Trust in the Checkout

We have just published our latest research report – Trust in the Checkout – which showcases the findings from a detailed piece of research in which we reviewed the checkout processes of ten of the top online retailers in the UK. The list included “pure-play” retailers such as Amazon and Play, as well as high street names, like Next, Debenhams and B&Q. Our detailed assessment involved scoring each site on over 50 criteria to measure three aspects of the checkout experience – efficiency, emotional engagement and user experience design - from the perspective of a new customer purchasing one item for delivery to a business address. To provide a little more detail:

  • Efficiency is about making things quick - after all, most of us multi-task while we're online. If things take too long, an alternative site is only a click away.
  • Emotional engagement is the art of building your customer's trust and confidence so that they feel safe transacting with you online.
  • UX design is what most people traditionally think of as "usability" - getting all of the aspects of the form design right, making it easy to use and providing great help when things go wrong.

In other words, we looked at whether the checkout feels fast, safe and easy from the customer’s perspective. Getting all three things right will make a big difference to the number of people who complete the checkout process rather than abandoning it half-way through. With a maximum possible score of 90 (consisting of a possible score of 30 for each of the three aspects of efficiency, emotional engagement and UX design), the best site scored 77 out of 90 and the worst scored 47. You may be surprised to hear that the highest scoring site was New Look and the lowest scoring site was Amazon. Looking at New Look in more detail – they scored well on all three criteria with an efficient checkout that is fast and easy to use whilst incorporating a lot of features to reassure the customer and make him/her feel confident in providing personal information and credit card details.

Screenshot of New Look's checkout process

Figure 1: Step one of New Look's checkout process

New Look’s checkout was among the most efficient that we looked at, taking just 2.5 minutes to complete, and requiring only the minimal amount of information to be collected. Their score for UX design was the second highest of the ten sites reviewed and showcases lots of best-practice features, such as good error handling, great progress indicators and a neat running summary of the data entered so far. However, it was the emotional engagement aspect of their checkout design that really made New Look stand out. They had some really brilliant features here, such as the helpline information being prominently displayed on all steps, the basket contents and price being shown throughout and clear, reassuring information about delivery costs and their free returns process on all pages. These may seem like small things, but they make a big difference in how happy and confident customers feel in making their purchases. For example, showing a summary throughout the checkout of the basket – what is being purchased and how much it costs – is very reassuring. Customers like to double-check what they’re buying and how much they are paying (especially on the payment screen – you’d be surprised how many sites don’t display this). And it is always good to remind the customer of any savings (such as free delivery or discounts) as an additional incentive to complete the purchase. As New Look have demonstrated, it is possible to add the features that will make a big difference to customers’ trust and confidence, without sacrificing speed or ease-of-use. In fact, New Look gets all three right – almost undoubtedly contributing to their recent online success.

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