I tried to buy a gift for someone recently from the website of a top London department store. Tried, but very nearly failed. When I got to the payment page, the payment process was unclear, I wasn’t able to edit my address, and I couldn’t select my preferred credit card to pay. All of this because a simple change to the billing address section was needed first. I was about to give up. Until, a chat window popped up with a customer service rep named Matthew who offered to help.
One recent study found that 44% of customers will simply abandon a cart at checkout if they find the payment experience poor. That rises to more than half (51%) among millennials. Payments are an integral part of the customer experience. If customers can’t easily use their preferred payment option, hassle-free, they might very well give up on the purchase – as I very nearly did. Accepting this level of drop-off is extremely bad for business. There is cost and marketing effort that goes into attracting a customer who has browsed your website, chosen what they want and proceeded to the checkout. So, what can online retailers do to improve their payment experience in 2022?
Reduce friction in the user experience
Two thirds (64%) of EMEA business leaders agree that there is a direct, positive link between customer service and business performance. The converse also applies: a third of European customers strongly agree that they would switch to a competitor after repeated, negative customer experiences.
This should be a red flag for any company that hasn’t optimised its payment processes, because there are many ways in which friction can creep into the payments process without a company realising it. Banks, for instance, may use an old tech stack, with the core data stretching back as far as the 1970s. If the bank, you, or the payment processor you partner with, has an outdated tech stack, this can impact the payment experience in several ways. Customers might not get timely notifications telling them that a payment is successfully completed. Or they may find they are not protected by the level of built-in, anti-fraud detection they expect. Payments may also take longer than expected. All of this can undermine an otherwise well-executed customer experience.
Improve identity management
Identity management is another aspect of the payments process that can cause friction in the purchase process - in fact, sixty-seven per cent of EMEA business leaders say improving digital identity verification is a priority for them. Although customers are keen for companies to safeguard their personal details online, they may not want to be asked to verify their identity multiple times in one purchase process. This alone may irritate a customer, but if they have already met with other frustrations earlier on in the process — such as the example at the start of this article — then repeated requests to identify themselves at the payment stage may be the final straw.
Companies must therefore find a way to make the digital verification process clear - so they don’t get confused or frustrated along the way. Help customers understand the different steps along the process and why they’re there by being transparent up front. By adopting a more intelligent digital identity system that is both secure and unobtrusive, they can make the experience painless for customers.
Streamline cross-border payments
Cross-border e-commerce grew by 57% in the UK during the height of the pandemic. Worldwide, retailers that ship internationally saw an increase of 21% in global, cross-border sales. Between now and 2027, cross-border e-commerce is predicted to continue growing at a rate of 27% a year.
Winning, and retaining, cross-border shoppers comes with its own unique set of considerations. Customers are more willing than ever to shop with unfamiliar retailers in search of a great deal or novel product. But that willingness is not unlimited – and optimising the payment process is a big part of making sure it doesn’t run dry. The first step is to ensure that overseas consumers can pay with their preferred, trusted, payment method. What’s accepted - and what’s not - should be clear and visible to the customer early on in the journey, to help avoid that frustrating abandoned cart.
But that’s only part of the picture. To provide reassurance, when more is needed, it pays to have customer service ready to support at the payment processing pages. If, for instance, a customer is spending an unusually long time at the checkout, a chatbot could open and link them to payment and delivery FAQs, or connect them to a customer-service representative who speaks their language.
As e-commerce continues to boom, retailers that invest in their payment experience will have a clear advantage over those that do not. Simplicity and transparency are key - but with the right technologies to simplify the process, retailers will improve their chances to take a customer from ‘Shopping Cart’ to ‘Purchase Delivered.’
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