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Why you should focus on optimising the checkout experience

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By Saima Alibhai

 

We talk a lot about omnichannel and the customer experience – making sure the cart is available, regardless of device, and providing a seamless shopping experience.

This is a part of our guide on customer experience in online retail

 

But what retailers often overlook is that making the browsing and shopping experience easy is just step one. Making it easier to pay and ensuring your checkout forms are simple is the key to conversion and driving revenue.

This article looks at what shoppers today want and expect from online retail payments. 

The importance of optimising the checkout experience

Imagine that you’re at the supermarket. You arrive with a long list of items only to realise there are no trollies. Frustrated, you carry on. As you walk down each aisle, you notice nothing is labelled. You have no way of knowing where items are located. And to know how much an item is, you must physically pull back a label. You finally track down everything on your list and go to pay, but when you get to the register, you’re informed that they only accept cash.

How would you react? Would you want to shop there ever again? Probably not. Now imagine that every negative aspect – other than the payment method – of the above scenario was fixed. You’d probably still avoid that shop, right?

Consumers today expect a frictionless shopping experience, but making that shopping experience simple and straightforward doesn’t amount to much if the checkout experience is filled with frustration.

This doesn’t just apply to bricks and mortar; in fact, it’s even more important when it comes to shopping online. The online shopping experience was designed with convenience in mind. By making every aspect of it easier, consumers will be inclined to shop more and shop often.

Mobile shopping isn’t going anywhere

My friend’s daughter recently told me how much she enjoyed shopping online, how simple and convenient it is, and how she can’t believe there was a time when people didn’t have that option. Apart from making me feel a little old, it served as a poignant reminder of how shoppers, younger ones especially, view the shopping experience today.

When I asked her what was so convenient about it, she explained that while browsing online was straightforward, what she really enjoyed about the experience was how simple it was to pay. “When I go to pay, I can often pay with just one click,” she said.

It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when experts and analysts said mobile commerce was a fad, that people wouldn’t want to shop on their phones. As we know now, mobile shopping is here to stay.

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According to eMarketer, UK retail mcommerce sales will rise by 14.2% between 2017 and 2021, when purchases made online via mobile devices will make up well over one-tenth (13.4%) of total retail sales.

Retailers need to consider how this will affect sales. We already established that when consumers look to purchase on their devices, they expect a frictionless shopping experience. And what provides more friction than being asked to enter an endless stream of information, such as billing and shipping details? This is especially troublesome if you’re using a small mobile screen.

Despite the very real need to streamline the online retail payment process, retailers continue to overlook this crucial step to conversion.

A colleague of mine tells me he frequently abandons items at checkout when trying to purchase on his mobile device. His reason? He hates filling out the forms. In fact, he tells me that the online retail payment forms are what often help him curtail his spending because they’re such a nuisance.

He recently described how he suffered through one form on a national retailer’s site solely because his teenage son actually liked one of the pairs of trainers he’d selected, and he couldn’t bear to abandon the shopping trip after thumbing through several pages of products. He completed the purchase out of necessity, not convenience. If he could have found those trainers elsewhere, he might have been tempted to cancel his purchase altogether.

My friend’s experience isn’t unique, and retailers would do well to learn a lesson from this example. If you’re not doing something well, rest assured there is a competitor out there that is or that will. If you don’t offer a frictionless purchase experience but they do, you risk losing out on a sale. Maybe they purchase from you out of shopper’s fatigue this time, but they’ll likely look to one of your competitors next time.

To combat this, make sure your mobile payment process is as simple as possible. If you don’t have the means to make it one-touch, try to get as close to one-touch as possible. At the very least, make sure you’re not asking customers to repeatedly fill out lengthy payment forms.

Cyber security plays a vital role in mobile payment behaviour

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While online shopping has provided several advantages to consumers, it has also made them increasingly vulnerable to data leaks. Last year, the British Retail Consortium found that more than a third (34%) of consumers said they didn’t like the idea of retailers storing their information because they didn’t know what it would be used for.

Despite that concern, most retailers allow users to save their credit card information on their site to make future checkouts easier. However, online security issues have minimised usage of this feature. In the U.S., due to hacking concerns, 33% of consumers never save their credit card information, and 30% only use trusted payment methods, such as PayPal.

The result? More and more consumers are storing their payment information in their phones or are turning to alternative payment options like Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay. These platforms power in-app and tap-to-pay purchases, making it easier for users to make payments from their devices.

As this trend grows and as consumers continue to make mobile payments on their primary mobile device, creating a simple and safe way to let consumers check out will become an essential requirement for successful retailers going forward.

The power of mobile payment

The power of the mobile payment is growing. Today the purchase process is almost always different depending on the type of connected device, be it a laptop, app or other mobile device, but that difference is eroding. As mobile purchasing becomes the standard, non-mobile devices will be forced to match that experience.

Creating a unified checkout experience, one that allows for quicker checkouts, is becoming vital to retail success. Not only does it have the capacity to decrease basket abandonment, but it also has the ability to improve the customer’s connection with your brand.

Shoppers today want a simplified shopping experience, and the onus is on retailers to provide a more streamlined and convenient online retail checkout experience. Don’t think of it as simply a way to optimise for mobile – it’s not. Mobile is now the norm.

Think of it in terms of giving your customers what they want. Long checkout forms on mobile devices are a thing of the past. When given the option, a customer will always prefer to pay with a simple touch of their thumb, rather than fill out a long form on their phone.

 

By Saima Alibhai, Managing Principle Consultant, EMEA, Oracle+Bronto

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