What’s happening inside the checkout?

With the growth in digital commerce, delivering a remarkable customer experience is critical. Still, despite significant investment in the shopper journey, brands have opted for checkout avoidance instead of checkout optimization - leaving a crucial experience gap.

But with the digital movement upon us, brands are called to improve the entire shopper journey, right through checkout, or get left behind.

To bring more insights into the checkout journey, we’re sharing The Checkout Benchmark, which analyzes millions of checkout sessions to reveal just what shoppers are doing inside the checkout. Let’s take a look.

Checkout Performance

Every brand wants to know ‘how are we doing?’ Site conversion rate, add-to-cart rate, and of course, checkout completion rate stand out as must-know-metrics along the shopper journey. Each point along this journey builds on the previous step, culminating with the final step: order completion.

Checkout performance

The mobile checkout experience gap is clear

Checkout performance varies across devices, where the mobile experience gap is on full display. Checkout completion rate on desktop is 52.5% with mobile a full 10 percentage points behind at 42.4%.

Takeaway

While factors vary, from shopper intent, to frustration from poor user experience, it is clear that brands, even those that have mobile optimized websites, still have room to improve checkout on the small screen.

Checkout performance

Checkout leaders achieve more than double the conversion rates of low performers

Checkout leadership emerges clearly with top performers. The top 25% of brands are achieving 73.2% checkout completion rates on desktop and 65.3% on mobile, more than doubling the lowest performers.

Takeaway

Top performers reduce friction through the checkout process by presenting estimated shipping and taxes up front and pre-populating address and store payment credentials for repeat shoppers. They also provide sufficient payment alternatives as well as convenient shipping and delivery options. Lastly top performers are customizing the checkout journey with loyalty, recommendations and offers to keep purchase intent high.

The checkout journey

While checkout lives at the edge of the shopper journey, it carries with it it’s own set of milestones. Here’s a look into the key moments that happen within the checkout journey.

The Checkout Journey

Checkout begins as mostly Mobile… but Desktop carries GMV

How it starts does not dictate how it ends. Mobile accounts for 70% of all shopper traffic but drives only 55% of all checkouts, delivers only 50% of orders, and even less GMV, at 47%.

Takeaway

While mobile accounts for far more checkout starts, higher levels of abandonment lead to an equal share of conversions between desktop and mobile, reiterating the mobile conversion gap that still exists. Topping it off, desktop’s higher average order value means more GMV still flows through desktop than mobile.

The Checkout Journey

Shoppers are checking in during checkout

There are no guarantees in the shopper journey. Shopper behavior in the checkout shows mobile buyers average 1.40 views or visits per checkout, to 1.28 for abandoners. This difference appears small until accounting for the minimum; every checkout must include 1 view. In fact, mobile shoppers that convert to buyers are 41% more likely to ‘check-in’ to review or edit their checkout as they go compared to those that abandon during checkout.

Takeaway

Buyers -- the shoppers that start and complete their checkout -- are not simply passing through checkout, rather, they are editing and reviewing checkout far more than abandoners, those that start but don’t complete the checkout. This ‘check-in’ behavior shows that checkout is not a drive-thru, but a moment that brands must make accessible to shoppers for reviewing, and revising on their path to conversion. Giving shoppers the ability to edit delivery, shipping, quantities, offers within their checkout experience can lead to higher conversion.

Learn how to unleash the checkout in our headless commerce series

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Checkout insights

To create the highest converting checkout experiences, brands are faced with a number of decisions that impact whether a shopper buys or ‘bye’s.’ A few of checkout’s burning questions are how many pages, how much to charge for shipping, and which payments to offer?

Checkout Insights

How many pages is best? It depends.

The great checkout debate has gone on for years. How many pages should a checkout be? Overall single-page checkouts convert at 48.4%, neck in neck with progressive or multi-page checkouts. On mobile, single-page scroll actually reduces checkout completion rate, while progressive multi-page checkout converts better. Conversely, on the larger desktop screen, single-page scrolling checkouts edge the progressive multi-page alternative.

Takeaway

Taken together, though the takeaway is that there is no clear winner. Instead, brands must test and iterate on checkout experiences to deliver the highest converting checkout experience based on device type, channel, customer segment or other variables.

Checkout Insights

The impact of shipping fees on checkout

When looking at the amount of shipping fee paid as a percentage of order value, a relationship is revealed. When this ‘shipping fee share’ goes up, checkout completion goes down. Put into numbers, for every 10% point increase in shipping fees there is a corresponding impact on checkout completion rate, falling 6.3 percentage points on desktop and 3.7 percentage points on mobile.

Takeaway

While free shipping has become ubiquitous in ecommerce, increasing freight and carrier fees and supply-chain pain have forced brands to re-rationalize the reigning table-stakes promotion.

For brand consideration, there is a new approach to this free shipping debate. Although shipping fees have previously been portrayed as binary -- either free or fee -- shopper behavior suggests that there is a sliding scale when it comes to what shoppers will accept for shipping fees.

Checkout Insights

Shoppers continue to be friendly with PayPal

From device-specific - ApplePay and Google Pay, to surge of installment payments via buy now pay later players, the payment landscape is rapidly changing. One constant, PayPal, remains the clear digital payment choice at 38.7% of all orders.

Paypal logo

accounts for 38.7% of orders

Source: The Checkout Benchmark • Q3 2021
For merchants offering PayPal as a payment option.

Takeaway

The early days of ecommerce saw trust badges painted all over site footers and checkouts, as security was top-of-mind for shoppers and critical for brands to reinforce. That same trend is repeating itself with the proliferation of payment options. Sitting on the Mount Rushmore of digital utilities, PayPal continues to be a must-offer payment option.

Further reading