3 Steps to Reduce Mobile Checkout Friction

Consumers who open email on mobile devices – now about one-third of mobile opens – are less likely to click than those who open on a desktop. Low expectations of, and poor experiences with mobile site usability are to blame. Usability, Jakob Nielsen tells us, is “life or death” for low-commitment mobile experiences.

Usability is particularly important at the point of conversion. The customer has made a decision to purchase/download/register. Now the fun begins, particularly for those with touchscreens, which ABI predicts will be on 97 percent of smartphones by 2016.As more text entry is required, more friction is created in the checkout process. To eliminate friction and ensure a quicker, easier mobile checkout, drive to account creation.

One day, we hope that all our critical information is stored securely and available on any device, but we’re not there yet. In the meantime, encourage customers to provide their address, payment, and contact preferences upfront for easy retrieval at checkout.

Here are three steps to capture customer data across channels.

  1. Give a reason to provide profile information. Starbucks’ card registration is a good example.


    Starbucks provides compelling reasons to register and then repeats them if there is a required field that is not completed, i.e., you see them again when you get an error message.

    Starbucks understands the Nielsen dictum “killing time is the killer app” as it encourages registration on phones while users are waiting for their lattes via store signage. The mobile form is very user-friendly, with small amounts of information on each page and lots of white space. Starbucks fails, however, when requiring a password with six to 15 characters, one uppercase, one lower case, and a digit. Seriously, Starbucks, for my coffee card? You know I’m typing on a touchscreen, right?

  2. Provide an incentive. CVS provides a world-class example of cross-capture and cross-promotion. It currently offers double rewards in exchange for your email address, rewards number, and name. A compelling call-to-action, “See Your Savings and Rewards,” prompts users to create an account as a next step, with the benefits of doing so provided. In the rewards section, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are promoted, and they, in turn, drive to the double rewards promotion. Brilliant!

    There are many other incentive options: discounts, free shipping, gift with purchase, charitable donation, loyalty points. Compelling benefits plus an incentive are an attractive combination.

  3. Make it easy. Remember the touchscreen user. I’m a big fan of log-in with Facebook, as long as it is done well. Show the data that will be captured, as American Apparel does on its Facebook email subscription form. But stop short of asking for friends’ information. I’m happy to supply my basic data but don’t need to hand over that of others.

    As Christian Holst reported in Smashing Magazine’s “The State of E-Commerce Checkout Design 2012,” “The average top 100 checkouts violate 33% of the checkout usability guidelines” and “50% asks for the same information twice.” It’s not easy and it’s not sexy, but improving checkout, particularly for mobile users, is critical.

    Log-in should be simple as well. Why does my bank only need a password, while many retailers require me to remember a username and which email address I used to create an account?

To reduce friction at checkout, cross-promote and cross-capture. Capture information and promote account creation across channels. Promote email subscription on your Facebook tabs, drive to account promotions via Twitter, and encourage account creation for mobile users killing time. Because more information = less friction, and less friction = more conversions.

Mobile checkout image on home page via Shutterstock.

Related reading