The Persuasive Checkout

It's about the sales journey - not the transaction!

In our new "hipster" venue - the Hoxton Holborn - we tested a new more intimate format for our 2nd event of 2015. Our subject was still in the realms of "conversion", but we wanted to examine the changing ways that shoppers actually transact online, and how online commerce brands can maximise their revenues given these changes.

First up was Richard Voyce from Dreams. With 150 stores and a pretty mature web platform, Richard's presentation was enough to make very grown-up commerce companies feel pretty guilty... A/B testing, fast changes to the site, an excellent mobile strategy - sickening really.

The key nuggets regarding checkout optimisation that Richard shared were that: integrating PayPal was a real game-changer, with fewer keystrokes helping customers to checkout in greater number; A good de-clutter of the checkout forms themselves are crucial - remove everything that isn't 100% essential; Think about helping within the checkout itself using live Chat or integrated telesales to answer those nagging questions that are holding up the purchase.

SodaStream are in many ways an unlikely online commerce business, but Georgia Carrano shared the oddities of their business model, and the challenges of working with the large multiples when it comes to helping customers "post purchase".

Georgia spoke about how the business re-worked the web platform last year primarily to support replenishment of gas canisters and other products rather than SodaStream machines primarily. The checkout that has been delivered focuses on navigation across platforms (for fat fingers!), along with integration of PayPal once again (which has been crucial for conversion). Finally, SodaStream have experienced a 20% take-up with Collect+, and are now exploring a "subscription" model to go with their improving online platform.

In our first workshop we heard from Jonathan Dicks at Hudson Shoes, who tackled the ever-changing issues surrounding "abandoned baskets", and what that means in a world where the basket has become a "holding pen" for items shoppers might (or might not) buy. Jonathan argued that at Hudson the addition of a "Wishlist" function has helped to discern between the "window" shopper and the "transactional" shopper. Hudson also use a very sophisticated email content strategy (working with Bronto) to optimise revenue from subscribers - in some months they see 22% of email revenue from their abandoned basket emails - worth thinking about for sure.

Biglight ran our second workshop of the day, with Steve Borges proposing a very individual approach towards baskets and checkouts. Biglight work with some very sophisticated online retailers, and their experience tells them that customers do not return to a website because of the checkout, it's a hygiene factor. Instead, focus on the sales journey which starts even before the shopper has seen the website.

Steve argues that the checkout will eventually become an almost "standardised" item, where it will be tough to be better than your competition. Instead, you should focus on the journey to the checkout, and ensure that you SELL effectively using his technique of NUDGE > GRAVITY > ANGLE > FRICTION - which will yield far greater revenues than those you will from optimizing the checkout on its own.

Phew - a whole load of great content in a just a couple of hours, read the presentation decks and enjoy people!

PRESENTATIONS: DOWNLOAD THE SPEAKER PRESENTATIONS

No sleep 'til Checkout - Richard Voyce, Head of eCommerce, Dreams Ltd

Water made exciting - Georgia Carrano, Digital Marketing Manager, SodaStream

The persuasive customer checkout experience - Johnathan Dicks, eCommerce Director, Hudson Shoes

The art of online persuasion - Steve Borges, Co-Founder, Biglight