How to Nail the Online Checkout Experience

E-commerce is huge, and retailers can’t afford to ignore it, but the problem that most people encounter when shopping online? The checkout. 

The online checkout experience can be incredibly frustrating and cause people to give up on their purchase altogether. High checkout abandonment rates across the web usually point to problems with the checkout process, rather than a change of heart.

With that in mind, we’ve put together some tips on how to improve the checkout experience on your site so that you can reduce that drop-off rate and make the most of your online offering.

Don’t require customers to create an account

Having finally made your choices, you click through to the checkout, ready to part with your hard-earned money only to find a screen that requires you to create yet another online account. Ugh, not another one. Considering you’re supposed to have unique login details for all of your accounts, having to do yet another sign-up and remember yet another password can be too off-putting for some.

If you need your customers to sign up to generate a mailing list, or just to store payment details and addresses to make future purchases easier, make it an optional choice at the end of the checkout process, once the order has been completed.

Offer free shipping and free returns (where possible)

According to a 2020 study by Baymard, 50% of all reasons for checkout abandonment were due to extra costs such as shipping and fees being too high. We’ve all been shopping online and forced ourselves to drop items from the basket in order to stay within a budget we had in mind, and whilst that can be painful, it pales in comparison to reaching the checkout only to realise the delivery fee sends the total cost skyrocketing over that budget anyway.

Costly or tedious returns processes can also put a lot of people off. One of the main limitations of online shopping is that you can’t try items on or see how they really look until they arrive at your door, making the checkout process something of a leap of faith. Offering free shipping and free returns (if possible) will put you in good standing with your customers, and they will be far more likely to take a gamble on your products.

Offer a range of payment options

One method that is sure to improve your checkout experience is to offer a range of payment options. Typing in card numbers, expiry dates and CVV codes can get very tedious, but there are plenty of payment methods out there that only require customers to enter those details once, and enjoy future shopping with just a couple of clicks, a password or even a fingerprint. These payment gateways also provide encryption to keep customers’ data safe, which will make them comfortable purchasing from your site.

PayPal, Apple Pay, Square, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, and Stripe are all payment methods you should accept on your e-commerce site, and there are more to consider, such as American Express, which tends to have a user base of higher-income consumers compared to other credit card companies.

Make sure your m-commerce design is tip top and designed for thumbs

Over half of all web traffic is coming from mobile devices, so your m-commerce design needs to be on point. No one wants to shop on a clunky site where the images don’t fit on the screen, or one with long pages that need endless scrolling and a zoom in just to read a product description.

You should use micro-interactions to guide your users and make sure the site is touch-friendly so that browsing your online store is just as easy on an iPhone as it is on a laptop.

This also includes designing your site for the ‘thumb zone’, meaning locating buttons and interactable elements on the screen within easy reach of the thumbs (with which we do most of our mobile operation), and avoiding putting frequent touch points in the areas of the screen that require users to stretch too much or change their hand position. 

Related article: How to Ace Usability in M-Commerce Design

Keep typing input to a minimum

As mentioned with payment methods, typing the same information over and over can get tedious quickly for your customers, so, to improve your checkout experience, make sure they have to type as little information as possible.

Using payment methods that don’t require more input than a password or a couple of clicks is a good start, as are features such as tick boxes and drop-down addresses after inputting only a postcode. 

Not only does this make the checkout processes quicker and easier, but it also makes customers feel less like they are giving away personal information.

Have multiple checkout steps and a progress indicator

A few short, simple checkout steps are much more reassuring than a long or scrolling form with blank information boxes that looks like it will take an age to complete. Clearly title each step and consider combining this with a progress indicator so that customers know how close they are to completing the purchase. 

It can feel never-ending when you have entered all your payment and address details only to be surprised by yet another form. Make sure that you keep this in line with the ‘short steps’ mentality, as filling out an address to see only a 5% completion on the progress bar will be just as disheartening as a long form.

Optimise page load speed

Our final point for improving the checkout experience on your site can’t be stressed enough – optimise your page load speed. Slow-loading pages are frustrating on any site, but during the checkout process, it’s even more important that the pages load swiftly and forms are submitted without error. 

The last thing you want is customers who are eager to buy your products abandoning their carts because they couldn’t complete the purchase in their free time window or because a timeout screen has left them wondering whether they have paid or not.


You’ve worked hard to provide a great online offering, so don’t fall at the final hurdle. The checkout experience needs to be fast and straightforward, not an arduous task that customers have to complete before giving you their money. Put yourself in their shoes and consider these tips to improve their experience and prevent checkout abandonment.

If you need help designing or improving your e-commerce site, get in touch and see how we can help.