Q&A: Coast’s Emma Bonar on checkout optimisation

Emma Bonar is Head of Digital at Coast Stores, and has worked in fashion retail ecommerce for several years. 

She was one of the expert contributors to our new Ecommerce Checkout Best Practice Guide, part of our ClickZ Intelligence research.

I’ve been asking Emma about how checkout design has changed over the past few years…

How has checkout best practice evolved over the past ten years?

New payment methods that simplify the process (virtual wallets like Paypal, then mobile payment options like Apple Pay) and the ability to save payment details for repeat purchases have significantly improved the path to purchase.

What are the biggest challenges in checkout optimisation?

Payment methods vary significantly in different countries, as do address formats and even name formatting. Getting this wrong will deter most international customers.

ecommerce payment options Europe

Data protection is also a big issue, and you have to have security nailed – if you make a mistake and customer details are compromised it will be very difficult to regain their trust.

Are there still obvious mistakes that retailers are making during checkout?

Any links that take the customer out of the path to purchase (for example not stripping out your website navigation in checkout).

What are the quickest wins in checkout optimisation?

Simplify login – social login, guest checkout etc. Make it as easy as possible. Single page checkout (so you can see all the steps on one page).

Have you seen much innovation in checkout design, or is this an area where departing from the norm is risky?

Absolutely. Departing form the norm is a risk. Validating the form in real time as the customer works through it was an innovation that has proved really helpful.

inline validation

Stats in the checkout report show abandonment rates on the increase – why do you think this is?

More competition online, it’s not necessarily related to the checkout process, but simply the increase in competition online. Also the switch to mobile – if you don’t have a checkout that is optimised for mobile then you’re making life very difficult for potential customers.

What can firms do to the checkout process to attract more repeat business? How do you balance this with the need for smooth transactions?

Obviously newsletter login, but trigger emails that follow up with the opportunity to upsell are also effective.

A lot of sites use one-page checkouts, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach?

One page checkouts appear less threatening, and have the advantage of allowing the customer to go back and correct information without having to start again.

one page checkout

How you you approach checkout optimisation? What has worked for you?

I monitor the checkout funnel on a weekly basis to identify anomalies, but the most effective method is to conduct user testing where you simply watch customers attempt to check out in anger.

It’s easy to miss the pain points when you know the process too well.

For more information on our Checkout Best Practice Guide, as well as guides on mobile commerce, customer experience, and social customer service, head to ClickZ Intelligence

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