Online checkout should be an easy process. Experienced salesmen know to stop talking once the customer is ready to buy, but online, many checkout features become convoluted, confusing the customer and costing the business potential sales.

This was the experience of one online retailer who implemented usability testing to earn a staggering $300 million sales increase in just one year. The company, described in a recent article by Jared M. Spool, saw instant results after changing just one button in their checkout process.

The Problem

The client, a $25 billion a year retailer, had a fairly typical check out option on their website. Users were required to log in to the checkout site with an email address and password to complete the transaction, while new users were required to set up an account (asking for name, billing information and shipping address).

Spool explains, “The problem wasn’t as much about the form’s layout as it was where the form lived. Users would encounter it after they filled their shopping cart with products they wanted to purchase and pressed the Checkout button. It came before they could actually enter the information to pay for the product.”

From a user experience design perspective, the ordering of these pages caused confusion, frustration and distrust of the website’s true purpose for capturing information. Spool describes user reaction during testing:

We were wrong about the first-time shoppers. They did mind registering. They resented having to register when they encountered the page. As one shopper told us, “I’m not here to enter into a relationship. I just want to buy something.” Some first-time shoppers couldn’t remember if it was their first time, becoming frustrated as each common email and password combination failed. We were surprised how much they resisted registering.

Without even knowing what was involved in registration, all the users that clicked on the button did so with a sense of despair. Many vocalized how the retailer only wanted their information to pester them with marketing messages they didn’t want. Some imagined other nefarious purposes of the obvious attempt to invade privacy.

The Solution

Spool describes the simple solution, “The designers fixed the problem simply. They took away the Register button. In its place, they put a Continue button with a simple message: ‘You do not need to create an account to make purchases on our site. Simply click Continue to proceed to checkout. To make your future purchases even faster, you can create an account during checkout.’”

The Results

The company saw a 45% increase in the number of customers making purchases. The extra purchases totalled an addition $15 million in just the first month, with a yearly increase of $300,000,000.

Usability testing saved this company $300 million. The problem, once detected, was easily solved. Isn’t it time that your business implemented a digital strategy and user experience that puts users first?


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