On the cusp of the biggest shopping season of the year, now is the time for retailers to take stock of what influences new and repeat customers when they are at the point of checkout. According to Deloitte, non-store, online sales in the U.S. are expected to show an 8.5-9 percent increase this holiday season.
Right now is the perfect time to make your ecommerce shopping experience more streamlined. Here are five areas retailers should focus on to make online customer checkout experiences frictionless and effortless – leading to higher conversion rates and customer retention.
Simplify, simplify, simplify
Anyone who sells online knows that shopping-cart abandonment is a common problem. When it comes to checkout, customer convenience is paramount to achieving high conversion rates. Some customers give up on checkout because they don’t want to create another new account, or they don’t want to re-type lengthy shipping and billing information. Merchants should review their checkout flows and find ways to reduce the steps as much as possible. Stored shipping and payment information is one reason that transactions processed through PayPal have a 70 percent higher checkout conversion rate than credit card-only checkouts.
Offer payment flexibility
Some potential shoppers decide against buying because they don’t have financing options readily available. If readily-available financing options are holding customers back, consider offering credit to your customers: payment flexibility can mean affordability and help drive up order sizes. Once the domain of large retailers only, credit can now be offered by even small and mid-size businesses through PayPal Credit. Small businesses that advertised financing by placing PayPal Credit banners on their sites have reported sales increases of as much as 18%.
With the proliferation of mobile commerce, merchants need to think “mobile first” to compete – as in, designing the entire customer experience with mobile top of mind. Successful online retailers provide their customers with seamless shopping experiences on mobile, cutting out the need to pinch and zoom to shop on smaller screens. The need for checkout simplification mentioned above is even more important on mobile, where entering shipping and billing details on a tiny mobile screen is a significant barrier to purchasing. PayPal’s checkout experience is mobile-optimized, and One Touch enables customers to skip the login process, securely storing payment details for up to six months.
Provide peace of mind
Security is an essential underlying foundation of successful online retail. When making purchases this holiday season, shoppers expect that their personal data will remain secure. Be sure to offer time-tested payment options that give customers peace of mind when they shop. By partnering with trusted payment providers such as PayPal, retailers know that they’re offering customers best-in-class fraud prevention, transaction monitoring and top-rate buyer protection. Buyer protection includes reimbursing customers the full purchase price, plus any original shipping costs if something goes wrong with the order. This layer of security and protection gives customers the confidence they need to complete a purchase.
Provide in-store flexibility with “BORIS” and “BOPIS”
Many consumers put off shopping and find themselves in a time crunch during holiday season. Providing options like “Buy Online; Return in Store” (BORIS) and “Buy Online; Pick up In Store” (BOPIS) gives customers flexibility in terms of purchasing and returning, catering to their specific needs. Roughly 88 percent of the top 100 retailers in the U.S. have started offering BOPIS, so consumers are increasingly expecting these options from retailers.
Ring in the New Year with bigger sales
While optimizing checkout should be a focus for retailers year-round, competing for customers and sales during the holidays is particularly important – giving all merchants cause for reevaluating their retail strategy and taking a look at what could be improved to drive conversion and sales. Keep these essential areas in mind to make the checkout experience seamless for your customers, and take steps now to prep for the holiday season and drive growth throughout the year.
Katie Ochieano is the SMB Merchant Marketing at PayPal