As more consumers browse and buy online, retailers are designing their checkout processes to be more user-friendly. When checkout pages are not optimized, consumers can get frustrated and leave the site before the transaction is completed.
During a recent webinar, titled: Do Accordion-Style Checkouts Work?, Jon Powell, Sr. Manager of Research and Strategy at MECLABS, discussed the characteristics of several “accordion-style” checkouts — systems designed to help consumers focus on one portion of the checkout process at a time. As users progress down a page, they only see a summary of the actions completed along with the next immediate step. Each step of the checkout can be expanded or contracted with a click.
Powell emphasized the importance of checkout optimization and the role it plays in keeping customers engaged: “Imagine living a single day without your checkout line, or even two hours, three hours… It’s like companies not having enough bandwidth on Black Friday getting shut down and losing sales — you probably can’t imagine that. Changing the checkout process is no easy task, so you don’t want to go about it casually.”
To help define the most effective user experience, MECLABS conducted three experiments that compared the overall conversion rate of different checkout strategies and designs:
Experiment #1: The first experiment compared the original prompt (Checkout A) to a modified, accordion-style prompt (Checkout B). Checkout A was presented with each step listed on a separate page, while Checkout B combined the steps on a single page. All the steps in Checkout B expanded and contracted upon step completion.
At the conclusion of the experiment, Powell revealed, Checkout B had a 29.1% decrease in conversion rate from Checkout A.
- Experiment #1 pitted a linear, multiple-paged prompt (Checkout A) against a modified prompt (Checkout B) that consolidated all content on a single page;
- All steps in Checkout B expanded and contracted upon step completion; and
- At the conclusion of the experiment, Checkout B had a 29.1% decrease in conversion rate from Checkout A.
Experiment #2: For the second experiment, MECLABS tapped Checkout A again. But this time, Checkout B wasn’t consolidated. Instead, the prompt was modified to emphasize on savings, credibility and value proposition. For example, the company increased the size of the header font, removed unnecessary lines around text and changed the color of the checkout button.
With these small changes, Checkout B experienced a 23.6% increase in completed conversions. Powell suggested that the font changes and box removals minimized mental stops in the mind that might prevent some customers from moving forward with the checkout process.
- Checkout B wasn’t consolidated, but instead was modified to emphasize savings, credibility and value proposition;
- MECLABS increased the size of the header font, removed unnecessary lines around text and changed the color of the checkout button; and
- At the conclusion of the experiment, Checkout B experienced a 23.6% increase in conversion rate from Checkout A.
- Powell suggested that the font changes and box removals minimized mental stops in the mind that might prevent some customers from moving forward with the checkout process.
Experiment #3: The final experiment took Checkout B from Experiment #2 and split each section into different pages. After comparing the original and split versions, the experiment verified that spreading the checkout process across several pages would not guarantee a return on the time and cost required for implementation.
At the conclusion of the webinar, Powell highlighted three key takeaways from the experiments:
- The goal is not to impress the customer; but to enable the customer;
- A significant “improvement” in the checkout process won’t guarantee that a visitor will think the new process is an improvement; and
- An investment in shopping cart technology should yield a new flexibility that enables marketers to better appeal to a customer’s thought sequence.
Click here to access a PDF version of the presentation.