#ClickZChat: What makes a great ecommerce checkout process?

As you’ve no doubt heard, we recently released the new ClickZ Intelligence Checkout Optimization Report, so this week I thought we’d tie in #ClickZChat and see what our Twitter followers had to say about ecommerce and conversion optimization.

Quite a bit as it turned out…

#ClickZChat is our weekly Twitter chat, taking place every Wednesday. We ask our followers three questions about a digital marketing topic. If you want to join in, then just follow us on Twitter, or check out the Hashtag.

Q1: Is there a ‘correct’ way to structure ecommerce checkouts?

Overall people felt that there was an existing logic to most checkout procedures, which should be followed.

In many cases the user will expect certain elements to be present, but there is always room for innovation:

Ultimately checkout should be all about serving the customer the elements they need to complete a conversion, with a problem-solving mindset behind the design:

Amelia from Yointic suggested that ideally checkout should be limited to one page (which does tie in with functionality like Amazon’s one-click ordering), in order to improve speed and overall UX:

This caused some consternation. While most of our followers felt that faster was indeed better, the one-page checkout may not always be possible, particularly if you are selling complex products with a reasonably high price point. For simpler products such as gifts or ‘impulse buys’ however, shortening the process can work wonders.


Q2: What annoys you most about existing checkout processes?

Asyou ma have guessed, this question proved popular. We all have our particular bugbears online, and being forced to do something else when we are actively trying to give someone our money is extremely high on the list. In no particular order, here are the top issues:

1: Forms that make it hard to proceed:

2: Hidden pricing information:

3: Pointless data requirements:

4: Forcing the user to login or register:

5: Making the user do anything twice:

Almost all of these issues can be resolved with some forethought when designing forms. Users need to see clear pricing information upfront, and not be forced to remember or create complicated passwords when they simply want to pay.

In many cases, a message at the end of checkout offering to save information for the future is a far superior experience.


Many users also agreed that interrupting the user experience in order to gather data (which most users are savvy enough to know you want for remarketing) is a pointless and frustrating exercise that should be avoided.

Q3: Which sites have the best (and worst) checkout experience?

Finally, time for some examples. Which sites are exceeding expectations (and why can’t all sites be that good)? 

In the ‘good’ camp, takeout food sites gained a number of recommendations:

But grocery sites often struggled with user experience:

Boots were mentioned as a site that desperately needs to improve:

While we enjoyed Superbalist’s attention to a clean, simple checkout process that fitted with the site’s overall experience.

But one ecommerce site did tend to crop up again and again. There’s probably a reason why they are the biggest…

Overall it seems the ‘rules’ for checkout are simple: tell the customer everything they need to know upfront, and don’t be tempted to interrupt the process to cross-sell or gather data.

If you have any other examples of best (or worst) practice, then do let us know in the comments. 
If you’d like to know more about checkout optimization, then check out our latest ClickZ Intelligence Report.

Related reading