The Number 1 Checkout Error
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The unfortunate truth that all online marketers must face, is that almost 70% of shoppers drop off mere moments before they intend to pay you. 70% of all online consumers will get as far as checking out, and then abandon their carts.

But the check-out drop-off percentage doesn’t have to be that way for you. Why? Because we have taken a good look at why so many people leave their shopping at the crucial moment, and it turns out there is a number one reason for it, and you can do something about it.

While there is always going to be a certain percentage of people who naturally drop out during the shopping process, it doesn’t have to be so drastic.

The Number One Reason People Abandon their Shopping Carts Is…

We ask for too much during the checkout process. Or, out another way, we make the process too long.

Imagine you go into the local comer store to buy a bag of crisps. You browse the snacks aisle, choose what you want, and head to the cashier. But when you get there, the cashier asks you to fill in three pages of forms, sign up to his choir group and pay a $10 handling fee before you can have your crisps. You are probably going to shop somewhere else.

abandoned cart at checkout

Now while that story might sound crazy, it is pretty much exactly what so many marketers are doing to potential clients who just want to buy their products.

Think of it this way – every additional step that you add to your checkout process is providing the potential customer with another opportunity to rethink their purchase and change their minds.

You must make the checkout process as quick and painless as possible for the customer.

Now you might be thinking - “but I need all that information!” and maybe you do. But there are smarter ways of getting it that won’t cost you your sale. We will take a look at these in greater detail below.

How to make the checkout process easy

Culprit number 1: Non-Essential form fields

As mentioned above, every extra step you add to the checkout process is another opportunity for customers to leave. Instead of asking for a full profile at the checkout – start with the most essential information. Once you have secured the sale you can enter into the customer service process via e-mail, and use this as an opportunity to gain additional information. This can be a slow process. With a good marketing strategy you will be able to build the buyer’s portfolio as you go along.

Your checkout is NOT the right place to ask for information on how the shopper heard about, whether they would recommend your product to a friend, or what they would like to see in store in the future.

Culprit number 2: Repetitive forms

If the customer has shopped with you before they will resent having to re-submit the same information multiple times. Make use of your site cookies and logins to auto-fill their forms for them – but do remember to give them the option to accept the auto-filled forms or change the information. This should be made possible by the simple click of a button.

checkout errors

The same is true for duplicate shipping and billing information. Often these are the same. Give the option for customers to click a button that says, “use shipping address as billing address”.

Another little type for addresses: Ask for the zip code first. This will allow you to automatically fill in the country and state.

Culprit number 3: Not making it all about them

If you were a sales person in a store you would be speaking politely to your customer and looking for ways to enrich their shopping experience. You would try to make it personal so a that they will feel like coming back.

Your e-commerce site is your sales person online, and yet we often forget to make the experience all about the customer.


For example – don’t ask for billing information and credit card details before you ask for shipping information. This makes your site seem grabby. The customer will feel like you only care about taking their money, and not about providing them with a product that will enhance their lives.

An easy way to correct this is to ask for their shipping information first. They will see that you are making sure that they get what they want first, and are only asking for your payment as an after-thought. Now while both you and the customer know that this is not really the truth of the matter (the sale is your main prerogative) it is tacky to let them experience it that way.

Culprit number 4: Trying to force them to subscribe or create an account

Pre-checkout is not the place to ask customers to subscribe to your e-mail, or to create an account. This will only provide another drop off opportunity. Also not everyone wants subscribe and not everyone wants to create an account. First time buyers, especially, usually prefer to sample your products and service with their first order before they commit to an account.

That doesn’t mean you can’t offer them the opportunity to sign up – but save it for the thank you page which you send them after they have completed the order and checkout.

Considering that you will need to ask for their e-mail anyway so that you can provide them with information on their order – you can even send a thank you e-mail.

ecommer follow up email

Follow up e-mail is a good opportunity to ask for additional information, or offer them “thank you” coupon for filling out additional information and subscribing / creating an account with you.

So, make sure your checkout is as short and sweet as possible. Make sure you go in and place a dummy order yourself every now and then to test the process for yourself. Also remember to do a cross-browser and cross device check. Always try to put yourself in the buyer’s role and make sure you offer a service that you would want to use yourself.

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