Convenience is Critical
Today, the number of customers purchasing goods and services online is increasing dramatically. During the pandemic, there were significant changes in the way people shopped, as access to some brick-and-mortar stores was limited and restaurants moved to onsite pickup and deliveries rather than indoor dining.
That means more people were paying for those goods and services using online payment options. Does your business provide online payment options suited to your clients? If you’ve encountered issues in the past or are setting up payment options for a new business, it’s vitally important to make sure the choices selected provide the best customer payment experience possible.
Just because shoppers are buying more online doesn’t mean they’re enjoying the experience. Far too many sites are poorly designed and are geared to the site owner’s needs rather than meeting the customers’ requirements. That’s not a good idea. Shoppers of all kinds have a limited amount of patience, which means they’ll move on to a competitor’s site if your site is awkwardly designed or difficult to use.
Your clients don’t want to waste time on any step of their buying experience. They expect you to provide a quick and relatively easy way to shop and buy products. Some sites are well-designed and still lose customers because the payment system isn’t convenient to use. That’s the absolute worst time to lose a paying customer, and there are steps any business can take to prevent customers from moving on to a competitor’s site. Here are five ways you can improve the online payment experience for your customers.
1.) Make Your Online Payment Options Easy to Use
Your customers will want to get through the buying process with a minimum of difficulty. That means requiring them to jump through unnecessary hoops only increases the odds they’ll move on without completing a purchase.
Industry statistics suggest that almost 70 percent of shopping carts are abandoned at some point prior to completing the transaction. That rate can be reduced significantly if the process is simplified and transparent.
Studies indicate there are three primary reasons shoppers abandon their carts. First, roughly a quarter of shoppers leave because the site is difficult to navigate. That’s a design issue that should be addressed immediately.
Next, almost the same percentage will leave the site because of website errors or crashing issues. While a customer’s ISP may cause some issues, the site design and hosting platform also enter the equation. If you see any indications these issues are impacting your site’s performance, now is the time to take steps to eliminate those problems.
The last major reason shoppers abandon their shopping carts is because the site is too slow. Again, the ISP or hosting service are typical culprits, but the site’s design could also be an issue. Many sites are loaded with unnecessary code that does nothing but slow the site’s performance. Your web design company should address this type of issue.
One way to speed up the payment process is to use xpress pay online. Services of this type provide platforms that provide flexibility and security for you and your clients. Customers from anywhere can use the payment services and feel secure their information won’t be compromised.
2.) Take Appropriate Security Precautions
The headlines are full of stories related to incidents directly related to poor cybersecurity practices. While government organizations, large corporations, and municipal systems are frequently attacked, small businesses can be destroyed quickly when appropriate security protocols are not followed.
In some instances, cart abandonment is a direct result of customers feeling insecure during the checkout process. No one wants to feel a company they’re working with is not providing a secure purchasing platform. Using systems like Address Verification Services (AVS) help to avoid issues, and it pays to let customers know you’re taking steps to protect their confidential information.
Of course, it’s also important to keep fraud to an absolute minimum. One study reports that fraud costs merchants roughly 7.5 percent of their annual revenue. That’s a huge figure, and all business owners need to evaluate their sites with an eye toward cutting those losses sharply.
One way to accomplish that objective is to ensure your payment services provider complies with PCI DSS standards to reduce fraud. Top providers generally offer other security services tailored to your business needs.
3.) Allow Customers to Use Any Device
Another common issue today is site designs that are anything but friendly to the various devices now used by shoppers. In the not-so-distant past, most users were tethered to desktop computers and completed most tasks using that device. Today, that’s no longer the case. Omnichannel optimization is now a requirement if you wish to remain in business for long. Users everywhere mix and match their use of desktop units, laptops, and tablets or smartphones.
Many users use a combination of devices depending on where they are. For example, they may start shopping while on their desktop or laptop but complete a transaction using their smartphone. That means shoppers must be able to access a site regardless of the type of device or platform being used. Site designers must include programming that ensures all users enjoy a quality experience during every transaction.
4.) Don’t Require Shoppers to Create an Account to Pay
In many cases, site owners insist that shoppers establish an account during the transaction process. That requires providing information many shoppers don’t want to divulge. They may prefer to complete the transaction as a guest without supplying additional information you’ll keep in a database somewhere.
Customers may wish to minimize their digital footprint and retain at least some level of privacy. Everyone knows some information is necessary to complete a transaction, but shoppers may not wish to receive emails or other communications in the future—they only want to purchase one item one time. Avoid requiring an account to complete a sale.
5.) Minimize the Amount of Information and Inform Buyers About the Progress of the Transaction
Another issue that frequently chases shoppers to a competitor’s site is too many steps during the checkout process. Again, a shopper who is making a one-time purchase may not be willing to provide personal information. They neither need nor want to establish an account that contains personal data that’s not necessary to make a purchase. Setting up an account adds several steps to the buying process. This is closely related to the previous section but bears repeating from this angle. Anything beyond their name, address, and payment information isn’t necessary, and the shopper may move on if you require additional data to complete the transaction.
Today’s site designers also encourage clients like you to provide a progress bar that keeps buyers informed about the status of their purchase process. However, don’t use a progress bar as an excuse to make a transaction overly complicated. There should be very few steps and clicks required to buy any product or service online. Including too many steps will, once again, encourage shoppers to abandon their cart and move on to a competitor’s site.
Is Your Site Optimized for Customers?
The internet is full of sites designed to be convenient for the site owner rather than customers. Those sites may have some sales, but at what expense? If your site isn’t designed to optimize the customer’s overall experience, you may lose business to competitors who take the time to ensure every customer’s online shopping and buying experience is pleasant.
Since one significant issue customers encounter when shopping online is their payment experience, it’s a good idea to focus on that aspect of your site. For example, most sites include using credit and debit cards as payment options, but that’s no longer sufficient, especially if a client lives outside the U.S. or doesn’t have a credit card.
So, what can you do to remedy that concern? Consider including payment options like PayPal or cryptocurrencies to your list of payment options. If you’re selling a subscription, include options for automatic recurring payments to make life easier for the customer. Of course, automatic renewals also benefit your company.
As noted previously, it’s also important to explore third-party software integrations to make transactions proceed smoothly. In many instances, customers will be familiar with the platform you integrate and are comfortable using a system they’ve seen before. That’s why it’s so important to work with your accountant and other experts to determine what solutions to consider.
Be Ready for the Future
Finally, even when using the five tips outlined above, understand that your business and the needs of your customers will evolve over time. That means it’s important to choose an online payment platform that’s flexible and easily updated. Of course, your site must also be updated as needed to stay abreast of the ever-changing market conditions.
The pandemic created a lot of issues for online businesses but also introduced new opportunities. Rather than allowing challenging conditions to impact your business negatively, take the steps needed to embrace new opportunities. Choosing the best ways to improve your customers’ online payment experience is one way to move your business forward.
About the Author
Thomas is a 16-year payments industry veteran. He’s helped hundreds of SMBs expand their understanding of how digital payments work, and how to use them to grow their organizations.
As the Director of Marketing for Systems East, Inc. & Xpress-pay, Thomas hopes to show organizations that with the right approach to business, anyone can remove barriers, and have a lasting impact on those around them.