The ecommerce checkout process is getting complicated and competitive. Consumers can choose a variety of checkout options, from credit cards to Apple Pay or PayPal to a growing number of buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) options. While this may be convenient, the question for retailers is, are you providing too many options and creating a source of friction that’s contributing to high bounce rates and cart abandonment?
To avoid this no-fun scenario, you need to employ a simplified checkout model to eliminate friction.
Thankfully, there are ways to tackle this issue that don’t diminish the upside of providing users with a lot of choice. So how can you create an experience that’s as frictionless as possible while pulling the most users through checkout?
Figure Out if That Juice is Worth the Squeeze
You don’t need to provide every ecommerce checkout option under the sun, so look for every opportunity to evaluate and streamline. Ask yourself, which checkout options are truly useful to your customers? If less than 5% of transactions use a particular method, it can lead to shopper distraction. Just because a lot of time has been invested in getting that option in place doesn’t mean it should stay there if it’s doing more harm than good.
It’s important not to have a narrow vision of how your site is shopped, and making the ecommerce checkout process uncomplicated and understandable is critical. This applies to programs as well as shoppers. Constantly switching up the checkout flow on a site will often break the tools shoppers are using to make checkout faster and easier. Ditto for user experience decisions that are far afield from mainstream cart experiences. Keep it simple and stable, and it will be compatible and as future-proof as possible.
Offload Provision of Payment Options to Others
The most ubiquitous tools are shopping companions with rewards, and those frequently have payment choice baked in, as well as other features that will have shoppers returning to your site again and again. “Playing nice” with shopping companions means the savviest shoppers get to use their preferred alternative payment methods without having them cluttering up every site they visit. And that means…
Architect Stronger, Wiser Affiliate Programs
If you’re not participating in affiliate marketing programs, you’re likely missing out as the vast majority of shopping companions and cashback programs are built on affiliate “plumbing.” But having an affiliate program is not enough, and being competitive doesn’t just mean having a great commission structure. What it really takes to take advantage of reward and cashback programs that include merchants in their software involves much more than just commissions.
Allowing browser extensions or toolbars to participate is not without risk, but a vigilant eye and a well-structured program can protect you there. There are literally thousands of legitimate extensions available to shoppers, but it’s still not all that uncommon for brands to ban them wholesale. But clever merchants actually help shoppers that are using toolbars by letting them work well on their site, keeping shoppers engaged through checkout. Make sure the data you put into the affiliate network is complete, up to date, accurate and human readable, and your program is as compatible as possible.
Compatibility means ensuring your site and affiliate program are compliant with new privacy initiatives, such as Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Protection, and the coming 3P cookie apocalypse. Keeping sites and programs up to date and compatible with these data protection initiatives and new browser releases will ensure that an affiliate program is available to as many publishers as possible, especially those with new and innovative consumer incentive offerings.
Bottom line? You need to start thinking about how the data you put into the affiliate network is being used by software, not just bloggers.
The never-ending puzzle of pulling the maximum number of shoppers through checkout is won by providing the right choices at just the right time. And this means acknowledging the entire landscape, not just what’s on your ecommerce website.
Michelle Wood is VP of Merchant Development for Wildfire Systems