Boots: the worst checkout process on the web?

The checkout user experience matters a lot. While retailers seem to have ironed out many of the major conversion killers over the years, there’s often plenty of room for improvement.

If customers have reached this stage, the job of the checkout process is to move them through address and payment entry with as little friction as possible.

A well-designed checkout should achieve this and minimise checkout abandonment by giving shoppers a smooth ride.

Here, I’ve looked in detail at the Boots checkout process, using Superdrug to compare and contrast.

Basket / cart pages

This is the connecting page between product and checkout, so it needs to perform a number of functions:

  • Confirming the contents of the basket and the total cost.
  • Answering questions customers have before they progress to checkout.
  • Increasing basket value with relevant cross-selling.
  • An opportunity to modify the contents of shopping bags.

Here’s the Boots shopping basket page. It’s fairly big so I’ve taken two shots of it.

Above the fold:

Basket page boots

And below the fold:

Boots basket page 2

And the Superdrug version:

superdrug basket page

Notes:

  • The Boots page doesn’t immediately look like a basket page. The top navigation options and search box remain, making it harder to distinguish this page.
  • The Boots page is very cluttered. There’s a lot of text on that page, much of it relatively small. So, while key questions are answered, users have to work harder than they should.
  • Boots CTA confusion. There are six button-like CTAs on the page, and four of them occur before the actual checkout button. How many times do users click the wrong one?
  • Checkout button confusion. The checkout with points / checkout button is confusing. The points Advantage card points, which you can use to pay for items if you have enough. If you have one, you know this, if not, these options are confusing.boots checkout button
  • The whole points thing. It seems to me that Boots’ desire to promote Advantage points is detracting from usability. Also, if promoting new sign ups to the card is the aim, why not actually explain what they are and why they’re a good thing? Instead, it tells me I’ll get zero points, and does nothing to explain the advantages.boots points
  • By contrast, Superdrug’s basket page is a model of minimalism. I can see product, price, adjust contents, and there’s a big button to checkout. Simple.

Registration

Yes, registration. Ok, many studies may have made the point (and convincingly too) that asking customers to register before checkout is a barrier to conversion. And most sites now tend to offer guest checkout as an alternative option.

The chart below shows some of the major reasons for checkout abandonment. Creating an account (registering) is second here.

/IMG/198/335198/reasons-for-cart-abandonment

Not Boots though.

Boots checkout registration

By contrast, Superdrug takes a more laid back approach. Register or sign in if you want to, or checkout as a guest if that’s too much trouble.

superdrug guest checkout

It gets worse though. This is the page I get after entering my email to register.

boots reg

Check out the password rules. Yes, it’s good for your customers to have secure passwords, but those rules are almost guaranteed to produce a password that people will find it hard to remember.

Bizarrely, I’m then placed back onto a slightly different version of the basket page. What would users think of this? In my case I’m wondering whether something has gone wrong, which probably isn’t the reaction Boots is aiming for.

Boots second basket page

Note that I now have potential advantage points. I have to register to find this out. Why?

Then we also have an email box. If I decide, there and then, that I absolutely must sign up for Boots’ emails before I checkout, I’m taken away from the process altogether.

I’m beginning to think Boots has never tested its checkout process….

Checkout process: delivery options

The next step on Boots is to select delivery options.

boots delivery

We have to do this on Superdrug too, though we’re straight onto payment after this.

superdrug delivery

On Boots though, there’s another delivery page where I need to choose my delivery options and confirm them.

boots delivery 2

Notes:

  • Too many clicks. Since I could easily select my delivery speed on the first page, the second one seems completely unnecessary. It’s just more clicks for the user and more opportunity for them to bail out.
  • Distractions. The checkout, like the basket page, has not been enclosed, so users can easily click one of the links at the top and leave the checkout. By contrast, Superdrug has removed the standard navigational links which allows users to concentrate on completing their order.
  • What is it with the email box? It’s at the foot of every page during checkout. It takes people out of checkout and yet could easily be incorporated into the process. I’ve entered my email address to register. A simple check box or similar could ask me if I want marketing emails.

Checkout process: payment

I entered my address when registering and selecting delivery options. However, I’m now asked for a billing address.

Almost every ecommerce site on the web has a tick box or similar which allows shoppers to use their delivery address as the billing address. It’s simple, it saves users from entering their details twice. There isn’t such an option here.

Boots checkout form

So, I have to select my address for the second time, before entering my name and choosing a name for this address as well.

I then need to select payment type, then card type. Of course, more forward thinking sites could detect card type as users enter the first few digits, but I’d be foolish to expect that from this site.

boots payment

By the way, the Superdrug process works reasonably well. It isn’t without faults but I can get through to the payment page without too much effort.

superdrug payment

In summary

This article started out as a straight comparison between the two checkouts but, while I thought Superdrug would perform better in this area, I didn’t realise just how bad Boots could make a checkout process.

Here are just some of the issues:

  • Confusing calls to action.
  • Making users register before checkout.
  • Failing to enclose the checkout process.
  • Strict password rules.
  • Sending users back to the basket page after registration.
  • Too many pages.
  • Making users enter billing and delivery addresses (even if they’re the same).
  • Distractions – email sign up boxes and Advantage points.

Boots is a long established retailer, and it’s rare to find such a poorly designed checkout process which contains so many obvious barriers to conversion from such a business.

UX, user testing A/B testing etc may have been strange concepts to some 10 years ago, but now it’s bizarre to see a (major) retailer who doesn’t seem to have used any of these methods. Or at least applied the lessons.

There is so much wrong with this process that Boots does actually have an opportunity to significantly increase conversions by applying some basic ecommerce best practice.

Is it the worst checkout process? I’m sure there must be worse checkouts, but I’ve yet to see one from an established retailer. All suggestions welcome… 

For more information on  Ecommerce Checkout Best Practice Guide (and how to avoid the mistakes that Boots makes), as well as guides on mobile commerce, customer experience, and social customer service, head to ClickZ Intelligence

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