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Staples exec pinpoints accordion-style checkout to win mobile conversions

SAN ANTONIO, TX — A Staples executive at eTail West 2014 spoke about the varied ways that the retailer is optimizing the mobile checkout with accordion style performing well so far.

During the “Check-Out is Critical: Best Practices Around Completing and Expediting the Sale” session, the executive from the second-largest online retailer spoke about how the company is testing its mobile, desktop and kiosk experiences to help streamline the checkout experience.

“One-page accordion style [on desktop] seems to be winning at the moment, based on the research that we saw,” said Prat Vemana, vice president of ecommerce at Staples, Framingham, MA.

“Having said that, I would not fully bet on that until we’ve fully rolled out – A/B is where we are right now, after the roll out we may have more data,” he said.

“On mobile however, I can tell you that it’s live and it is winning, actually, if you can see where we are today.”

Cutting down clutter
Instead of prioritizing one device’s checkout experience, Staples is instead focused on improving the experience across multiple devices since the average consumer owns 2.6 devices, according to research presented during the session.

When it comes to top-of-the-funnel activities, retailers need to focus on making specific pieces of content easy for consumers to see and engage with.

For example, during the holiday season Staples made sure that consumers immediately were directed to product pages, regardless of the platform that they were coming from.

Additionally, the retailer looks at data on basket sizes to see how many items a consumer is buying.

On the other hand, the bottom of the funnel is more about getting consumers through the shopping process as quickly as possible. Per research presented during the session, the average retailer uses five steps in the checkout experience.

However, much of this information is redundant. Fifty percent of retailers ask consumers for the same information twice throughout the checkout experience.

After the holidays, Staples rolled out a mobile checkout process that autofills an address as the consumer types something into a field. The goal is to make the consumer work less.

Staples splits up the checkout experience into two groups of users — members with an account and guests.

The member checkout is moving towards an accordion model where a single page reveals different types of information as consumers make their way down the page.

The guest checkout also involves minimal typing.

The point is to eliminate any possible distraction for consumers, which could potentially mean also cutting out SMS or coupon sign-ups.

Staples’ mobile site

Next-generation sales?
Staples launched new Web and mobile sites at the end of last year to improve speed and cut down on the number of transaction steps.

After the mobile site launched, Mr. Venama said that conversions increased five times.

Staples also launched new iOS and Android apps last week with a revamped design, including a new homepage and optimized navigation.

Additionally, the office supply chain also launched a new kiosk experience in-store. The kiosk site cuts the checkout experience down from four to two steps.

“Really, really plan for a multi-device world,” Mr. Venama said.

“If you look at checkout just within one device, one medium, you’re going to have a different answer than how you operate in a multi-device world,” he said. “We continuously focus a lot in the cart part of checkout, but I think the top of the funnel is equally important to actually move the customer through the funnel.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York