The checkout page is the last and most important step in any online shopping journey, heavily affecting both a customer’s experience and a company’s bottom line. Yet retailers often overlook their checkout page when considering how to bring tech updates to their e-commerce sites.
One feature that retailers are increasingly recognizing the value of is autocomplete, which cuts down the amount of manual typing needed during checkout. With a variety of address autocomplete solutions available, it’s important to understand that not all autocompletes offer equal performance. In fact, the way they’re implemented can even have a negative impact on the user experience. It's important for retailers to understand the benefits of autocomplete, how it works and its essential capabilities.
The Benefits of Autocomplete
Today’s consumers have grown accustomed to the speed and convenience associated with shopping online. While many elements of online stores have advanced in order to meet these growing expectations, retailers have been slow to adapt their checkout process. This important point in the online shopping journey ultimately determines a company’s revenue. However, manual typing and unnecessarily long checkout forms are frustrating consumers to the point of cart abandonment.
Autocomplete helps alleviate these frustrations by eliminating the need for manual typing. The technology provides search-based recommendations that narrow with each keystroke, allowing customers to select the correct recommendation without having to manually input all of the necessary information. Autocomplete speeds up the checkout process, enhancing customer satisfaction and decreasing cart abandonment that results from a frustrating and time-consuming checkout form.
To fully eliminate cart abandonment and enhance the customer experience, there are a number of key capabilities that every autocomplete solution must have.
For a retailer’s address autocomplete to be effective, it must also be able to verify inputted addresses. Address verification technology works by matching customer information with verified address databases, such as USPS and Canada Mail. This ensures a street name and a ZIP code are never mismatched, an address is never incomplete, and all addresses are deliverable and not just mappable. Additionally, the best address verification technology can also recognize and automatically correct common typos or misspellings.
Combined, these capabilities work to not only optimize the checkout process, but also to eliminate failed and delayed deliveries. In 2015 alone, 6.5 billion USPS mail items were undeliverable as addressed. Autocomplete can save businesses millions in costs associated with re-delivering packages and issuing refunds. It’s also a crucial consideration for brand loyalty, with 69 percent of consumers less likely to shop with a retailer again if a purchased item isn't delivered within two days of the date promised.
One of the key benefits of having an online platform is that it allows retailers to expand their sales capabilities and customer base. However, many retailers are unaware of the barriers they create for shoppers located overseas, and checkout autocomplete can be the source of these barriers. For example, many retailers’ autocomplete tools cannot offer suggestions for international addresses, while their address verification is unable to validate international addresses.
These barriers create frustrations for international shoppers and prevent them from completing their orders — leading to cart abandonment and significantly limiting a company’s revenue potential. To avoid this, retailers must ensure their autocomplete can accommodate international customers. Being able to adapt to the different spacing requirements of international postal codes is important, as is allowing customers to search for their address using components other than ZIP codes or states, since they don't apply to international customers.
The number of customers turning to their mobile devices when shopping is increasing rapidly, with mobile traffic projected to overtake desktop traffic in the first quarter of 2018. However, many retailers have yet to optimize their online stores and checkout pages for mobile devices. Having autocomplete is an important first step, since manually typing on smaller screens is frustrating and leads to countless typos.
However, to alleviate customer frustrations, the interface of the entire checkout page must be able to adjust to a mobile screen. Considering whether an autocomplete solution works on a mobile screen and whether the address results are easy to both see and select are crucial. Failing to optimize online stores for mobile devices can cause cart abandonment rates to soar, since frustrated consumers aren't likely to save their carts until they can complete their purchase on a desktop.
Businesses that equip their online stores with autocomplete are taking the first step in streamlining their checkout process. However, to truly enhance the customer experience and prevent cart abandonment, retailers must ensure this feature can validate addresses, accommodate international shoppers and function on mobile screens. When implemented effectively, an autocomplete solution can make all the difference in customer satisfaction, and ultimately put a business on the path for long-term success.
Tom Mucklow is the partner development manager at Addressy, an address verification, validation and autocomplete service.