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GUEST COMMENT Five ways to optimise your checkout and make your business more successful

Image: Fotolia

Image: Fotolia

Josh Ackerman is product lead at Stripe

Only a decade ago, shopping meant a full day at the mall or a cross-town drive to scattered stores. Now, customers shop on the way to work, jumping from a TikTok ad to an optimized mobile experience where they can check out with a single tap, all in a few subway stops.

Or at least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. 

The reality is that many online checkouts are still riddled with needless friction, making it hard for customers to complete a purchase.

It takes more than three minutes to check out on most ecommerce sites, even though nearly two-thirds of consumers say they will abandon a purchase that requires more than two. The financial impact for retailers is huge: The global ecommerce market is expected to reach $5.55 trillion this year, which means that losing even one percent of sales to abandoned checkouts adds up to $55.5 billion in lost revenue.

Businesses cannot afford to leave money on the table—especially in today’s economic climate. Checkout experiences are one of the most effective, yet underutilized, levers they can pull to generate more revenue and encourage repeat customers.

Over the summer, we tested the checkout flows of 1,600 websites around the world to better understand the state of play. We found out that 91% of leading ecommerce sites in Europe make five or more basic errors in their checkout forms. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are five important steps your business can take to improve your checkout process and maximize revenue with little effort.

Build your customers’ trust

Above all else, customers expect a merchant’s website to be safe and trustworthy. 22% of European shoppers say they’ll abandon their cart if they don’t feel they can trust a merchant with their card details. 

There’s no silver bullet for gaining customer trust, but merchants can make subtle optimizations that signal their checkout is secure:

  • Display payment method icons at checkout—like “Verified by Visa”—which communicate that the merchant can legitimately process transactions with that provider. Only 37% of European businesses present this information.
  • Format your checkout for mobile devices and tablets. Failing to present a smooth user experience on mobile doesn’t just make it harder for customers to enter their information—it can make a website appear less legitimate. Mobile sites should automatically resize to fit the customer’s screen and surface numerical keyboards for customers entering card numbers and phone numbers. 15% of European customers have abandoned a cart in the past year because the checkout site wasn’t formatted to their mobile device or tablet. 
  • Be transparent about additional costs or fees that customers will incur when making a purchase, including taxes, shipping, and service fees. Businesses that don’t display these costs on the main checkout page can take a big hit to conversion: 38% of European customers report that they abandon their carts when shipping and tax information are not displayed up front.

Let customers pay how they want

Customers expect merchants to provide the common payment methods in their country: 86% of European customers will abandon their cart if their preferred method isn’t available. They know they can easily find a different website selling the same product, with better payment options. 

Providing the right payment methods unlocks big revenue opportunities. When we turned on the Dutch payment method iDEAL for three Hong Kong merchants on Stripe, we noticed that their Dutch sales increased by multiples in just a few weeks. And when we looked more broadly at 6,000 merchants that started selling to EU customers with only cards, and later added EU payment methods, we saw the same improvement. On average, sales nearly doubled. Payments are oddly cultural, and merchants have to speak their customers’ payments language.

With today’s technology, businesses can now be local everywhere with nearly no effort. Checkouts should surface the right payment methods for a customer’s location or device automatically, including local card payments, bank transfers, and mobile wallets. Even small improvements increase conversion. Stripe recently adjusted the way it orders local payment methods, which led to a 3% increase in conversion and a 7% increase in transaction value globally.

Let customers pay when they want

Customers increasingly want the flexibility of paying in instalments with buy now, pay later (BNPL) services like Klarna, Afterpay, and Affirm. 68% of European buyers are more likely to complete a purchase if a website offers BNPL. Businesses offering Klarna and Afterpay on Stripe have increased conversion by 30% and 22%, respectively. Across all BNPL methods, they’ve benefited from a 27% increase in average sales volume.

Businesses that deploy BNPL boost conversion and attract new customers. And with a modern payments infrastructure like Stripe, it’s not hard to do.

Minimize checkout friction

Every click or thumb tap on a checkout reduces conversion. It can take a customer 40 or more taps to enter their address into a mobile webpage. Letting customers save and auto-fill their details speeds up checkout and reduces the risk the customer enters incorrect information—and rethinks their decision to purchase.

Stripe users offering Link, Stripe’s save and auto-fill feature, saw their customers check out in just six seconds. Customers are also more likely to complete their purchase when one-click wallet options like Apple Pay, Shop Pay, and Google Pay are available.

But customers should also be able to easily enter their details manually, and they shouldn’t have to wait until after they’ve hit submit to know if they’d made any errors. 23% of European customers report that they will perceive a merchant negatively if they have to re-enter payment information due to an error. But 31% of European businesses fail to automatically notify customers of incorrectly entered or expired payment details upon entry, making it more likely they will lose customers by asking them to try again.

Boost average order value right from the checkout page

Supermarkets boost sales by offering popular products like gum and candy next to checkout stands. Ecommerce businesses can achieve similar gains by upselling and cross-selling at checkout. For example, it makes a lot of sense for a bicycle retailer to make it easy for customers to upgrade bike features or add companion products like a bike helmet just before they complete a purchase.

75% of European customers are likely to add a product to their cart as a result of a website’s cross-selling or upselling strategy, but only 49% of European websites offer cross-sells at checkout, and only 12% offer upsells.

Consumer expectations for online checkouts are always rising, and it’s easy for merchants to fall behind. But the rewards for businesses that meet those expectations are great—and it’s not hard to reap them.

Josh Ackerman is product lead at Stripe

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