Seven Ways To Improve Your Online Shopping Cart Or Booking Engine

Seven Ways To Improve Your Online Shopping Cart Or Booking Engine

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As agency leaders, it’s easy to look at Amazon’s gaudy conversion numbers and assume such benchmarks don’t apply to our own brands. After all, a 13% conversion rate (and 74% for Prime members) isn’t realistic for the vast majority of companies, nor is a one-click booking functionality.

Even so, at some point we all have to face reality: As Amazon raises the bar for online shopping, the rest of us have no choice but to follow suit. If consumers are accustomed to making a purchase in 10 clicks or less, it’s only natural to hold other brands to a similar standard. Force your customers through an arduous purchasing process, and chances are you’ll become part of an unwelcome statistic (brands lost $236 billion due to checkout process friction in Q1 2018 alone).

What can we learn from streamlined shopping experiences like Amazon? Or, for hospitality-focused agencies like mine, from large players like Expedia or Kayak?

Here are seven easy adjustments you can make to your conversion process:

1. Avoid surprises.

This is especially important in the hospitality industry. When selecting dates for a stay on Step 1, smart hotels give guests all the information they need to avoid a potential “error” message on Step 2 (i.e., no availability, minimum stay required, etc). By layering availability and stay parameters on top of your booking calendar, not only are you fully transparent with the guest; you’re saving them several clicks by not forcing them to re-select dates.

The same concept can be applied to e-commerce brands with product listings. When showing different products, don’t make the mistake of showing availability for items that are actually out of stock. You’re setting the shopper up for disappointment and ultimately losing credibility for your brand.

2. Save the order for later.

With Amazon or any major online brand, guests can leave their orders in the shopping carts and come back to them at a later time. This feature is something all e-commerce brands should implement, not just for the customer’s ease of use but also as a subtle reminder the next time they visit your site. Since availability will change with a travel brand, be sure to confirm the customer’s dates are still available before offering the same order.

To take this one step further, by keeping pending orders in the system, brands can also run retargeting emails or ad campaigns to remind customers about their purchases. This is a great way to stay front of mind and re-engage an abandoned cart.

3. Make it easy to edit.

While every booking engine or shopping cart allows a guest to edit their order, some make it much more difficult than others. Successful websites add their “edit” functionality within a concise order summary along the right- or left-hand sidebar, allowing customers to quickly review their orders and make any necessary adjustments. They also let customers move seamlessly to previous steps of the order process, be it using the back button or the “breadcrumbs” bar along the top of the page.

4. Place photos front and center.

Photos boost engagement within shopping carts or booking engines just like they do on websites and blogs. Instead of adding excessive text to your listing thumbnail, place emphasis on your images (and allow consumers to scroll through and expand each image). Text is important, of course, but save it for the actual product page or within a detail or product drop-down box.

5. Create fewer steps.

Based on a case study my agency conducted with over 65 hotels, we’ve seen a 60% drop-off rate on every additional page of a booking engine. Knowing that users get irritated by unnecessary requirements, I highly recommend limiting the number of steps (and clicks) you ask a guest to complete from start to finish.

For hotels, this means simplifying your booking process into three easy steps: picking dates, selecting accommodations and filling out guest and credit card information. Anything beyond that, including a review page or an upsell page with ancillary packages, is unnecessary clutter. A review page shouldn’t be necessary if you summarize the stay in the booking engine sidebar. And if you do want to upsell rooms or packages, do so as a “passive” upgrade on the guest information page — don’t make guests waste time declining a full page of packages if they’re not interested.

6. Streamline the checkout page.

One of the simplest things you can do to lift conversion rates is to make your information page as simple and intuitive as possible. Don’t force a customer to create a login profile in order to complete an order; give them the option to check out as a guest. In the details form, only collect the information you actually need for your operation (i.e., name, email, phone number and credit card details). Lastly, enable auto-completion as frequently as possible within the information form — for instance, auto-complete city, country and state when a customer inputs their zip code.

7. Improve your mobile experience.

If you haven’t already, optimizing your booking engine or shopping cart for mobile should be high on the priority list. Given that mobile traffic now generates as much as 57% of all online traffic, companies without a responsive, easy-to-use mobile checkout are losing millions of dollars in online revenue every year. Amazon has proven consumers are becoming much less resistant to making purchases on their mobile devices — why give them a reason not to?

These suggestions are just scratching the surface of what brands can do to elevate their booking engines or shopping carts. If you’re looking to lift conversion rate by improving the UX of your checkout, get creative about ways to make the process shorter. If your proposed solution helps limit the number of clicks a consumer has to make, chances are it’s an idea worth exploring.

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