Boosting Gross sales With E-commerce Checkout Design

In 1888, 26-year-old William Henry Belk opened a retailer that may later develop into America’s largest privately owned division retailer chain: Belk. In the present day, the corporate has 290 areas, primarily throughout the southeastern US, and is the seventh most visited e-commerce and procuring web site within the US. However even a profitable retailer like Belk faces digital challenges. The typical global cart abandonment rate throughout e-commerce retailers is a whopping 70%, in line with 2024 knowledge from the shopper expertise researchers on the Baymard Institute. The institute additionally posits, based mostly on usability testing, that the common large-scale e-commerce web site might make almost 40 enhancements to its checkout circulate—an effort that would lead to a 35% conversion rate increase.

To get forward of those industrywide challenges, Belk’s administration staff known as for a six-month e-commerce overhaul, together with redesigning the procuring and checkout experiences. As a part of this broader initiative to streamline the acquisition funnel, I used to be requested to rethink the procuring bag expertise (i.e., how clients overview their picks prior to purchasing) and the next checkout circulate, throughout which customers present transport and cost particulars.

The redesigned web site is a vivid illustration of how empathizing with customers’ wants—on this case, these of a largely older viewers—can result in an improved e-commerce expertise that enhances buyer satisfaction, conversion charges, and gross sales.

An app is displayed next to the text: “Improving checkout UX can potentially increase the conversion rate of the average large-scale e-commerce site by 35%.”

The E-commerce Checkout Problem

Belk’s government staff needed to launch an MVP (minimal viable product) in six months, a possible however aggressive timeline. The staff had already developed a reasonably deep understanding of the corporate’s consumer base, so the design course of grew out of present evaluation moderately than new consumer analysis. Belk knowledgeable designers that the corporate caters to an viewers that’s almost 80% feminine, with its largest buyer base between the ages of 55 and 64 years previous. What’s extra, 65% of Belk’s clients are 45 years or older, 46% arrive on the positioning via direct traffic, and the common customer views 5.19 pages and stays on the positioning for greater than 4 minutes.

To enrich this present analysis, I analyzed the websites of rivals like Nordstrom and turned to the Baymard Institute to overview greatest apply examples of cart and checkout use circumstances and design patterns. I additionally drew on my expertise designing and launching desk linen model Prado y Barrio and a earlier challenge designing a loyalty app for Etos, one of many largest drugstore chains within the Netherlands. Each roles uncovered me to an important e-commerce precept: Eradicating pointless steps from the shopper journey is crucial.

Inspecting Belk’s web site, I decided that the checkout circulate had too many pages and an excessive amount of textual content, the call-to-action (CTA) buttons have been inconsistent and never ideally positioned, and there weren’t sufficient pictures to assist consumers see and perceive what they have been buying. For the audience of middle-aged and older customers—who, as a cohort, usually have issue seeing at shut vary because of farsightedness and circumstances like presbyopia that may develop later in life—these points have been significantly problematic. These issues are solely compounded on cell screens.

My key goal within the checkout redesign was to simplify the circulate of screens, web page components, and interactions customers encounter as they overview objects of their baggage and proceed to checkout. The modifications particularly goal older customers, although I imagine they may make the expertise extra user-friendly and intuitive for everybody. As a deliverable of the design effort, I shared prioritized suggestions for usability modifications throughout Belk’s cell and desktop procuring funnels.

For the procuring bag expertise, our predominant aim was to simplify the web page and information customers to carry out a key habits: double-checking that the merchandise of their baggage have been the best measurement, fashion, coloration, and amount. Anybody who has ever had a pair of laughably ill-sized pants arrive on their doorstep or booked a flight for the incorrect date understands why this step is so essential. And returns signify a serious loss for retailers: In 2023, customers returned $743 billion price of merchandise.

Pre-overhaul, the Belk web site supplied the choice to overview bag contents, however the design suffered from three issues:

  1. Promotional gives cluttered the display screen, distracting customers from their major targets.
  2. Product pictures have been too small for some customers to see.
  3. A bag enhancing button let customers change their order picks at each step within the circulate—moderately than on the finish of the method after they have been prepared to take a look at.

Rising the thumbnail picture sizes was an intuitive resolution—we purchase with the eyes. However our suggestions to rid the positioning of litter and prohibit the enhancing menu to the affirmation display screen got here as a response to the so-called “paradox of choice,” a time period derived from a physique of analysis that reveals having too many decisions can result in paralysis and depart individuals much less proud of what they choose.

One seminal research by researchers Sheena S. Iyengar and Mark R. Lepper discovered, as an example, that when grocery customers got too many connoisseur jam decisions to buy from a show desk (i.e., 24 jam decisions versus six), they have been less likely to purchase any jam in any respect. It’s a stunning discovering that has been embraced by fast-casual eating places with restricted menu choices reminiscent of Chipotle and—more and more—digital product designers.

Taking the spirit of those classes to coronary heart, we made a number of tactical suggestions to the My Bag web page to scale back abandonment and amplify the CTA by eradicating distractions. These included:

  • Collapsing the search bar within the cell show of the My Bag web page to restrict abandonment and add scroll depth.
  • Decreasing the scale of a Belk bank card marketing campaign banner and permitting customers to shut the window totally in the event that they’re not .
  • Auto-collapsing coloration, measurement, amount, and transport particulars right into a single, uncluttered container with +/- picks for amount modifications.
  • Presenting categorical checkout cost choices later within the buy circulate, after the consumer has progressed to checkout.
  • Including the choice to edit the bag’s contents with a modal (lightbox) that requires consumer engagement and eliminates the necessity to return to the product checklist web page.
  • Utilizing a sticky CTA button on the backside of the cell display screen to nudge customers by means of the procuring funnel.
A screenshot of Belk’s redesigned My Bag page shows the product details for a pair of shorts, an order summary, and the Belk rewards banner.
The desktop view of Belk’s redesigned My Bag web page features a minimized bank card banner and an uncluttered container that shows the merchandise’s coloration, measurement, amount, and transport methodology. A characteristic that permits customers to shut the bank card banner is in growth.

Reimagining the Checkout Stream

For the checkout expertise, our major goal was to condense data unfold throughout three distinctive pages—transport particulars, cost data, and order overview—to a single, scrollable web page.

The 80-20 rule, additionally known as the Pareto principle, helped drive our selections about what content material choices to prioritize within the design. In brief, the rule posits that 80% of enterprise outcomes are the results of the identical 20% of causes. Utilized to Belk’s cell and desktop checkout pages, these “causes” boil right down to accessibility and the way straightforward it was to view and regulate order particulars, contact data, cost particulars, transport areas, and arrival pace. That is the place we directed our power.

Taking cues from Belk’s high-converting cell app, we created separate checkout flows for friends and logged-in customers. This allowed us to higher tailor the checkout expertise. Visitor customers, as an example, are unlikely to have Belk Rewards {Dollars} certificates, so we diminished the scale of these fields within the visitor checkout.

For logged-in customers, our focus was to maintain all related order particulars above the fold. On Belk’s earlier web site, these particulars have been displayed in a number of sections and required customers to jump-link previous key data to put an order. Our revised design contains the thumbnail picture, estimated supply date, and order worth on a single web page. This makes it simpler for customers to see what they’re shopping for, how a lot their order will price, and after they can count on it to reach on their doorstep.

After clients have hung out trying to find a brand new swimsuit or pair of sandals, they don’t wish to spend extra time scrolling round for the Purchase button. A sticky Place Order CTA pinned to the underside of the checkout web page that stays in place irrespective of how far down the display screen the consumer scrolls encourages them to finish their purchases. With their contact data, tackle, and cost data saved, there is no such thing as a motive to ask for this data: Logged-in customers can full checkout in two clicks.

In a snapshot, our key suggestions included:

  • Decreasing a three-page, multistep checkout course of to a easy one-step checkout.
  • Including a sticky CTA to the underside of the cell and desktop screens to maintain the consumer’s aim in thoughts and encourage funnel development.
  • Consolidating type fields (e.g., e-mail, cellphone quantity, ZIP code, metropolis) to enhance scroll depth.
  • Incorporating titles with giant, legible textual content fonts inside enter fields to enhance accessibility.
  • Displaying an above-the-fold order abstract with thumbnail pictures, order worth, and achievement particulars.
  • Defaulting to bank card for visitor cost, and offering different choices for PayPal and Afterpay.
The redesigned checkout page shows two pairs of shorts, shipping method, fields for the user’s address and email, total cost, and a blue “place order” button.
The cell view of the redesigned checkout course of contains an above-the-fold order abstract. Clients scroll right down to enter their cost methodology and full the acquisition, making the expertise a one-step checkout.

Coding Design Options

Most of the choices the brand new checkout circulate gives clients—together with in-store pickup, same-day supply (in some areas), and dropshipping—required the event staff to reconfigure algorithms and write discrete code strings to reply to edge circumstances and geographic dependencies. One of many core challenges of the redesign was to accommodate a number of cost and achievement choices into the supply code.

As an illustration, whereas normal shipments can attain wherever within the US inside 15 days, same-day supply is simply obtainable for purchasers in choose ZIP codes. Belk’s e-commerce staff has completed a superb job budgeting time to accommodate such nuances, that are essential to the shopper expertise however require pretty refined software program engineering to execute.

On the workflow stage, attaining such a excessive stage of consumer customization has meant near-constant communication between the design and growth groups. A Figma web page of added situations was my largest file for the challenge, and I in contrast notes with the engineering staff almost day-after-day to optimize the UX of reward card purchases, different cost choices, and different situations.

One other problem was that, whereas Belk’s e-commerce web site capabilities as a market for third-party retailers, free and discounted transport incentives aren’t at all times obtainable for these retailers’ merchandise, which additionally fall beneath totally different return insurance policies. Distinguishing them as “market merchandise” with an accompanying label was necessary to convey readability to the acquisition course of and, hopefully, keep away from misunderstandings that may frustrate customers and harm their belief.

Whereas we did our greatest to accommodate edge circumstances, in some cases, preserving issues easy and cost-efficient required onerous decisions. Initially, we had needed to present customers a solution to break up a cargo—say, routing one among two pairs of slacks to a house tackle and the second pair to a piece tackle. However conversations with the event staff and additional market evaluation revealed that the comfort the characteristic would convey to a tiny subset of customers didn’t warrant the appreciable time and staffing expense it could require to code.

If there’s a lesson right here, it’s this: Comfort will be the linchpin of e-commerce, however the way you ship it ought to be based mostly on consumer habits and by no means pursued so zealously it cannibalizes different elements of your online business.

Collaboration Breeds Confidence and Belief

E-commerce checkout is a realm of digital design that calls on open collaboration from stakeholders throughout a corporation. On this case, dialogue between the design and growth groups dropped at gentle options neither group would have arrived at by itself, reminiscent of the right way to geographically phase choices for same-day transport. Prolonged conversations with the advertising and marketing staff led to equally necessary revelations. Promotional banners, as an example, could be an efficient gross sales software, but when inappropriately positioned or too grasping for display screen actual property, they’ll irritate clients and kill gross sales. Right here, the answer was a compromise: We saved the banners, however shrunk them in order that they didn’t push the CTA beneath the fold.

Hanging the best stability in these ambiguous conditions requires a holistic strategy and open communication throughout groups. Typically it is advisable push onerous to advance your concepts; different instances, it’s greatest to hear.

The media and measurement agency Ovative Group performed a three-month audit of Belk’s redesign in early 2024 and made solely minor options for enchancment, so we launched the accredited modifications to the desktop and cell procuring bag and checkout pages—and Belk clients are responding effectively to the streamlined experiences. For me as a UI/UX designer, this challenge underscored the enterprise worth of designing an intuitive, user-friendly e-commerce checkout expertise. Investing in considerate digital design—or redesign—might help manufacturers keep away from the widespread downside of cart abandonment and allow extra clients to finish their purchases.