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We spend so much effort driving customers to our sites, maintaining their engagement and convincing them to invest in our products that there is a danger in the checkout becoming an afterthought. A checkout is ultimately where your customers go to commit to your product, and it would be a shame to get this far to fall short on out-of-the-box functionality.

So, why should we invest in the checkout when it comes to a subscription-based website?

Your customers are subscribing to a lifestyle. Niche literacy; online fitness videos; art courses; office software; whatever your customers’ need, it is paramount that as a business you prove to them that you’re trustworthy, resourceful and that you’re in it for the long haul.

So how can you reduce checkout friction whilst establishing an ongoing relationship and long-term commitment to your customers?

  1. Affirm the subscription model

Before your customers part with their personal details, they want to know they’re getting bang for their buck. Always re-establish your subscription packages first to show availability of choice, creating clarity with itemised tick lists. Maintain transparency with clear payment plans, how regular these are and whether discounts occur to reward greater commitments.

  1. Earn customer trust

You are asking someone to enter into a binding agreement and so it is your responsibility to earn their trust. Quick wins such as recognisable security and payment logos provide credibility whilst application of opt-in boxes when requesting personal information are imperative. Breadth of information awards weight to your promise, offering clear access to help, FAQs and customer service to provide that human involvement.

“Choose the plan that’s right for you” is much more emotive than “Please select a plan”, right? Consider how you can directly address your customer, open up a conversation and make them feel as if their needs have been recognised.

  1. Keep it simple

This might sound obvious, but keep your checkout simple. Limit distractions by removing the navigation and any unnecessary fluff, focussing on the purchase journey. Help your customer by breaking down your checkout into stages; clearly labelling each step breaks down the process into digestible chunks and eases cognitive load. Always give hints as to what’s next with progressive buttons that communicate the next step, using colour theory to initiate action.

  1. Improve form structure

There’s nothing worse than long, arduous forms. They’re time-consuming, boring and sometimes, it all gets a bit too personal. Keep your checkout lean by limiting your fields to information you really need; we can collect data for personalisation later. Make sure you don’t collect information twice. For example, PayPal customers don’t need to provide their billing details as this information has already been collected. And remember; always keep fields in a single column to ensure your customers interpret data requests consistently, with a seamless transition to smaller devices.

  1. Enhance buyer transparency

This relates back to point 2 about earning customer trust. Always maintain brand integrity by clearly communicating itemised costs at every stage; even that free month trial you’re offering. As humans, we like flexibility. We like to know we have options and that we can change our minds, and so establishing your cancellations policy and options to change plan at a later stage further harnesses that trust. Customers always need to be reassured that they are in control.

  1. Begin personalisation

How do you begin the customer’s journey to tailoring their subscription? How can the customer get the most out of your service? As soon as your customer has parted with their cash, it’s key to make the best first impression. Show them that you really care and guide them towards the best experience by asking them those all important questions. For example, an online fitness video provider may ask questions like “What are your goals?”; “What equipment do you have access to?”; “How frequently do you exercise?”; open up that conversation again to create value out of their data and introduce them to a more personalised service.

Your subscription checkout is not just a point of conversion but acts as an introduction to your brand. Consider how you can communicate those same brand values that ultimately impact your audience’s lifestyle through your checkout and you’re on your way to cementing a long and mutually beneficial relationship.