Thanks to ecommerce giants such as Amazon who get slicker by the day, online shoppers’ expectations are incredibly high and, what’s more, they tend to remain high. Whether it’s a ‘one-click checkout’ or free delivery as standard, these experiences will inform every purchase a consumer makes going forward.
To kick-off the year we’re taking a closer look at common barriers to sale and how to remove them. Working backwards, we’ll look at check-out, delivery costs and lead times as well product experience and returns.
In this first article, we’re looking closely at the checkout process, which is one of, if not the most critical stage in the customer journey. Once initiated you have almost 100% certainty that there is intent to buy so it’s critical that you aren’t throwing up any roadblocks here.
Long, complicated or unusual check-out processes are one of the biggest barriers to sale and if you are seeing drop off at this stage it’s time to think about why.
Below we’ve taken a closer look at three key elements that will not only help to streamline the check-out process but also offer consumers greater choice about how and when they pay.
1. Reducing Steps to Purchase
Checkout should be as quick and easy as possible for the consumer so reducing the steps to purchase is the first thing to address. Forms are a total pain, so only use them to gather the basics needed for a successful transaction.
If you’ve already asked a customer for a piece of information i.e. their e-mail address to login, don’t ask for it again. If they are a new user, don’t force them to go through the process of creating an account up front, but provide this as an option during or post-purchase.
Auto-complete is a game changer for forms and significantly reduces the time it takes to checkout, especially on mobile devices where forms are particularly fiddly. If you have Apple or Google Pay set up for mobile transactions then autofill is a given, but platforms such as WooCommerce offer auto-complete plugins, which can be installed at a relatively low cost and can streamline address inputs.
2. Payment Processors
A good payment processor will do a lot of the work for you and two of the biggest and, in our opinion best, are Stripe and WorldPay (FIS). Although if we had to pick one, we’d almost certainly recommend Stripe thanks to the fact that its integration is easily implemented and very reliable when used on new and existing systems.
For sites built on WooCommerce there is no coding required for a simple setup. It is also the easiest way to facilitate mobile payment methods such as Apple and Google Pay.
With the Stripe gateway it is also very easy to customise the integration to simplify purchasing, from on-page purchases to recuring subscriptions.
It’s also worth offering PayPal as an option at checkout for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a household name that has a fair amount of consumer trust behind it so users may feel reassured by this option. Secondly, it’s an easy way for someone to complete a purchase if they happen not to have a card to hand.
That said, PayPal’s transaction fees do tend to be higher than other processors, so this is something to bear in mind.
3. Finance Options – Buy Now, Pay Later
While interest free credit is by no means new, in the last few years ‘buy now, pay later’ services such as Klarna and ClearPay have skyrocketed. Integrated into the checkout process itself, they present customers with even more choice about how and when they pay. Whether that’s in three instalments or 30 days later, the choice sits with the consumer and that’s quite a powerful thing.
In fact, Klarna claims that its integration at checkout can increase sales by 44% and improve average order value by 68% when the payment is split over four instalments.[i]
These companies are also starting to remove some of the stigma around finance that perhaps held people back from applying in the past. The speed of the credit checks, combined with the increased presence of credit or subscription-style payment plans, whether on cars or TV streaming services have made consumers far more comfortable with the idea of them.
The liability also sits with the credit provider rather than the merchant, which is a huge advantage for smaller companies who are not large enough to offer their own finance.
That said, these options come at a cost to the retailer, with Klarna creaming off 5.4% of the transaction value. It is possible to set a minimum spend for finance options to protect your margins on lower priced stock however, and this also has the added advantage of potentially driving up order value.
An alternative, that comes at no additional cost to the merchant is PayPal Credit, which offers consumers similar terms to Klarna, but at no additional cost to the merchant. It doesn’t integrate as well as Klarna, but it’s a service worth highlighting to your customers if you already offer PayPal as a payment option.
Refining your checkout process really boils down to two key things: removing superfluous steps in the payment process that cause frustration or hesitation and offering enough options to allow the customer to pay in a way that works for them, whether that is on mobile or by instalments.
Address these two things and you’ll be on your way to success.
Keep an eye out for our next article in which we’ll be looking at delivery costs and lead times.
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