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Providing your online shoppers with the best checkout options?

by Tim Rimington | November 18, 2010

A good mate of mine is a Director of one of Australia's largest online retailers. Chatting to him this morning, he spoke about how he's working on streamlining the checkout process for his online shoppers. We discussed payment methods and the fact that an unrelated business associate of SiteSuite's mentioned to me just yesterday that his experience buying online through my friend's store was one of the best buying experiences he'd ever had. What a rap! So today I want to ask the question, are you providing your online shoppers with the best checkout options?

During yesterday's conversation with our associate, we discussed the payment options provided by some of SiteSuite's clients for their online shoppers. We were surprised to learn that some merchants chose not to give their shoppers the means of paying by credit card or, at the very least, the means to pay using PayPal. Explanations from merchants ranged from, "the commission rates from the banks are too high" to, "our onlne shoppers don't really mind". Pressing the point further, some merchants were asked how they knew for fact that shoppers didn't mind phoning through card details, printing a fax form, etc. Of course the only feedback they receive is from people who are keen enough to buy their products, whereas the shoppers who abandoned their shopping cart when presented with non-card payment options left never to be seen again. The merchants we spoke to hadn't monitored statistics and were only seeing the orders coming through rather than the bigger picture, i.e. lost sales!

Cart abandonment is not a new issue. Larger retailers invest big dollars devising solutions to the problem. But if you're putting up barriers to start with then your store's cart abandonment rates will likely be significantly higher than everyone else's. If a major bank wants to charge you, say, 1.8% commission for all card transactions processed through your website then isn't that a tiny price to pay? Even PayPal's rate of roughly 2.4% is still attractive if it's the only option open to you. Surely the recovery of lost sales would more than cover any losses in card transaction commission!

A side note: if you want to place a surcharge on credit card transactions, this article, dated 15th Nov 2010 from the Sydney Morning Herald website discussed a report that should be of interest to all online merchants.

Online shopping has been around long enough now for shoppers to have built an expectation of what they expect to find when they reach the checkout of your online store. They expect to be able to pay for goods in real-time and will more often than not laugh if asked to print a form before faxing. Accepted, perhaps, in 1997 but definitely not today.

So if your online sales are stagnant or not as active as you'd like, make sure that you're providing your online shoppers with the best checkout options and giving your customers the most effortless buying experience possible. Try buying on your own website - identify any obstacles in the checkout process and speak to your provider about addressing any issues you find. It's possible that your own choices as a merchant are the very things that warrant closer inspection.

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