One Page Checkout — Holy Grail or Wholly Confusing?

One of the historic criticisms of Miva Merchant has been the number of steps it takes to get through the checkout.

  1. Ask people whether or not they want to create an account. If they have an account, make them log in.
  2. Ask for shipping and billing information.
  3. Throw some upsales at them and hope they’ll bite.
  4. Find out how they want to pay and what method of shipping they’d like.
  5. Get their payment details from them.
  6. At long last, give them an invoice.

Those who criticized Miva’s checkout process held up the concept of “one page checkout” as somewhat of a Holy Grail. And over time, I admit, I began to subscribe to the idea that a single page checkout process was not only to be admired, but to be aimed for even when it meant cramming the page with decisions for the shopper to make.

Recently, however, Bruce Golub of Phosphor Media, a respected member of the Miva Merchant community, made a comment about one page checkouts that made me sit up and take notice.

According to Bruce, it’s not the number of steps in the process, but how understandable the checkout process is that matters. Remove distractions. Remove advertising. Tell the shopper what to expect. Focus the shopper on what to do next and how to do it.

Wow. Such simple advice, and yet it just makes so much sense. We think that by not making our customers click “continue” a few times, we’re making it easier on them. In fact, we may just be doing the opposite. By trying to do too much on a single page, we risk distracting the customer from the checkout process entirely, or simply overwhelming the customer with information and tasks. The likelihood that they will overlook inputting some detail of the checkout process goes up, increasing the checkout error rate, and increasing customer frustration — and frustrated customers are bad for business.

Thanks, Bruce, for putting the checkout process back in perspective.

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2 Responses to “One Page Checkout — Holy Grail or Wholly Confusing?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes, true but the ideas of a one page checkout and a checkout that is easy to understand and follow are not mutally exclusive. They can (and have) been combined.

    There’s no reason a one page checkout can’t also be easy to use.

    Kind of a best of both worlds type of thing.

  2. Tiny Queen says:

    Absolutely agreed. My concern is with the assumption that a one-page checkout is automatically better than a proper guided checkout. Depending on the site’s structure, a well structured multi-page checkout process may be a better option for site visitors.