This is a question asked a lot. Of course, you will hear a variety of answers. I asked the developer of CheckoutWC about which one should a store owner use.
Should I Use a Single Checkout or a Multi-Step Checkout?
I think if you look at the research, it’s pretty mixed on whether a single-page or a multi-step checkout page is ideal. I think it really is situational, not all multi-steps are equivalent, not all single pages are equivalent. So I think if you’re really focused on reducing friction, that should be your ultimate goal. If you just have a digital product that doesn’t have any shipping address or shipping options, then maybe a one-page checkout’s going to make sense for you.
What we really connected to when we first saw Shopify’s checkout a few years ago was the logical sequence, that it keeps you focused on one bit of information at a time. The first thing it asks you for is your shipping address, so there’s no question of, “Is this the same address that’s on my credit card?” Things like that. And then the next step is very logical after that, it asks you for your shipping method, how you want to get the package.
We’ve tried to take that and take it a little bit further. For example, our base-level service has ZIP auto-complete. Instead of asking for city, state, ZIP, we ask for country, ZIP, state, and city, so that when you enter in your ZIP code, it’ll instantly fill in your city and state based on that lookup. We look for opportunities to take things that customers have to do that are manual and boring and say, “Well, can we do this for them?” And we do it if we can.
The other example of that would be around a big problem smaller retailers have. They want their customers to have accounts, but customers are often not frequently buying from your site. So they don’t remember if they have an account. So when you type in your email address, we do a quick lookup to see if you have an account, and if you do then we show the login fields. If you don’t have an account, then we automatically check the “create account” checkbox for you. Along with that, we strongly encourage people to use the auto-generated passwords. There’s no reason to slow someone down during a checkout by asking them to come up with another password.
It’s Not Rocket Science
It’s not rocket science. It’s not even very sexy. But I think that eCommerce is really hard because of the number of use cases it has to cover. When you look at the standard checkout page, they’re really just focused on something that’s bulletproof, that will work for everyone. The downside is it’s not customized or tailored to work really well for any particular type of business. So that’s really our challenge.
I think our process is optimized for stores that ship products more than digital products. It does work with digital products and becomes a two-step checkout because you obviously don’t need a shipping option step there. But we’re also looking at, “What if we embrace the digital side?” Maybe it becomes a one-page checkout at that level. So we’re always looking for opportunities like that to reduce friction.
I don’t know if you guys have ever had an eCommerce experience where you just felt pulled along by the gravity of the site, everything just makes you want to move to the next step, it makes you feel like you’re just along for a ride. And I think that feeling comes from good design and also an intuitive process where you don’t feel like you have to think. So that’s always what we’re striving for as we make design decisions around the product.
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