January 19, 2021

Removing Barriers to Sale Part 1: Checkout

To kick-off the year we’re taking a closer look at common barriers to sale and how to remove them. Working backwards, we’ll look at check-out, delivery costs and lead times as well product experience and returns.

In this first article, we’re looking closely at the checkout process, which is one of, if not the most critical stage in the customer journey. Once initiated you have almost 100% certainty that there is intent to buy so it’s critical that you aren’t throwing up any roadblocks here.

Long, complicated or unusual check-out processes are one of the biggest barriers to sale and if you are seeing drop off at this stage it’s time to think about why.

Below we’ve taken a closer look at three key elements that will not only help to streamline the check-out process but also offer consumers greater choice about how and when they pay.



1. Reducing Steps to Purchase

Checkout should be as quick and easy as possible for the consumer so reducing the steps to purchase is the first thing to address. Forms are a total pain, so only use them to gather the basics needed for a successful transaction.

If you’ve already asked a customer for a piece of information i.e. their e-mail address to login, don’t ask for it again. If they are a new user, don’t force them to go through the process of creating an account up front, but provide this as an option during or post-purchase.

Auto-complete is a game changer for forms and significantly reduces the time it takes to checkout, especially on mobile devices where forms are particularly fiddly. If you have Apple or Google Pay set up for mobile transactions then autofill is a given, but platforms such as WooCommerce offer auto-complete plugins, which can be installed at a relatively low cost and can streamline address inputs.



2. Payment Processors

A good payment processor will do a lot of the work for you and two of the biggest and, in our opinion best, are Stripe and WorldPay (FIS). Although if we had to pick one, we’d almost certainly recommend Stripe thanks to the fact that its integration is easily implemented and very reliable when used on new and existing systems.

For sites built on WooCommerce there is no coding required for a simple setup. It is also the easiest way to facilitate mobile payment methods such as Apple and Google Pay.

With the Stripe gateway it is also very easy to customise the integration to simplify purchasing, from on-page purchases to recuring subscriptions.

It’s also worth offering PayPal as an option at checkout for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a household name that has a fair amount of consumer trust behind it so users may feel reassured by this option. Secondly, it’s an easy way for someone to complete a purchase if they happen not to have a card to hand.

That said, PayPal’s transaction fees do tend to be higher than other processors, so this is something to bear in mind.



3. Finance Options - Buy Now, Pay Later

While interest free credit is by no means new, in the last few years ‘buy now, pay later’ services such as Klarna and ClearPay have skyrocketed. Integrated into the checkout process itself, they present customers with even more choice about how and when they pay. Whether that’s in three instalments or 30 days later, the choice sits with the consumer and that’s quite a powerful thing.

In fact, Klarna claims that its integration at checkout can increase sales by 44% and improve average order value by 68% when the payment is split over four instalments.[i]

These companies are also starting to remove some of the stigma around finance that perhaps held people back from applying in the past. The speed of the credit checks, combined with the increased presence of credit or subscription-style payment plans, whether on cars or TV streaming services have made consumers far more comfortable with the idea of them.

The liability also sits with the credit provider rather than the merchant, which is a huge advantage for smaller companies who are not large enough to offer their own finance.

That said, these options come at a cost to the retailer, with Klarna creaming off 5.4% of the transaction value. It is possible to set a minimum spend for finance options to protect your margins on lower priced stock however, and this also has the added advantage of potentially driving up order value.

An alternative, that comes at no additional cost to the merchant is PayPal Credit, which offers consumers similar terms to Klarna, but at no additional cost to the merchant. It doesn’t integrate as well as Klarna, but it’s a service worth highlighting to your customers if you already offer PayPal as a payment option.




Refining your checkout process really boils down to two key things: removing superfluous steps in the payment process that cause frustration or hesitation and offering enough options to allow the customer to pay in a way that works for them, whether that is on mobile or by instalments.

Address these two things and you’ll be on your way to success.

Keep an eye out for our next article in which we’ll be looking at delivery costs and lead times.


April 1, 2020

Are subscription boxes the lifeline retail needs right now?

Whatever the coming weeks and months have in store for us, it’s clear that the retail world is never going to be the same again. The fashion and beauty world is a clear example of how retailers are experiencing a huge change in consumer behaviour; Burberry is already reporting that in-store sales have fallen by 50%, and Next have warned of a significant sales drop this quarter, with boss Lord Wolfson saying “people do not buy a new outfit to stay at home.”

There could, however, be a silver lining for retail businesses.

The subscription ecommerce market has boomed in recent years and is forecast to be valued at £1 billion by 2021. Everything from meal kits to razors, shampoo to alcohol can now be delivered straight to your door, and its our prediction that these companies are likely to see sales skyrocket as households stay indoors.

The UK subscription market is dwarfed by our cousins in the US, but with over a quarter of UK consumers currently signed up to a subscription service, including over half of millennials, it’s clear that there’s a huge growth opportunity.

As the threat of coronavirus spreads and major shopping districts empty out, there’s a lesson in the subscription boom for bricks and mortar retailers. Already some big-name brands have got in on the action, with international beauty giant Sephora launching their own subscription box in the US.

Our advice to retailers is this: get creative. Whether it’s turning your sit-in bistro into a takeaway (the Government has already made it easier for pubs and restaurants to do this), turning your personal training offering into a virtual class, or creating a subscription box to deliver direct to your customers, we’re all going to have to think differently about how we do business.

Look at the furniture industry as an example of innovation. A few years ago, it would have been unthinkable to buy big-ticket items like a sofa or bed online, but as retailers have stepped up their game and transformed their online offering, customers are more and more comfortable with the idea of decking out their homes at the click of a button. As a result, the furniture ecommerce market has boomed, with major retailers and smaller brands more effective than ever in marketing directly to consumers.

In this age of uncertainty, no-one can say for sure how our shopping habits will change. There are, however, opportunities to be had for the retailers willing to innovate. Customers still want to look good, feel good and eat well – perhaps even more so in this age of uncertainty. If your brand can offer an easy and convenient way for them to do so in the comfort of their own home, you could attract a larger and more loyal following than ever before.


Cool Blue is a full-service agency that pays special attention to the interiors sector. We make waves in the home and lifestyle world, whether by helping brands find new relevancy or supercharging their sales, our strategic expertise makes brands like yours achieve their goals.

Toffee Factory
Lower Steenberg’s Yard
Newcastle upon Tyne
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