Checkout Form Optimization: Try Asking for Zip Code First

Posted By Devesh Khanal | 4 Comments

If you have a payment or checkout flow on your site, you should test asking for Zip Code first, and fill in the buyer’s City and State for them.

This should make it easier for them to fill in the form and, ideally, increase checkout rate and thus revenue. Doing this is not as hard since the brains behind it (filing in city/state from zip) has been done by other people.

Let me explain…

Why Checkout Flow Tests are High Impact

Regardless of your online business, the payment and checkout step is one of the highest impact pages that you can A/B test.

Because any lift you get on that page goes straight to your bank account.

For example if you get 25% more people to buy on your payment page, that’s 25% increase in revenue.

But if you get 25% more people to add a product to cart, but only 40% of cart additions end up checking out. You’ve only increased revenue by 25% * 40% = 10%.

That’s less than half the impact.

Often, Less Form Fields Leads to Faster Completion

It’s a generality in the UI and conversion optimization world that less form fields means higher conversion rates. That’s not always true. For example, removing the “How did you hear about us?” and “What Industry are you in?” Fields for a SaaS client of ours made no difference after almost 100 conversion events per variation (if anything, the fewer fields were trending towards hurting conversion rates).

Fewer_form_fields

However in other cases, people have reported increases in conversion rate from reducing form fields. For example Flying Scott Parking reduced a giant mess of fields into a much cleaner process:

giant scott example

This apparently increased form submissions by 35% with 99% significance. And visually when you look at the two variants, it’s obvious why. The Original is a total mess and makes you want to switch tabs to ESPN and do some mindless web browsing instead. Or pay more for parking just to avoid filling that out.

So although “less form fields is better” is not a hard and fast rule, keep in mind that making things easier for the user is often better.

How to Make Checkout Easier By Skipping City and State

So on that note, here’s an easy peezy way to make checkout easier for users.

Instead of asking for City, State, then Zip code…like this:

city_state_zip

Replace it with just the Zip code and have a Zip Code Lookup API fill in the city and state. So users just see this:

Zip_code_only

What? How does that work?

Turns out you don’t have to do the heavy lifting yourself. There are many sites that make APIs to give you all kinds of info if you fill in the zip code, one of them being the US Postal Service itself:

And the APIs are free (at least USPS is).

Here is me filling out Ziptastic as an example:

zip small

 

It seems like a small detail but is definitely worth testing for your users. If you get even a small conversion increase at checkout, that goes straight to revenue.

If you’re interested in getting a full conversion audit of your online store, contact us. Or if you’re tested this before, let us know the results in the comments.

  • Devesh this is a great post. Have you ever dealt with Infusionsoft order forms? They are known for not being that friendly and I’m just wondering if you’ve ever tried or seen something like this done for Infusionsoft. I’m going to see if I can use one of these scripts with some of our forms and cut out the city / state fields. Thanks again for this handy guide!

    • Daniel – This stuff should work with InfusionSoft’s forms as well. Since it’s done on the fly, you shouldn’t even need to change the forms you have now. Might take a day or two but in either case it’s not a large job.

    • Daniel, I haven’t dealt with infusion soft forms much but if you can’t do it through infusion soft, I’d consider putting an optimizely snippet on the page and hacking this solution through optimizely.

  • Brian Stitt

    great information thanks Devesh…will implement in upgrade of my new site!