Checkout Abandonment Analysis: The Multi-Page Checkout

Joe Rosenthalcheckout abandonment, Types of CheckoutLeave a Comment

Checkout abandonment is a problem that keeps ecommerce vendors biting their nails while analysts crunch numbers. Everyone’s trying to figure out why 56.3% of shoppers terminate their session moments before converting. As the result of thousands of trials and errors, three primary types of checkout flows have surfaced as popular favorites. These are,

  1. The Multi-Page Checkout
  2. The Accordion Checkout
  3. The Single-Page Checkout

types of checkout

We’ve covered the advantages and disadvantages of eachtype of checkout on our blog before, but now we’re going to take an up-close look at each type of checkout, beginning with the multi-page checkout. We selected three top apparel ecommerce sites using the multi-page checkout and analyzed their approach and execution of the multi-page checkout.


  1. Ralph Lauren,
  2. J.Crew,
  3. Urban Outfitters.

We’re going to analyze the checkout experience and pull out specific examples of what we’ve seen to increase and reduce checkout abandonment. We’re going to show you what these companies have right to ensure that your multi-page checkout performs optimally.


The Multi-Page Checkout

In a nutshell, the multi-page checkout is a 4 to 5 page experience in which the user fills out fields and options on the way to a purchase. Typically, a progress bar spans the top of checkout, letting the shopper know exactly how many steps are between inputting delivery information to confirming a purchase.

Although this checkout structure doesn’t boast the speed of single-page and accordion-style flows, traditional checkout is the standard for shoppers. If you’ve shopped online before, chances are that you’ve come across a traditional checkout and already know what to expect. With familiarity comes a feeling of security, and with security comes a decreased checkout abandonment rate.


Early Checkout and Form Abandonment

Guest Checkout Gateway

Urban Outfitters on the left, J.Crew on the right.

Allowing users to log-in and make a purchase without having to create an account has become the industry standard. Users don’t want to take the time to sign up and are willing to abandon checkout in protest. Surprisingly, J.Crew was the only vendor with a truly barrier-free pathway to checkout. Urban Outfitters does offer guest checkout, but requires an email address to start. Although this is a smart move for lead collection and remarketing, you run the risk of turning users away, especially if shipping prices or sales tax information haven’t yet been provided. Ralph Lauren, however, starts checkout immediately, requesting an email address from all users or a log-in at some point during the process.


Quick Data Entry Reduces Checkout Abandonment

All checkout structures share the goal of conversion and the processes are remarkably similar: collect shipping and billing information, get confirmation from the shopper, and process the order. The nuance lies in how this data is collected. There’s a surprisingly complicated art to reducing friction as much as possible for shoppers. Here’s what we found among our three vendors:

Urban Outfitters and J.Crew automatically detect credit card type using the first few numbers. This small tweak moves shoppers through to the end of billing information quickly.

rl_cardinfo_thumbAlthough Ralph Lauren‘s checkout doesn’t identify card types automatically, it’s the only checkout to automatically format card numbers based on card type. Additionally, the security code instructions are robust and helpful.

jcrew_zip When establishing shipping information, J.Crew first asks for a ZIP code. Using this, the site automatically selects city and state, effectively turning three fields into one.

rl_errorRalph Lauren does an excellent job at highlighting invalid or insufficient information in real-time. By showing users invalid inputs as they’re typed, you reduce the risk of frustration.


How Right-Side Widgets Affect Checkout Abandonment

Usability studies have shown that it’s wise to have one column of form fields to fill running down the left side of a page. With traditional-style checkouts, this leaves a lot of empty space on the right. With this space, companies use widgets to fill space efficiently. Across the three companies analyzed, right-screen widgets varied slightly.

jcrew_widgetsJ.Crew displays the same four small windows on every page of checkout. Customer support (as covered in the next section) is addressed here, along with an order summary, a promo code prompt, and a rewards card prompt. Yes, these widgets can be exceptionally useful, but they can also be distracting. With these widgets, J.Crew is essentially asking for a coupon code at every step. This is a dangerous gamble for vendors, as asking for a code can increase checkout abandonment among shoppers who end a session to search for a discount.

uo_widgetsUrban Outfitters has a similar set-up, but with dynamically changing widgets. Although the customer service options are less robust, Urban Outfitters also suppresses the promo code field until the payment page. This is a smart, checkout abandonment-reducing move.

rl_widgetsRalph Lauren uses the right-side widgets as an editable checkout history. As you progress through each section, an overview can be seen on the right side, allowing you to easily jump between sections if you need to make a correction. These widgets are exceptionally useful for double-checking input and keep shoppers from abandoning due to uncertainty.


Reduce Checkout Abandonment with Customer Support

In an ideal world, customers would move through checkout without any confusion and have their orders placed within minutes. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned and many shoppers will have questions for you and your staff; it’s your job to be ready and available. All three companies analyzed do a good job of reaching out to customers with, at minimum, a link to a telephone number on each checkout page.

J.Crew goes above and beyond, offering live-chat support, phone numbers, and a few popular FAQs on each page. As shown above, the two select questions are “What is your return policy?” and “When can I expect my order?” According to the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper report, only 53% of shoppers are satisfied with the access to customer service information during checkout. J.Crew recognizes and addresses this frustration by preempting questions and offering support pathways.

All three retailers have respectable and efficient checkout structures, but J.Crew’s is the most modern. With intuitive direction and a handful of user-experience tricks to keep the customer moving forward, J.Crew aggressively combats checkout abandonment. For more information on the traditional checkout structure and abandonment rates, contact UpSellit. Stay tuned for next week’s in-depth look at another popular checkout structure, the accordion checkout.

Written by Joe Rosenthal

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *