Customer Checkout Process

What are the standard checkout process steps?

The checkout process is the series of steps a customer follows to purchase the items in their shopping cart on an ecommerce store. This includes every step that a customer goes through to proceed through to checkout. An ideal checkout flow will have a smooth, frictionless user experience.

The typical checkout process for a customer is:

shopping cart billing info shipping info shipping method preview order payment confirmation

Digital products and goods won’t require shipping information or shipping method, as you’ll download what you’ve purchased. Physical goods will require shipping details and methods to be input. Depending on the store, you will need to optimize the checkout flow.

All checkouts have the same essential steps, whether they are part of a single page checkout, multi-page checkout, or even a more complicated checkout process. Below are the 7 essential steps any ecommerce checkout will contain:

1. Initiate checkout

Checkout begins when the customer leaves the shopping cart to proceed to checkout. This is done through a call to action button, typically labelled “Checkout,” “Buy Now,” or something similar. Once a customer has engaged with this option, they are advancing to checkout.

2. (Optional) login or signup

Allow the customer to proceed to checkout without registering for an account. Enforcing account creation acts as an obstacle in the checkout process, and will deter the purchase process. Give the users an option to login if they are returning customers.

3. Billing information

An essential part of any checkout is choosing the payment method and entering billing details. Form fields should be intuitively designed to fit all required billing information, and billing details should be one of the final steps of the checkout process.

4. Shipping information

One of the main draws of ecommerce is getting things delivered to your door. Collect shipping information, ideally with a streamlined set of form fields. Create a checkbox with “Shipping address same as billing address” pre-checked.  

5. Shipping method

When customers are inputting shipping details, it’s a good idea to request the shipping method. Make it easy for your customer by collecting these pieces of information together. When possible, provide as much variety in shipping methods as possible, so customers can choose the delivery method they prefer.

6. Preview order

Once customers have filled out their information, many checkouts then let them preview their order. Display as much relevant information as you can, including order subtotals, taxes applied, delivery fees, and total cost.

You’ll also want to include product details, such as quantity, item name, and a short description. When possible, make this available throughout the entire checkout flow for the customer’s reference.

7. Payment confirmation

Often on the ‘preview order’ screen, the final step involves confirming the order and completing the payment. This call to action should be prominent, as it finalizes the sale. This is the end of your funnel, and you should capitalize on customers that have proceeded to this step, capturing the sale.