Make Checkout Form Fields Feel Like a Holiday Wish List This Year

Make Checkout Form Fields Feel Like a Holiday Wish List This Year

6th December 2016

We recently kicked off a holiday blog series discussing the cart abandonment issues that plague eCommerce businesses of all sizes this time of year.

While cart abandonment is often the result of poor customer experience, it’s important to understand the various points of friction that diminish the customer experience. In this third post in the series, we’ll discuss the importance of checkout form usability and how validation issues can impact customer experience. (See Part 2 on Online Fraud here).

Finding customers for your eCommerce business and nurturing them through to the point that they complete purchases is no small task. And now that we’re in the midst of the holiday season, the pressure is on to realize a return on the investments in marketing and website optimization that you’ve made throughout the year.

Unfortunately, many eCommerce companies get customers to the checkout stage only to be hit with cart abandonment issues. There are multiple problems that can cause cart abandonment, but the most likely one you might be overlooking is your form fields.

5 Tips to Improve Checkout Form Customer Experience

Did you know that the average eCommerce site requires customers to fill in nearly 15 form fields during checkout? At first glance, you might think each form field is necessary. However, Baymard research discovered that most sites would benefit from a 20% to 60% reduction in fields.

The same research found that 27% of users have abandoned orders due to long and complicated checkout processes. Having too many form fields is simply too intimidating for customers.

If your own processes are a bit intimidating, the following 5 tips can help you improve the customer experience with your form fields:

  1. Include Automation Features: The fewer fields customers have to fill out, the fewer mistakes can be made that could potentially disrupt the checkout process. One example is to include auto-detection for customer location. With just one form field for the customer’s zip code, you can automatically fill in address fields and eliminate any possible errors.
  2. Combine Shipping/Billing Addresses by Default: There is certainly a sub-group of your customers that will need to enter separate shipping and billing addresses. But the vast majority of your customers will be shipping items to their homes. Reduce your total number of form fields by offering a separate section only when it’s requested.
  3. In-line Form Validation: Nothing is more disruptive from a checkout form field perspective than walking through the entire process only to submit and see an error. Display errors in real time with in-line validation.
  4. Reduce Clutter as Much as Possible: Many eCommerce sites have adopted dynamic pop ups to offer more information without cluttering forms. Reducing clutter helps to avoid intimidating customers with unnecessary information.
  5. Use Links to Hide Seldom-Used Fields: Another tip for reducing your total number of form fields is to hide those fields that customers don’t often need. For example, “Address Line 2” and “Company Name” can’t be eliminated from your forms—they are necessary for a sub-group of customers. However, you can hide these fields behind links so only those customers that need them have to see them.

These tips are best practices for checkout form design and flow. But just because you adhere to them doesn’t mean your customers won’t still experience friction with your forms. Form field validation errors (and identifying their causes) can pose significant problems.

Identifying Form Field Validation Errors and Other Points of Customer Experience Friction

During the holiday shopping rush, you can’t afford to have trouble identifying points of customer experience friction. You might have tested every aspect of your site, but there might still be a form field validation error plaguing a small group of your customers.

With so much additional traffic, form field validation errors will be magnified. One example is email address validation rules that are being misapplied. It’s not common, but there are certainly some customers who will have special symbols in their email addresses. These might not be invalid, but your rules might reject an entry to the point that you see cart abandonment.

These small problems must be prioritized and addressed accordingly—but identifying them is easier said than done.

If you want to learn how you can start identifying customer experience friction in real time (from form field errors and more), download our free eBook, Optimize the Customer Journey During the Holiday Season and Throughout the Year.

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