When it comes to the checkout process, Shopify takes the Apple approach: we did the research, we have the experience, trust us, this is the best experience possible. Shopify Plus merchants have a bit more leeway, but for regular Shopify stores, checkout is on lockdown.
No doubt it’s a terrific experience, and one less thing to worry about for merchants launching an ecommerce site for the first time. But to a company like HiConversion, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all checkout. Here’s why: every brand is unique, and so is the way its customers interact with its site. Some customers won’t purchase above a specific price point on a mobile device, while others think nothing of it. I know people who won’t convert if a site doesn’t accept PayPal. Why enter all that data and customer number when they can easily buy something similar elsewhere? Others feel the same way about Amazon Pay.
And as my colleague Megan DeLeonardis said, the same customer exhibits different behavior on different sites, which means no merchant can make assumptions. One needs to test on a continuous basis.
To a lot of people in the business, HiConversion is an enterprise play, offering sophisticated analytics options for major brands with teams of data scientists tasked with analyzing every aspect of user behavior. But that’s changing. With 500,000 businesses relying on Shopify, HiConversion realized that the ecommerce platform represented the next generation of merchants and decided to make a play in the market. A bit more on that later.
According to its app description, HiConversion “spent months experimenting on hundreds of real checkouts. Our tests on design, payment preferences, copywriting, and location revealed a generic checkout is costing you up to 15% in new revenue.” To recapture that revenue, merchants need to tweak, test and optimize their checkout experience, which isn’t easy to do if you rely on Google Analytics. To address this challenge, HiConversion designed the initial version Checkout Zen around three core capabilities:
Checkout Zen Score: an eCommerce site index that assesses the effectiveness of a site’s checkout funnel, specifically, likelihood that users who enter the checkout process will actually complete the process. The score, per HiConversion, “is calculated from the merchant’s own checkout funnel KPIs and it is continually updated to accurately reflect the dynamic nature of eCommerce.”
Checkout KPI Analytics: Set of charts that share insights into the KPIs that drive the Checkout Zen Score calculations. The purpose is to help merchants identify where, in the checkout process, they lose customers
Actionable Recommendations: “Dynamically-generated” recommendations based on results of the store’s overall score and KPIs.
The overarching concept is rather simple: every merchant wants to earn more revenue. Typically, they attempt to reach that goal by investing in campaigns that attract more users to their sites. Checkout Zen takes a different approach, asking: what if you figured out a way to convert more of the people who enter the checkout process to begin with? They’ve already arrived at your site, they’ve already discovered products that interest them, so why not go the extra mile to uncover and implement the checkout experience that works best for them?
A Place to Start
What I like about Checkout Zen is that it gives time-strapped merchants a place to start. The whole concept of optimization is huge, spanning the very top of the funnel all the way to the Thank You for Your Order page. It encompasses literally thousands of data points, and to a smaller shop it can feel like trying to boil the ocean. With Checkout Zen, HiConversion is essentially saying: your checkout process is where the business of your site actually occurs, and it’s important to focus on it and get it right. Here’s a methodology to do just that.
Interestingly, Checkout Zen is also a starting point, of sorts, for HiConversion. The company wanted a way to initiate conversations with the 500K Shopify merchants who collectively represent the future of ecommerce. But how? Shopify is a platform that does what it does very well and supports a vibrant ecosystem of developers to fill in the gaps. Through the years, most of those gaps have been filled, and there are tried and true plug-ins that most merchants use almost by default.
Discovering the unmet niches is a challenge for companies like HiConversion seeking to get into this slice of the market. But it saw an opportunity with offering enterprise-like analytics to the checkout process, which is a real boon for smaller retailers. It levels the playing field, allowing SMBs to compete with established brands by helping them to better understand what their customers actually want, and using those insights to build lifelong relationships with them. That’s always been the enterprise’s forte, their firewall, if you will. Checkout Zen allows SMBs to breach that wall, and I’m really curious to see how these types of initiatives will transform the retail landscape.