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WooCommerce: Understand and improve every step of the purchasing process

If you’ve read our previous articles you may have noticed I’ve put particular attention into the WooCommerce’s checkout process.

This might be considered the third chapter of my “Checkout Trilogy” in which I analyze every single aspect involved in the purchase process.

The importance of the checkout process

Why is it important to study and perfect the checkout system for a store? Well, because it’s the last step before customers buy your products and it’s often also the most risky.

Even just one doubt, distraction or technical issue is enough to lose a customer for good, don’t just take my word on it, believe the numbers: of all users who begin the checkout process, only 12% reaches the end of it!

That’s why I’ve already gone through how to simplify the purchase process and how to recover abandoned carts left by all of those customers who added products to their cart and then left the website, hoping to drastically reduce that 88% of lost customers.

This improved the effectiveness of the first and middle part of the checkout process, but what about the final part?

You might be thinking: “Well, at least that 12% is guaranteed…” but sadly that’s not the case: if you consider all of the payments that are left pending, at the end of the day very few of them actually make it through.

Which might just be a problem: it’s rather pointless to manage to improve on that 12% if you then lose more than half of them during the checkout.

Let’s see how to get back to those customers that still haven’t completed their payment.

Pending payments on WooCommerce – Why?

The most important thing to provide a solution to a problem is to understand what caused it.

Why would customers not complete their orders, after spending so much time choosing their product and completing the checkout process?

Well, there are four main causes:

  • The customer is distracted – Sadly we cannot always be totally isolated while surfing the internet, that’s why we may get distracted just before buying something (especially if we are doing so from a mobile device) and we would forever forget to complete it.
  • The customer encountered an error – It might just happen that an error may appear that would prevent customers from completing their purchase. Whether the cause is a wrong configuration on our behalf or a personal issue with the customer, the result is the same.
  • The payment system wasn’t accepted – This happens more often than you might think, especially with a few specific payment methods. This maybe due to the fact that the data entered by the customer is wrong or any other reason… the payment just won’t get through.
  • The customers forgets about it – This happens often with customers that use non-immediate payment systems such as bank transfers, where payments get delayed and then forgotten.

Other then the reasons previously stated there might be many more, so how can you find a solution that would allow you to save pending orders?

The best way to do this is through a notification: you can contact customers who left pending payments using e-mail and then:

  • Remind customers of the payment they still need to complete, which will save distract and forgetful users.
  • You might find out there are issues with the checkout process, which will give you a chance to fix them and avoid losing more customers in the future.
  • You can help customers fix an issue they might be experiencing, which would save their transaction.
  • Ultimately, whatever their problem might be, customers will be positively impressed since they will feel cared for by your services.

Once you’ve realized what you should do, all you need to find out is: how can you send an email to all of your customers with pending payments?

Sure, you can do it manually, but in case you have many customers and transactions (and I hope that in case you don’t already, you will soon) it might just be a frustrating and time consuming process to go through.

This is why you need to find a way to set up an automatic email to be sent in case of outstanding orders.

Luckily, if you are a WooCommerce user, you can do it by using the YITH WooCommerce Pending Order Survey plugin.

This plugin allows you to send a custom email to customers that haven’t completed their order yet, which you can use to ask for explanations, invite them to complete them and maybe offer them a discount voucher for future purchases (you are obviously free to enter whatever you wish in the e-mail, but in my experience this kind of communication works):


And this was the last useful step in order to get back to those customers that got lost during the checkout process: if you did everything right, you will see that 12% of effectively purchasing customers rise higher than ever before!

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