Your website’s payment process should make it as easy as possible for visitors to convert their wants and desires into a paid-for purchase. Your analytics will tell you how painful your Internet payment process is, as the data will indicate how many people abandon your website after they’ve placed items in the shopping cart.
Here’s how you can develop a customer-friendly check-out process to boost conversion and enhance the shopping experience delivered by your online store.
Your payments screen needs to look the same as the rest of your website for two reasons. Firstly, your brand needs to permeate every part of your business, and this includes every page of your website. Colours, fonts, formats, voice, all need to be kept consistent across the site including the check-out area.
Secondly, when customers land on a Internet payment page that looks nothing like the rest of the website, they become distrustful. While browsing for products and filling the shopping cart, your customers are building a relationship with your brand, gradually developing enough trust to hand you their hard earned money in exchange for your products. When confronted with a page that doesn’t fit with their previous understanding of your brand, they lose confidence, and may feel uneasy about entering payment details, fearing they have fallen prey to an online scam.
Yes, capturing email addresses from converted customers is an excellent list building exercise, yielding valuable information for future marketing campaigns. However, be aware that adding this additional ‘username’ and ‘password’ entry requirement to the buying process may be negatively impacting your conversion rate. If you are asking customers to create an account before making a purchase, and your direct competitor isn’t, it doesn’t take a marketing genius to work out you will be losing some sales. If capturing customer email addresses is important to you, you can add an account sign-up option at the end of the check-out process. This should have a knock-on positive affect on your email open rate, as only the people interested in maintaining a longer-term connection with your business have provided their contact details.
Not everyone has a Visa or Mastercard, so limiting your payment options to just the biggest cards will also limit your customer appeal. It may not be in the best interests of your business (or your web designer’s sanity) to offer every payment method under the sun, but you do need to provide a wide selection. Hunt around for research on the preferred payment methods for your target audience to find which options your customers expect to see.
Your shoppers are only human, and as a result they are destined to make mistakes. If they omit a field or enter an incorrect string of digits, they will already feel pretty frustrated when your website tells them there’s a problem, even though the fault lies with their over eager fingertips rather than your web design. Ease their pain by providing a clear indication of whereabouts on the page the error is, and saving all the correctly entered data, so they do not need to restart the process from scratch.
Your customers want to feel confident that their Internet payment details are safe with you. Whatever security measures you have in place, show them off, either with a section explaining them, or by proudly displaying logos. You should have a SSL certificate, and be PCI compliant. If you are, include the badges on your checkout page.