An overview of the 3 most popular layouts for eCommerce websites

Ensuring that the checkout process of your eCommerce website is as simple and streamlined as possible is one of the most important factors in converting visitors to customers. Recent studies have shown the average abandoned shopping cart rate is over 66% with primary causes being overly complicated forms and the length of time taken to enter the required information to complete the purchase.

The aim is to design your checkout so that someone can buy what they need with as little effort as possible, while still capturing all of the information required to fulfil the order. A perfect checkout nails the design, technical requirements and psychology behind the purchase, so that it’s not only functional but looks great and understands the user’s needs.

Magento offers a few different options depending on the product or service that you are offering and your individual business needs. Here’s a rundown of the three most popular checkout layouts.

Step-By Step Checkout

This means that all of the required checkout information including address details, shipping method, payment information, and final order review are on successive pages requiring completion before you can progress to the next page. While some research has shown that the number of pages doesn’t impact conversion rates as much as the intuitiveness and simplicity of the design, having each step on a separate page can slow down the process and make the customer feel as though they are giving away a lot of information. This is why most eCommerce sites have moved away from this style of checkout.

One Page Checkout

This is the default option for Magento sites, splitting the 6 checkout steps into an ‘accordion’ so that all of the information is on one page but each section requires completion before the next step is revealed. This is accompanied by a progress bar which tells the customer how many steps they have left to complete the purchase, so they know exactly where they are in the process.

This style of checkout is very popular, with major companies like Apple and Nike adopting it. Being on a single page the user’s attention is focused on a small section at a time, eliminating distractions and making it seem more manageable. It also allows you to highlight errors easily by removing all of the correct fields and just leaving the information that needs amending. This makes any errors quickly and easily fixable and is a great way to improve conversion rates. Another advantage is that it looks ‘slick’ and modern, increasing trust and aligning you as a web savvy kind of company.

This checkout style can have technical issues when not set up correctly, particularly if users hit the back button. There can also be problems when viewing on a mobile, so it’s best to entrust the setup to an experienced Magento developer.

One Step Checkout

In real life you always look for the shortest line to get through the checkout. Therefore a checkout based on the idea that for every additional step in the process there is an increased risk that the customer will abandon their order makes sense. It shows all of the required information in a neat 3 column layout so that it can be entered and then completed with one click, speeding up the process. This approach is ideal for businesses that don’t require a lot of information before processing the order. However it’s important to be aware that some of the benefits of having everything in front of the customer at once will be negated if it appears overwhelming or they need to scroll below the fold to complete the required details. In terms of economy and speed in completing a purchase, when done correctly it’s One Step Checkout for the win.

Even after excluding the fantasy shoppers who are creating a wish list rather than seriously considering the purchase, a simple and clear checkout process optimised for your specific customers needs is going to reduce your shopping cart abandonment rates, which in turn increases conversions. Think carefully about how much information you actually need to fulfil the order, as the key goal is making the sale (or whatever your conversion is). For example, newsletter signups are great but they can be offered after the purchase has been made, rather than distracting the customer before they have clicked that all important “Place Order’ button.

For more information on optimising your eCommerce site check out our article on Magento speed improvement and performance tweaks.