Optimizing Your Checkout Success Rate

Last week, my fiance set forth onto the internet to find the very best screen protector for her brand new phone. After two grueling hours of research on forums and fansites, she found the most highly-recommended screen protector, a product exclusively sold on the manufacturer’s website. When I realized the site was a Magento store, I started paying particular attention. She navigated the site easily, but then, having added the product to cart and prepared to checkout, she stopped and exclaimed, “I don’t want to go through this checkout! I’ll just buy something on eBay instead.”

Why would she go through all that trouble trying to find the best screen protector and then choose to buy an inferior product on eBay? Because (and I don’t like saying it) the checkout process on eBay is much easier than the default, out-of-the-box Magento checkout.

The truth is, I wasn’t that surprised by my fiance’s behavior. This story is not uncommon. Across Blue Acorn’s clients, we’ve found that a good checkout success rate (meaning visitors who view the checkout process and then the success page) is 60% or above. A rate between 50-60% could use some improvements, but a rate under 50% is a signal that your process needs some immediate attention.

Calculating Your Checkout Success

Before you make improvements, you’ll have to know how much you need to improve first. Determining your checkout success rate in Analytics is a relatively easy process if you’re running Magento. First, go to All Pages under the Content section in Analytics on the left hand menu.

Content section in Analytics on the left hand menu

In the filter box, type checkout and then click the magnifying glass.

filter box, type checkout

If you’re running the stock Magento checkout, you’ll be looking for two things: /checkout/onepage/ and /checkout/onepage/success. The unique pageviews are what we’ll use to calculate checkout success.

calculating checkout success.

You’ll want to divide the number of unique page views of the success page by the number of people who have viewed the checkout. In this example, it’s 5885/9900 for a checkout success of 59%. If you find your checkout process can use some work, there’s generally a few things you can do to improve it.

Getting More Detailed Data

At Blue Acorn, we make intelligent decisions based on what data is telling us. Often times, this requires collecting more detailed data before making a decision. For example, in optimizing your checkout, advanced Analytics tagging will tell us exactly where in the checkout process visitors are leaving. This allows you to prioritize which part of the checkout needs attention first. The screenshot below shows a client that is using advance Analytics tagging to track steps in their checkout.

Getting More Detailed Data

By just quickly looking at the data above, you can conclude that something in the billing section is preventing customers from reviewing their order.

Using Checkout Best Practices

Removing distractions

There are a few things you can do to help improve your checkout success by sticking to some best practices. One of the easiest approaches is removing elements that cause friction or distraction with users. This includes removing extra fields that are not needed (i.e. fax number) and completely removing website navigation. In regards to the last suggestion, one of our clients had 87,000 visitors leave the checkout process within the last year because of a particular element of the website navigation.

Building confidence

Adding confidence builders to your checkout can also increase conversion rates. This includes making any warranties and guarantees easily visible. Site security badges and your acceptance of varying payment options increases confidence as well. The main point of confidence builders is to take away the feeling of risk that a visitor may have from purchasing from your website.

Knowing your audience

For example, an eCommerce manager working for a store that sells mobile phone accessories should be aware that a significant amount of visitors will be visiting from a mobile device. Having a mobile-optimized checkout will likely increased the checkout success. If you’re not sure if your site is optimized for mobile, you can find out how to access that information here.

Testing Your Changes

Not every change you make to your checkout is guaranteed to increase the checkout success. Sometimes, you may find your changes have a negative effect. It’s important to use a testing tool like Convert.com that will allow you to test your changes (hypothesis) before you commit to expensive development time.

By taking it step by step and ensuring that you are moving in the right direction after each change, you can achieve a 60% checkout success rate in no time.

by User Engagement Specialist
As Blue Acorn’s voodoo shaman, Dodiet has been the man behind many of our clients’ successful marketing campaigns. Dodiet is Google Analytics and Google AdWords Certified, and he recently launched the most successful PPC campaign in Blue Acorn's history. When he’s not inspiring us with his ideas, you can find him in the kitchen rocking a pair of Ray Bans, kicking back and talking up affiliate programs.

DISCUSSION

7 Comments

  1. We found very similar statistics. And to make things easier for e-commerce sites using Magento, we built a widget called My Abandoned Carts which lets store owners see the “more detailed data” right on their dashboard.

  2. It seems that most ecommerce sites haven’t grasped how important the cart process is. It is infuriating inputting the same details over and over again. Logging in with Facebook or Twitter is nice and quick and should encourage more users to continue with their purchase.
    Thanks for the post.

  3. loved the intro about your fiance! People get scared of certain checkouts. This makes me question if I should put up a $100 for a one page checkout extension that many developers are offering. What are your thoughts?

  4. Dodiet Sutardjo

    Danny, sorry for the late reply but you have a great question. In my opinion, if you find your current checkout success relative low, trying a $100 extension is a small risk to take. You can always test the new checkout versus the old one. If the new checkout does better, then that $100 will be recovered shortly in additional sales. However, if the new checkout does worse, you’re out $100 and development cost. The risk maybe worth it!

  5. Hey Danny – I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. If you buy Awesome Checkout and you don’t get better conversion rates, I’ll give you your money back. And we’ll go the extra step to watch your conversion rates with you and make steps to improve your store specific checkout for you.

    What do you say?

  6. Yikes! I hope this wasn’t us but there’s a decent chance that it was. We do have the best screen protectors ever. ;)

    We’ve just started using Optimizely and have been browsing the Blue Acorn blog after we came across your soon to be released Optimizely plugin for Magento with revenue tracking.

  7. Thanks for such a simple tip to work out our checkout success rate. Shows you don’t need expensive tools to work out these things.

    What would be regarded as a good realistic Checkout Success Rate? For the year so far we have around 73%, so still some room for improvement.

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