Offering customers a seamless e-commerce checkout experience is one of the key aspects of converting prospects into buyers, particularly when you implement new features to stay current with changing technology trends. Here’s a look at how to evolve your e-commerce checkout without overcomplicating the customer experience.
Empower global customers to self-serve
Customers have come to expect help when they need it, including on e-commerce, but to remain competitive, e-commerce merchants must be mindful of the fact that the new customer opportunity includes global buyers. As such, an e-commerce site and its checkout processes must be equipped to serve users in different time zones, languages and using currencies. Select payment processors and payment gateways that are designed to serve a multifaceted audience, including forms that support multiple currencies, and prompt for the appropriate information required for shipping and billing information, based on the customer’s language and location.
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If you don’t have the manpower to do so, outsource live chat and customer service functions to a third-party provider that is equipped to help you address global customers’ questions and issues in a time-sensitive manner. (Though eDigital's Customer Service Benchmark survey involving 2,000 consumers revealed that nearly 73 percent of those who were offered “live chat” customer service had a positive experience, they expected the inquiry to be responded to within a minute.) Likewise, equip consumers with the ability to self-serve where possible, including estimating shipping fees, viewing real-time inventory levels, and transit and delivery information.
Accommodate Emerging Payments
Javelin Strategy & Research estimates that more than 40 percent of all online transactions take place by credit card, and forecasts the trend will hold steady through 2017. As consumers become increasingly comfortable with new payment technologies including mobile wallets (like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and PayPal), digital banking tools offered by “neobanks” like Moven and even virtual currency like Bitcoin, consumer payment behaviors will shift.
Online retailers must be prepared to meet the new modes of payment, and update the checkout experience accordingly. For example, many mobile wallets allow users to use a touch sensor to pay, while others offer login and checkout with a few clicks. Requiring that customers enter shipping, billing and credit card information when using such payment methods will soon be a thing of the past.
Proactively address purchase hesitancy. Industry leaders like Amazon and Zappos have set the gold standard for consumer expectations around return policies, and smaller retailers must do the same to compete.
Provide clear and visible explanations of return and exchange policies on your site, and again in the checkout experience. Include one-click return label requests, and consider sending the information a customer needs to complete a return with the package (and notifying them of that policy at checkout).
Serve the mobile user
Predictive analytics provider Custora estimates that nearly $50 billion in e-commerce revenue will originate from users shopping on a mobile device in 2014 in the United States alone. E-commerce sellers must provide a mobile website that is responsive in both look, feel and functionality, favoring images over heavy, non-essential copy, and avoiding the use of Flash and similar technology that isn’t supported on many mobile devices.
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Likewise, the checkout process should be catered to the mobile experience: Limit forms to “must know” information, include the ability for guest checkout, one-click login for past customers and the ability to log in using social media credentials. Integrate touch controls into forms that result in the fastest output on a mobile device. For example, incremental selectors (using + and – signs) are easier to operate on a mobile device than drop down menus.