Effective Use of Forms for Ecommerce

Essential to nearly any type of business-driven website, forms are an especially important data collection tool in ecommerce for collecting leads, fulfilling orders, soliciting feedback, fine-tuning marketing messages, and so much more. The structure for all types of forms is pretty much the same – simple prompts with blank fields for each. With such a straightforward format, it’s all too easy to “set and forget” forms on your site without considering how they are implemented or their impact on customer experience.

Fortunately, there are many ways you can prevent forms from becoming obstacles in your conversion funnel. For example:

  • Show new customers the bare minimum of form fields for their first purchase, then follow up via email with additional forms to complete the account/profile set-up process.
  • Rather than trying to reduce user-submitted errors by having two fields for “Create Password” and “Confirm Password,” use one field that makes password characters visible by default to allow customers to easily see if they have made an error.
  • Instead of having fields for First and Last name, area code and phone number, or month/day/year (i.e. 3 categories of data, divided across 7 fields), combine them to create a Full Name field, Phone Number field, and Birthdate field, respectively.
  • For address information, use autofill features to speed up the process and reduce shipping errors.
  • Automate error messages so they appear dynamically as each form field is filled in instead of waiting until after the user tries to submit the form – causing them to backtrack spend extra time “proofreading” the form themselves.
  • Forms can be frustrating for mobile shoppers who must “tap in” information via small touch screens. A responsive design that works on all screen sizes can solve this issue.

Customers may love your website and products, but that doesn’t mean they like filling out your forms. Remember, each blank field on a form is a step in the checkout processes – and in ecommerce, more steps = more opportunities to abandon carts. Try filling out your own forms to experience the process from a customer’s perspective and help identify opportunities to improve usability.