- Technology, Strategy
- June 3, 2015
- by Vanessa Norhausen
- 4 minute read
When online merchants are looking to improve their sales, the first recourse is often SEO: get more traffic, get more sales. But there are other ways to improve conversion. And a great place to focus on is the checkout process.
Any of us with an online shop has been there before: you’ve got your product, you’ve got your site, and you’re ready to start selling. But often the excitement dies down pretty quickly when you realise that, despite the amount of traffic you receive, your sales aren’t as high as expected.
When online merchants are looking to improve their sales, the first recourse is often SEO: get more traffic, get more sales. They often overlook the little things that can improve conversion rates and provide better results.
So let’s have a look at one part of the online store that often seems to be an afterthought: the payment process.
Let’s be honest: no one likes parting with their money. The more barriers you put in the way of purchase, the less likely you are to complete the sale. If you don’t believe me, just ask yourself how many times you have abandoned a transaction because you got frustrated with the checkout process.
Let’s look at a few things you can do to make the process as easy as possible.
1. Time to check out
The longer it takes to check out, the more likely your customer is to change their mind about the purchase. Therefore, in order to maximise conversions, you should ensure that your checkout process is as efficient as possible.
For example, you could allow customers to store their delivery details on your shop for future use, removing the first hurdle for repeat purchases.
2. Check out anytime, anywhere
Web access is no longer restricted to the desktop, and with the increasing capabilities of mobile devices more of us are comfortable with using our phones and tablets to shop online. The UK is an early adopter market, with 40% of online retail sales being made on a mobile or tablet in Q4 2014/2015 according to IMRG and Capgemini.
If you don’t cater for these mobile users, you’re shutting out a lot of potential buyers. What can you do to make these sales?
Make sure your shop is optimised for all devices. Your customer wants your site to be easy to navigate, whether they’re on their desktop, laptop, tablet or phone. It’s no good having a mobile-optimised site if your payment process is clunky on mobile. Whether you use the payment form that is directly integrated into the shopping cart, or your gateway’s hosted payment form, the payment process should adapt perfectly to all devices.
3. A seamless payment process
A few gateways and payment methods require your customers to leave your site to complete the payment. If this redirection breaks up the flow of the checkout process, it may discourage a potential customer from purchasing, adding another abandoned cart to your collection.
You can solve this problem by using a directly integrated gateway solution to keep your customer on your site throughout the payment process, or by using a gateway that allows you to style its hosted payment page to look like your own shop.
4. When in Rome…
It’s important to understand how your target market prefers to pay online. Visa and MasterCard are dominant in the UK, but it’s a very different picture in some other countries around the world.
If you want to expand into the States, it’s important to offer American Express. In Germany, alternative payment methods like PayPal, Elektronisches Lastschriftverfahren (ELV), Sofort Banking and giropay are frequently used.
5. Cater for your Customers’ Currencies
Even if your target market is predominantly comprised of card users, you still need to think about currency.
Giving a customer the option to pay in their own currency gives them the reassurance of knowing how much they are about to spend. Many currency conversion providers will also pay you a referral fee for any dynamic currency conversion transactions.
Vanessa is Channel Manager at [Realex Payments](https://www.realexpayments.co.uk/), one of Europe’s largest and fastest growing online payment gateways, providing a range of payment processing services for businesses selling online and processing payments valued in excess of £24 billion per annum on behalf of 12,500 retailers throughout Europe.