A Glimpse Into The Future Of Customized Checkout
This is Anthony from Miva and I'm speaking to you from our offices here in San Diego, California. I want to start off by welcoming all of you who made the time to join us today. From the looks of things everyone in attendance on this phone call is quite heavily involved in some aspect of e-commerce. So I'll keep my introduction short and sweet so we can dive into the details of Customized Checkout, what it means for web store owners and the future of e-commerce.
I think all told, this webinar should be about 45 minutes in length, so I'll try to keep my part under 5 minutes. So again, my name is Anthony and I'm the Marketing Manager for Miva. We're one of the world's leading providers of e-commerce solutions for Enterprises in the 1 to 100 million dollar range, or what is also referred to as the high end of the small business market. To the right of me is Nick Adkins, our Lead Web Developer. So in our world, Nick and I see a lot of online stores every single day. Many of them who need help achieving one very specific goal and that's flawlessly moving their customers through checkout. It's no secret that most abandoned shopping carts happen when a shopper is attempting to check out and it's usually because of a problem the store owner doesn't even realize is there. However, once you stores check out issues have been identified, the biggest question is, does your shopping cart platform give you the ability to fix it, and in most cases, unfortunately the answer is no. I'm going to illustrate what I mean by taking a quick step back and painting you a picture of the 2015 eCommerce landscape.
So many of you on this call probably attended this year's Internet Retailer Conference in Chicago. It's by far the world's Premier e-commerce conference for vendors and store owners. This year was the biggest year ever. For IRCE there was over 30,000 attendees including representatives from the Top 500 e-commerce stores worldwide. It was quite an experience and if you attended you probably noticed the same thing I did. There weren't a huge number of e-commerce platforms even represented at the conference. Walking the show, I counted our booth, Miva’s booth and maybe 15 or 17 others. Not a huge number at what is the premier eCommerce event in North America, if not the world. Even among the ecommerce platforms that were represented, it didn't take much to notice how distinct the platforms were from one another in terms of the customers they were targeting. More importantly, the e-commerce issues they were capable of addressing. At IRCE I saw a number of entry level shopping carts. I saw the Etsys, the Shopify's and Volusions and the Big Commerces, they all had booths there. Their sales pitches were geared towards start up store owners wanting a pretty website out of the box ready to use. A point-and-click functionality was a huge selling point of theirs. Then of course given that Miva is predominantly a mid-market player, I made it my business to check out our competition; Magento Enterprise, Netsuite, Yahoo Stores and a few others. It didn't take long walking the conference to really confirm there's a pretty large chasm between the entry-level platforms out there and the mid-market players. One of the big differences is having to do with the store owners ability to customize their website, and in particular, their checkout process. So saying it another way, entry-level platforms really limit a store owners ability to customize their websites template code and thereby limit store owners ability to customize their checkout process. Mid-market players on the other hand, they allow you to customize pretty much anything you want in terms of how you want your check out flow to look and feel and or operate. So during my time at the conference in Chicago at the IRCE, I got to experience some pretty eye-popping examples of streamlined extremely intuitive checkout processes and some pretty subpar ones too. Here's an example that Nick will go into in a bit here of a very customized shopping cart that would be really indicative of what you'd see from a mid-market e-commerce platform. Once again they allow you to customize pretty much everything you want in terms of look feel and operational procedures.
So to recap in this intro, whether you're just getting into selling online or you're an established enterprise retailer looking long-term, if your goal is growth and longevity it's really important to realize the inherent differences among the ecommerce platforms available on the market today, which is particularly evident when it comes to guiding customers through your checkout process. So with that, I'm going to turn it over to my colleague Nick Adkins, who'll be taking a deeper dive into the world of customize checkout and how important it is when creating seamless online retail experiences.
Thanks for joining us again. So as Anthony said having an optimized checkout flow is the most important part of having a successful e-commerce store. If you think about, the random customers that are not motivated are probably going to leave before they even get to the checkout. So, once the motivated customers get to the checkout, any slight deterrence is going to make a direct impact on whether or not they complete the purchase or not. Today I'm going to go over a lot of different customizations, a lot of different features and things that you can do throughout the the checkout process to help your conversion rate. Remember when you customize your check out, it's very important to to do some AB testing, because every industry is different. The tactics they use are different. So it's important to really test all your changes and make sure you know what's working for your industry. Some helpful tools out there to AB test are Google Analytics (it’s a free service and they have what's called “Experiments” where you can do a great number of a meetings) and we use that quite a bit here at Miva Merchant. Also, another great resource for that is called Optimizely.com. This is just another AB testing resource that that can really help you determine what's right and what's not working for your checkout process.
In today's e-commerce world we all know the table setter for an optimized checkout is Amazon. They focus on motivation and call to action as the key points of conversion. Their checkout process is very clean and to-the-point with plenty of upsells and called to actions to really motivate that customer to complete the sale. So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about some tactics you can use that we can take from Amazon to use on your own store to improve your conversions. So first things first, let’s talk about the basket page. Displaying your contents well is one of the key features of a basket page. Make it easy for the user to see all the items in your cart, with images, descriptions and include all the cost, taxes, shipping, surcharges, anything that you can up front. With surprise cost further along in the checkout gives customers more reason to abandon their cart. So let's check out one of the great carts that that we have for example here and that's Blue and Cream. Blue and Cream does a great job of keeping a clean and descriptive basket page. You'll see here it matches their theme very well. Their checkout button stands out quite a bit. Personally, I would do something where the continue shopping button isn't as big as the checkout button, because you want to really motivate this person to check out. Overall though, this basket page really tells a customer, “This is what you have. Are you ready to move on? Let's get you to check out.” It shows a great image of what you have in your basket, it shows a description of what it is, all the attributes associated with it and it even gives you other express check out ways of checking out.
Another great shopping cart is Fashionable Canes. Once again they show a nice image of what you have in your cart, a great description, the ability to update your quantities and a nice big green button to proceed to checkout. Some other great features they have are things like security. We know that this page is secure. Also, it allows you to edit options as well. This is a great feature if you have a lot of options on your products. Every industry is different though. So this might not work for your industry, but they do things where if you click the “Edit Options,” you can then change your options right here without going back to or leaving the product. You can do it straight from the cart.
As far as the basket goes, so some other things to think about are showing a clear “Call to Action” button. Preferable using a different color than the other buttons so it stands out. Another thing is to make coupons not so prominent. On this page they don't have coupons, but they do a great job of hiding their coupons when they get to the actual checkout process. As you can see here you have this checkbox that says, “Do you have promotional coupons?” Sometimes when people see something like this, right off the bat they think, “oh I'm not special, I don't have a coupon. So let me go to google and find a coupon.” So now if I go Google something and looking for a coupon code for this cane, but then I see a coupon for another website that has a cane, I might go to that site and purchase from that site instead. So you only really want to show your coupons if somebody has one. Now, if you're doing a promotion, maybe do something where you fill in the coupon for them. Not necessarily submit the coupon, but fill it in. If you're doing a free shipping or Fourth of July sale, fill in the coupon and that way they feel special that they have that coupon code. You can do the same thing with Gift Certificates as well.
Some other features that store owners don’t take advantage of would be doing things like being able to change your quantity using a plus or minus sign. One important thing about the checkout process is ease of use and speed. Those are the two most important things, because you want the motivated customer to get in there, check out and get done with the order. So less clicks are better. Here they don't have a plus or minus, but you can do the plus or minus button to add the quantities for you, or this can be an input field and you can just type in the amount you want. Just simple clicks will speed up the process.
Next topic I want to talk about is creating an account. A lot of stores force people to create an account on their store. This isn't always a great thing for your conversions. In fact, it's been known that one out of four customers will abandon their cart upon checkout if you're forced to make an account. Now we all know how important it is to get email addresses for marketing purposes, but there are other ways of having customers create an account without forcing them to do so.Lotus Sculpture does a great job of this. So if I go through the checkout process here and save my cart continue shopping, you'll see I have the ability here to click in and I can log in if I have an account here, otherwise you can do what Scottevest does. If we add a product to a cart and then go through checkout you’ll see they first give them a number limited of options. So they give them the ability to check out right away. If they have an account they give them the ability to login, or if they don't have an account with them then they give them the ability to create an account with with Facebook. Now there is no button on here that says “Register.” There's no button on here that that says “hey you have to create an account,” because that kind of scares clients away. They really just say “I just want to check out. I don't want to create an account.” If you really want them to create an account within the checkout page, you can give them the option to create an account right here. You're already getting their email address and all the necessary information you would when they create an account, so why not just get one extra field for a password and then have them create an account through the checkout process. Packaging it all into one process is a great way of doing that.
Another great example of this is IDWholesaler. So ID Wholesaler forces the user to create an account, but once again, they package it in their checkout process so it looks a little bit cleaner. If I add a product to the cart here and I go check out, you'll see the first step in my process if I don't have an account and click “Continue,” this is my create account. If it's packaged within the checkout process, I don't send them away from the checkout. So once I fill this out and then continue on with the checkout process and the customer really doesn't know and I skipped the shipping and billing information, because it's all packaged into one page right here. So creating an account and getting the customer through the checkout process is probably one of the best parts about converting.
The Express checkout portion of it is key and one thing you can do to offer Express checkout is offer other ways to check out like Pay with Amazon, or PayPal Express. Using our PayPal Express Pay in Contents you can literally check out with 4 clicks of a button. So for example, if I go ahead and click “Pay with Checkout” or “Pay with PayPal,” I go to PayPal where I can then login. If I'm already logged in to my PayPal account it's going to send me directly to this page where I can just say continue and it leads me straight to the checkout process, where all I have to do is fill out my phone number because I don't have my phone number in PayPal. Then I can go ahead and complete my order. I can even create an account in here as they asked me as well. So I literally had 3-4 clicks if I wasn't logged into PayPal. 3 clicks if I was logged in PayPal and that really helps with the speed of the process. So if I'm a motivated buyer and all I want to do is is checkout, I can just simply click “Checkout with PayPal,” and then I'm done.
One of the other things that you really need to take into account these days is with mobile checkout. In today's market, a record number of shoppers are using smartphones and tablets for purchases. So it's vital to optimize your mobile checkout as much as your desktop. The checkout process mostly consists of filling out forms. So in the mobile process you want to make it as easy as possible. Remember, filling out a form on a mobile phone is very cumbersome and it can be very annoying. So you want to limit the amount of fields that you have when you when you check out on a mobile device. You want to hide the billing information and just have a check box that's already checked that says “Same as Shipping.” That way they can just fill out what they need to in the shipping and more times than not, your billing is going to be the same as your shipping. Another great option to alleviate the pain of filling out forms on a mobile phone is to offer the PayPal Express and Amazon Checkout. All these things work within your mobile phone as well.
The tactics that you use on your desktop are still in effect in the mobile world as well. One of the main things that you want to keep in mind on mobile and desktop is on the basket page has two forms of continued check out. Make sure one’s at the top of the page and one’s at the bottom of the page. This is just in case you have a bunch of items in your cart and you don't see that checkout at the bottom of the page, you're able to just click it right away at the top and continue with the checkout. You really want to limit the amount of clicks that your user has to click. A motivated buyer really wants to just purchase something and that's it. So the more ways that you can limit clicks and help them proceed through the checkout is best.
You'll see things like Clive Coffee. They don't even have a basket page. When you go ahead and add something your cart, you'll see they have this kind of mini basket that pops up here and you have the ability to empty your cart here, you have the ability to continue shopping, or check out. Now it like I said, every industry is different. They they don't think that they need to add a place where you can update your quantity in here. I mean if I'm buying a $2,000 espresso machine, I’m probably not going to buy more than one of them. However, as soon as I click checkout, they offer the fast ways of checking out here, or if I can proceed without an account and they have a great one page check out, that all I need to do is fill out all the information, they display some upsells, and then once I'm done I place my order. So it's a nice clean quick way of checking out. That really helps the customer proceed through the checkout a lot faster.
Fashionable Canes has a one-page checkout as well. It's simple information that you're going to put in the shipping address. Then your shipping methods will populate. You put in your your credit card number and complete order right from one page. That's another great feature that you can do in order to help a motivated buyer checkout.
Thanks Nick. Great insights as always. So folks we’ll open up for Q&A here in a minute. What I'm hoping all of you got from the last 15 minutes or so is that as you explore the capabilities of your current and future platforms you really owe it to yourselves to dive into the level at which you're capable of customizing your checkout flow to adapt to your customers evolving expectations. As exciting companies like Amazon are pushing the envelope when it comes to what people expect when it comes to check out and in the highly competitive 2015 in ecommerce environment, it's not really an option to play follow-the-leader anymore. You've got to be innovating.
So I know Nick threw a lot at you in a very short amount of time and that really brings me to the next point I want to make. I want to make a quick plug for something that I think all of you will find valuable in terms of getting a bigger picture view of this industry and the innovative ideas that are shaping the future of e-commerce. So on July 15th Miva’s hosting our quarterly regional MivaCon User Conference in Seattle, Washington and it's an opportunity for ecommerce store owners to come together and gather the information and tools they need to succeed in this ever-evolving online marketplace. Normally, it is $249 and it's a one-day event held at the Westin hotel in downtown Seattle. What we’ve decided to do this year is to offer 15 scholarships for the event, which would make the event free of charge for you. Last I checked we had a few scholarships left for those of you on this call that might be interested. So we're going to be covering that one day event in Seattle on July 15th. We're going to be covering topics such as
How to get the word out to your high-value potential customers, How to architect proper sales finals to draw them into your eCommerce stores, we're going to be diving deeper into the topic we covered today, “Optimize Checkout,” we're going to cover bigger pictures topics such as the rapidly changing landscape of e-commerce in 2015 and how to adapt and evolve in today's increasingly competitive e-commerce ecosystem. We’ll also be giving away free e-commerce consultations and other helpful tips to help you build and grow your ecommerce business. So it's going to be a great event and once again we're offering some scholarships, which means it would be free of charge for you. So in your webinar chat boxes here shortly, you should see both a link and a promotion code and it only takes a minute to sign up. There's no credit card information required since you'll be attending for free. These promotion codes will be good I believe until the end of our Q&A here today. So with that, I know we had a couple questions come in from John Griffin and a few others, so let's start with John's.
Q: Are these checkout pages we're showing, are they custom-developed or are these plugins?
A: So to answer your question John, all the pages I showed were Miva checkouts. With Miva we offer Frameworks or templates that you can install on your store and they have a customized feel basically. I'm going to exit out of this presentation here. Sites like Lotus Sculpture is a customized template that we offer. So it’s a template that we installed and then we went through and we modified it to the customers liking. Other sites like Blue and Cream that we showed, this one is is a very customize checkout. It's not necessarily a plug-in, but it is definitely a customized checkout. We don't really have a plug-in for a check out with Miva. We have a default three-step checkout process, which four-steps if you count the basket page, but it's the basket page and then it goes to the customer information page where the customer fills out all their information as far as shipping and billing and then it goes to a shipping and payments option page where you select your shipping method you're paying method and then finally it goes into the payment information page, where you finally fill out all of your your payment information. So Miva’s templates are what we call ReadyThemes and we have four and then a Base ReadyTheme that are absolutely free. If you have a Miva store, you can just go to miva.com/ReadyThemes. You can download any of these templates and then install them on your store. What this will give you is a customized template for your Miva store. I hope that answers your question.
Also, with Miva you have the ability to customize your templates as much as you want. The core software is not open source, but the ability to customize templates is very easy. Any page within Miva you have the ability to customize the template with a little bit of HTML and CSS knowledge. You could even get by without that type of knowledge with the new ReadyTheme functionality. By installing one of these themes, it gives you the ability to add navigational elements, add content items and things like that very easily.
Also, to expand on the Open Source comment. Miva is not open source, but the great thing about the software is that we're customizable with just about any sort of API integration. In fact we we do hundreds of API integration of month on our Enterprise sites I build and even on our mid-level range as well. We can integrate with any type of API needed to as far as a third-party software and then the actual templating language, every template, every page in Miva is customizable to your hearts extend basically.
Q: So if you could go back to the Scottevest example so I can translate this question for you. Where you mentioned there is a page with three options, there is the checkout with Facebook, so my question is what's the logic behind having this page versus embedding this on the next page and having that all be a part of it. For example, it seem like Fashionable Canes did this and it seems like an extra step in the process to have made this choice and not be at their basket.
A: It definitely adds an extra step in there. Some industries really rely on that email address and so they really want that customer to sign up or create an account or use their login in order to purchase things so then they can they can use marketing, email blasts and things like that. So when it's hidden, when it's on the next page like fashionable canes did where it's the “Click here to login” type thing, sometimes that's not seen by customers and you don't really have the ability to go grab their email address. With this step it really kind of puts it out there in the open that “hey if you have a login go ahead and do it” or we’ll make it really easy on you and use login with Facebook. Miva also has a login with Google Plus and they also have a login and Pay with Amazon as well. All that you can integrate into Miva’s account and have them create an account with one of those other third-party accounts.
Q: Here’s a question from Bryce Logan. Which Miva sites accepts Bitcoin?
A: We have thousands and thousands of sites on Miva and we've yet to integrate anything specifically with Bitcoin. That's not to say it's not possible. It's just a matter of looking into their API and figuring out how we can create some sort of integration tool to accept the Bitcoin Payment Processing. Here at Miva in our Professional Services Department, we have yet to integrate a store with Bitcoin. I'm not sure if a Miva store has actually integrated with it. On our forums (Miva.com) we have a very very big community and a lot of people who aren't associated with our Miva Professional Services still go on there and ask us questions. The President of our company is on there everyday responding, developers like myself are always on their responding as well and you might be able to find an answer on there. If you go to miva.com/forums and just see if anybody has integrated with Bitcoin or created some sort of plug in or module that integrates with Miva. The core software of Miva doesn't have anything built in as of yet to integrate with Bitcoin. The great thing about Miva is that we’re ever expanding and we’re always creating updates. Every year we come out with 2 or 3 updates to the store and add built-in functionality as we find it more more useful. As more clients are asking for it, we take a deeper look into it and see how we can we can integrate that into the store a lot easier for everyone else.
I wanted to thank you once again for coming and joining us today, taking time out of your busy days to educate yourselves on customized checkout. Both Nick and I will be available for questions offline as well.
We look forward to meeting you and spending time with you learning about your businesses and talking to you about how to improve things. We really are here to support you in your business. So with that being said, I look forward to doing this more in the future, so keep an eye out for other education webinars in your inboxes here soon. Thanks everyone.