By Matt Davis

An ecommerce site’s checkout page can make or break the business, and that’s especially true for businesses that sell customizable products. With personalized products, it’s imperative during checkout that customers clearly understand what they’re buying, how it will look, and that it’s up to their exact specifications.

If you can manage that, you’ll keep customers coming back. If not, your business is much more likely to see those dreaded abandoned cart stats rise.

Yet, customizable products like stationery, clothing, and custom-printed promotional gifts present a unique challenge for checkout design. Depending on the number of options available for a single product, the checkout process can get clunky and confusing if not properly designed, can cause potential customers to abandon their carts.

Fortunately, there’s hope. Thorough planning and using best practices to design a checkout process can go a long way in simplifying the checkout process for your customers.

Getting Started Designing the Checkout Process

As you jump into the design process, you should first start thinking about the products you will sell and the checkout features you will need. A few questions you will need to answer include:

  • What types of product options will be available to customers? Are multiple options available for a single product?
  • Do all products have the same customization options? Or will you need to design multiple product page templates?
  • Will specific options change the price of a product?
  • How will you help customers visualize the options? Do you have photos or illustrations that enable customers to see how the final product will look?
  • What type of messaging will you use to explain the options to customers? Product descriptions? Warning messages? Pop-ups?

Using Drop-Down Boxes in Checkout

Drop-down option boxes are a simple and effective solution for simplifying helping customers choose the product features that they want. For example, a jewelry store may enable customers to choose a specific metal, size, color and/or personalized engraving options. Adding those drop-down menus directly on the product page makes it easy for customers to quickly select the options that suit their tastes.

One thing to keep in mind: This can get cumbersome if there are more than 2 or 3 menu boxes. If you have more than a few options, or options that need to be explained, an accordion menu that incorporates a drop-down menu option and descriptive text can help eliminate confusion.

Are Customers Aware that the Price Has Changed?

If a customization option affects price, customers need to know. Fortunately, a number of ecommerce platforms make it easy to attach price increases to specific options, which once selected, will update the display price of the item. The key is keeping customers informed. A surprise price increase has the potential to turn customers off. If there’s a reason for the price going up, try to explain it to the customer with messaging.

Be Sure Your Product Descriptions Are Clear

Product descriptions can make or break your ecommerce store. If they’re written properly and incorporate vibrant photos or illustrations, customers know exactly what to expect. With customizable items, your descriptions must also clearly explain the options available to customers. After you’ve written an overview of the product, be sure to explain all available options like size, font style, or color.

You should also clearly communicate your expectations for the customer of what he or she will need to do. For example, if you require the customer to type a message or upload artwork, provide the customer will a warning that you will print exactly what is typed in the text field. Or if you might include a link to a sizing chart to help customers properly size jewelry or clothing.

Let the Customer Have the Final Say

With any product – and especially with a customizable product – give your customers an opportunity to review their purchase before placing the order. If you required a written message, ask the customer to carefully examine the message for spelling errors. Plus, make the size, color, style and other options easy and accessible for review before collecting payment.

Optimizing your business’s checkout process can have a dramatic effect on the bottom line. Just remember that your checkout should make it easy enough for anyone to select and customize items and visualize the final product. If you can accomplish that, you’ll be on your way to boosting online sales.