Merchant Innovation

Why Shopify Wants To Kill The Checkout









No, this is not Morse code.

It’s, in words, what a bad mobile checkout experience sounds like.

Some things in life are ephemeral and hard to quantify – but a bad mobile checkout experience isn’t one of them. It is counted in the number of individual steps a consumer must go through at the end of an otherwise satisfying shopping experience to finish and checkout. The number of times the consumer must “click” before leaving the site with a purchase.

It’s also highly correlated to how many consumers ever make it to the other side of that buy, we have found – and document regularly in the Checkout Conversion Index.

Top-performing websites, according to the Index, move consumers through the checkout process 15 percent faster by removing 10 percent of the average number of clicks to completion – and being a top performer in this category matters. Underperforming at checkout, according to our estimates, costs merchants over $200 million a year in lost revenue opportunities.

Of course, these aren’t sales that are lost – someone gets them, but not the merchants who force consumers to tap dance their way to checkout using a mobile device.

Clearly, it pays to do better at checkout, according to Shopify’s head of payments, Andre Lyver. Streamlining checkout by accelerating the payment flow is a good start, Lyver told Karen Webster in a recent conversation – but the vision for the future of digital commerce needs to be even bigger.

“We want to kill the checkout forms of today. They have overstayed their welcome.”


It’s “a big ask,” Lyver noted – but so is the problem of converting browsers into buyers at checkout.

Part of the problem, Lyver and Webster agreed, is that too much of the weight of that process comes all the way at the end. Unlike an Uber experience – where the customer can more or less drift smoothly in and out with no fuss or muss – digital commerce hasn’t quite stuck the landing on the mobile device.

But, Lyver noted, that is today.

Checkouts are getting faster, he says, because large chunks of them are disappearing.

Authentication, he noted by way of example, is something Shopify can now handle in the background as the consumer shops the platform instead of as an element that is back-loaded into the checkout process.

“We’re always looking for the next big way to help our merchants succeed,” he told Webster, before noting that in the future, they are hoping to make like magicians and make checkout disappear entirely.

That will be a complicated climb, involving not only getting payments ironed out so they are smooth and totally secure, but also tying in things like shopping logistics and location verification.

All of those things, Lyver said, that merchants and users spend way too much time struggling with.

“At the end of the day, the merchant wants to say yes to the buy – and we make it easy for them to do that, and only that, without having to worry about anything else,” Lyver told Webster. “Neither the merchant nor the buyer wants to jump through a lot of hoops when it comes to payment methods – we just want to be sure that neither have to.”

The Coming Segment Change

Jumping through hoops in any commerce journey is a problem, Lyver told Webster – and is a particularly disruptive and troublesome transaction killer on mobile. Which is a big problem for Shopify, where mobile represents 71 percent of overall traffic and over 60 percent of its conversions. Given the balance of their platform, finding ways to increase speed and reduce steps is crucial.

It’s also notably and historically correlated to very impressive results, with conversions increasing two or three-fold with any upgrade to checkout efficiency.

“Those are big numbers, and this is still in the early days,” Lyver said, noting that Google’s just-announced expansion of payments services has the potential to add a lot of speed and to reduce friction in the ecosystem. In particular, he pointed out how with Google Pay, consumers can open up the platform and connect with their saved payment information anywhere they need to use it – no matter what device they are shopping on or whether they’ve shopped there before.

“When Google came along with this enhancement for payments, it literally opened up hundreds of millions of consumers based on whether their card is on file with any Google property – and obviously, the additional traffic those consumers provide is a massive benefit to our merchants,” noted Lyver.

It’s an important step, he noted, but one of a series that is hopefully taking Shopify to the next level of mobile checkout – when it is barely a “checkout at all.”

The mobile experience is expanding, Lyver said – and merchants and consumers are increasingly expecting their transactions to happen almost automatically, with minimal interaction past a simple authorization.

It won’t be easy work – but it will be the kind of work that will redefine what mobile can add to the commerce ecosystem as a whole.


Latest Insights: 

The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.


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