Last year a study by Roy Morgan showed that Australians spent an estimated $37.8 billion on the internet during the 2015 financial year. On average 4 in 10 of us will buy at least one product online each month.
The checkout process will either make or break an online business so let’s take a look at how two of Australia’s major retailers do it, gloves off, The Iconic vs. David Jones.
With different studies showing that cart abandonment rates can be as high as 80%. we need to really consider what is causing customers to ditch at the last minute. Take note that 7 of the 10 reasons for cart abandonment below are within the checkout process.
What does a good checkout look like? Let’s look at two different online retailers, one that has a streamlined and one that’s stuck in the past.
You need to remember that The Iconic is solely an online business. Unlike David Jones, it doesn’t exist as a bricks and mortar store. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that their digital strategy is solid, let’s take a look.
Step 1: Add Item to Cart
There’s nothing special about this step. I mean who could get an ‘Add to Bag’ button wrong? But there is one important thing The Iconic have done right here! Notice the two call to actions in the image below? How couldn’t you they are big, bright blue buttons! Simple yes, but highly effective. The Iconic have kept their web design simple and chic which really resonates with their brand. By opting for contrasting CTA buttons they are sure to clearly direct the shopper to where they want them.
Step 2: The Sign-Up
One defining feature of The Iconic’s checkout process is they won’t let you checkout as a guest, you have to sign up. Now I’ll admit this could be annoying for some shoppers. In fact, 35% of cart abandonment is due to the customer being forced into making an account. Sometimes you just want to buy something and be left alone, not forced to give your data only to be spammed with promotional content.
Why would they do this? Well, there are many reasons. The first is pretty obvious, they want to grow their mailing list. But it’s the other data they collect that is arguably more valuable for them. By creating an account you allow them to track your shopping habits. Once they get an idea of your preferred styles, gender, size and price range they can use this information to create an automated and highly targeted shopping experience for you.
Step 3: Payment and Shipping
This is the step that many retailer’s manage to butcher. The Iconic on the other hand manages to do a pretty good job of it. The first thing I noticed when I got to this page was that all the information was right there above the fold, NO SCROLLING YAY! It may seem trivial but by putting the form across two columns the process becomes so much easier.
Another big bonus of this section is the multiple payment options. Remember: 8% of shoppers abandon due to not enough payment options, so the more options you can offer, the better!
And hey presto you’ve done it! Before you know it you have made a purchase and spent that money you were meant to be saving, whoops! One thing that The Iconic’s website proves is that simplicity and speed is everything. By including the absolute minimum number of pages and form elements the checkout process is so fast you don’t even have time to feel guilty about that pair of jeans you totally didn’t need but hey they were on sale so it’s ok, right?
Total pages: 3
Total form elements: 13
Total clicks from ‘Add to bag’ to ‘Place Order’: 5
Let’s look at how David Jones compares.
Step 1: Add to Bag
Step one is very similar to The Iconic. Simple, clean design with a CTA button you would see from a mile away. I can’t go past a great CTA button!
Step 2: Cart preview
This step gives you a preview of your cart and allows you to remove any items you no longer want, before choosing to check out (again). Although I believe this step is important, especially for people like me who add 10 things to my cart before looking at the total cost and having a heart attack, it could be simplified/combined with another step.
Think about skydiving, if somebody asks you right now if you would do it chances are you would say yes. But if they were to keep you hanging out the side of a plane for an hour chances are you’re not going to be as keen. Now I’m not saying we should just push customers out of the plane, forcing them into purchases they don’t want to make. But the longer and more tiresome the experience is the less likely they will want to finish it or ever do it again. Shopping should be fun, not hard work.
Remember the more unnecessary steps you have prior to purchase the greater the chance of cart abandonment!
Step 3: The Sign-Up
Unlike The Iconic, David Jones allows you to checkout as a guest or sign in as a returning customer. This is a big plus for me! I chose to checkout as a guest to see how much faster it made the process.
Step 4: Delivery
Am I shopping or completing a written exam? Of course, if you were already a member all of this information would be saved, but the fact that I need to continue to scroll to fill out the delivery section seems a little tedious to me (first world problems).
On the scale of things, it seems pretty unimportant but even small things such as suburb postcode recognition or combining the fields of ‘First’ and ‘Last’ name will make a huge difference. The Iconic manages to only have 6 form elements in the delivery section, David Jones has 9!
Step 5: Delivery Cont.
Yep, we are still at the delivery stage. Remind me again why these options couldn’t be somehow included in the essay above? I will point out one positive however which is the estimated delivery date that now appears in the order summary. 16% of people will abandon the cart because delivery was too slow so I like that they are being honest and upfront here. Another positive (included in both) is the order total. Being upfront about calculated costs and shipping is very important because nobody likes that surprise after they have already completed a lengthy checkout process.
Step 6: Payment
YAY! We have finally made it to the end! What year are we in? Has my hair turned grey?
That took forever but once again there is a good range of payment options, sans AfterPay, but still a big thumbs up!
David Jones are too focussed on providing the customer with 100 different checkout options that they have lost touch with what we really want, efficiency. Customers want flexibility, but this can be provided without forcing them through a lengthy process.
Total pages: 6
Total form elements: 17
Total clicks before purchase confirmation: 11
Undoubtedly, The Iconic has a far better checkout process than David Jones. And trust me when I say it doesn’t take much to have a good checkout process, it actually takes less. Yep! The fewer steps, form fields and pages you include the better. Yes, it’s important to deliver options and flexibility but you can do this without making your process a marathon.
Keep it short: the checkout process can be done is 3 steps, The Iconic is an example of this. You gain very little by lengthening it.
Keep it simple: we all love beautiful web design, but it should never overpower the product or user-experience. The more simplistic your design is and the more ‘in your face’ the CTA buttons are, the better.
Keep it easy: not only should the experience be short and simple it should be easy! Time yourself completing your checkout process if it takes over 1 minute and a half then it’s too long. The more hurdles your customers have to overcome before they reach the finish line the more likely they are to abandon the purchase.
Alita Harvey-Rodriguez is known as one of Australia's leading digital marketing futurists and the brains behind Milk It Academy – A research-based training firm to advance marketers skills into new school digital leaders and company innovators. For over a decade Alita has worked with global brands including SAP, Experian, SEMrush, TS14+, Estee Lauder, Myer, Power Retail, & Online Retailer.