Simplification sells. When has anyone ever asked for something to be more complicated? In the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) industry and our own experience, offerings get overcomplicated, and websites don’t always provide a good first impression. Order forms can be messy, and sometimes the steps to purchase aren’t as intuitive as the developers had hoped. All of these roadblocks lead to the same result -- end-users abandoning a purchase.
According to Statistica, 2.58 percent of global ecommerce website visits converted into purchases during the second quarter of 2019. The conversion rate is low and competition is high, so removing any friction no matter how insignificant you think it might be is crucial to getting prospects to the point of purchase.
Friction, or anything that impedes a customer’s ability to make a quick and simple purchase from you, prevents conversions. The good news is that these issues are preventable. The smallest changes to a platform can remove massive roadblocks that prevent customers from completing a purchase. Measures like focus groups or “trusted testers” are the perfect place to start determining what slows things down and how to remove friction on the path to purchase. Small changes like automating order forms, ensuring that websites are optimized for the end-user, and double-checking that the path to purchase is intuitive can increase your online sales.
“We’re always making small, but important improvements to take a fresh look at the steps of our buying process. We are in constant communication with our partners to see what small pieces of friction we can remove. Even if it’s just things like placement, look, feel, or changing the text copy on buttons. These small changes will continue to make that whole purchasing experience better, faster, and easier.”
Marketing surveys and trusted testers are both great options in understanding the customer perspective. Trusted testers will find the friction, pain points, roadblocks, or whatever you want to call it so it’s important to give them ample time to go through the process. Because things move quickly in the technology sector, trusted tester phases can be overlooked as businesses try to get to market faster than their competition.
“We’re getting a consistent message across the board that we need to remove as much friction as possible, mostly because when an SMB (small- or medium-sized business) goes to purchase something, it’s a bit more of an impulse purchase," Johnson says. "They go through, see something they like and we only have a small window to take them through the entire purchasing process.”
Improving your website to convert
During the buying process, people often get to a purchase point, but then abandon the cart. Why does that happen? Even more importantly, how many people aren’t even getting to the cart option because of how the ecommerce shop is set up? Friction points on your website are likely to blame for missed conversions.
According to Hubspot Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a set of tactics to improve sales conversions by enhancing your website and content. High conversion rates are achieved through well-designed websites that provide a friction-free buying process. Also, remember that first impressions are everything, and that includes the first impression prospects have of your online presence. By optimizing your homepage, landing pages, and pricing pages with applicable and engaging content, you’ll be greatly increasing the likelihood of conversions.
Order form simplification
We’ve all dealt with the headache of filling out order forms to make an online purchase. Whether signing up for cloud-based software or purchasing a new wardrobe item, businesses often ask for our information. It’s all-too-common for a buyer to bail on the shopping process if too much information is demanded.
Both asking for too much information upfront, and requiring consumers to sign up for a program or offer before purchase, are examples of friction. These counterintuitive steps slow the efforts of consumers getting to the point of purchase and these friction points are easily avoided.
“Every decision that we ask customers to make along the way, every form field they have to fill out, and every button they have to click is an opportunity for them to throw up their hands and abandon the purchase.” Johnson says.
Vendasta has cut down on the number of fields and provided auto-fill in its Vendor Center order forms and the result has increased customer purchases by 33 percent. Other required information is collected once a purchase is completed. The simplicity of changing the order of how information is collected makes an impact.
Provide intuitive steps to purchase
What works for your competitors might not work for you. This might sound obvious, but the point is that a buying process should be shaped according to how your customers seek to make a purchase. Simply looking at how competitors do it isn’t enough. Primary research is needed, otherwise, opportunities can be missed. Creating a streamlined workflow based on data insights can be used to determine improvements in moving prospects to a quicker sale.
Don’t underestimate the power of trusted testers in ensuring that steps to the final purchase are intuitive. According to Johnson, you might be surprised by where the end-user is looking for the “buy it now” button. The combination of knowing your customer and removing friction can get them to the point of purchase quickly and painlessly.
The Vendasta strategy
Simplicity is the key. Below, Johnson outlines the steps in the Vendasta strategy for getting prospects to a quicker sale.
Step 1: Hire all-star designers who can show off what you do.
Step 2: Monitor data to see where prospects drop off in the buying process. This will highlight pain points that you may not have known were there.
Step 3: The user perspective is invaluable so always seek the input of current customers.
“In our experience, our customers want the buying process to be simpler and faster...and they want flexibility. No two customers are the same in how they sell. They’re looking for a flexible system that fits their needs, not something that’s one size fits all.”
- Get a handle on the customer perspective
- Work with current customers to determine what pain points to remove in the buying process
- Ensure your website is optimized for conversion
- The homepage is your business’s first impression for many prospective customers so make sure it is easy and clear to visitors how they can make a purchase
- Simplify or rearrange order forms in the buying process
- Use auto-fill when you can, and collect only the most relevant information upfront -- you can always gather more once a purchase is completed
- Double-check that all steps to the point of purchase are intuitive
- Create a group of trusted testers you can rely on for feedback