How to minimise friction in your payments process

Lee Atkinson is chief operating officer for payment services provider Modern World Business Solutions.

One particularly depressing statistic for the online retail sector puts the average cart abandonment rate at over 70%. This means that nearly three quarters of customers who reach a payment processing page never go on to complete their purchase.

While there are many complex reasons behind users abandoning their carts at the checkout page, long or complicated checkout processes account for around 18% of abandonments, with another 11% giving up on a purchase due to a lack of payment options, and a huge 19% unwilling to complete a purchase because they do not trust a site with their payment information.

Clearly, getting the payment process right, while not a silver bullet to the issue of cart abandonments, is a crucial element of both conversions and purchasing decisions, and when done right, can enhance customer trust, satisfaction and the bottom line.

In a digital-first world, the digital experience is at the core of the overall customer experience, and increasingly, people expect a smooth and frictionless payment journey that facilitates the purchasing cycle.

Lee Atkinson

Offering payment options

Consumers are more discerning that ever, and this extends into the methods they use to pay for their purchases. Customers have preferred and trusted methods of payment, and failure to cater to these does not only create unnecessary friction, but can also have dramatic consequences for conversion rates and sales. In fact, one 2022 survey found that 9 in 10 UK online shoppers would abandon their cart if their preferred payment method was not accepted.

Payments options are no longer a nice to have – they are necessary for maintaining trust and a positive customer experience, feeding directly into lower abandonment rates and customer loyalty.

Getting payment options right means understanding who your customers are and how they prefer to pay. This will help you build a picture of the payment options you may be lacking, and how these can best be integrated into your existing payment model.

Supporting mobile payments

It is a no brainer that the mobile experience is central to nearly every eCommerce and retail sector, with mobile accounting for nearly 75% of online traffic, and a whopping 60% of all online retail sales coming from mobile phones in the UK.

Despite this, conversion rates on mobile are lower than on desktop – 1.53% compared with 4.14% respectively – and this is in large part due to poorer user experience on mobile devices. Many businesses are still lagging behind when it comes to creating a positive payment experience on mobile, with checkout screens not formatted for mobile use, making viewing the page and entering necessary information a slow and frustrating experience to complete a payment.

Streamlining payments

The longer and more complicated the process is for your customer to make their purchase, the more likely they are to simply give up and abandon it. In the UK, 58% of customers expect online payments to be completed with just one click, indicating the need to streamline payment processes and ensure their efficiency.

Huge online retailers understand this only too well. Amazon’s fast and convenient payment model is perhaps the gold standard of this idea. Users can select their product and complete their purchase with an absolute minimum of steps and clicks. One-click payments allow a similar experience, especially on mobile formats, making checkouts quick and convenient for busy shoppers.

Requiring customers to provide unnecessary details to complete their purchase, or using payment gateways that require off-site authentication break up the flow of your payment journey, resulting in a bad experience and little chance of return custom. Good payment process solutions make purchasing a smooth and seamless experience, and look to reduce the number of discreet actions and clicks a user needs to make to complete a purchase.

Seamless security

Security is a key concern for retailers and customers alike. While it goes without saying that payment methods must be safe and secure, protecting sensitive customer information and preventing theft, this must also be balanced with the need to avoid excessive friction.

Security measures must therefore fit into the overall seamless experience, or risk turning customers away through clunky, unresponsive measures and time-consuming redirects. The challenge here is that despite this reality, customers also want to be reassured that a merchant is taking all the necessary steps to protect their payment information and personal data.

This requires taking a strategic, dynamic approach to security measures, implementing the right technologies and solutions that can assess the potential risks of any transaction, and dynamically decide when particular security measures are needed. This enables a high level of security, a flexible response to varying levels of risk, and most importantly, a frictionless customer experience.

Final thoughts

When it comes to effective payment processes, merchants and online retailers have a lot of plates to spin. Balancing consumer demand for choice, accessibility and speed of payment with the very real need for effective security measures means identifying and removing unnecessary points of friction, whilst implementing dynamic security solutions without compromising the customer purchasing journey.

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