better methods to deal with fraud, such as blocking the offending IP or an entire country if you do not sell to them (our Fraud Deterrent Module for ShopSite works well). Monitoring your declined attempts and selectively blocking IPs also works (we offer a Declined Credit Card Module for ShopSite to help with this).

Agree to terms checkbox – Do you really need it?

I can think of 3 major reasons why you would need to force a customer to click a checkbox agreeing to your terms and conditions before being able to complete a sale:

  • 1. You have a contract for a service you offer.
    If you are selling a service and there is a standard contract they would fall under, then this would likely be a good reason to have this requirement.
  • 2. You sell a recurring product / service
    If the customer is buying something that will be billed on a regular basis, this might be a necessary evil.
  • 3. Your lawyer told you you need it
    It’s probably a good idea to listen to your legal counsel if they tell you something.

If you’re just adding this checkbox because you think it’s a good idea or because you see other sites doing this, you may want to re-evaluate this choice. It’s another stumbling block that you should avoid if possible.

Asking extra questions – You better have a good reason

Where did you hear about us?

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Salutation:, prefix:, middle name:, postfix: fields

Not sure if you should be asking for extra information on checkout? Here’s my litmus test:

If you are not going to take explicit action based on the response given by the customer (and I mean actually using the data provided for a meaningful purpose), then do not include the question / field on your checkout page.

It’s that simple.

Don’t go overboard with axing options

Too much of a good thing is not always the best option. In your zeal to make your checkout process as streamlined as possible, you can go too far. Remember these 3 ideas when it comes to your cart / checkout:

  • 1. You still need a nice flow
    The flow and overall experience still needs to be pleasant. Lightweight? Yes. Easy to read / follow? Yes. But don’t make it a barren wasteland.
  • 2. Your name / logo and contact info should be present
    Make sure at the very minimum it’s still easy for the customer to know they are on your site, and there are obvious ways to contact you if there is a problem.
  • 3. Colors / Theme should be similar
    The cart / checkout should not look like an alien site when the customer ends up there. It shouldn’t be cluttered and full of additional links, but the “feel” of the pages should be similar to your main website.

The ultimate goal is to strike a perfect balance between paring down the checkout to the bare minimum needed to complete the sale while maintaining a pleasant and logical flow to the entire process.

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4 Comments

  1. Jane says:

    Totally agree with deep-sixing the image captcha – they’re totally illegible half the time and for a frustrated customer, the easiest choice is “never mind!”

  2. Bob Harvey says:

    Couldn’t agree more about the Captcha. They’ve always been annoying, but they’re getting harder to read. I’ve taken three or four tries to get some of them right. Hate it!!

  3. MIke Asus says:

    I definately agree with you Jane. Whenever I want to buy something and that stupid image captcha pops up I have to look closely and sometimes when I type it out it denies me because i read the wrong letters/numbers. But I guess it’s the safest thing they can think of for consumers.

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