The Progress Bar – An Analysis of Top 100 Online Retailers

checkout-progress-bar

The checkout process of an ecommerce site represents the number of steps taken by visitors in order to get the products from virtual shopping carts/bags delivered to their doors. It is the path from a click on the checkout button to the “Receipt” page . Some visitors are required to go through more or less “steps”, depending on the site where they buy the products from.

Very often, website owners asks themselves (or others) what is the best number of checkout pages for their websites. To quote Dylan, “The answer, my friend, is “testing” in the wind”. There is no such thing as an universal number of steps that works for all websites. The magic number of steps depends on your audience and how you address their concerns, friction and anxiety factors. The only way to find your “perfect number” of checkout steps/pages is to A/B test different length and paths of the checkout processes.

We took screenshots of more than 100 major e-tailers and we analyzed how they display the progress bar image during the checkout process. If you want to go directly to the images, without reading the survey results, just scroll down a bit or click here.

Despite the fact that there is no universal progress bar to address all website or business, there are however, some rules you need to comply with. We’ve marked the “DO’s” in bold and green.

One of things we are surprised to discover is that several e-tailers don’t even have a progress bar. More than 10% (12 out of 111) of them are not displaying the bar, which can be confusing for their visitors.

Let’s see what we found:

1. Are e-tailers numbering the steps in their checkout progress bar?
Yes – 52
No – 47

2. Do they provide a sense of action to visitors (any arrows symbolizing the “move forward” action)? We considered numbering the steps as a strong “sense of action”
Yes – 80
No – 19

3. Highlight the current checkout page against the rest of the pages in the process?
Yes – 98
No – 1

4. Do e-tailers provide a “Review Order” or “Confirm Order” page?
Yes – 75
No – 24

5. How many steps do visitors perceive when they look at the progress bar?
2 – 3
3 – 21
4 – 30
5 – 38
6 – 6
7 – 1

6. Is it the progress bar displayed horizontally or as a vertical list?
Horizontal – 92
Vertical – 7

7. Do e-tailers address any anxiety concerns in the progress bar? For example, telling visitors that the checkout process is secure.
Yes – 6
No – 93

8. If the checkout process has more than five steps, how many e-tailers are numbering the steps?
13 out of 38

9. How many e-tailers are grouping the Billing and Shipping Page in a single one?
27 out of 99

10. How many e-tailers provide some confidence of mind to visitors by marking completed steps as “being correctly done”?

1 out 99 (1800contacts.com is the only one)

Enjoy the Progress Bar collection:

checkout steps 1800 Contacts
checkout steps 1800 Flowers
checkout steps 1800 Pet Meds
checkout steps Abe Books
checkout steps Aber Crombie
checkout steps American Eagle
checkout steps Amazon
checkout steps Apple
checkout steps Art.com
checkout steps Avon
checkout steps Bass Pro
checkout steps Bath and Body Works
checkout steps Bed Bath and Beyond
checkout steps Best Buy
checkout steps Blair
checkout steps Bloomingdales
checkout steps Blue Nile
checkout steps Barnes and Noble
checkout steps Buy.com
checkout steps Cabelas
checkout steps CDW
checkout steps CDW
checkout steps Chadwicks
checkout steps Circuit City
checkout steps Cold Water Creek
checkout steps Costco
checkout steps Crate and Barrel
checkout steps Crutchfield
checkout steps Delias
checkout steps Dell
checkout steps Disney Shopping
checkout steps Domestications
checkout steps Drs Foster and Smith
checkout steps Drug Store
checkout steps eBags
checkout steps eCost
checkout steps Eddie Bauer
checkout steps eFollet
checkout steps eTronics
checkout steps FTD
checkout steps The Gap
checkout steps Hallmark
checkout steps Harry and David
checkout steps Hickory Farms
checkout steps Homeclick
checkout steps Home Depot
checkout steps Hewlett Packard
checkout steps JC Penney
checkout steps JC Whitney
checkout steps J Jill
checkout steps Lands End
checkout steps Lillian Vernon
checkout steps Liz Claiborne
checkout steps LL Bean.com
checkout steps LL Bean.com
checkout steps Lowes
checkout steps Macy's
checkout steps Major League Baseball
checkout steps Musician Friend
checkout steps New Egg
checkout steps Nieman Marcus
checkout steps Nordstrom
checkout steps Northern Tool
checkout steps Office Depot
checkout steps Office Max
checkout steps Omaha Steaks
checkout steps Oriental
checkout steps Overstock
checkout steps Palm.com
checkout steps PC Connection
checkout steps Peapod
checkout steps Pet Smart
checkout steps Ralph and Loren
checkout steps Proflowers
checkout steps QVC
checkout steps Radio Shack
checkout steps REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.)
checkout steps Ritz Camera.com
checkout steps Saks
checkout steps Scholastic.com
checkout steps Sears
checkout steps Schwans
checkout steps Sephora
checkout steps Smart Bargains
checkout steps Sony Style
checkout steps Spiegel
checkout steps Sportsman's Guide
checkout steps Staples
checkout steps Talbots
checkout steps Target.com
checkout steps Toys'R'Us
checkout steps Urban Outfitters
checkout steps Victoria's Secret
checkout steps Vista Print
checkout steps Walmart
checkout steps Walgreens
checkout steps Williams Sonoma

Pitstop Media offers ROI based internet marketing services such as landing page testing services and conversion rate optimization services. Our A/B and multivariate tests have helped companies increase conversion rates by as much as 75%. Let us increase your conversion rates, too!

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The Progress Bar - An Analysis of Top 100 Online Retailers, 9.6 out of 10 based on 14 ratings

About

Traian is Founder and Director of Search Marketing at Pitstop Media Inc. He has more than 11 years experience in helping small and medium businesses generate and convert organic traffic from search engines. Connect with Traian on Google+

 

28 Responses to “The Progress Bar – An Analysis of Top 100 Online Retailers”

  1. Craig Higdon said:

    Apr 09, 09 at 10:35 am

    Definitely going to pass this link on to our designers. It’s a great survey of progress bars.

    If you’re interested, we’ve created a bunch of custom AspDotNetStorefront checkout progress bar. Take a look.

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  2. Randy said:

    Jun 17, 09 at 9:02 pm

    My god, I can’t believe how much work you put into this. Pretty incredible. Giant Thank you. It’s crucial stuff (your whole site really) and seeing the bits in comparison is huge. I wonder if it’s possible to start assembling the “ideal” cart/checkout system….I’ve been hunting for a best-practices model but nobody’s really approaching it as a whole package. Also, could be interesting to allow people to vote on design elements here – see what people are responding to.

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  3. TraiaN said:

    Jun 17, 09 at 9:21 pm

    Randy, thanks for the nice words. We don’t post very often, bet when we do it, we make sure it’s solid information. Regarding your request for checkout best practices, well, it’s not an easy one. There are thousands of business models and probably hundreds of ways to approach the checkout process. The only “best practice” I have in mind is testing the process it self (split path testing, or A/B testing). I hope it helps.

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  4. Mark Kimsal said:

    Oct 18, 09 at 9:32 am

    Almost a year later and this post is still great. I saw this page and didn’t bookmark it, then I spent 2 days searching for it again. Just seeing all the different designs next to each other is great.

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  5. TraiaN said:

    Oct 20, 09 at 1:34 pm

    :) I’am glad it helps you…

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  6. QUORVIA said:

    Jul 21, 10 at 4:32 am

    This is Still one of the best checkout resources on the web!

    Many thanks for providing it!

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  7. Sapna said:

    Apr 11, 11 at 5:17 am

    Thanks for this survey, as with so may best practices floating around its difficult to pin point, the best is to test and check with real users and this survey gives an idea on what can work.

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  8. Wholesale said:

    Apr 29, 11 at 9:36 am

    Nice post! Some stores neglect details like these that could make or break their sales. They have to make sure the consumers feel secure and sure about the purchasing system of an online store. Sadly some stored don’t even have progress bars and this leads to double-clicking complications.

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  9. Marc said:

    May 05, 11 at 6:27 am

    This came in handy when choosing a style for our skate shop website and its checkout process. Thanks for your effort!

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  10. 55 Cool New Ways to Use Landing Pages said:

    Jan 26, 12 at 2:29 pm

    [...] Multi-step lead forms + progress bar. According to a survey from Pit Stop Media 52% of online retails use some sort of progress bar during their checkout [...]

  11. Shemsedin said:

    Jun 11, 12 at 3:55 am

    hi,

    that’s a nice collection. I need to implement this in one on my site http://www.oxwebs.com as they are really helpful to show the users where on the process they are.

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  12. johnsmith said:

    Oct 09, 12 at 10:47 pm

    Nice info about online retailer. I think about that and will try to implement in my own business.

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  25. Jonathan Lampe said:

    Mar 18, 13 at 2:19 pm

    Awesome side-by-side comparison of a critical usability component. I may just do something like this for my little niche!

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