How to optimize the mobile checkout flow

By Marc Hummel

August 25, 2015

You can test anything on a mobile retail ecommerce app, but it pays to focus on the ones that will boost the metrics you care about most (like conversion). Here are a few popular app elements retailers like to test.

Try testing things like:

  • Welcome messages/on-boarding process
  • Buttons (size/color)
  • Banners and navigation (content/placement)
  • Overall look and feel (color/typography/etc.)
  • Checkout flow

It’s that last bullet point we want to focus on today. How the heck do you test the checkout flow for your mobile ecommerce app? What are the best practices? How can you make sure you don’t mess it up? Those are the questions we’re going to be answering today.

Why test the checkout flow?

When it comes to conversion rates, we think checkout flow is one of the most important part of the mobile shopping experience to test. It’s the part of the buying process with the most friction (i.e. making your customer get off the couch to fetch their credit card). It’s also the part that can have a big impact on conversion, since even modest improvements can result in greater incremental sales and profits.

What you can test.

It all depends on the specific nature of your business, but some common aspects of mobile checkout tests include:

  • Number of steps
  • Number of fields per step
  • Show progress bar
  • Offer different payment options
  • Enable guest sign in or social sign-in
  • Minimize distractions (perhaps showing less information than you think will lift conversion)
  • 1-step checkout page
  • Different experiences for signed-in vs. unknown customers

For more about what you can test in the mobile app checkout process, check out this post from Kissmetrics. It includes examples from real retail apps and more ideas than we have time to get into here.

You could also get more advanced, and test animations and custom checkout experiences based on the referral source. Amazon makes it super easy to complete a purchase from their promotional emails. As ConversionXL put it:

“When Amazon sends you an email with a product promotion—that’s motivation AND a trigger. People click on the link, and get to the product page. They read the copy, reviews, look at picture = more motivation. ‘Add to cart’ is the trigger to initiate the checkout process.
“What about ability? How easy it is to complete the checkout process? This is where Amazon kicks butt. You only need to type your password + click a couple of times.”

Check out their post for real-world examples from brands like Bonobos, Asos, and others.

A word of warning.

As important as it is to test crucial parts of your app like checkout flow, there’s one big caveat we should mention. It was brought to our attention by Monetate partner Taplytics:

“Because only a small portion of your audience sees this part of your app, your conversion data is skewed. If you could have it your way, you would probably only have the people who start the checkout process appear as part of your results. But you’re left with very small conversion numbers and inappropriate conversion rates overall.”

With a robust solution such as Monetate for Mobile Apps, you can specify the starting point for your experience so you can properly define the way conversion rates are measured on an experience-by-experience basis.

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For more ideas about the mobile checkout flow and other aspects of retail mobile apps, check out Mobile retail apps: There’s a guide for that. It includes real-world examples from Polyvore, Home Depot, ModCloth, and others.

Marc Hummel is a former Content Marketing Associate for Monetate. He's also a part-time grad student at the University of Pennsylvania. He enjoys biking to work, reading, listening to podcasts/music, and eating ice cream. Usually not all at once. For more about Marc, go here.

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