For e-commerce websites in 2018, the pre-checkout process should be a well-oiled machine. There are many factors that affect (and often hurt) customer experience. Some include intrusive pop-ups, site search capability, live chat availability, and desktop optimization. These aspects of a retail website often determine if a customer ends up buying (or leaving). In our recent benchmark study, we audited 50 top retailers’ website pre-checkout process. Let’s dive a little deeper.


Intrusive pop-ups are everywhere. They display immediately upon landing on an e-commerce website. Usually, they prompt you to complete an action (ex. take a survey, enter your email address, visit sale selection). These pop-ups can often distract and/or fluster a user right off the bat.


In the new benchmark study, 18 of the 50 top retailers had intrusive pop-ups present on their websites.

Site Search

Site search is another deciding factor of how well a customer can navigate a retail site. If you have a large list of products, site search helps customers waste as little time as possible finding what they need. Along with this, it is always smart to have an auto-completing search bar. This means the first letter typed generates a list of all possible products starting with that letter. It’s a great way to please the customer and make their online experience a lot more efficient. If your site search uses auto-complete, you are already at a strong advantage.

Walgreens Autofill Site Search

In our audit, 49 of the 50 companies had site search capability. Out of those 49, 44 of them had the auto-complete functionality. The one store that did not provide site search was Ross Stores.

Live Chat

Live chat is another important factor of a flawless pre-checkout process. Enabling a live chat on your website provides constant feedback and customer support. Most live chats exist on the main landing page. Make it easy to find so customers can ask questions about your products with zero barriers.

Dillards Live Chat

Don’t forget to make sure live chat is available during all peak hours. You want to be present when your customers are. Some companies choose to post hours of availability. This can be beneficial for companies that know they only have specific busy hours. It also makes the customer aware of when they will be able to have their questions answered.

Belk Live Chat

In the study, only 23 of the 50 retailers had live chat availability.

Site Speed

Desktop optimization and speed are a final key piece to a successful pre-checkout experience. Google has made it no secret that it places significant value on site speed. Consider your own experiences. Isn’t it painful to wait for a website that takes more than 10 seconds to load? In today’s world, when people want something, they want it now. This is why Google offers a Page Speed Insights Tool to test sites’ optimizations. Note that the score is out of 100 (0 being the least optimized). Below are the results from the retailers we audited.

Speed Results from Study

Having all four of these elements up to date and efficient is key to any e-commerce site’s success. It is easy to fall behind competitors when your pre-checkout experience doesn’t stack up. Wondering how you stack up to the competition? Learn more tricks and tips in the new 2018 Retail E-Commerce Benchmark Study.

Looking to take your online retail business to the next level? Take a look at our Ecommerce capabilities.