Mobile Commerce Usability: Low-Hanging Fruit for Checkout Success

Now that the mcommerce rush is over, it’s time to stop and smell the usability roses. You ventured into mcommerce because of its immense potential but, if you don’t get it right, you will have wasted much of your time and resources. Mcommerce will have growing pains; it is a new platform with a whole host of limitations and pitfalls. Our job as ecommerce experts is to help guide you toward an optimal user experience. Here are a few of the most common, yet most important to avoid, checkout process blunders.

Disable Auto-Correction

Auto-correction is such a handy feature when sending a text or email, but not when trying to complete a checkout form. It works very poorly for email addresses, home addresses and, of course, names. We have repeatedly seen this issue when conducting user testing; auto-complete changes users’ inputs to unintended entries, resulting in negative experiences. For example, during one test, the auto-complete function changed “newyork” to “network”. Most of the time, users don’t even realize that the “correction” occurred.

Default to Numeric Keyboard Where Applicable

Prompting the user with an alphabetical keyboard for a zip code field is not an “abandonment” offense, but prompting with a numeric keyboard instead is a simple way to help optimize the checkout experience. The goal in checkout is to minimize clicks and make it a quick and an easy experience, so why not prompt the user with the correct keyboard? Save your users an extra touch and prompt them with the numeric keyboard when entering number-only fields such as a zip code, credit card, and security code.

Always Show Guest Checkout Option First

This was an interesting find during our user tests. Our client’s site had the login option listed first above the fold. Users assumed there was no guest checkout option and thought they had to create an account to checkout. We all know how popular guest checkout has become; it’s the greatest invention since sliced bread! Be sure to place your guest checkout option above the login option so that users will always see it. An even better way of approaching it is fitting both options above the fold. Check your own data to see what the majority of your users do (guest checkout or login) to determine if a change is needed.

Entry Field Length

In many of our tests, we noticed that users proofread their information as they are entering it in the form field. Providing fields that do not fully display all the data entered makes it harder for them to view what they typed, which could lead to errors. A short entry field was especially frustrating when a user received an error message but couldn’t view the entire entry to see what needed correcting. Be sure to review all your entry fields to see if they are long enough to fully display the data.

Error Messaging

Given the smaller screen size, field-level error messaging is not enough. The best way to approach error messages in checkout is to also provide error messaging to the field(s) in question above the form. To make this work best, anchor the user to the top of the page so that they see all the fields that need attention in one place.



  • Offer Alternative Payment Methods: Including options such as PayPal and other alternate methods is critical to mobile shopping. Since these payment options save user addresses and payment options, it eliminates the need for users to fill out forms, significantly reducing time spent during checkout.
  • Beware of the back button in checkout: If the user clicks on the “back” button on their phone, don’t send them out of checkout. Instead, send them to the previous step in checkout. The last thing the user wants is to suddenly leave checkout and lose all their information.
  • Make Order Summary Accessible in Checkout: A well-known best practice is to provide an order summary throughout checkout on desktop sites; the same should be done on mobile. Yes, it’s harder to do, given the limited amount of space, but include a consistent link throughout checkout that expands into a light box when engaged.