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E-Commerce Checkout Usability

68% of all e-commerce visitors abandon their shopping cart. Why?

After months of user testing and research, the most significant usability study on e-commerce checkouts is ready.

We’ve tested 15 of the biggest e-commerce sites and boiled it all down to 63 actionable guidelines that will help you get the lowest possible shopping cart abandonment rate.

E-Commerce Checkout Usability Report
“It's a very useful study.”

Geoff Canyon, Director of Product Management at Answers.com

  1. 63 actionable design guidelines divided into 6 categories.
  2. 41 user quotes illustrating what customers think as they abandon the checkout.
  3. 423 screenshots showing you concrete usability issues and solutions.
  4. 7 case studies of real life examples illustrating what works and what doesn’t.
  5. 192 print-optimized pages exploring the customer’s checkout experience.
  6. A convenient checklist for you to use when implementing the guidelines.
  7. Online review tool for assessing your own site(s) across the 63 usability guidelines.
  8. Benchmark database with checkout reviews of the top 100 sites.

Slide through the report

“Great UX report on checkout forms/process we have used in a few audits recently.”

Chuck Longanecker, Founder of UX studio Digital Telepathy

Is your checkout better than Apple’s, Zappos’, or Walmart’s?

The findings in this report are based on our own original research study. A group of users in the age range of 20‐58 were recruited to test the checkout user experience on 15 of the largest e‐commerce websites. The tested checkout steps range all the way from "shopping cart" to "completed sale" – the entire checkout process.

In total, the test subjects encountered more than 500 usability issues during the study. These 500+ usability issues have been distilled into 63 checkout user experience guidelines, each marked with a "severity" and "frequency" factor – providing you with concise design guidelines that will help you improve the performance of your checkout process.

Tested sites: 1-800-Flowers, AllPosters, American Apparel, Amnesty Shop, Apple, HobbyTron, Levi’s, NewEgg, Nordstrom, Oakley, Perfume.com, PetSmart, Thomann, Walmart, and Zappos.

“The report is based on facts and includes many pragmatic, fully tested and easily implementable actions.”

Tom Wilson, President of The CareGiver Partnership

Table of contents

  1. Introduction 6 pages
  2. Guideline categories:
    1. Data input 35 pages 15 guidelines on data validation, input formatting, form field types, etc. + Perfume.com case study
    2. Copywriting 21 pages 8 guidelines on form field labels, button naming, contextual words, etc. + PetSmart.com case study
    3. Layout 41 pages 15 guidelines on page structure, text formatting, security badges, etc. + Walmart.com case study
    4. Navigation 21 pages 8 guidelines on drop-down carts, checkout steps, breadcrumb links, etc. + AllPosters.com case study
    5. Flow 19 pages 7 guidelines on proceed buttons, data comparison, proximity, etc. + Nordstrom.com case study
    6. Focus 28 pages 10 guidelines on account registration, cross-selling, coupon codes, newsletter, etc. + Zappos.com case study
  3. Getting started:
    1. Apple.com checkout case study 6 pages
    2. Checkout usability checklist 4 pages
  4. Methodology, authors, etc. 6 pages
“Best checkout report I've read to date.”

Rikard Stolz, E-Commerce Optimization Manager

Benchmark & Review Tool

Based on the findings from the research study we’ve benchmarked the checkout processes of the top 100 grossing e-commerce sites in the US. This has lead to the most comprehensive e-commerce checkout database in the world with 508 checkout steps reviewed, 975 screenshots, and 3,000+ examples of the 63 checkout usability guidelines presented in the report.

When you purchase the checkout usability report you also get full access to this interactive database. It is fully integrated with the report so you have the top 100 e-commerce sites as concrete examples and inspiration for how to implement each checkout usability guideline.

Furthermore the benchmark database include tools that allow you to review your own (or your clients’) checkout process and see how it stacks up against the competition.

“.. Worth every dollar. It's well done, good looking and simply very useful.”

Jan Jursa, curator of IATV and the UX Storytellers book

Compared to other industry reports

eConsultancy Checkout Optimization Guide Baymard Institute E-Commerce Checkout Usability Nielsen Norman Group E-Commerce User Experience
Published: 2010 2011
Pages: 66 pages 192 pages 2,140 pages
Guidelines: 70 guidelines 63 guidelines 874 guidelines
Source: Author’s thoughts User testing User testing
Benchmark: No Yes, 100 sites reviewed No
Review tool: No Yes, interactive auditing tool No
Price: $300 $150 $996
Refund: No Yes, 14 days full refund No
“Thank you for your great work - compact, insightful and helpful!”

Holger Maasen, Information architect and owner of IAMA.de

Get your report now

Get your copy of this report instantly delivered as a PDF file for $150, and start lowering your shopping cart abandonment rate at only $2.4 per actionable usability guideline.

Get Report & Benchmark

Refund policy: We stand by our research and offer you a full 14 days “no questions asked” refund. If you’re not satisfied, simply e-mail us at christian@baymard.com for a full refund.

Report details

  • Title: E-Commerce Checkout Usability
  • Authors: Jamie Appleseed, Christian Holst
  • ISBN: 978-87-994365-2-1
  • Delivery: Instant PDF-download (DRM-free), 35mb
  • Content: 192 pages, 63 guidelines
  • Published: June 2013

Benchmark details

The benchmark database has four components:

  • Review: Interactive checklist for reviewing your own sites
  • Guidelines: 63 usability guidelines with examples from the 100 benchmarked sites
  • Top 100: The checkout processes of the top 100 grossing e-commerce sites
  • Step type: Navigate the checkout processes by type of checkout step

Report license

The report and Baymard Pro account are intended for internal use - for you and your team.

You and your team are allowed to both print and digitally distribute the report to employees within your own organization (i.e. within the same legal entity), as long as it is not accessible anyone outside it.

We trust our customers, so all reports we sell are unrestricted – this means that no DRM or other restrictive technologies are used.


Research is conducted and published by Baymard Institute, and written by its two founders:

  • Christian Holst – User experience engineer with a master's degree from the Technical University of Denmark. He has worked with designing user experiences in both the hearing aid and the credit card industry before co-founding Baymard Institute 2009.
  • Jamie Appleseed – Has a decade's worth of work experience designing and coding websites, with a focus on user experience. He has worked as lead developer on numerous web projects at web agency Spoiled Milk before co-founding Baymard Institute in 2009.

What people are saying about the research:

“I've already made good use of your study. I found it to be well done, well structured [..] So thanks a lot!”

Franz von Vacano, UX consultant and owner of vonvacano.de

“This is very, very useful! Let me check what we can do to improve the usability in the Smashing Shop.”

Vitaly Friedman, Editor in Chief of Smashing Magazine

“I must say that I have enjoyed reading your checkout study. It has some great tips which we will be applying to our own business.”

Guy Mucklow, Managing Director at PostcodeAnywhere

“I wanted to write you a note to tell you how much I've gotten out of the Usability Benchmark I bought this Summer. We often get asked to for help with checkout usability and I often refer people your way. Keep up the great work!”

Mike Arsenault, co-founder of Rejoiner

“Great piece of work! I have referred to it dozens of times in the last few weeks as we're building a new cart.”

Vin Kutty, President at Innovix Pharma

“I like your checklist very much it helped very well in optimization projects.”

Christopher Meil, owner of Optimeil.de

“I just purchased your E-Commerce Checkout Usability guide today and it is fantastic. I will certainly be recommending it to my friends in the E-Commerce industry [...]”

Rossa Butler, Marketing Manager at 53DegreesNorth.ie

“Every 10 years or so comes a report on usability for e-commerce sites that is really worth buying.”

Giacomo Pelagatti, Search Marketing Consultant

“The purchase price of this guide is absolutely nothing compared to the benefits you'll get!”

Steve Johnson, E-Commerce Owner

“I think your report is excellent.”

Sasha Gilberg, Strategic Director, conversionBOOST

“We purchased your wonderful e-commerce usability report and it is in fact very useful to our current work and research.”

Rajarajan UI Architect at Cognizant

“I purchased your checkout usability report and gained an abundance of knowledge from it.”

Zoeb Saroya, E-Commerce Owner

“We have been very impressed with your work on the Checkout Usability report. [... Our] 4.0 release will include many of your useful guidelines.”

Gary Cao, Lead Developer at WP e-Commerce

“Your report is nothing less than awesome! [..] I can confidently recommend your report to anyone that runs an ecommerce site.”

Vince Tan, E-Commerce Owner

“Holy cow.. what an amazing book.”

David Lindenbaum, Owner of getkombucha.com

“An invaluable e-commerce tool that is easy to read and full of practical suggestions. It impressed our digital team so much that our entire checkout experience has been designed using the 63 suggested guidelines. If you sell online, your business should be reading this study.”

Robert Bodill, Founder & Managing Director at gyrobike-europe.com

“Finished going through the usability report… SUPERB!”

Keith Mander, Web Property Developer, UK

“[...] your report is really great. I see lots of value in it. I feel very good about my purchase. If you come up with other reports please let me know.”

Valeria, Marketing Manager at Firgelli Automations

“I really enjoy what you guys do. I bought your guide over a year ago to help a large website I consult to improve their checkout.”

Daniel Kohn, Founder of AbandonAid

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