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Econsultancy criticises online checkouts

Econsultancy editor Graham Charlton has warned that online stores are putting up unnecessary barriers to purchase. In his article 'Why HMV shouldn't make users register before checkout', Charlton criticises HMV's checkout process. Armed with a gift voucher and offer from a deals website, he went to the HMV site, but found he had to create an account before he could redeem his codes (rather than being able to redeem them when checking out). He also became entangled in an issue with an account reset, having forgotten his account’s details.

According to a recent Econsultancy/Toluna study, these kinds of actions annoy and frustrate users. Over 25 per cent of potential customers abandon purchases when being forced to register on a site before buying anything, and Charlton therefore suggests alternatives, such as optional registration before purchase, registration during checkout, or no registration at all. An earlier article on the site by Paul Rouke noted that ASOS halved its checkout abandonment by removing mentions of creating an account.

Given that the current economic climate makes people reluctant to spend money, web designers and developers must minimise barriers to purchase or their clients will count the cost. In addition to Charlton's points, consider how many form fields you force customers to fill in; make the process as fast, user-friendly and seamless as possible; and minimise unnecessary marketing. Judging by the comments in Charlton's piece, HMV's seen the light: PR head Gennaro Castaldo said the article made valid points and that the company was already in the process of addressing them. "I trust you'll soon be able to see a significant improvement in our online purchasing/check out processes as well as other site changes," he added.

Have you been involved with online stores and check-out processes? What would you recommend, in order to maximise orders and sales? Let us know in the comments!