Remember the time when consumers’ checkout experience was an afterthought because retailers had to focus on solving serious logistics issues? That was directly after the start of the pandemic, when retail sales worldwide fell dramatically due to the closing of non-essential stores. Hopefully, this decrease was mainly compensated by the high rise in online sales: eCommerce generated more than $ 26,000 billion in 2020 (UNCTAD 2021 study)! This e-commerce frenzy was also supported by the fact that consumers did not yet suffer a loss of purchasing power.
But the e-commerce “enchanted interlude” is now over. Inflation forces consumers to check twice before validating their online shopping carts. This also leads to a rise in shopping cart abandonment rates. Therefore, to stand out in such an ultra-competitive online market, retailers must now improve the checkout experience on their sites. This is where geolocation and address autocomplete can bring real added value.
To understand the drivers of the checkout experience in eCommerce, in 2022 Woosmap conducted a series of polls with the “Top 100 UK online retailers benchmark”. The following bits of advice for “smoother” retail practices are based on this research, where we looked at the best and worst checkout habits.
In particular, we asked retailers how they reduce the rate of cart abandonment on sites. Because 17% of abandoned cart are due to a too-long or a too-complicated checkout process (Baymard Institute). Retailers explained how they smooth the checkout experience, with tactics like a guest login and autocomplete on both the delivery addresses and postcodes.
Here is a summary of the 5 good practices online retailers can use to ensure this smooth checkout experience:
- #1 Include checkout in their customer journey UX reflection, right from the start.
- #2 Ensure access to a comprehensive and up-to-date address database (that’s where address autocomplete comes into play to help).
- #3 Verify the addresses in order to prevent delivery issues.
- #4 Prevent users from re-inputting the same information in different fields during the checkout process.
- #5 Display all Click & Collect locations on a map so that customers can easily select their preferred options.
In the following parts, you will find detailed explanations about those 5 best practices. You can also explore those findings and Woosmap’s study in a compact 25 pages e-book format “How to improve online checkout experience for UK buyers using geolocation?”.
If you are in a hurry, you can also skip directly to the “checkout”:
How to make a difference among thousands of retailers? Through a smooth and personalized customer experience all along the buyer journey. From the entry on your website to the final payment. However, this important final step is often forgotten by retailers who often focus on the product information… That’s why it is now time to rethink the UX (user experience) of this customer journey, with mobile shopping in mind. Because it requires more simplicity and fluidity in the checkout experience.
Mobile retail commerce sales have skyrocketed in the past 5 years, jumping from 52% to 73% of total eCommerce sales worldwide (Statista). This ubiquity has led to the growth of a whole new point of sale as the new normal of shopping: M-commerce. Consumers now have the opportunity to obtain additional savings and take advantage of various popular deals.
However, getting the most out of such tools is not a simple task but rather a journey. Because M-commerce must be continually optimised, and paid attention to in terms of changes, trends, and online visit habits among consumers.
How simplified is your checkout process? What happens when a website requires a user to enter a large number of characters? Or keep track of numerous logins? Because it doesn’t really scream “simplicity” when a consumer journey involves logging into shopping portals. Or navigating between multiple screens. Those frictions can be especially irritating for a mobile shopping experience!
That’s why a flawless, and simple, online customer experience is one of the key differentiators of successful retailers. The most essential stage is checkout, where a transaction may be won or lost. Yet, countless websites still provide a bad checkout experience, only to wonder why so many customers abandon their shopping carts.
Spoiler alert: our survey highlights how address autocomplete solutions might be the key to a seamless checkout experience. Whether on a desktop or a mobile device. In fact, 57% of retailers use autocompletion (Woosmap’s “Top 100 UK online retailers benchmark” 2022). What about you?
Baymard Institute also gave an insight into the various reasons for cart abandonment. In 2022, they collected 4,384 responses from US consumers to this question: “Have you abandoned any online purchases during the checkout process in the past 3 months? If so, for what reasons?”.
If we exclude the shipping cost factor, we’d find that compulsory account creation and lengthy checkout processes are among the main culprits.
Reasons for abandonments during checkout
Source: Baymard Institute, 2022
When we focus on the essential elements of a checkout process, we can observe that creating an account is frequently the most chosen option. At least for retailers, because consumers have different feelings about those tactics. Some online stores do not allow users to shop prior to creating an account. But in such scenarios, potential buyers just abandon their shopping cart if they're required to provide further information than their email and shipping addresses.
However, we noticed that over two-thirds of these businesses have opted for a guest account. This alternative approach to checkout suggests that “mandatory account setup” might be a significant barrier in the checkout process.
Sometimes overlooked, the address filling stage of the checkout process is the last crucial step with regard to securing a purchase. Our findings on the Top 100 UK retailers reveal that almost half the companies have managed to reduce the number of clicks required to fill an address section. Down to just 2 clicks. Whilst saving clicks is certainly a step in the right direction, it doesn’t completely solve the address accuracy issue.
How lengthy is the address-filling process on your site?
Source: Woosmap’s “Top 100 UK online retailers benchmark” 2022
To make matters worse, some websites force people to choose their address from a long dropdown list. This is enough to discourage even the most motivated of buyers.
This is where address autocomplete comes into play and often makes the world of difference. Though the majority of online UK retailers rely on autocomplete to help, more than 40% of them don’t have a solution in place.
To solve the address accuracy issue, Woosmap’s API integrates with the Royal Mail PAF (Postcode Address File) and MR (Multiple Residence) data. Those databases contain more than 30 million business and residential addresses, as well as 1.8 million postcodes. More than 37,000 UK businesses use the Royal Mail PAF. We also include address lookup for France. And Standard Postal Code search for 20 countries including the UK, the USA, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Belgium. We also propose advanced Postal Code Search for 119 countries, from Afghanistan (af) to Western Sahara (eh). You can find more details about Woosmap’s Localities API Coverage on our Developers blog.
Interested to know more about Woosmap’s address and postcode finder?
See it in action here
Address autocomplete can also be used to save customers more time ! Because in terms of customer experience time is money. In fact, 30% of US shoppers say they will abandon their shopping cart if asked to re-enter their credit card number. And 25% if they have to re-enter their shipping info (Forter study, 2019). So how fast is fast enough for today’s consumers' needs? An entire checkout process should not take more than 30 seconds, or people are less likely to buy something online. This is according to half of the US shoppers surveyed by Forter. And those 30 seconds takes into account the unavoidable time for credit card security verification!
There are varying types of autocomplete options. For example, some companies use solutions offering autocomplete from the first letter typed in research fields, which is very expensive. Because credits are used each time a request is made to a geolocation API. But autocomplete solutions can also be cost-effective with smart credit plans and volume discounts. If you want to optimise your customer journey and your geolocation budget, Woosmap’s free “get started” plan includes 40K free credits per month.
A very small number of vendors only autocomplete postcodes, whilst a little more of them purely restrict themselves to address autocompletion. But with the best in class address autocomplete solution, it makes it really easy for customers to type a location search whilst avoiding “no results found”. It is also possible to minimise typing errors with a predictive autocomplete tool that covers towns, cities, neighbourhoods, postcodes, full addresses and points of interest.
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, online retail sales only accounted for 20% of all retail sales. This figure almost doubled to reach 36% in February 2021, remaining at a high 29% even as stores fully reopened in April 2021. Click and collect, also known as “buy online, pickup in store” (BOPIS), became one of the hottest retail trends at that time, increasing by more than 500% year on year.
It is no exaggeration to say that Click and collect has allowed many retailers to survive during these tough times. However, in the same time, e-commerce witnessed an increase in cart abandonments that can also be linked to the rise of mobile shopping. A harsh reminder that mobility and ubiquity don’t rhyme with consumer loyalty.
But click and collect boosted by geolocation can go a long way to smooth things over between a brand and its customers. On the consumer side, curbside and in-store pick-up is an important way to save time by skipping queuing. But it is also a great way to save on shipping costs. On the retailer side, Buy Online, Pick-Up in Store (BOPIS) can also optimise order fulfilment. As staff can be notified about customers' arrival times and prioritise orders. BOPIS Geolocation also doesn’t stop at the shop’s address lookup. Retailers can go the extra mile by indicating specific private addresses (out-door or in-door) for pick-up areas, thereby improving customer satisfaction with VIP treatment they need!
Do you want solutions to improve your checkout experience?
Some of the UK’s leading retailers (for example Screwfix, Toolstation and Mitchells & Butlers) already rely on our geolocation and address autocomplete solutions to offer a seamless checkout experience.
Are you ready to get to the next level of checkout?
If you want to go further
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