Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Streamlining checkout by allowing single click purchasing

This article explores the idea of simplifying the ordinary checkout process down to a single click.

Here's what I'm talking about. Image you shop at a store online frequently. Let's pretend that you are a piano tuner by trade and that you find yourself purchasing new piano tuning tools, or consumable supplies each week. 

Your process might look like this from the perspective of the business...

  1. User locates the product that they want to buy.
  2. User adds each item to a shopping cart.
  3. User proceeds to checkout.
  4. User enter Address Information
  5. User enter Billing information
  6. User reviews their order
  7. User confirms the order by clicking "Place Order".
  8. Company fulfills the order

However, your process might look like this from you...

  1. You locate one of the products that you want.
  2. You add it to your cart.

    (Step 1 and 2 need repeated about 20 different times because the piano supply company is not up-to-date yet with shopping list functionality)
  3. After your grueling ordeal, you click to go to checkout.
  4. You enter your address
  5. You enter your billing
  6. You quickly check to make sure your order is right.
  7. You click the confirm button to submit your order.

    (then...)
  8. You forget if you used your business card, or your personal card. You have to go to your email to check to see if a confirmation receipt was sent that sums up that information.
  9. The email doesn't seem to have a tracking number, so you call the company to find out about how long the shipment will take.
  10. You check your mail box. You check your door step. (about 8-10 times).
  11. Finally 3-4 of the 20 items arrives on your door step. 
  12. You check your mail box. You check your door step. (2 more times).
  13. ugghhhh!!!! ok finally done.

    (Then, 2 weeks later, you have to go through it all again. What a pain!)


Ok, so this example was a bit extreme. That was the point. Not all checkout processes are this horrible. Not all companies are this un-empathetic towards their customers either. There are two points to the above example.

  1. Users see the process differently than the business.
  2. The process can ALWAYS benefit from being shorter.

Single Click Purchasing should be a no-brainer

Part of streamlining, or simplifying any process requires that we first understand the existing process. So often we see that websites come up with a checkout flow that fits into "industry standard" by splitting the process up into separate individual pages. Yes, it's likely because it is a save, time proven method.

Occasionally you see the site that has combined all the steps in the common checkout process into one giant super form. YUCK... and Yikes!

Here's my question. Why should a user have to enter their shipping and billing info every single time they shop with you.  Yes, there are going to be people who purchase using different billing info each purchase, but for many if not most of your users, it's likely going to be the case where that information stays static.

Here are some companies that have embraced the idea of storing the billing and shipping information, and then only making the user do what is the bar minimum. In essence, they've simplified the process down to having a list of products in a cart. This stands as the "review" step in the typical process. Then, to confirm after review, the user simply clicks the pre-configured "express buy everything on this list" button.

Companies that are offering single-click purchasing:
  • Amazon has "1-Click"
  • Apple has "Express Checkout"
  • Barnes and Noble has "Buy Now"
  • Facebook has "Buy Now with facebook"
  • eBay has "Bid with 1 click"
  • Home Shopping Network has "Express Buy"
  • QVC has "Speed Buy One-Step Verification"

Here are some companies that are offering single-click purchasing that is being run from a service provider...
  • Petco has "VISA Checkout (v.me)"
  • 1-800 flowers has "Google Wallet" and "VISA Checkout (v.me)"
  • Beyond the Rack has "MasterPass", "VISA Checkout (v.me)", and "Checkout with PayPal"
For the established company, we recommend that you devise a means to come up with your own technique that is inline with some of these larger innovative companies, while still carrying your own touch (i.e. phrasing, or button name).

If however you are just starting out, don't miss out on offering your customers a quick, convenient way to get their product without having to go through all the mess of regular check each and every time they need to buy products. Sure, first time makes sense, but then after that, your 3-4 step process becomes annoying.

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