Shoppers at supermarkets have witnessed a silent revolution in shopping in the past few years. Supermarket giants like Wal-Mart, Tesco and so on have all installed new checkouts that are rapid and reliable. One of the bottlenecks in the whole supermarket “shopping experience” was the checkout. You would happily (perhaps) wader round the store, collect what you wanted and then spend more time than you had been in the shop by that stage, waiting at the checkout.

The reason for this was unreliable barcode scanning, the fact that not all products had barcodes and the slowness of the response. Equally the checkouts needed the products being held and angled properly so the scanners could see the barcode. It all slowed everything down. Shoppers became frustrated and the supermarkets lost money as throughput was lessened.

The new checkouts installed in almost all supermarkets these days speeded everything up considerably. Waiting in line at checkouts is now a thing of the past, for most occasions you will visit a supermarket. Equally, the time you spend at the checkout is now much less than it was five years ago. Nowadays we expect to go to a shop, get what we want and then get out quickly, smoothly and without any hitches at the checkout.

So you have to ask yourself why do so many online shops allow the checkout to be a bottleneck in their system? You can choose what you want to buy easily, you can add it to your shopping cart, but when you come to check out there are delays and difficulties which are responsible for a considerable amount of “shopping cart abandonment”. Millions of people every day decide to buy something online and then give up at precisely the moment they have taken the money out of their pocket.

Supermarkets have shown us what needed to be done. Online checkouts need to work first time. They need to work rapidly. They need to enable a quick get-away for the shopper. An excellent example of this is the checkout at Amazon. A couple of clicks and you are away. Other, much less successful online shops, require you to fill in forms with unnecessary detail for checking out. They may not take the kind of payment you wish to offer. Often they try to sell you something else before you can get to your goods.

Supermarkets do upsell – but they do not do it at the checkout; neither does Amazon. Supermarkets used to have only a few checkouts that took credit cards; now every checkout takes every form of payment.

Online shoppers expect the same. So make sure your shopping cart and payment systems are flexible. Ensure you can take every form of payment people want to offer. Also, if you want to upsell do it during the shopping, not at the checkout.

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