Online purchase

Strategies to simplify the online shopping process

The online payment process has become cumbersome, to say the least. Among other payment elements, the number of available payment types has grown exponentially. For example, these may be credit or debit cards; PayPal; Google Pay; Apple Pay; store credit; gift card; options buy now, pay later (BNPL); and even Bitcoin.

While a large number of bidding choices may appear to be good for the consumer, too many can create friction in the checkout process and contribute to a consumer abandoning their cart. A recent IDC Infobrief (sponsored by PayPal) found that 44% of consumers said the customer/shopping experience was most important when shopping online, but 22% said a major frustration was too many clicks to complete a purchase.

Simplified online payment can help reduce potential buyer dropout points. Here are some steps to make sure online merchant payment pages are as smooth as possible.

More tenders are not necessarily a good thing

It’s essential to have tested a site to determine if offering too many payment tenders decreases conversions, especially as we head into the second half of 2022 and the critical seasons of the back to school and holidays. It is always recommended to continuously test and evaluate a positive or negative impact on the completion rate of customers who “started paying” each time a merchant adds more payment options.

Brands should also continuously monitor and assess the viability of newly added payment types. If 5% or less of completed orders use a newly added payment method, it may not be worth keeping.

Ultimately, the question every retailer should ask during the evaluation process is, “Was this tender payment option helpful to the customer?”

Protect your payment for the future

With shopping cart technology constantly evolving, merchants also need to ensure that their checkout process has a longer-term view.

Changing the process or constantly adding new types of tenders can have the potential to break the checkout flow for buyers who might be using next-gen tools, like digital wallets. Similarly, a “pause” in the checkout process can occur if a merchant experiences a new shopping cart experience that is far removed from the mainstream or what consumers are used to.

Keeping payment simple and consistent will ensure that a site will continue to be compatible with future shopping and payment solutions.

Tools to help buyers complete their order

Savvy shoppers are embracing the next wave of online shopping tools, and the most popular among them are shopping companions offering cash back on purchases. Typically these are browser extensions, and often they have built-in payment options.

As long as a merchant’s site “plays well” with these browser extensions, savvy shoppers will be able to use the rewards and payment options they prefer.

Optimize and maximize the impact of the affiliate program

Because buying companions with rewards programs are built on the affiliate networks existing tracking setup, if a merchant does not have an affiliate program, they are already missing out on additional new sales opportunities.

However, having an affiliate program is only the first step. In order to ensure maximum exposure to their offers, merchants must also make their affiliate program available to publishers of these new tools. As a category, browser extensions are also referred to as “toolbars”, and some merchants exclude their program from this category altogether.

Toolbars and browser extensions may get a bad rap, but there are thousands of legitimate, useful, and well-rated browser extensions out there. A merchant can still authorize toolbars/browser extensions and benefit from the additional sales generated by these publishers. Additionally, retail brands can help shoppers who want to use companions by ensuring that these toolbars work well on their site.

A well-structured affiliate program helps these buying companions present opportunities to keep consumers engaged at key points in the buying journey. Therefore, merchants should ensure that their affiliate program data and offers are accurate, current, easily readable, and as complete as possible.

Retailers should view their affiliate program data as powering the next wave of shopping tools, not just social media influencers or bloggers.

It is also essential that merchants ensure that their site/program complies with privacy initiatives such as Apple’s Smart Tracking Protection and Chrome’s 2023 removal of third-party cookies. Programs must be compatible with these data protection initiatives and new browser versions to ensure that the program remains accessible to as many publishers as possible.

Optimizing the checkout experience requires constant effort to ensure that the customer experience remains as seamless and fluid as possible. Retailers who provide shoppers with the right choices and deals at the right time will reap the most benefits.

Michelle Wood is Vice President of Merchant Development at Forest fire systemsthe only white label loyalty, rewards and cashback platform.