3 Tips to Make Online Payments Easier for Customers
Guest article by Rich McIver of Merchant Negotiators
Building a pretty website, providing detailed product listings, coordinating orders and shipping, and maintaining efficient advertising, is already a tall order for most businesses that want to accept online payments. Unfortunately, those efforts just get potential customers to your shopping cart page, not through it, which is where you actually start making money. In fact, 65.23% of potential customers abandon shopping carts at the checkout page, due in large part to avoidable payment friction.
Losing a customer that you worked so hard to attract due to unnecessary payment friction is a real shame. Especially because there are some fairly easy to implement practices that will make online payments easier for customers, thereby ensuring that all of your efforts to acquire and service that customer do not go to waste. In this article we’ll cover three simple ways your business can make online payments easier for your customers at different points in the transaction; before, during, and after the sale.
Before the Sale: Offer a Guest Checkout Option
Many businesses encourage web visitors to become members in an effort to better transition a one-time customer into a long-term customer by either driving increased engagement with the site or opting into a drip email newsletter program. Businesses offering online sales must remember, however, that the ultimate purpose of generating memberships is additional revenue, so where the membership signup itself is an impediment to sales, businesses should offer a checkout option that doesn’t require a membership.
In practical terms, this means that your shopping cart or checkout funnel should be configured to offer buyers a guest checkout option. Many customers are reticent to sign up for an additional website membership because they fear having to keep up with yet another login, or because they fear spam emails. For those customers, not offering a guest checkout option means you will lose some of them altogether. And if you’re really focused on generating memberships, offer an additional incentive to sign up for membership, such as a coupon, as part of the sale confirmation receipt you send.
During the Sale: Don’t Redirect People
You may not be concerned about typing in your credit card for an online transaction, but a good percentage of the world still is. In fact, one study showed that 58% of test customers dropped out of the checkout page due to concerns about payment security. One of the biggest reasons customers get concerned is when they are redirected to another site to make a payment.
Credit card processors like PayPal are very quick and easy for businesses new to online sales to get started with, but in addition to being expensive they come with the limitation that your customers must complete the transaction on PayPal’s website, not yours. Not only does redirecting spook a number of customers, it also makes the checkout process much slower and more cumbersome because a new site must be opened and loaded before payment can be completed. By contrast, companies like Soar Payments or CardConnect require a few hours of integration time, but enable you to have a checkout page that is on your website, with the same color scheme, font, and feel of your existing website, which not only makes the sales process easier for customers, but they also feel more secure.
After the Sale: Use Clear Payment Descriptors & Detailed Receipts
The job of facilitating easy and secure online payments for your customers doesn’t end with the sale. You’ve spent time, money and effort to acquire a first time customer, so losing them as a long-term customer due to a poor post-sale payment experience is one of the worst mistakes a business can make with respect to online payments.
Upon completion of the sale, make sure to send your customers a detailed receipt that includes the items purchased, the sale amount, their customer sale number, and the customer service number. To the extent that a physical good is being shipped, a tracking ID should also be sent when it becomes available. The purpose of this is to reduce anxiety on the part of the purchaser, and reduce chargebacks and returns, by identifying errors while the issue can still be easily fixed.
A second component to post-sale payment facilitation is using clear billing descriptors. Your billing descriptor is the line describing your business that shows up in a customer’s credit card bill. Your credit card processor will set up a default billing descriptor, but it will often simply by your company’s legal or DBA name. Instead, change it to your website name and customer service phone number, so that customers will easily identify the charge, and be less likely to question the charge or initiate a chargeback.
For businesses new to accepting online payments, or for whom online payments have traditionally been a sideline business, the idea that one must take affirmative steps to remove friction points from the transaction process may seem foreign or superfluous. But given that nearly 70% of all online shopping carts are abandoned, spending time and effort to make the online sales process easier for customers is not only good customer service, it’s potentially a huge financial windfall for your business.
About the Author:
Rich McIver is the Founder of Merchant Negotiators, a site that reviews and ranks credit card processors in an effort to help small and mid-sized businesses to find better payment options. You can follow him at Twitter (https://twitter.com/mnegotiators).