The checkout page is one of the most important pages on any ecommerce store. It’s the final step in the customer journey where shoppers complete their purchase, so the checkout experience can make or break the entire shopping process. Many stores struggle with using a one-page or a more traditional multi-step checkout. What are the pros and cons of each, and which provides the best user experience?
In this article, we’ll compare one-page checkout versus multi-step checkout. You’ll learn the key differences between these two checkout types, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and factors to consider when choosing the right checkout flow for your ecommerce store. A well-designed checkout process is critical for maximizing conversion rates, so read on to learn how to create the best possible checkout experience.
What is One Page Checkout?
A one-page or single-page checkout condenses the entire checkout process onto a single page. All the steps shoppers need to complete to finish their purchase are on one page, including:
- Contact information
- Shipping address
- Billing address
- Payment information
- Order review
- Submit order
Rather than clicking through several pages, the shopper remains on the same page from start to finish. One-page checkout is sometimes also called a linear checkout because it presents a single straight path without requiring the customer to navigate back and forth between different screens.
What is Multi Step Checkout?
In contrast to a one-page checkout, a multi-step or multi-page checkout divides the process across several screens or pages. A typical multi-step checkout includes:
- Shopping cart review
- Customer information
- Shipping details
- Billing and payment
- Order review
The customer must move through each step sequentially, clicking “Next” to advance to the subsequent checkout stage. Unlike one-page checkout, where everything is visible upfront, multi-step checkout reveals information gradually across different pages.
Key Differences Between One Page Checkout vs Multi Step Checkout
Now that you understand the basic concepts of one-page and multi-step checkout, let’s look at some of the major differences between the two:
- Number of pages – The most obvious difference is that one-page checkout uses a single page while multi-step checkout uses multiple pages. All checkout information is on one page versus split across several.
- Navigation – With one-page checkout, users don’t have to actively navigate by clicking buttons to move to the next step. Everything is on the same page and customers simply scroll down as needed. Multi-step checkout requires clicking “Next” to move through each stage.
- Information presentation – One-page checkout displays all information upfront simultaneously. Multi-step checkout reveals information gradually across pages.
- Speed – One-page checkout allows faster completion since users don’t have to wait for new pages to load. Multi-step checkout is slower due to page loads between steps.
- Editing – On a single page, customers can easily go back and edit any information before submitting their order. With multi-step checkout, users may need to navigate backwards to edit details they entered on previous screens.
- Context – On one page, customers maintain context because they can see the full checkout path. Splitting up the checkout makes context harder to maintain.
- Abandonment – Some research shows one-page checkout can reduce abandonment since the process is faster with fewer opportunities to exit checkout.
Pros of One-Page Checkout Process
Now let’s dive into the specific advantages and disadvantages of one-page checkout:
- Simplicity – Condensing checkout onto one page creates a clean, easy-to-use experience. Customers aren’t confused by navigating multiple pages.
- Speed – With everything on one page, one-page checkout is often faster because users don’t have to wait for new pages to load between steps.
- Mobile friendliness – One-page checkout works well on mobile because it requires minimal navigation and scrolling versus clicking small buttons to advance.
- Fewer distractions – Without exits between steps, there are fewer opportunities for customers to get distracted and abandon their carts.
- Easy editing – Customers can quickly edit any field on the page before submitting their orders.
- Clear context – Shoppers maintain context of the full checkout path with all steps visible on one screen.
- Higher conversion rates – Some studies have found one-page checkout can improve conversion rates compared to multi-step.
Cons of One-Page Checkout Process
However, there are also some downsides to consider with one-page checkout:
- Lengthy page – On smaller screens, condensing all checkout steps onto one page can create a lengthy scrolling experience.
- Overwhelming – Displaying the entire checkout form on one screen can feel overwhelming or cluttered for some users.
- Lack of guidance – Without page-by-page guidance, customers may feel lost and unclear of the linear checkout path.
- Harder to customize – It can be more challenging to customize and optimize one lengthy page versus multiple pages.
- Cross-selling – It’s harder to add cross-sell offers and upsells mid-checkout compared to multi-step.
- Limited branding – With a single page, there are fewer opportunities to reinforce branding compared to controlling each step.
- Development – Depending on your ecommerce platform, building a one-page checkout can take more development work.
- Technical issues – If something fails on the page, customers lose the entire checkout rather than just one step.
Pros of Multi-Step Checkout Process
What are the advantages of breaking checkout into multiple steps?
- Clear staging – Walking users through distinct stages provides clear guidance about the linear checkout process.
- Modular – It’s easier to develop, test, and optimize individual checkout steps versus one lengthy page.
- Page-level control – Merchants can customize and A/B test each page rather than the checkout as one giant blob.
- Opportunities for promotion – Multi-page allows adding cross-sells, upsells, warranties, etc. on different pages.
- Reduced abandonment – Some studies show multi-step checkout reduces abandonment by breaking the process into smaller steps.
- Visual branding – Multiple pages allow customizing branding elements, colors, etc. on each step.
- Mobile optimization – Multi-step checkout may work better on mobile since it breaks the process into smaller chunks.
- Development simplicity – Basic multi-step checkout may be easier to setup depending on the ecommerce platform.
- Technical resilience – If one page has an issue, shoppers can still complete other steps versus a full failure.
Cons of Multi-Step Checkout Process
Some potential downsides to keep in mind with multi-step checkout:
- Lengthy process – Moving between pages inherently takes more time versus a single page where users simply scroll.
- Higher abandonment – Adding more steps creates more opportunities for customers to abandon their carts.
- Confusing navigation – Clicking “Next” and going back-and-forth between steps can confuse some users.
- Lost context – Splitting up the checkout makes it harder for shoppers to maintain context.
- Harder editing – Customers may have to navigate back multiple pages to change something they entered earlier.
- Repeating information – In some cases, users might have to re-enter the same data on multiple screens.
- Smaller touch targets – On mobile, “Next” buttons between steps are harder to tap versus scrolling on one page.
- Excess functionality – More pages allow adding unnecessary fields and steps that detract from checkout completion.
Key Considerations for Choosing Between One-Page and Multi-Step Checkout
With the pros and cons of each model in mind, how do you choose the right checkout approach for your ecommerce business? Here are some factors to consider:
- Product complexity – If you sell complex products or services that require customization, multi-step checkout may provide the flexibility needed.
- Amount of information – If you need to collect extensive information from customers, dividing pages reduces cognitive load.
- Audience preferences – Younger, mobile-first users often prefer shorter one-page checkout. Traditional multi-step may appeal more to older demographics.
- Platform constraints – Your ecommerce platform may make one option easier to implement than the other.
- Testing – Try A/B testing one-page versus multi-step checkout to see which performs better with your traffic.
- Editing needs – If customers frequently have to go back and edit information, one-page makes edits simpler.
- Branding – If branding is a priority, multi-step allows customizing branding at each stage.
- Promotional needs – If you want to add cross-sells mid-checkout, multi-step checkout allows more flexibility.
- Mobile optimization – One-page checkout tends to work better on mobile, while multi-step can be clunky on small screens.
Best Practices for Optimizing Checkout
Whether you choose one-page or multi-step checkout, there are best practices you can follow to maximize conversion rates:
- Focus on clear information architecture and UI/UX throughout the checkout flow.
- Ensure forms are easy to complete with clear labels and minimal unnecessary fields.
- Allow customers to checkout as a guest if they don’t want to create an account.
- Highlight secure payment icons to build trust at the payment stage.
- Make it easy to edit information throughout checkout if needed.
- Include a final “confirm order” step to double check details and reduce mistakes.
- Present a clear final confirmation page with order details and next steps after checkout.
- Offer support chat or phone contact options in case users need assistance.
- Use A/B testing to refine and improve your checkout process over time continually.
One-Page vs Multi-Step Checkout: Which is Best for Conversion Rates?
There is no universally definitive answer regarding which type of checkout performs better. Some studies show that one-page checkout increases conversion rates, while others demonstrate multi-step checkout reduces abandonment. Often, the best solution depends on your specific audience, industry, product offerings, and business goals.
For maximum optimization, consider A/B testing different checkout formats to see what works with your traffic rather than assuming one is better. The right implementation also matters more than the general model. A poorly designed one-page checkout may still perform worse than a well-crafted multi-step flow. Focus on user experience and continuous testing to ensure your checkout helps, not hinders, conversion and sales.
Key Takeaways: Creating the Best Checkout Experience
Checkout is a critical moment in securing online conversions. To recap, key takeaways for designing the best checkout process include:
- Understand the pros and cons of one-page vs multi-step checkout models. Test what performs best for your business.
- Focus on clear information architecture, minimal steps, and seamless UI/UX regardless of format.
- Make it fast and easy to complete forms and review information accurately.
- Allow guest checkout and highlight security to build trust.
- Enable easy editing in case users need to change details.
- Confirm the order at the end to prevent mistakes.
- A/B test different checkout versions to optimize over time.
- Make mobile checkout fast and easy without excessive tapping or scrolling.
The checkout process is complex, but optimizing it based on proven best practices can increase conversion rates and sales revenue. Test variations such as one-page versus multi-step checkout to determine the ideal flow for your online store and customers. A smooth, user-friendly checkout experience’ll turn more shoppers into delighted customers.