12 Quick Checkout Optimization Tactics That Work

In today’s competitive eCommerce environment, every click can lead to a conversion.

Optimizing your checkout process is akin to paving a smooth, direct road for your customers as they make their way to a purchase. 

For e-commerce retailers and marketing professionals, understanding and implementing checkout optimization strategies are non-negotiables for boosting sales and enhancing the shopping experience.

In this post, you’ll learn 12 proven checkout optimization strategies to reduce friction and drive your conversion rate higher.

Let’s jump in.


What is Checkout Optimization?

Checkout optimization refers to the process of making your checkout as simple, intuitive, and efficient as possible. 

As well as reducing friction, checkout optimization also refers to implementing checkout strategies that can increase your AOV and drive more sales too. 

By refining this crucial stage, you can significantly reduce cart abandonment rates and increase conversions.

Why Does Checkout Optimization Matter?

Think of your checkout process as the final hurdle in your e-commerce race. No matter how well you've run the race, a stumble at the last hurdle can cost you the victory. 

In e-commerce, a complex or time-consuming checkout process can deter even the most eager buyers, resulting in abandoned carts and lost sales.

How many sales? Well, data from Baymard suggest that a whopping 17% of shoppers ditch their purchase because the checkout process is too complicated.

So, without further ado,  let’s dive into thirteen strategies you can use to make your checkout as slippery as an eel.

12 Powerful Checkout Optimization Tips for More Sales

1. Add checkout cross-sells

Checkout upsells are supplementary offers that you present to customers as they’re checking out. These offers convert well and can add serious muscle to your AOV.

Here’s an example of a well-executed checkout upsell from clothing brand Organic Basics:

An image of an optimized checkout from Organic Basics using cross sells at checkout

As I’m checking out, Organic Basics recommends two supplementary products to add to my order.

Now, we would have gone with a lower ticket cross-sell here, somewhere around 30% of the total cart value to hit the impulse buy sweet spot. But this is probably working quite well for them.

The key thing is that your checkout upsells are unimposing. The last thing you want to do is distract customers at this crucial stage. So, pop-ups and discount timers are out of the question.

Non-physical products work well as checkout cross-sells too. We’ve seen many merchants have success with cross-selling things like gift wrapping, and shipping insurance.

📖Case Study: How Hike Footwear Used Checkout Cross-sells to Generate an Extra $128,223 in Just 7 Months

Facing the challenge of maximizing revenue per order, Hike Footwear used ReConvert to implement checkout cross-sells and post-purchase upsells, resulting in an impressive $677,147 in additional revenue. Read the full Story.

2. Remove ‘return to cart’ links from checkout

One of the core tenets of checkout optimization is to reduce distractions. Many eCommerce platforms (such as Shopify) include a ‘return to cart’ button as default on their checkout pages.

We've run AB tests which took minutes to set up including hiding the 'Return to cart' link in checkout since users can rely on their browser 'back' button or the breadcrumb” says Yusuf Shurbaji from Prismfly.

a unoptimized checkout with the 'return to cart' button still present

Yusuf continues - “We've seen this change increase order volume by up to 10% with over 95% statistical significance." 

In the world of checkout optimization, sometimes the simplest changes can yield the biggest results. 

🔥Pro Tip: The team at Increasly has compiled an easy-to-follow guide to help you remove the ‘return to cart' link from your checkout page.

3. Offer free shipping & returns

Report after report says the number one reason for cart abandonment is unexpected fees at checkout.

So, it’s worth experimenting with free shipping. Or at the very least, showing shoppers the total costs upfront.

Now, free shipping doesn’t have to impact your profit margin. You can build the costs of shipping into your product prices. Alternatively, use a free shipping threshold to increase your AOV.

Similarly, many shoppers are anxious about purchases that will be hard to return. So, revise your return policy to ensure that it’s fair. If logistically possible, free returns are best - however, this isn’t always financially feasible for many businesses. 

So crunch the numbers and create a return policy that works for both you and your customers.

4. Apply a discount for first-time orders

We know that unexpected fees reduce conversions at checkout. So, what if we flip that barrier into a facilitator by offering an unexpected discount?

That’s exactly what clothing brand Everlane does for their first-time customers:

An image of Everlanes optimized checkout with an introductory offer for first time customers

The price at checkout is unexpected. But it’s unexpectedly lower than the shopper anticipated. Supplement brand Athletic Greens also uses this strategy, but offers new customers a shaker as a free gift:

So, think about how you can give your customers unexpected nudges (rather than speed bumps) to get them through your checkout flow.

5. Enable guest checkout

Forcing shoppers to create an account before completing a purchase can be a major turnoff.

Seriously, nearly half of online shoppers prefer guest checkouts. Often, customers just want to buy an item and be on their way.

But hold up. Aren’t customer accounts useful? Can’t you use them to gather customer data and encourage repeat purchases? 

Yes, you can.

However, customer accounts are a double-edged sword. And in our book, mandatory accounts damage revenue more than giving customers the guest checkout option.

The wisest approach is to default to guest checkout, and then offer simple account creation on your thank you page like Shopify store Gymshark does:

Gymshark has the option to ‘Log in’ for returning users. But without logging in, users can checkout as guests and then seamlessly create an account post-purchase.

Remember, your shoppers want convenience and efficiency. Any unnecessary steps in the checkout process increase the risk of frustration and abandonment. 

6. Reduce form fields

If you’ve ever done your tax returns, you know that long forms create friction.

The same is true for your checkout forms. For every extra field customers must fill in, you’ll see a drop in conversions.

For example, look at Baymard’s checkout performance data below:

It’s clear that fewer form fields are correlated with higher checkout useability (read: sales).

Look at how clothing brand Abercrombie chops its first form to one field. On the next page, Abercrombie also makes the shipping and payment address the same by default—a nice trick to save shoppers from entering their details twice:

So, only ask customers for the information you need to complete their order. Hide or remove any unnecessary form fields, such as ‘company name’, ‘confirm email’, ‘title’, and ‘phone number’ (where the primary contact is by email).

🔥Pro Tip: Collecting emails upfront means you can also send abandoned cart emails, without customers progressing through the entire checkout form.

7. Provide multiple payment and shipping options

Consumers are willing to buy items, provided they can have them quickly, and most importantly via flexible payment options like Buy Now, Pay Later

multiple shipping options and payment options are essential for an optimized checkout page

Seriously, up to 40% of shoppers are likely to abandon their purchase if an online store doesn’t have multiple payment options.

So, ensure that you offer the three most popular payment options in the market you’re selling. It’s also worth analyzing the most popular devices among your customers - for example, if 70% of your customers are iPhone users, you should offer Apple Pay.

ACI Worldwide reports that offering the top three payment methods vs just the most popular can boost checkout conversions by 30%.

8. Drive sales with psychological triggers

Using an excessive amount of sales triggers at checkout can seem spammy. So we don’t advise that.

However, subtly adding a sense of scarcity and urgency can nudge customers in the right direction.

For example, look at how clothing brand Everlane, adds a little nudge to the bottom of their checkout page with the text ‘Psst, get it now before it sells out’:

Everlane’s pieces are frequently out of stock. Their customers know this, so this sales trigger doesn’t come across as too salesy

Another clever way to leverage urgency is with limited one-click upsell offers that appear immediately after checkout.

Take this one-click upsell offer using a Pandora gift bag as an example. Once a customer buys a Pandora item, they’re offered this gift bag immediately after hitting ‘Complete Order’:

Using urgency after checkout means that your initial sale is already secured, so you don’t risk alienating or distracting customers.

Play you also help them get everything they need. If you want to test powerful one-click upsells to your store, grab ReConvert’s free trial and see how much extra revenue they can generate for you.

9. Offer live chat support

When you’re shopping in-store, you typically have a store assistant to answer any questions you have.

an image showing live chat support on the checkout page

Live chat support serves this function in the eCommerce environment. At checkout, your customers can have any number of questions such as:

  • How long do I have to return this?
  • Why does my discount code not work?
  • When will my order arrive?
  • Does this product require assembly?

Even if you have answers to such questions elsewhere on your website, you’d be surprised how many shoppers miss them or aren’t bothered looking for them.

And even if shoppers click away in search of an answer, they’re leaving the most crucial stage for conversion, which increases the chances they’ll get distracted and not return.

10. Add visual progress indicators

Visual indicators displaying the checkout process help customers know where they are and how much longer it will take to complete their purchase.

“By providing a clear indication of how far along users are in the checkout process, it creates a sense of accomplishment and progress, which can increase motivation to complete the purchase,” says Yusuf Shurabaji, Co-Founder & Partner at Prismfly. 

“This drives higher conversion rates and ultimately revenue” he adds. 

11. Use a one-page checkout

A one-page checkout is a checkout process that condenses all of the elements of a standard checkout process onto a single page, including cart contents, payment details, shipping and billing address, and shipping options. 

The good news is that if you’re on Shopify, they’ve rolled out one-page checkout for all stores. If you’re on another platform, creating a one-page checkout may require custom development.

an image of a one page checkout

One-page checkout takes a lot of the headache out of the buyer journey for customers. By reducing the number of checkout steps and clicks required from the customer, one-page checkouts streamline the entire checkout process. This also eliminates wait times between page loads and confusion about where to go next  - which means it’ll likely increase your conversion rate.

12. Remind shoppers why they buy

One final checkout optimization strategy worth testing is adding trust-building elements to checkout. Try social proof, trusted payment symbols, and other elements to increase shopper confidence.

For example, here’s a checkout page featuring a customer review to bolster shopper trust:

While astrology isn’t our jam, the underlying principle remains true: reviews boost conversions, with 91% of individuals aged 18 to 34 trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

So run an A/B test on your checkout - one with social proof and one without to determine which checkout converts better.

Use these Checkout Optimization Strategies Today!

Perfecting your checkout process can significantly impact your bottom line. 

By adopting these 12 checkout optimization strategies, you're not just improving the checkout experience; you're also showing your customers that a convenient shopping experience is your top priority. 

The easier you make it for customers to go from ‘I want this’ to ‘I bought this’, the more sales you’ll make. 

Remember, testing is at the heart of checkout optimization (or any optimization related to eCommerce). The tips above are best practices. They’re a great starting point to figure out what works for your store and your audience.

No two checkouts will be the same. So, it’s crucial to implement small changes, one at a time, figure out what works for you, and improve your results over time.


Checkout Process Optimization FAQ

Let's quickly cover some of the most commonly asked questions relating to checkout optimization

What is checkout optimization?

Checkout optimization refers to the process of refining and improving the steps a customer takes to complete a purchase on an e-commerce website. The goal is to make this process as smooth, intuitive, and efficient as possible to maximize conversions and minimize cart abandonment.

What is the checkout process?

The checkout process is the series of steps a customer goes through to finalize their purchase on an e-commerce website. This typically involves entering shipping and billing information, selecting a payment method, reviewing the order, and confirming the purchase.

What is the purpose of checkout?

The purpose of the checkout process is to facilitate the seamless completion of a transaction between a customer and an online retailer. It's the final step in the purchasing journey where customers make payment for the products or services they wish to buy.

What does checkout mean in marketing?

In marketing, checkout refers to the crucial stage in the customer journey where a potential lead transitions into a paying customer by completing a purchase. Optimizing this stage is essential for maximizing revenue and improving overall conversion rates.

What is a checkout page?

A checkout page is the specific webpage on an e-commerce site where customers finalize their purchases. It typically includes fields for entering shipping and billing information, selecting shipping options, choosing payment methods, and reviewing and confirming the order before submission. This page plays a critical role in the checkout process and is often optimized for usability and conversion.

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