eCommerce Forms Best Practices

A necessary evil of eCommerce, filling out forms can make or break a customer’s shopping experience on your ebook site. You really don’t have much choice; after all it’s the most efficient way for buyers to convey purchase information. However, these commerce forms best practices will at least make it as painless as possible.


1. Be Forthcoming

Always let your patrons know what their information will be used for when it isn’t immediately obvious. For example, you might need a telephone number to clarify questions about the order. However, if the customer isn’t aware of this, they could be concerned you’ll sell it to telemarketers. Always tell your customer why and make it a point to reassure them everything they give you is kept in the strictest confidence.

2. Designate Optional Fields

Some information you need to have, other information is nice to have. If you try to make the customer give you both, you’ll lengthen the completion process, possibly frustrate them and watch them go without having made a purchase. Make the “nice to have” information optional and mark it as such on the form to let the user know they don’t have to fill out every single block. They’ll be grateful and might give you the optional information anyway.

3. Employ In-line Validation

Ever filled out a form online, clicked submit, and had it come back asking for corrections? Easily one of the most frustrating experiences in eCommerce, you can reduce customer aggravation with inline form validation. This checks for formatting errors immediately, rather than letting your customer get all the way to the end and have to go back. People don’t mind fixing things as they go, but they hate doing them over again. By the way, if they have a long form to complete, give them an indication of where they are in the process to reduce completion anxiety.

4. Auto Fill Known Information

When you’re selling ebooks, configure your checkout form to pre-fill all known information if a returning customer buys. This will save the purchaser the trouble of doing so. They can always change anything that needs it. But why make them revisit ground they covered previously? With that said, do not apply this to potentially sensitive information such as passwords.

If you require a username, set that field to default to the email address provided. This will save your buyer the trouble of coming up with a unique one for your site. Similarly, you can set the delivery address to default to the payment address, which saves time and reduces incidences of credit card fraud. Format your payment detail fields to reflect the order in which the information appears on credit cards. This enables it to be located more quickly, which could eliminate yet another point of frustration.

5. Align Fields Vertically

Rather than making users jump back and forth between columns, keeping your forms linear allows the respondent to work their way down a list. This also makes it easier to adapt the form to a mobile environment. Similarly, always place form labels at the top of the entry field and justify them to the left, so they sit directly above the field they identify.

6. Eliminate Clutter

To keep the form as clean as possible, set helper text to appear as a popup when a user hovers over a field. That way, if they’re confused about what information to input, or why it’s needed, they’ll get a prompt. Meanwhile, the form will look less intimidating upon initial viewing

Implementing these ecommerce forms best practices will relieve your customers of a great deal of frustration. Ultimately, it’s a good thing to do. After all, they are just trying to pay you. This will result in fewer cases of form abandonment and more conversions for your site.