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What are the more popular checkout workflows?
I belive this is what amazon does:
1. click on checkout
2. login page
3. choose shipping method
4. find your address
i. if no address, go to address form
5. payment form
6. confirm order
Does that seem correct?
once we have had a similar checkout procedure (6 steps or about it, as you described).
However, too many customers have all kind of troubles with the requirement to log in before order can be placed (we know that by e-mails to our support). So, we lost the orders because of this.
Additionally, there is a statistics-backed opinion that you lose some percent of the customers with each additional checkout step. This might not be true for Amazon, since they have a big brand and a huge customers base that got used to their checkout, but this might be true for smaller shops.
Therefore, we decided to shorten checkout procedure, especially not to request a password at checkout:
1. click on checkout
2. choose shipping zone (for only available shipping and payment methods be shown on the next page, like one zone for your domestic country, one for nearest abroad, one for worldwide)
3. fill in your shipping address (or have it pre-filled if you have a cookie from previous order and have selected "remember my address here" option during previous checkout), and select payment and delivery method at the same page
4. confirm order
5. create a password, if you want to track your order on-line or see list of your previous orders
This shortened checkout method has its disadvantages, like impossibility for payment address to differ from shipping address, or not having more than one shipping address -- but you can still override these shortcomings, by putting appropriate links/checkboxes, like "more addresses..." and "I have different payment address" under shipping address form, adding additional checkout steps, if necessary -- but mainstream will still have a shortened checkout path.
-->Enter Shipping Destination<--Check Stock--Select Shipping--Finalize Order--
Select country, if U.S. destination enter zip code. Check the box if you want shipping insurance.
--Enter Shipping Destination-->Check Stock<--Select Shipping--Finalize Order--
Here we've checked stock on the items (out of stock items are offered) and if any are out of stock, choose an option for handling the shipping (hold order until all in, send what's in stock and other items later at no extra shipping charge, remove items from order.)
--Enter Shipping Destination--Check Stock-->Select Shipping<--Finalize Order--
When they arrive here we have queried the shipping API and list all the shipping options we support. Choose a shipping method:
Parcel Post: $17.00, 5-7 business days + $2.05 Insurance = $19.05 total shipping
Priority Mail: $22.00, 3-5 business days + $2.05 Insurance = $24.05 total shipping ........
No form, just follow a link . . . .
--Enter Shipping Destination--Check Stock--Select Shipping-->Finalize Order<--
The familiar order review at the top, to the right an option for returning customers to log in and populate the form. Not required. Billing address/etc. follows that, check box for "same as billing" or manual entry, and CC info.
Seems like everyone's pretty happy with this, and to our surprise, very few shoppers remove out of stock items on checkout. Yes, we currently have it set for "hold entire order", but actually started out with "send what ya got" and customers kept checking it to "hold." So I guess they like it.
That's the optimum way to go IMO, but if you have items of variable size where (num items) X (ship cost) won't cover costs, it won't work and you have to have some method of shipping that requires collecting a destination first.