The Startup
Published in

The Startup

This Is What Drives Your Customers Away At Checkout

The checkout stage is the most important part of the customer journey from a merchant’s perspective, as it is the stage where money changes hands. Data indicates that 70% of carts are abandoned. Of the 30% left, half of them are abandoned at the checkout stage. This means that the majority of users who might be interested in your products, leave without spending one penny.

Consider for a moment that you ran a physical store. Every day you would see people picking up your products, putting them into their shopping bags, walking up to the cashier, and then they would just leave. What would you do?

The fact is that your marketing dollars go to waste if you fail to convert traffic into revenue at an efficient rate.

In the section below, we will list some of the most common mistakes eCommerce businesses make, that directly affect the conversion rates of their websites. Check your stuff and make sure you stay away from damaging elements like these.

Cost Surprises

Customers love a good surprise but not those that involve them having to pay more money for their order — they demand transparency. One really annoying factor is surprising customers with unexpected costs at checkout. An unexpected shipping cost is one that comes up time and time again.

You can avoid frustrating your potential buyers by informing them of the shipping costs before they get to the checkout by using some of these elements:

1. Provide a functionality which allows users to enter their post code on all product pages, which then displays the shipping cost for that product.

2. Avoid allowing users to proceed through the cart and into the checkout without first entering a post code. After they have entered their post code on a product page they should see that information pre-populated into the cart page.

3. Provide Free Shipping, for everyone, everywhere. If not feasible, provide flat rate shipping for everyone, everywhere. Your focus should be on making shipping as easy and as cheap as possible for all users. Data compiled by the Baymard Institute indicates that users are 60% likely to abandon a purchase if they are NOT offered free shipping.

Most ecommerce platforms have this option, as you can see here in Magento:

Shipping costs are significant for anyone in eCommerce, however they do not need to be a drain on the business. Use shipping as a marketing tool. Offer free shipping once a cart hits a certain amount, or during special promotional periods.

If you’re using Shopify, you will see you have a very handy feature in the shipping menu:

Find this option in Settings -> Shipping -> Shipping zones

Basically, anything you can do which ensures that the user knows exactly how much they need to pay before they get to the checkout will decrease friction, increase transparency, improve the user experience, reduce frustration and lead to an overall increase in conversions.

Discount Codes

Discount codes can be a major distraction to customers during the checkout stage. Think about it. The customer has their money in hand ready to complete the transaction. So, what do we do? We put a sign up right in front of them saying “YOU CAN GET THIS CHEAPER IF YOU HAD A CODE”. Naturally, users will now spend some time investigating how to attain of those coupon codes. At best they complete the transaction at a lower margin, but at worst they get distracted and abandon the transaction altogether.

Of course, we want users who are in possession of a code to be able to use them, so we must find a balance of not frustrating those customers, while at the same time not advertising the fact that these codes may exist to other users.

Some ways of achieving this are:

1. Do not have a discount code field at checkout. Restrict the field at the cart stage.

2. Reduce the size of the field.

3. Position the field in a way so that users looking for it can easily find it, while users who don’t have one are not overwhelmed by its presence.

4. This position should also achieve an outcome which doesn’t confuse or frustrate customers with an existing code.

5. Hide the field under a link which requires an extra step for users to engage with it.

There is a fine line here that we all must tread for obvious reasons, however there are certainly ways to achieve good outcomes for both sets of users in this scenario.

No Guest Checkout

Forcing users to sign up for an account adds friction to the process, which ultimately results in some users abandoning. First time users especially may be uncomfortable with signing up for an account. Consumers value their personal information and email address when transacting online.

Ultimately users want the choice. Providing the option for a guest checkout has been shown to increase the conversion rate, and as a result we see this functionality embedded in most checkouts today. You can, however, ask for their email address to keep them informed about their order — this way you can run cart abandonment campaigns as you have their email address. See this example, at Walmart:

Allow users to choose on the first step of the checkout

No Trust Symbols

Generally, users consider if they wish to transact with your website right before they hand over their money. It is at this point in the process when users start to ask themselves questions revolving around “Do I Trust this company?”. It is at this point where we should be providing the users with information that answers this question. Some ways to do this include:

1. If you are owned and operate in the country where you are selling then say so. Consumers want to support local businesses but they also feel comfortable buying from someone they can pick up the phone and talk to, or jump in the car and visit.

2. Social proof is important. If you use an independent third party to review your products and company then provide a link to those reviews. If previous customers have reviewed your business through a trusted 3rd party such as Google, then potential customers want to see that. Social proof is one of the strongest conversion tools we have at our disposal as merchants, and if you have a good history then you should be advertising it.

3. Secure Sockets Layer Certificate (SSL) display. A SSL certificate signals to the user that your site utilizes standard security technology that establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that data passed between these 2 points remain private.

4. Information about your payment gateway. Users want to see that all the data they enter your website is safe and secure. Reassuring users that their payment information is safe and secure is of the utmost importance.

5. Returns Information. If you provide free returns, then say so. This gives users an added layer of confidence, so that if something goes wrong, they have recourse.

Long Checkout Process

The quest to provide a checkout experience which is as seamless as possible is never ending. Amazon pioneered this concept many years ago by patenting their “one-click” checkout option which basically enables logged in users to checkout in exactly one click. This user experience is what we should all strive for. Below are some of the things we can do to reduce friction and increase checkout speed:

1. Do not ask for information that you don’t need. For example, if you do not intent to send the user a birthday gift, or engage in customer segmentation via a robust CRM strategy, then why are you asking for a date of birth? Do you really need to know what their hobbies are? Naturally data is important, however there needs to be a balance between what we ask for and what we need.

2. Consider a 1-page checkout solution. Data is inconclusive as to if a 1-page checkout converts better than a multi-step checkout, however if you are a small business and do not have the resources to test every aspect of your checkout extensive, then moving to a 1-page checkout can be a quick and easy way to eliminate as much friction as possible.

3. Make it as easy as possible for users to retrieve their login details for your site, with the aim of using their saved information to pre-populate the checkout fields and get them through it as quickly as possible.

4. Provide social login options. Allowing users to login using PayPal, Google or Facebook cuts down the checkout process significantly as most of the fields become pre-populated.

Probably the most comprehensive report out there is the one performed by Baymard Institute. An extract from it shows that a long, complicated checkout process caused 27% of abandonment — the third cause as importance so it is not to be neglected.

source: Baymard Institute:


We are all consumers, so ultimately making improvements that lead to higher conversions should be a common-sense exercise. Next time you are buying something online write down what frustrates you on a site, then go back to your own site and see if you are doing some of the same things. Ultimately the outcomes we are seeking here are:

· Reduce friction

· Reduce frustration

· Increase user experience

· Increase transparency

Any work which is completed with the above outcomes in mind, will lead to a higher conversion rate and ultimately more revenue. If you want someone else to handle this for you, you can just contact us for a free, no-obligation page evaluation to find out how we can help you reach your business goals.

Just drop an email at or hit the free evaluation button on our homepage and we will get back to you in less than 24 hours.

This story is published in The Startup, where 259,700+ people come together to read Medium’s leading stories on entrepreneurship.

Subscribe to receive our top stories here.




Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +756K followers.

Recommended from Medium

It’s About Partnership

Get more clients during events by doing this to your name tag — for small business owners…


Star (rating) Wars: Battling for truth in the world of reviews

The start-up diaries volume 3: The edge of the circle

Marketer’s Life | What did I learn today? 2/365

Marketer’s Life | What did I learn today? 2/365

Does Covid signal the end for the hospitality brand assembly line?

Instant gratification is a lie. Here’s what makes content creation successful

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Andra Baragan

Andra Baragan

Founder @ Ontrack Digital — Ecommerce conversion optimization consultant

More from Medium

How to Use Google Ads for Your Product Launch

The Creative Marketing Ideas Series: Storia Romania: The Creative Process of Inventing a New Word

How to Lower Customer Churn Rate in SaaS (Software-as-a-service) Businesses

CV Branding: Building an Irresistible Brand