5 Reasons Why Your Checkout is Broken

Have you ever updated your ecommerce store, but something seems off? Why aren’t orders coming in? 

The product photos have been sized correctly. The product descriptions have been rewritten and rewritten. The inventory has been imported and all the pages are published.

Is it a slow sales day or is your checkout broken?

Five ways your checkout can break without you doing anything.

5 Reasons Why Your Checkout is Broken

There are several reasons why the checkout on your ecommerce store might be broken and not all of them are your fault. When checkout is not working, this is the checklist I go through to troubleshoot:

1. The payment gateway might be down or timing out.

Payment gateways don’t promise 100% uptime. It would be foolish for any service to promise never to have downtime. There are times when your payment gateway will have connectivity issues. The payment gateway may not be reachable due to some interruption between your server and their service. Instead of being surprised when this happens, it’s good for you to know there is an issue so you can update your customers. 

2. The web host might have made an update to their hosting.

Hosting companies are also not immune to downtime. A hosting company might take some time to update their platform without any warning. This causes a situation where your ecommerce site is accessible, but checkout is not working.

3. An automatic upgrade might have occurred in WordPress core or a plugin.

WordPress offers plugin and theme automatic updates. At my WooCommerce agency, I recommend that our ecommerce clients use a defined testing and deployment process instead of automatic updates. Many sites have automatic updates enabled. A plugin might have an update that gets deployed to the ecommerce store and impacts checkout. 

4. There might be malicious code on the site.

If your ecommerce site is using an on-page checkout form to collect credit card information, then this might be a target for criminals to try to inject malicious code into your website to copy sensitive card data.

A site owner contacted my WooCommerce agency and reported that customers were not able to place orders on the site. I tested the checkout  and saw some errors on the checkout page. After running a security scan on the site I found that an attacker had gained access to the site through a plugin vulnerability and tried to add code to scrape credit card information from the checkout page. The vulnerability was patched and the malicious code was removed, but how many sales were lost during this interruption

5. Your development team pushed code that broke checkout.

Okay, most of this list of reasons are things that you didn’t do, but sometimes these wounds are self inflicted.

Even when your ecommerce site is managed by a professional and knowledgeable development team, accidents can happen. I confess I have given in to the temptation of doing a Friday afternoon code deployment. The deployment seemed innocent enough, but it accidentally updated one thing on the site and broke the checkout. In my case, I didn’t realize what I had done until the following week! I lost four days of sales in my shop because of a careless deployment and being too busy to pay attention. Four days of lost revenue!

Regular automatic checkout tests give you confidence.

Seeing how much revenue is lost because of broken checkout pages motivated us to create Monitorific. 

We have also seen store owners try to manage testing checkout themselves. You could add a hidden $0.00 product and have a human make a purchase of the product with a 100% off coupon, but this isn’t the real path a customer would take, so it does not truly verify that checkout is working!

The key to having confidence that your main money making page is functioning is to have frequent live purchases of real products.

Checkouts that use live credit cards to purchase your best selling products give added assurance that the entire chain is working from customer to web server to payment gateway and back.

Monitorific will run automated live checkout tests.

A better option is to allow our monitors do this testing for you. We will set up an automated live checkout in your store and notify you that either “Everything is working as expected!” or “Houston, we have a problem.”

Our monitor will follow a path on your website from the landing page through the product page and on to the checkout. The order will be placed with a live credit card with real money, and this will give you total assurance that the checkout is working. 

How often you schedule the test to run is up to you. You can schedule the test to run once per week, or if you prefer to wake up to an email with the subject line “Checkout works!”, schedule the test daily. 

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About the author

Daniel is a developer who has been building ecommerce plugins and sites since 2007. He works with ecommerce site owners at his WooCommerce focused agency and runs a WooCommerce plugin shop.