3 Problems With My Ecommerce Checkout Funnel And Conversion Issues With My Online Store That I Finally Got Around To Fixing

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My online shop has been open for several years now and even after all of this time, I continue to find problems in some of the most obvious places.

Now you would think that since my store has achieved double or triple digit growth every year since launch that my website would be like a well oiled machine.

Photo By Taylor Sloan

But the truth is that I have a huge laundry list of things that need improvement. And the problem is that this list is quite large so I always have to prioritize my time especially since I have a day job and 2 kiddos to play with.

Also, keep in mind that my shop is live 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Therefore, every single change that I make no matter how small needs to be tested thoroughly.

Any bugs that I introduce to my shopping cart can have a drastic impact on conversions which is why I’m extra careful whenever I make any design changes.

So why is the title of this post about problems that “I finally got around to fixing”? As you know, I’ve been working on and testing my mobile site for quite some time now. And since I was already “under the hood” of my website, I finally decided to fix some really annoying issues with the store.

Honestly, some of these problems have either had a negative effect on conversions or have annoyed me for quite some time now and should have been fixed a long time ago. Please feel free to ridicule me in the comments sections if you must:).

The Dreaded Double Submission Problem

The first problem that I fixed is actually fairly common. Sometimes it can take quite a long time for a website to send a customer’s information to the credit card processor and receive a response whenever a customer tries to place an order.

And during the 2-10 seconds that it takes to completely process an order, sometimes a customer gets impatient and hits the “submit” button again.

Now I don’t know why most shopping carts have this problem, but whenever a customer hits the submit button on my website more than once, a new and identical order is placed online.

What this means is that a customer’s order can come through multiple times and their credit card can be charged multiple times. Needless to say, this is really bad.

We have lived with this issue for a quite a long time now simply because it doesn’t happen very often. Every month or so, we get maybe one or two double submits so I never made this issue a priority to fix. However, this past February was especially bad.

In fact, we had one customer get so impatient with our website that they hit the “submit” button 6 times which resulted in 5 duplicate orders.

And when this customer saw 6 duplicate credit card charges on her statement, she was furious and sent us a nasty email. Granted, we always refund duplicate orders immediately after they are placed but sometimes it takes one full pay period for the refund to show up.

In any case, this lady got so pissed off and thought that we were trying to cheat her that she cancelled her order and filed a complaint with her credit card company. After this incident, I knew I had to fix this issue.

Turns out that the fix was rather easy. Here are the lines of code I added to my website to prevent the dreaded double submissions problem. (Note: This fix requires JQuery)

<script type=”text/javascript”>
$(‘input[type=submit]’).attr(“disabled”, “disabled”);
$(‘input[type=image]’).attr(“disabled”, “disabled”);

What this code essentially does is it disables the submit button after it is clicked. Pretty simple eh? Should have fixed this long ago.

Confusing Login Screen

The second problem I fixed recently had to do with the first screen of my checkout process where a customer has to choose whether to create an account or checkout without an account. Here is a picture of my “login” page before my changes.

The problem was that some customers arrived at this screen and assumed that they needed a special login or account in order to complete their purchase.

Now even though we clearly provide the option to checkout without an account, it’s not always readily obvious to people who don’t read the text carefully.

What usually happens at this point is that the customer either calls and places the order over the phone or abandons their shopping cart altogether. Now to my credit, I wasn’t really aware that this was happening until recently when we started receiving an unusual flurry of calls asking us how to place an order.

If you haven’t figured it out already, the problem with our login page is that the checkout buttons don’t stand out enough in the upper block of text.

Since we lump the regular checkout button in the same paragraph as the express checkout button, it ends up looking like a block of text. So a customer who doesn’t read very carefully can be led to believe that they need to sign-in in order to make a purchase.

To solve this problem, I separated the 2 options and made the checkout buttons more obvious to the customer. I also rewrote the verbiage to make the “registering for an account” part of checkout less obvious.

Shopping Cart Abandonment On The Last Step

The final problem that I fixed had to do with customers abandoning their shopping cart on the final step of checkout after they’ve already entered in their credit card information. Under normal circumstances, this should be extremely rare.

Once a customer enters in their personal information and their credit card numbers, it’s almost always a guaranteed conversion. That is…unless you screw up the confirmation page. Let’s see if you can see the problem in the screenshot below.

If you look at the page really quickly, you might think that you have already finished placing your order. In fact, we’ve had several customers call us to complain that they never received their order because they never actually completed the checkout process!

One of the main reasons that customers think they are done with their purchase is because the “Confirm Order” button is so tiny and it’s displayed in the lower right corner in a color that blends in with the rest of the site.

By replacing the “confirm” button with a much larger button with a different colored gradient, we’ve since reduced the abandonment rate on this page.

The Changes Never End

These 3 changes have been live for a little over a month now and everything seems to be working smoothly. Our shopping cart abandonment rate on the confirmation page went down from about 6% down to 3%.

Our abandonment rate on the “login” page has also seen similar reductions. And not having to deal with duplicate orders has been a major relief.

It just goes to show that conversion optimization never ends. The moral of the story is that no matter how well your online shop is designed, you will always find some customer who will get confused by your checkout process. If you keep things simple, you’ll have a better chance of converting the sale.

Final Note: The proper way to test your changes is to perform A/B testing on your pages. The reason I didn’t use A/B testing in the above cases was because I already knew that my pages had problems that needed to be fixed.

In the future, I may test different versions of the login screen to see what works best.

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9 thoughts on “3 Problems With My Ecommerce Checkout Funnel And Conversion Issues With My Online Store That I Finally Got Around To Fixing”

  1. Austin Choi says:

    I’m going to be honest and say that I didn’t notice anything wrong with any of those pages. I guess most people don’t read things very carefully.

  2. Web Developer says:

    You might want to consider redoing all of the buttons on your entire site to make them standout better. Perhaps use a gradient or a drop shadow on your text to make them pop out of your screen. This should help with your calls to action

    1. On my list but the most egregious problems have been fixed for now.

  3. Larry says:

    You know what? I just did some testing on my shop and I have the double submit problem too and my website is using a pretty recent shopping cart.

    1. Hey Larry,
      Depending on how your shopping cart does the submission process, I would do a few searches online first for your specific cart before implementing code to fix the problem.

  4. Vincent D says:

    I agree that a lot of customers are not tech savvy and they don’t read very carefully.

    Steve, I thought by this time you could have quit your day job already like your wife did. It’s safe to keep a salary job and a business together, but it’s just a crazy busy life style… I don’t know how you can manage that. Will you open a class on time management for us newbie business owners?

    1. Hey Vincent
      Even if we hit the lottery, I’d probably still be working somewhere in technology. While I could quit my job at this point due to the multiple income streams I have from my course, blog and shop, I don’t plan on quitting anytime soon. It’s really not that crazy. It’s just a matter of setting aside a little bit of time everyday and being consistent about it. I actually have a decent amount of free time to do whatever I want.

  5. I’m totally guilty of abandoning checkouts, sometimes on the grounds of price but mostly out of the sheer fact people nowadays want everything to blend or gel instead of blatantly saying here is the checkout button buy here, so if I did go through to your buy now page, you SERIOUSLY need to make me aware of where to PAY if not I’m outta here!Gone! and you’ve lost a sale.
    So I would say highlight your buttons or make them bigger a different shade of colour anything to attract the customer away from the bright lights into the checkout process.

  6. Ruth says:

    I’m new to E-commerce and am just creating a shop. I tested a purchase by buying my own product and it strangely added 1p (British) to the total
    Price with no explanation at all! Any ideas why this is happening anyone and how do I stop it? I know it is only 1p but I can imagine customers getting peed off about it!! Thanks for your page too.

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