Boosting Gross sales With E-commerce Checkout Design

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

To get forward of those industrywide challenges, Belk’s administration staff referred to 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 prospects assessment their alternatives prior to purchasing) and the following checkout move, throughout which customers present transport and cost particulars.

The redesigned website 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 govt staff wished 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 person base, so the design course of grew out of present evaluation quite than new person analysis. Belk knowledgeable designers that the corporate caters to an viewers that’s practically 80% feminine, with its largest buyer base between the ages of 55 and 64 years previous. What’s extra, 65% of Belk’s prospects are 45 years or older, 46% arrive on the location via direct traffic, and the common customer views 5.19 pages and stays on the location for greater than 4 minutes.

To enhance this present analysis, I analyzed the websites of rivals like Nordstrom and turned to the Baymard Institute to assessment greatest follow 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 mission 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 made up my mind that the checkout move had too many pages and an excessive amount of textual content, the call-to-action (CTA) buttons had been inconsistent and never ideally positioned, and there weren’t sufficient photos to assist consumers see and perceive what they had been buying. For the audience of middle-aged and older customers—who, as a cohort, typically have problem seeing at shut vary on account of farsightedness and circumstances like presbyopia that may develop later in life—these points had been notably problematic. These issues are solely compounded on cellular screens.

My key goal within the checkout redesign was to simplify the move of screens, web page parts, and interactions customers encounter as they assessment gadgets of their baggage and proceed to checkout. The adjustments particularly goal older customers, although I consider they’ll make the expertise extra user-friendly and intuitive for everybody. As a deliverable of the design effort, I shared prioritized suggestions for usability adjustments throughout Belk’s cellular and desktop procuring funnels.

For the procuring bag expertise, our primary objective was to simplify the web page and information customers to carry out a key conduct: double-checking that the merchandise of their baggage had been the proper measurement, model, 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 unsuitable date understands why this step is so essential. And returns characterize a serious loss for retailers: In 2023, customers returned $743 billion price of merchandise.

Pre-overhaul, the Belk website provided the choice to assessment bag contents, however the design suffered from three issues:

  1. Promotional affords cluttered the display, distracting customers from their main targets.
  2. Product photos had been too small for some customers to see.
  3. A bag modifying button let customers change their order alternatives at each step within the move—quite than on the finish of the method after they had been prepared to take a look at.

Growing the thumbnail picture sizes was an intuitive resolution—we purchase with the eyes. However our suggestions to rid the location of litter and prohibit the modifying menu to the affirmation display 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 selections can result in paralysis and depart individuals much less pleased with what they choose.

One seminal examine by researchers Sheena S. Iyengar and Mark R. Lepper discovered, as an illustration, that when grocery buyers got too many connoisseur jam selections to buy from a show desk (i.e., 24 jam selections versus six), they had been less likely to purchase any jam in any respect. It’s a shocking discovering that has been embraced by fast-casual eating places with restricted menu choices similar to 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 cellular show of the My Bag web page to restrict abandonment and add scroll depth.
  • Lowering the scale of a Belk bank card marketing campaign banner and permitting customers to shut the window completely in the event that they’re not .
  • Auto-collapsing coloration, measurement, amount, and transport particulars right into a single, uncluttered container with +/- alternatives for amount adjustments.
  • Presenting categorical checkout cost choices later within the buy move, after the person has progressed to checkout.
  • Including the choice to edit the bag’s contents with a modal (lightbox) that requires person engagement and eliminates the necessity to return to the product record web page.
  • Utilizing a sticky CTA button on the backside of the cellular display to nudge customers by way 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 technique. A characteristic that allows customers to shut the bank card banner is in growth.

Reimagining the Checkout Movement

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

The 80-20 rule, additionally referred to as the Pareto principle, helped drive our choices about what content material choices to prioritize within the design. Briefly, the rule posits that 80% of enterprise outcomes are the results of the identical 20% of causes. Utilized to Belk’s cellular 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 places, and arrival pace. That is the place we directed our power.

Taking cues from Belk’s high-converting cellular app, we created separate checkout flows for visitors and logged-in customers. This allowed us to higher tailor the checkout expertise. Visitor customers, as an illustration, are unlikely to have Belk Rewards {Dollars} certificates, so we lowered 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 website, these particulars had been displayed in a number of sections and required customers to jump-link previous key data to put an order. Our revised design consists of the thumbnail picture, estimated supply date, and order value on a single web page. This makes it simpler for customers to see abruptly what they’re shopping for, how a lot their order will price, and after they can anticipate it to reach on their doorstep.

After prospects have frolicked looking for a brand new swimsuit or pair of sandals, they don’t need 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 the person scrolls encourages them to finish their purchases. With their contact data, tackle, and cost data saved, there isn’t any motive to ask for this data: Logged-in customers can full checkout in two clicks.

In a snapshot, our key suggestions included:

  • Lowering a three-page, multistep checkout course of to a easy one-step checkout.
  • Including a sticky CTA to the underside of the cellular and desktop screens to maintain the person’s objective in thoughts and encourage funnel development.
  • Consolidating type fields (e.g., e-mail, telephone 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 photos, order value, 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 cellular view of the redesigned checkout course of consists of an above-the-fold order abstract. Prospects scroll right down to enter their cost technique and full the acquisition, making the expertise a one-step checkout.

Coding Design Options

Lots of the choices the brand new checkout move affords prospects—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 answer 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 example, whereas normal shipments can attain anyplace within the US inside 15 days, same-day supply is just out there for patrons in choose ZIP codes. Belk’s e-commerce staff has completed a great job budgeting time to accommodate such nuances, that are essential to the shopper expertise however require pretty subtle software program engineering to execute.

On the workflow degree, attaining such a excessive degree of person customization has meant near-constant communication between the design and growth groups. A Figma web page of added eventualities was my largest file for the mission, and I in contrast notes with the engineering staff practically every single day to optimize the UX of reward card purchases, different cost choices, and different eventualities.

One other problem was that, whereas Belk’s e-commerce website features as a market for third-party retailers, free and discounted transport incentives aren’t all the time out there for these retailers’ merchandise, which additionally fall underneath totally different return insurance policies. Distinguishing them as “market merchandise” with an accompanying label was essential to deliver readability to the acquisition course of and, hopefully, keep away from misunderstandings that may frustrate customers and injury their belief.

Whereas we did our greatest to accommodate edge circumstances, in some situations, protecting issues easy and cost-efficient required onerous selections. Initially, we had wished to provide customers a approach to cut up a cargo—say, routing one in every of 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 deliver to a tiny subset of customers didn’t warrant the appreciable time and staffing expense it will require to code.

If there’s a lesson right here, it’s this: Comfort would be the linchpin of e-commerce, however the way you ship it ought to be primarily based on person conduct and by no means pursued so zealously it cannibalizes different features 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 mild options neither group would have arrived at by itself, similar to geographically phase choices for same-day transport. Prolonged conversations with the advertising and marketing staff led to equally essential revelations. Promotional banners, as an illustration, might be an efficient gross sales software, but when inappropriately positioned or too grasping for display actual property, they’ll worsen prospects and kill gross sales. Right here, the answer was a compromise: We stored the banners, however shrunk them so that they didn’t push the CTA beneath the fold.

Hanging the proper stability in these ambiguous conditions requires a holistic strategy and open communication throughout groups. Generally that you must push onerous to advance your concepts; different occasions, 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 accepted adjustments to the desktop and cellular procuring bag and checkout pages—and Belk prospects are responding nicely to the streamlined experiences. For me as a UI/UX designer, this mission 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 drawback of cart abandonment and allow extra prospects to finish their purchases.