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What Is the Best Way to Structure the Checkout Process?

A question that keeps cropping up recently is from customers who want to know the best way to structure the checkout process. Firstly you should never stray from the globally accepted online shopping metaphor which is how all good web stores operate and how most people would expect to buy a product. Some stores insist on putting obstacles in the way like signing in, but all this will do is, well, get in peoples way. Stick with this method and you will be fine.

The normal process to buy something is this

  1. Discover products
  2. Add products to cart
  3. Checkout
  4. Review cart and change totals
  5. Enter details and payment information
  6. Receive confirmation

This article is talking about step 5 or more specifically the journey from 4 to 5 then 6. The customer has a full cart and now they want to pay.

There are two ways of structuring this part of the process.

Bank Hosted

This is where the customer leaves your site and is taken to a 3rd party (normally the bank, but perhaps Paypal) site where they pay and then are taken back to your website for confirmation.

Here at Bleep we find that there is a common misconception that this is less desirable from a user experience perspective. We think it depends. Many people are much more comfortable putting their credit card details into the website of a bank rather than that of a site which perhaps they have never seen before. This might be especially true if your site does not have a physical address and phone number on it.

Another advantage of this method is that the bank deals with all the security requirements regarding credit card numbers and data privacy laws. The merchant never has to deal with any of this.

This route often allows for the hosted bank to implement any additional security checks such as the ‘Verified by Visa’ check. Sometimes implementing the hosted solution is the only way to get such checks as is the case with eGate from ANZ in Australia.

This method although a little more disjointed is perfectly valid and is used successfully in thousands of places on the web.

Merchant Hosted

Most new customers we get often think this is the way to go and the reasons why are obvious. The main one being that all the big etailers structure the checkout process this way. In the eyes of new etailers - if you do it this way you must be a large, successful and powerful. To a certain degree this is true and it is because of this fact that people are willing to give you there credit card details.

With this structure the customer never leaves your site. All the payment forms including billing, shipping and card details done within the brand of the main site. The payment details are submitted securely to the bank and a message sent back.

This structure takes the longest to implement and test from a development point of view. It has the major disadvantage that each time the bank changes their system, or adds additional security it is necessary to spend money implementing the changes. Someone else’s decision to change something can end up costing you money.

If you have any experience with any of the above or you think we could improve the answer to this question then please leave a comment below.

ecommerce, questions