January 26th 2017

My Biggest Checkout Pet Peeve - I've Only Seen 2 Websites Do It Right

Finding a city and state by zipcode is easy for a computer. Typing or selecting city and state is hard for a human.

Ecommerce is a funny thing.

People haven't traditionally trusted computers with their personal information. We were so skeptical of online purchasing in particular that standard ecommerce patterns have purposeful red tape to make entering a credit card number seem important and secure.

That actually made a lot of sense at first. It felt official. Like a bank. Or signing a contract. You could trust that it was a serious action.

Today, however, we pay for things with our fingerprints and without even thinking through apps that have our credit cards stored.

We expect this ease of use everywhere. The whole ecommerce industry is moving towards frictionless checkout, but there's one piece of low hanging fruit everyone seems to be missing... one thing all sites can change that would remove significant friction and increase conversions. Stop making people type the city and state part of their address, especially when they have to twice (billing and shipping addresses).

This wastes time, causes errors, hurts conversions, and is completely unnecessary. Let the computer look up city and state based on the zipcode.

Every zipcode has one city and one state or region

I've written about state/region input fields and encouraged people to use traditional input fields with auto-suggest instead of a dropdown list. This was especially important for mobile phones, but why not skip state inputs altogether? According to Baymard Institue, removing city and state fields reduces typing by 40% for each address.

Screenshot from Really Simple Store

When every small barrier hurts sales, checkout addresses should only require a zipcode- five numbers- and the city and state should be populated automatically. If you let people edit city and state after they've been auto-populated, there is no argument against this pattern. None.

Even though the Baymard study says 40% of ecommerce sites do this, I can only think of two. Shout out to Printful and the other one I can't think of (I know that's ridiculous, but I want to give them credit, so I'll update it as soon as I recall) for doing it right. I do the same for Really Simple Store, my ecommerce platform (banksandindie.com, humbleblades.com, confettionthedancefloor.com).


My goal is to improve ecommerce user experience one site at a time. Want another ecommerce usability idea? Read Free Shipping- the New Standard.


If this type of thinking can help your business, get in touch with me. I have a few valuable offerings... a strategy call, a conversion optimization report and an Ecommerce Low Fruit report... and I consult on anything related to growing an ecommerce business.