8 strategies for improving WooCommerce checkout flow

Improve wooCommerce Checkout

This post originally appeared March 15 on the Skyverge blog.

The checkout flow on your WooCommerce site (or the sites you build and manage for your clients) is one of the make-or-break parts of the entire online shopping experience. After all, checkout is where the final conversion happens. It’s where your store’s visitors become paying customers. So without an optimized checkout flow, you’re at a real risk of losing visitors instead of gaining new customers.

According to the Baymard Institute, the average cart abandonment rate is 69.8 percent—and it’s been in that “seven out of 10 carts are abandoned” range for years. The top reasons for cart abandonment are virtually all things a customer encounters during the checkout flow, including hidden costs, payment or shipping issues, and mandatory account registration.

While you can’t completely eliminate cart abandonment, there are definitely ways to reduce it—optimizing your checkout process can increase your conversion rate by 35.6 percent, according to Baymard.

In this article, we’ll cover eight strategies and extensions that will help you do just that: optimize your checkout flow in WooCommerce to reduce abandonment and increase conversions.

1. Eliminate unnecessary fields

Baymard’s checkout research found an ideal checkout flow usually has as few as 12 to 14 form elements—yet the average eCommerce store in the U.S. has almost double that at 23.48.

Don’t ask for more information than what is absolutely necessary. For example, if you’re selling digital products, why ask for a physical shipping address? Do you really need a customer’s phone number (your payment processor might require it, but if they don’t, do you need it)? And can you avoid making someone type in an identical address for billing and shipping? Go field-by-field through your checkout forms—and evaluate the necessity and value of each one.

Once you’re ready to start trimming, you can use a plugin like Checkout Field Editor ($49/year at WooCommerce.com) to customize which fields are included on your checkout page. You can easily edit existing checkout fields for both billing and shipping. (And even though this article is about streamlining your checkout flow, if you need to add extra fields, you can use Checkout Field Editor for that as well.)

One quick note: After making these changes (or any significant changes to your site), it’s always wise to test your checkout flow on a staging site to make sure everything still works as intended.

Improve WooCommerce checkout with Checkout Field Editor.
Improve WooCommerce checkout with Checkout Field Editor.

2. Streamline your checkout process

A long and complicated checkout process is one of the top reasons for cart abandonment. Streamline the process by reducing the number of steps your customers have to go through to finish a purchase—or, at the very least, by showing them a progress bar during checkout.

Here’s an example from Made that clearly marks each step in their checkout flow with a progress bar to take any ambiguity out of the process.

Improve WooCommerce checkout with apps like Made.
Improve WooCommerce checkout with apps like Made.

Another way to streamline your checkout process is to blend the “add to cart” and “check out” process into one. You can use the WooCommerce One Page Checkout plugin ($79/year at WooCommerce.com) to allow visitors to complete the checkout process immediately after adding the item to their cart without visiting a separate checkout page. You can add One Page Checkout to any product page (or other page) on your site with a simple shortcode.

3. Offer multiple payment options

Approximately one out of 12 people who abandon a cart do so because their preferred payment option isn’t available. Another study found 40 percent of online shoppers were more comfortable buying from a store that offered multiple payment methods.

In other words, the more payment options you offer, the better your chances of converting visitors into customers. There are a number of payment gateway extensions in the WooCommerce store; too many to list here. Some of the most popular and versatile are Authorize.net ($79/year at WooCommerce.com), PayPal Checkout (free at WooCommerce.com), Global Payments HPP ($79/year at WooCommerce.com), and AliPay ($79/year at WooCommerce.com).

Since the cost of adding lots of payment gateways can add up (and having too many might make your checkout look too cluttered), you should choose the ones that will matter the most to your target customers. What countries are your customers coming from, and what payment methods are big there? Do you have a lot of customers buying on mobile? Options like Venmo, Apple Pay, and Google Pay can be useful. Have you had multiple customers ask for a specific payment method? Odds are there are plenty more who also would’ve liked to see that method but didn’t take the time to reach out.

4. Use visual cues after item has been added to the cart

Once a customer adds an item to their cart, what happens next? Sure, at this point, most people know to click on the shopping cart icon—but why make them hunt for it? If the next action step is not clear, your visitors could end up confused or get distracted, and might abandon their cart altogether.

There are two ways to approach this problem. The first option is to give customers a visual cue that confirms the item has been added to the cart, along with the option to view the cart and proceed to checkout or continue shopping (as seen in the screenshot below).

Improve WooCommerce checkout with visual cues after adding to cart.
Improve WooCommerce checkout with visual cues after adding to cart.

Another option is to automatically redirect them to the checkout page—and

WooCommerce has a built-in feature that allows you to do just that.

Go to WooCommerce > Settings > Products. Check the box next to Add to cart behavior. Then, click on the Advanced tab and select the Checkout page from the drop-down menu for the Cart page. With these changes implemented, your buyers will now be redirected to the checkout page after they add the item to their cart.

You might also want to change the Add to Cart button by modifying your functions.php (here are instructions on how to do that) file or using a plugin like WC Custom Add to Cart Labels (free at WordPress.org).

5. Skip — or simplify — the account creation process

One of the top reasons for cart abandonment is forced account creation. According to one study, a major eCommerce site saw a $300 million revenue increase when they stopped requiring customers to create accounts or log in to checkout.

The quickest remedy is to offer guest checkout. Then, once the purchase is complete, you can give customers the option to create an account.

Another great option is the WooCommerce Social Login extension ($79/year at WooCommerce.com) which allows your customers to log into your WooCommerce store with their Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, LinkedIn, PayPal, Disqus, Yahoo, or VK account.

More than three-quarters of customers say they prefer social login on an eCommerce site over manually creating an account

Social Login works efficiently behind the scenes as well to link a customer’s social account to their account on your site. The plugin will first try to identify a customer based on the social identifier and see if they’ve used a social media profile on the store before. If they did, the plugin will log them in automatically. If not, it will search for the user based on the email address used for the social profile and check if they have an account. It will then link the social profile to the store account and log them in. Lastly, if there are no matching users, a new user account will be created.

6. Eliminate the surprises

Surprise costs—be it shipping, fees, taxes, or a coupon code that doesn’t work—are the top reason people abandon carts. So the more you can eliminate those surprises before a customer arrives at checkout, the better.

Some ways you can reduce the surprises are:

  • Be upfront about fees. Include details on your product page to let customers know what fees they’ll encounter at checkout.
  • Add a shipping calculator. Avoid surprises in shipping costs by allowing customers to calculate shipping (or estimated shipping) before entering the checkout process. You can integrate a shipping calculator into your pages with extensions like Woocommerce Shipping Calculator On Product Page ($27 at CodeCanyon).
  • Let customers try coupon codes without having to enter their address first. If the first page of your checkout flow is for a shipping address and a customer can’t enter their coupon code until the billing section on the next page, you could lose people who want to make sure their coupon works before they take the time to enter all of their information.
  • Optimize your product pages. Make sure that your product page includes all the important information about what you’re selling above the fold. Important details should be visible without users having to scroll down.

7. Upsell useful services

“Upselling” sounds like something that only benefits a store, not a customer—but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, upselling works best when it’s a genuine service to customers.

You can upsell services during checkout (like gift wrapping, rush handling, or insurance) that meet a need for customers—and might even help close the sale. WooCommerce Checkout Add-ons ($79/year at WooCommerce.com) is a quick and highly-customizable way to add free or paid options during checkout.

(Bonus tip: To keep your checkout process as streamlined as possible, you can conditionally display add-ons; for instance, only displaying gift options if the shipping and billing addresses are different. The code to do that is here.)

8. Pay attention to your analytics

Lastly, pay close attention to your checkout flow analytics. You can unlock deep eCommerce insights by using WooCommerce Google Analytics Pro ($79/year at WooCommerce.com) and track every step of the checkout process, including coupon usage, payment methods, and the exact moment when customers drop out of the flow.

Improve WooCommerce checkout with a Google Analytics flow analysis.
Improve WooCommerce checkout with a Google Analytics flow analysis.

That data is crucial to diagnose where abandonment is happening during your checkout process—which will allow you to make changes to improve your conversions.

Key takeaways

The checkout flow at your WooCommerce store can make or break a sale. And with the average cart abandonment rate right around 70 percent, you’ll want to take the proper steps to reduce that number and improve your conversions.

The strategies for optimizing your checkout flow are:

  • Eliminate unnecessary fields from the checkout. Figure out what fields you can cut, then use an extension like Checkout Field Editor to cut them.
  • Streamline your checkout process. Use visual cues to show how many steps there are in the checkout, or distill the checkout process down to a single page.
  • Offer multiple payment options. One out of 12 carts are abandoned because a customer wants to use a payment method that the store isn’t offering. Determine what payment methods your target customers want, then use payment gateway extensions to offer those options.
  • Use visual cues after an item has been added to the cart. Reduce confusion by using visual cues after a product has been added to the cart—or redirecting buyers to the checkout page immediately.
  • Skip or simplify the signup process. Allow visitors to either checkout as guests, or use an extension like WooCommerce Social Login to allow customers to log into your site with one of their existing social profiles.
  • Eliminate the surprises. Surprise fees are the top reason for cart abandonment. Be upfront about fees on your product pages, and consider adding features like a shipping calculator or early coupon code entry.
  • Upsell useful services. Some services you upsell, like gift wrapping and insurance, might actually help close a sale by filling a need for a customer. An extension like WooCommerce Checkout Add-Ons is a quick way to implement those types of upsells.
  • Pay attention to your analytics. Use the WooCommerce Google Analytics Pro extension to get advanced eCommerce metrics so you can track each stage of your checkout flow, spot problems, and figure out solutions.

The following extensions mentioned in this post are included at no additional charge in the GoDaddy Managed WordPress eCommerce hosting package:

  • Checkout Field Editor
  • Authorize.Net
  • Global Payments HPP
  • WooCommerce Social Login
  • WooCommerce Checkout Add-Ons
  • WooCommerce Google Analytics Pro

To learn more about GoDaddy’s WooCommerce hosting options, click here.


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