Being an e-commerce customer may be standard for most people today but being an e-commerce seller can still sound a bit daunting to some. This is especially true when it comes to things related to online security for payment transactions such as PCI compliance, SSL security and the like. Whether you have an existing e-commerce website or are considering creating one, there are a few things that you must offer in order to ensure that customers feel confident purchasing from you during the checkout process. You should consider your checkout process as important in the overall selling as any of your product pages or your home page. Following are three things you can do to make your checkout pages work their best for you.
1. Keep Customers on your Site to Pay
Many small business owners start their sites with only the most basic payment options in place for customers in order to keep their requirements to a minimum or use another service that takes customers away from their site to pay. I am a seasoned online shopper and have seen this many times yet every time I am taken away from a site to another interface to pay, it makes me hesitate and consider whether or not I want to proceed—especially if the site I am purchasing on is new to me. And, yes, there have been times when I have actually halted my purchase with that store.
Giving your customers any chance to reconsider their purchase with you is like giving up at the finish line and letting others pass you by. When you have customers in the midst of the active buying phase—that means they have taken the time to select a product, put it in the cart and are now wanting to pay—you should never disrupt that flow.
Keeping customers on your site for the entire checkout process is possible in most any platform. WordPress, for example, offers a wide variety of themes and there can be ways within those to easily provide the proper security, PCI compliance and other features necessary to offer your customers an easy way to buy online from you.
2. Offer Multiple Ways to Pay
Shoppers, whether online or at a physical store, want choice. This extends into many areas of the buying process from beginning to end. Choice of product type, choice of product feature, choice of where and how to navigate a store and, yes, choice of how to pay are all important to today’s online shopper. Being forced into only one payment option feels restrictive to your customers and can give the impression that you are not a “full-fledged” operation. You need to put your best foot forward and that includes making yourself customer friendly for payments. Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal as a minimum should all be accepted payment options on your website.
I was recently on a site where I was about to purchase and noticed that the only way to purchase was via Paypal. Fortunately for that site, I am very comfortable using Paypal and I did complete my transaction but I still did not completely like it. Sometimes I like the convenience of paying via Paypal because I do not have to get my wallet out and enter my card number (if it is a site where I do not have my information stored). However, other times, I prefer to pay via my debit card because the transaction can go through my bank account faster than via Paypal. I admit to changing my mind on which option I prefer and that is the point—I like to have the choice.
3. Allow Easy Guest Checkout
Never force people to register with you. Similarly, do not “hide” the option to checkout as a guest but make it even more prominent than your request for them to register with you. Registration should be seen as an option and something they choose, not that is required of them. This is really similar in some way to offering choice in how to pay. You must be mindful to guide people through the steps you want them to take (yes, you are trying to get them to do something specific—to buy) but you never want to make them feel like they have surrendered their independence to you. Let them choose how to pay you, let them choose to register or checkout as a guest. They will be much happier—and more likely to return to your site.
Optimizing your online checkout really encompasses many things but these three are some of the most important ones. If you are unsure of how to put any of these in place for your site, it is worth your time to get the proper advice and help from experts that have the know-how or technology to do this. Your sales will be your reward.
Lauren Hill is a contributing author for Sydcon, a Chicago based web development company.