Why Startups Need to Make Payments Experience a Priority

In 2017, U.S. online retail experienced the largest year to year growth since 2011, and e-commerce represented 13 percent of total retail sales. Clearly, consumers like shopping online, and that trend is only expected to grow. And if you’re a startup, it’s absolutely vital your payment experience is user-friendly: 75 percent of startups fail, and there’s no shortage of competitors out there. You need to make sure customers come back to your site, and not flock to your competitors. Here are some tips for making the payments experience a breeze for your users and optimising your conversion rates.

Checkout Experience

A streamlined checkout experience is key to securing conversion. If a customer becomes frustrated by all the hoops they need to jump through just to buy something, they might decide it’s not worth the effort. Making this process as simple and user-friendly as possible can have a big payoff—in one study, improving navigation of an eCommerce site improved the site’s conversion rate by 18.5 percent.

  • First, remove friction by allowing customers to complete a purchase without registering. Being forced to create an account can be frustrating for customers, and is a huge cause of lost sales. But if you want both sales and account registrations, it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too. Almost all the information users need to register for an account is already collected during a transaction, so simply make it an option at checkout to add a password to create an account. Just make it clear that registering is optional, and highlight the benefits of creating an account like remembering customers payment and shipping information or allowing them to save unpurchased items.
  • Finally, ensure that your navigation is intuitive. Your customers won’t buy anything if they’re too confused to complete the transaction. Offer a progress bar so customers can see how far along they are and feel guided as they complete the checkout process.

You want to provide a streamlined, quick payment experience for your potential customers, but it’s also very important to make sure their payment information is safe.

Use tools like Address Verification System (AVS), Card Verification Value (CVV), or 3-D Secure to verify payments and prevent fraud. Consumers are generally used to entering their billing address and the three digit number on the back of their credit card, so they won’t be put off by these security measures—in fact, they’ll probably expect them.

Another good idea is to obtain secure socket layer, or SSL, certificates for certain pages. This certificate uses small data files to facilitate a secure connection from your server to a browser. Your customers might not know exactly what the “HTTPS” in their address bar stands for, but they’ll recognise the lock icon next to it. This visual cue indicates that you’ve taken steps to ensure a customer’s sensitive information is protected.


Personalisation is another great way to build a loyal customer base. Small touches, like changing the display language and currency settings based on browser locations, can make buying products that much easier for your would-be customers. Another way to make shopping on your site more personal for consumers is to remember them. Greet registered customers with a personalised “welcome back!” message using their name.

Personalisation can also be used to drive sales. You can show customers a selection of items based on their recently viewed products—35 percent of Amazon’s sales came from those kind of placements.

Great customer service is key to both boosting sales and ensuring that your customers return. In a Deloitte study, 83 percent of respondents said that they needed help at some point during their online shopping—and they wanted it fast. Of the 5,000 participants in the same study, 77 percent expected help within just five minutes. That’s not a lot of time to resolve complaints! But there are ways to offer nearly instantaneous help, like a live chat with a customer service representative or a chat bot.

A recent Business Insider review found that since 2015 people have been using the top four messaging apps (Facebook Messenger, Viber, WeChat, WhatsApp) more frequently than Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a study by Oracle found that 80 percent of businesses said they use a chat bot or were planning to use one by 2020. Known as “conversational commerce,” this kind of chat bot use is only expected to grow in the coming years.

Bots can be programmed to offer rapid customer service or troubleshooting, but the possibilities don’t stop there. For a more streamlined shopping experience, you can send order confirmation and shipping information to your customers directly through Facebook Messenger. Instead of having to log onto their account on your platform or constantly refresh their email, customers instantly receive all the information in one message on a platform they likely use multiple times every day.


The same rules apply whether you’re running a brick and mortar business or a digital one: make it easy for customers to quickly purchase what they want, take measures to keep their payment details safe, and provide top-notch customer service. Keeping payment experiences simple and intuitive is a great way to keep customers happy and coming back to your site time after time.

Published with permission from the author: Jared RonskiMerchACT Co-Founder.


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