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E-Commerce Checkout Usability

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

Version 2.0 just released! (September 2016)

This checkout study provides you with 7 years worth of checkout user testing and research, condensed into 134 usability guidelines.

Full access to the Checkout Usability​ study includes:

  1. Usability Report – 134 actionable design guidelines detailed in 718 pages, based on years of e-commerce usability research.
  2. Benchmark Database – 50 case studies, more than 6,000 checkout UX performance scores, and 5,000+ categorized checkout implementation examples.

This research-based and pragmatic toolset will help you achieve the best possible checkout user experience and conversion rate.

“Baymard produces some of the most relevant and actionable user experience research available. They really understand the needs of UX and Product Management professionals, and their deep experience in the eCommerce field allows them to offer sophisticated, nuanced insights.

Report: 134 Guidelines to Increase Checkout Conversion by 35.26%

This original usability study focuses on how users behave during a checkout flow, where they get stuck, and why they abandon their purchase.

The findings presented in this 718-page report, are based on two rounds of large-scale qualitative testing of e-commerce checkout processes, along with an additional large-scale eye-tracking test, and quantitative research with 6,000+ participants. Despite testing the checkout flows from 25 leading e-commerce sites, the test subjects encountered more than 2,700 usability issues in the process of going from the shopping cart to completing their order.

In fact, the combined test data documents that the average site can increase its conversion rate by 35.26% solely through better checkout design.
And these figures are based on the testing of checkout processes from leading e-commerce sites, such as Walmart, Amazon, Wayfair, Crate & Barrel, ASOS, etc.

In this report, we have distilled all 2,700+ usability issues encountered by the test subjects into 134 checkout user experience guidelines, and prioritized them by UX impact – providing you with concise design guidelines that will help you improve the performance of your checkout process.


What you’ll get in the Checkout Usability report

134 actionable design guidelines divided into 18 categories.

400+ user quotes illustrating what customers think when they abandon their purchase.

1,300+ screenshots illustrating concrete design and usability issues – and solutions to them.

9 case studies of real life examples illustrating what works and what doesn’t.

718 print-optimized pages exploring the customer’s checkout experience.

“I can not tell you how much help your benchmark studies have been for our company, e-commerce and UX teams. We have used and continue to use these reports for baseline benchmarks as we build test protocols or eye tracking scripts etc in lab.

Slide through the report


Table of contents

(Note: this is a condensed table of contents. Show full in-depth TOC.)

  1. Introduction 9 pages
  2. Reasons for Abandonment 4 pages
  3. Benchmark Analysis 12 pages
  4. Guideline categories:
    1. Checkout Types 24 pages 3 guidelines on the upsides and potential pitfalls of multi-step checkouts vs. accordion vs. one-step
    2. Checkout Steps & Elements 381 pages 74 guidelines on shopping carts, accounts, addresses and shipping, gifting, payment methods (incl. 3rd-party), credit card fields, order review step, receipt, order confirmation e-mail, and more
    3. Layout & Flow 74 pages 16 guidelines on page design, process steps, order summary sidebar, cart integration, load indicators, overlays, embedded content, cross-selling, and more
    4. Form-Level UX 85 pages 18 guidelines on form design and features, primary button position, multi-column layouts, tab-flow, error messages, form security, inline validation, address validators, and more
    5. Field-Level UX 117 pages 23 guidelines on field design, microcopy, tooltips, labels, input types, default values, autocompletion, personalization, and more
  5. Checklist for all 134 guidelines 16 pages
  6. Methodology, authors, etc. 5 pages

Detailed table of contents

  1. Introduction 9 pages
  2. Reasons for Abandonment 4 pages
  3. Benchmark Analysis 12 pages
  4. Guideline categories:
    1. Checkout Types 24 pages 3 guidelines on the upsides and potential pitfalls of multi-step checkouts vs. accordion vs. one-step
    2. Checkout Steps & Elements 381 pages
      1. Shopping Cart & ‘Added to Cart’ Behavior 54 pages 10 guidelines on both shopping cart design, quantity and save features, but also the page-response when users add products to the cart (drop-down cart, etc.) + Wayfair.com case study
      2. Account Selection & Creation 41 pages 9 guidelines on account selection designs and communication, guest checkout, ‘Delayed Account Creation’, social media accounts, password rules, etc. + Crate & Barrel and Crutchfield.com case studies
      3. Customer & Address Information 66 pages 12 guidelines on privacy concerns, shipping addresses, billing addresses, international addresses, phone fields, address auto-detection techniques, etc. + Etsy.com case study
      4. Gifting Flow & Features 20 pages 5 guidelines on how to gift mark orders, how the checkout should change for gifting, gifting feature design and microcopy, etc. + Williams-Sonoma.com case study
      5. Shipping & Store Pickup 60 pages 11 guidelines on the shipping interface design and information hierarchy, shipping descriptions, order cut-off times, ‘Free Shipping’ tiers, along with omni-channel features such as Store Pickup, Store Availability, and Ship to Store + Walmart.com case study
      6. Payment Flow & Methods (incl. 3rd-Party) 38 pages 8 guidelines on the payment methods interface, how to integrate and display 3rd-party payment options, gift card redemption flows, international currencies, coupons codes, etc. + Disney.com case study
      7. Credit Card Form 48 pages 10 guidelines on the credit card field design, its validation logic and formatting, along with the expiration date, security code, and cardholder name inputs, field sequence, card icons, and card type selection + HomeDepot.com case study
      8. Order Review 31 pages 5 guidelines on the review step design, ‘Place Order’ button placement, necessary review data, along with its editing flow + OfficeDepot.com case study
      9. Order Confirmation & E-Mail 21 pages 4 guidelines on the information and actions needed on the order confirmation page, along with the order confirmation e-mail + LLBean.com case study
    3. Layout & Flow 74 pages
      1. Page Design 27 pages 6 guidelines on checkout process steps, ‘Enclosed Checkout’ designs, order summary sidebars, and how to design and position the cart link in the site-wide header
      2. User Attention & Interactions 27 pages 6 guidelines on load indicators, feedback on user actions, the use of overlays, feedback requests, introduction of site-specific features, and embedded content from 3rd parties
      3. Cross-Sells 20 pages 4 guidelines on active vs. passive cross-selling, adapting cross-sells to user context, and pitfalls of specific placements and wording
    4. Form-Level UX 85 pages
      1. Form Design & Features 37 pages 8 guidelines on how to design and position the primary button, ‘Apply’ buttons, minimizing form intimidation, multi-column layouts, tabbing flows, CAPTCHAs, back-button and enter-keystroke behavior
      2. Validation Errors & Data Persistence 34 pages 6 guidelines on how to design and position error messages, how to word them, persisting data in non-secure and secure form fields, along with inline validation
      3. Address Validators 14 pages 4 guidelines on when address validatiors are necessary, ‘Force-Proceeding’ through address validators, along with address validator design and logic
    5. Field-Level UX 117 pages
      1. Field Labels & Microcopy 34 pages 7 guidelines on how to mark optional and required fields, field label position, tooltips, and optimizing microcopy and descriptions
      2. Field Design & Features 42 pages 8 guidelines on how match the type of interface with the input type, drop-downs and radio buttons implementations, input masks and character restrictions, custom designed input fields, etc.
      3. Default Values & Autocompletion 41 pages 8 guidelines on intelligent form features, including inferred selections, pre-fills, auto-fills, and personalization of the checkout flow
  5. Checklist for all 134 guidelines 16 pages
  6. Methodology, authors, etc. 5 pages

“The Baymard reports have proven to be an invaluable resource for us. Comprehensive, pragmatic and actionable. We have redesigned our checkout process and made changes to our category pages based on usability guidelines in the reports.

Benchmark: Is your checkout better than Apple’s or Walmart’s?

Based on the findings of this checkout research study we’ve benchmarked the checkout processes of 50 top grossing US e-commerce sites. This provides you with the most comprehensive e-commerce checkout database in the world with 380 manually reviewed checkout steps, more than 2,000 screenshots, and 5,000+ categorized implementation examples of the 134 checkout usability guidelines presented in the report.

When you purchase the checkout usability study you get full access to this benchmark database.

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.


What you’ll get in the Checkout Usability benchmark

Full unrestricted access to the benchmark database with 50 checkout usability case studies of top grossing e-commerce sites.

380 annotated checkout steps for systematic design inspiration on a particular checkout step type (Address, Payment, etc).

An interactive review tool to rate your own checkout performance and see how it stacks up against the competition.

6,000+ UX performance scores providing a detailed breakdown of checkout strengths and weaknesses.

5,000+ best- and worst-practice examples, illustrating how to implement the 134 checkout usability guidelines.

“Excellent tool – looking forward to using it with our other sites and prototypes as they’re developed.

Compared to other industry reports

eConsultancy Checkout Optimization Guide Baymard Institute E-Commerce Checkout Usability Nielsen Norman Group E-Commerce User Experience
Pages: 66 pages 718 pages 2,140 pages
Guidelines: 70 guidelines 134 guidelines 874 guidelines
Source: Author’s thoughts User testing + Eye-tracking + Qualitative testing User testing
Benchmark: No Yes, 50 sites reviewed No
Review tool: No Yes, interactive auditing tool No
Price: $300 $150 $996
Refund: No Yes, 14 days full refund No

“These reports are fabulous. The content is exactly what our team has been looking for, and so much more! Extremely helpful, thank you!

Get your report and benchmark now

Get instant access to the checkout usability report and benchmark database for $150, and start lowering your shopping cart abandonment rate at only $1.2 per actionable usability guideline.

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
  • ISBN: 978-87-994365-7-6
  • Published: September 2016
  • Delivery: Instant PDF-download (DRM-free), 121mb
  • Content: 718 pages, 134 guidelines

Benchmark details

The benchmark database has four components:

  • Review: Interactive checklist for reviewing your own sites
  • Guidelines: 134 usability guidelines with examples from the 50 benchmarked sites
  • Top 50: Case studies of 50 top grossing e-commerce sites
  • Page 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 to 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.


Baymard Institute’s research is used by:

“Intelligent, consumer-focused insights that are clear and actionable. The team in the room really loved the way the Baymard Institute highlighted the optimizations in the various user experience elements (copy, layout, design, calls-to-action…), from the perspective of consumer struggles. Baymard’s Usability research really compliments our other existing research tools.

“Baymard have been a great resource in helping us improve the customer experience. We are continually applying these best practices to our sites.

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

“Thanks again for the great work on our checkout project. Our whole group found it incredibly insightful. We’re applying the suggestions you provided to our new checkout design which launches at the end of the month! One of my colleagues was also interested in your group’s competitive expertise with regard to responsive web and native apps

“We implemented “E-Commerce Checkout Usability” guide for all our stores and saw doubling of checkout conversion rates. We will soon work on implementation of other usability guidelines. Thank you Christian and Jamie for your excellent work!

@lowresolution

“Excellent check-out usability benchmark of the world's top 100 grossing e-commerce sites from Baymard Institute http://t.co/oIqCZ5Sb”

@johnsonstevec

“This #ecommerce checkout guide is worth every penny. Highly recommended. #cro http://t.co/FPVAYDr1”

“Thank you very much for the 7 usability audits of our country-specific sites. The audits have provided us with specific and actionable advice, allowed us to prioritize development resources , and enabled us to compare UX performance between the 7 different country-specific sites, and against State of the Art implementations. The audit itself is done really professionally and the recommendations contain actionable and insightful information

“Thank you. This was an excellent piece of work: professional, thorough, and actionable for the team. We're very happy with the work Baymard has done for us so far, and I hope we'll have the chance to work together again on future projects.

@jbillingsley

“@OptimiseOrDie @paulrouke Best checkout resource has to be from the Baymard Institute guys: http://t.co/38LO0dG4”

“It's a very useful study.

“I can confirm that the list was fully implemented. Every time we put up a change we either A/B test or we watch it very closely to determine that it's doing better and not the opposite. So I can confirm that these fixes have improved our checkout. Thanks for everything.

@dtelepathy

“Great UX report on shopping cart checkout forms/process we have used in a few audits recently. http://t.co/vkpeYOAS”

“It is immensely valuable having a thorough, independent study to help validate my work and in particular, help facilitate buy-off from stakeholders. Baymard has quickly become one of my most trusted resources for the UX/UI field.

“I am just thrilled by this study, it's helped me in the construction of my online store checkout. All points in this study make incredible sense, and I cannot help but incorporate all of these suggestions. Incredible.

“Thanks for everything. The audit was extremely useful, I think we have gained valuable insight.

“I have found the M-Commerce and E-Commerce reports very useful, thank you!

@SAP_Retail

“Does your #ecommerce site suffer from the usability problems Baymard Institute's study uncovered? http://t.co/QTx4U5NrWl RT @boxuk”

“Many thanks for presenting earlier. I have caught up with the teams and they all found your audit report really useful and are on board with the suggestions.

“Thank you for all the value delivered ahead of our new fiscal years. Your insights not only provided a definitive foundation for our UX roadmap but completely sold our executive team on the value of expert usability insights. Your service paid for itself in a matter of days and ensured all critical gaps will be filled ahead of us running the audit again next year.

“The recommendations in our Checkout Usability Audit were awesome - well prioritized, actionable and helped us focus on what to optimize. This audit, along with the e-Commerce Usability Reports & Benchmark Databases, are my go-to resources for thorough, insightful information. Thank you!

“Given the tricky science of conversion rate optimization, it is great to know that you are dealing with professionals whose advice is based on solid research. It was a pleasure collaborating with the Baymard team.

“Within a very short time Baymard Institute provided 15 clear, useful improvement suggestions for our checkout process. We intend to implement all of them. It’s easy to find companies that offer website improvement suggestions. But, most companies don’t do their homework and don’t provide specific examples of how best to make the improvements. With Baymard Institute, the checkout process suggestions they made were intuitive, specific, and actionable. I highly recommend their audit service.

“Wow, this is great! Just reviewed it with the team. It's a huge help and we're excited to fix these issues.

“The walkthrough today was great. The report was very, very well done and loaded with great opportunities for us to improve our business. I wanted to again express my appreciation for working with us on such a condensed time frame last month. You and your team have been amazing partners to us and we very much appreciate the work, expertise and partnership.

“I really like the work Baymard Institute does around usability. Their articles often get my Ecom gears turning.

“We like what we are reviewing from the audit - great analysis and feedback.

“We have worked with a number of third party companies before on various projects/audits, and I can certainly say that working with Baymard was not only a pleasure; but you delivered on time; to the level of depth we wanted; addressing important issues; and answering all our questions; and you did all this for a great price. A big THANK YOU on behalf of N11.

@ecomchat

“Big recommendation from @waligorski: I REALLY recommend the BI report. http://t.co/xw6LXkm5iP - best 150$ spent. (cc @baymard) #ecomchat”

“Baymard’s real-user research is invaluable for ecommerce marketers. It leaves no stone unturned, and with the guideline checklists provided, you’ll be well equipped to optimize your mobile presence.

“Baymard produces some of the most relevant and actionable user experience research available. They really understand the needs of UX and Product Management professionals, and their deep experience in the eCommerce field allows them to offer sophisticated, nuanced insights.

“I can not tell you how much help your benchmark studies have been for our company, e-commerce and UX teams. We have used and continue to use these reports for baseline benchmarks as we build test protocols or eye tracking scripts etc in lab.

“These reports are fabulous. The content is exactly what our team has been looking for, and so much more! Extremely helpful, thank you!

“Excellent tool – looking forward to using it with our other sites and prototypes as they’re developed.

“The Baymard reports have proven to be an invaluable resource for us. Comprehensive, pragmatic and actionable. We have redesigned our checkout process and made changes to our category pages based on usability guidelines in the reports.

@digital_darts

“The Baymard Institute have some seriously good reports on ecommerce usability, design, and best practices: http://t.co/cuxO3VwiVe”

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

“I love the information that you guys provide and have bought a couple of reports. Love them.

@jackzerby

“Just read through all 144 pages of the @Baymard E-Commerce checkout usability report. Amazing stuff, very helpful. http://t.co/tPcbHKFm”

“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 [...]

“Really good rundown on all these thing. I definitely think we got a lot of value out of it, and we’re excited to get it all in and do some A/B testing on this.

“We implemented the majority of your checkout recommendations and a/b tested most of them, in every instance your recommendation provided the catalyst for us to make an improvement. Your approach and methodology has proven itself to be valuable. Now, when a new report comes out from your office we just buy it right away.

@VeInteractive

“A very useful guide to compare your checkout to the top 100 e-Commerce retailers. http://t.co/Bigqetps”

“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!

@chauhongpham

“Love Baymard's Checkout Usability Report, http://t.co/zPb64Auk. A must read for E-Comm UX teams.”

@IATV

“Usability research: 'E-Commerce Checkout Usability. Exploring the user's checkout experience' Great! http://bit.ly/gu9MlU (baymard.com)”

@DesignUXUI

“If you are a User Experience Designer and have not read this report on check out form usability, than you should http://t.co/tdw0CKjY #UX”

@array_design

“Geeking Out: “E-Commerce Checkout Usability” by Baymard Institute… I loves me some UX insights—http://t.co/GXxos8K3Nt | @Baymard”

@megfdavis

“Comprehensive #usability benchmark of Top 100 Grossing E-commerce sites by @Baymard http://t.co/96SZ71Yv .. love the visual navigation”

@maxciccotosto

“designing a checkout experience? This is one of the coolest resource I've seen: http://t.co/CB1X2GTY”

@chris_bangs

“Wowsers, this is quite a list. RT @userfocus: A great resource for e-commerce checkout patterns http://t.co/oegZsyxu”

@aquazie

“after benchmarking checkouts for a couple of hours last week... this resource is magical http://t.co/ISKOfyGE”

@userfocus

“A great resource for e-commerce checkout patterns http://t.co/izns3qFS”

@jfgodin

“Some really good information about UX and shopping cart systems http://t.co/SnqlZwyu”

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

“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.

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

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

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

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

“I think your report is excellent.

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

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

“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.

“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.

“Thank you for your great work - compact, insightful and helpful!

“Best checkout report I've read to date.

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

See all 68 testimonials

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