Don’t Lose Customers at Checkout: Strategies to Simplify the Online Purchase Process
The online checkout process has become cumbersome, to say the least. Among other checkout elements, the number of available payment types has exponentially increased. For example, these might include credit or debit cards; PayPal; Google Pay; Apple Pay; store credit; gift card; buy now, pay later (BNPL) options; and even Bitcoin.
While a large number of tender choices might seem like it will be good for the consumer, too many can create friction in the checkout process, and contribute to a consumer abandoning their cart. A recent IDC Infobrief (sponsored by PayPal) revealed that 44 percent of consumers listed customer/shopping experience as most important when shopping online, yet 22 percent said a top frustration was requiring too many clicks to make a purchase.
A simplified online checkout can help reduce the number of potential shopper abandonment points. Following are a few steps to make sure online merchants’ checkout pages are as frictionless as possible.
More Tenders Aren’t Necessarily a Good Thing
It’s critical to have tested a site to determine whether offering too many payment tenders is decreasing conversions, especially as we head into the second half of 2022 and the critical back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons. It’s always recommended to continually test and evaluate for a positive or negative impact on the completion rate of customers who “started checkout” any time a merchant adds more payment options.
Brands should also continually monitor and evaluate the viability of newly added payment types. If 5 percent or less of completed orders use a newly added payment method, perhaps it’s not worth keeping.
Ultimately, the question every retailer should ask themselves during the evaluation process is, “Was this payment tender option useful for the customer?”
Future-Proof Your Checkout
As shopping cart technology is constantly evolving, merchants must also ensure their checkout process is viewed through a longer-term lens.
Switching up the process or constantly adding new tender types may have the potential to break the checkout flow for shoppers who might be using next-generation tools, like digital wallets. Along the same lines, a “break” in the checkout could happen if a merchant experiments with a new shopping cart experience that's far removed from the mainstream or what consumers are used to.
Keeping checkout simple and consistent will ensure that a site will continue to be compatible with future shopping and payment solutions.
Tools to Help Shoppers Complete Checkout
Savvy shoppers are adopting the next wave of online shopping tools, and the most popular of these are shopping companions offering cashback rewards on purchases. Typically, these are browser extensions, and often they have baked-in payment options.
As long as a merchant’s site “plays nice” with these browser extensions, savvy shoppers will be able to use whatever rewards and payment options they prefer.
Optimize and Maximize Affiliate Program Impact
Because shopping companions with rewards programs are built upon the existing tracking setup of affiliate networks, if a merchant lacks an affiliate program they’re already missing out on new incremental sales opportunities.
However, having an affiliate program is just the first step. To ensure maximum exposure for their offers, retailers must also allow their affiliate program to be available to the publishers of these new tools. As a category, browser extensions are also referred to as “toolbars,” and some merchants completely exclude their program from this category.
Toolbars and browser extensions may have a bad rap, but thousands of legitimate, useful and well-rated browser extensions do exist. A merchant can still allow toolbars/browser extensions and benefit from the incremental sales generated by these publishers. Furthermore, retail brands can help shoppers who wish to use companions by ensuring that these toolbars work well on their site.
A well-structured affiliate program helps these shopping companions present opportunities to keep consumers engaged at key moments during the shopping journey. Therefore, merchants must make sure their affiliate program’s data and offers are accurate, up-to-date, easily readable and as complete as possible.
Retailers should think about their affiliate program data as powering the next wave of shopping tools, and not just social media influencers or bloggers.
It’s also critical for merchants to ensure their site/program is compliant with privacy initiatives such as Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Protection and Chrome’s removal of third-party cookies in 2023. Programs must be compatible with these data protection initiatives and new browser releases to ensure that the program remains available to as many publishers as possible.
Optimizing the checkout experience requires consistent effort to make sure the customer experience remains as seamless and frictionless as possible. Retailers which offer shoppers the right tender choices and offers at the right time will see the most benefit.
Michelle Wood is the vice president of merchant development at Wildfire Systems, the only white-label loyalty, rewards, and cashback platform.