Friction is an impediment of growth. After all, conversion = desire – friction.

Assuming desire stays high and friction is low, then you’ll always be in a good place.

To any product manager, there is always a step that experiences massive drop offs.

The checkout page.

A Magento study shows that of those who add the item to their cart, only 37% complete their purchase. 37% may sound high to some people, but I’ll also state that only 5.76% of visitors add anything to their cart at all.

Checkout completion rate | Marketo

If your users have any hesitation in purchasing your product, then your checkout page will be where they will fall off.

“Are you sure you want to hand us your money for something you may or may not like?”

To get past this, a few companies have been deploying a new way of checking out. Its popularity has been growing and it is incredibly effective.

This method is what I like to call the anti-checkout.

I don’t mean don’t let your users pay. I mean don’t show them the checkout page.

There are many companies that do this to great success.

One click checkout | Amazon

Amazon has the “one-click checkout” button.

When users click this button, their item gets shipped to their house. It uses their default shipping and payment information to skip the entire checkout process.

Amazon does not let you see the checkout page if you use this button. You go from wanting to the item to receiving your item.

A lot can happen in the checkout process. Every action your users can take opens a chance to back out of the sale.

 

Uber does Uber App Buttonnot have a checkout process at all. When you press the button for an Uber, you are doing so to get a car to come to you. The thought of paying does not immediately register. This has enormous psychological effects which I will cover later.

The anti-checkout method isn’t limited to just tech companies. Bars have been employing this for ages.

Tabs are a phenomenal way for bars to get users to order more drinks.

Imagine you’re at a bar that doesn’t take tabs. You’ll go in, order a drink, he’ll prepare it for you. Then you hand him your credit card, he swipes it, you sign the receipt, and you put the card back in your wallet. That’s a pretty heavy series of events. It’s easy to count up how many times you do this.

Each time you swipe your card, you’ll ask, “Do I really need another drink? The last one cost $8, and I’ve already paid for three tonight.”

You’ll likely stop at that point. Why? Because it’s a more conscious effort.

Now let’s look at the same situation but with a bar tab. At the beginning of the night you hand the bartender your credit card and they keep it on file.

At that point, all you have to do is tell the bartender what you want and he’ll give it to you. It’s incredibly easy to do so. Because it’s so simple and frictionless, you act on it. Then you do it again. Next thing you know, you’ve racked up a pretty hefty bill for yourself.

This is retention.

If you want to make your users come back, make your process so simple they almost feel like thieves.

People like free stuff.

When a customer uses your service and skips the checkout, for a brief moment it feels free. That is an amazing feeling.

Your users aren’t stupid. They’re well aware that they’re going to pay. But the key is to leverage the point in which you remind them.

When I call an Uber to my door, I’m aware that I’m going to be paying something. But I’m not reminded of the fact that I paid until after the driver drops me off.

When I press the button to call an Uber, I press it to bring a driver to my door. I may not consciously acknowledge it, but it makes me feel special. It makes me feel like I have my own private driver waiting for me.

When the Uber driver drops me off, I step out of the car and walk away. There’s no fuddling for cash in my pocket. There’s no tip. And there’s certainly no “broken credit card machines.”

I just get out. It almost feels like I got a free ride.

When a process is this easy and valuable, you can’t help but to do it again.

Not everyone can get away with this.

The companies that can use the anti-checkout method usually have the following traits:

  1. They’re repeat purchases (usually done at least once a week)
  2. Low ticket items
  3. Physical good/service
  4. Low interaction (but not none)

It’s very important to stress the repeat purchases trait. Purchases made only once a month usually need some level of thought and deliberation. These types of purchases have not melded themselves into a user’s patterns.

When a user makes a repeat purchase of at least once a week, there is little thought on confirmation.

The user needs to have already decided that they need the item before they even start to purchase it.

Currently this method is limited to companies who hold the before mentioned traits.

In the future I could see it going much further… Especially in the physical retail. Imagine going into Nordstrom, picking out a few items of clothing, and walking out.

The company already has your credit card on file. It knows who you are, and it registers all the items you have in your hands.

You walk out.

It feels like you just stole a thousand dollars worth of clothing. Or maybe it feels like you have your own personal warehouse.

For a brief moment, you feel like a thief or a VIP. No matter which thought, you’re not thinking of how much you just spent.

Imagine a future where the world’s services and goods become your buffet.

Checkout pages kill conversions. If you’re able to, see how you can make the checkout page less prevalent.

This pattern provides a frictionless user experience and can increase customer retention.

What are your thoughts on the anti-checkout pattern and the future of it? I enjoy hearing what people think about these kinds of things. Feel free to reply in the comments below or tweet them to me @willietran_.