One of the key aspects of online success is thriving where your competition fails. In a time-poor society where transactions are made on a second-to-second basis, one of the common areas businesses lets their customers down is in the checkout process. Listrak, an ecommerce email marketing platform, reports that users on average abandon shopping carts 71% of the time. For businesses with a highly competitive website where most of the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted, the question to ask is, “How can I avoid becoming this statistic?”
Matt Cutts, Head of Google’s Web Spam team, points out that moving forward into 2014, what many businesses need to work on to improve their conversions is to improve the user experience. By working on user experience, you will be improving the customer’s interaction with the company, its services and its products. One way user experience can be achieved is through the implementation of autocomplete forms.
What are autocomplete forms?
Autocomplete forms are forms on a website that enable users to select pre-populated values in relation to the form field. For example, a form field that is marked up as an address will be pre-populated with values stored in the browsers history. While autocomplete/autofill has existed for many years, the feature is still one of the most underestimated tools used by businesses to increase their conversions. Work is underway to make autocomplete fields a standardised feature across all browsers, and cater to common fields encountered in an ecommerce form.
As part of the Chromium Projects, developers are working on a Request Autocomplete extension to improve the checkout process, particularly for the increasing amount of users wanting to purchase on a mobile device. With the extension, users will be able to cut form fill-out time with just one click.
Why should businesses consider implementing autocomplete forms?
You don’t want to make your customers jump through hoops and over walls to buy your product or service. The fact of the matter is, people hate filling out forms, and if they are faced with a long form process, it can often give them more time to think about whether or not they should be doing business with you. Also, if your customers are loyal, have your website remember their name, just as you would want to remember their name in a traditional retail store.
As a side note, you must also remember that users value their private information, so only ask for the bare necessities in order for the transaction to be completed.
How can they be implemented?
While the Request Autocomplete project is still a Chrome experiment, the experiment is set to be a working Chrome extension tool very soon, and available on other browsers in the not too distant future.
Web masters can get their websites ready easily by adding autocomplete attributes to common field input elements such as name, telephone, email, shipping address information and payment information. You can see an example of the markup and its implementation here.
The beauty of autocomplete is that it only takes a few minutes to implement, but has the opportunity to drastically improve your website conversions in the long term. If you have implemented and activated autocomplete on your ecommerce site with the goal of reducing your cart abandonment rate, share your experiences in the comments below.
Image credit: Marcus Quigmire
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