Platform Payments

Can An ‘Agnostic’ Platform Help eCommerce Merchants Make It?

Can an “agnostic” approach to platform payments help find eCommerce fortune? May’s Payments Powering Platforms Tracker™, powered by WePay, features an interview with Leo Castro, VP of online sales platform BigCommerce. He told PYMNTS that keeping the offering open to new features and partnerships has helped the company service merchants big and small. Plus, headlines on other open platforms making waves in the past month and a directory with rankings of 51 platforms in the space, inside the Tracker.

Consumers have more options than ever when it comes to shopping for the right product or solution online. While that may mean there are more avenues for merchants to sell their goods, it also makes it harder for companies to get their message in front of the right buyer.

Instead of convincing a customer to choose their products over those offered by another retailer or two, merchants must now compete with everyone from traditional brick-and-mortar stores to eCommerce warehouses like Amazon to other online and mobile shopping destinations.

And even if a business can find a way to break through the noise, it can be difficult for a company to create a path to purchase, let alone snag a repeat customer. To add to that marketing enigma — if a merchant does make it down the conversion path, if the payment process is complicated, consumers may still abandon the transaction altogether.

All in all, finding success as an online merchant today is complicated business. It’s a problem with which Leo Castro, vice president of the online sales platform BigCommerce, is all too familiar. His team works to drive consumers to a merchant’s eCommerce or social sales site, turning them into customers and, perhaps most importantly, helping merchants accept payments, thus allowing consumers to complete the checkout process, finalizing transactions quickly and simply. To execute, flexibility has been a key focus.

In a recent interview, Castro told PYMNTS that his team has worked to keep the platform “agnostic,” with the ability to work with a range of payment types, integrations, tools and merchants.

Turning Traffic into Transactions

The first step for any online retailer, Castro said, is driving awareness and, ultimately, consumer traffic to a company’s store and products.

To do that, Castro and the team at BigCommerce work with features like SEO tools, helping to direct customers searching for a specific product to a company’s site and listing products on shopping comparison sites like Google Shopping.

But while making sure more consumers actually see products is an important first step, it’s far from the whole story. Castro said that to turn a potential customer into a paying customer, a company also needs the right conversion tools, and to make the purchase as simple as possible for the consumer. In that vein, Castro said BigCommerce offers a streamlined shopping cart and checkout process that, he noted, can help lower abandoned cart rates by 15 percent and improve conversion rates by 12 percent.

“The way we think about it is a funnel approach. At the top end of the funnel, consumers and shoppers are doing Google and other searches to find goods, so we make sure it’s optimized for that,” he explained. “But once a shopper lands on the merchant’s site, we also need to have the tools to make that experience phenomenal and one they want to purchase from and return to.”

To keep the shopping and checkout process simple for consumers, BigCommerce also emphasizes an open approach to payment acceptance.

The company’s platform allows consumers to pay with as many options as possible, including mobile wallets, traditional debit and credit cards and other methods like PayPal OneTouch, which are designed to convert more customers by allowing them to complete checkout with just one click.

Castro’s team has also worked to partner with as many payment providers as possible, helping merchants simplify payments for their consumers.

“We partner with a wide variety of other folks in the payment space because we know that we aren’t necessarily the experts in payments, but we want to work with the folks that are,” he said. “We want to give our merchants and their customers choice over how they want to conduct transactions, no matter what that method is. For smaller merchants, we provide default payment processing options that we think are best for them, but we really want to be a Switzerland in the payment space and work with as many different providers as possible.”

Apps and APIs

As with payment acceptance, Castro said that BigCommerce also keeps that same invite-everyone-to-the-party mindset when working with app and API integrations.

To provide merchant clients with as many tools as possible for online success, BigCommerce’s platform is designed to work with as many app and API integrations as possible, Castro said. The company currently offers email marketing automation software from companies like HubSpot and Google, along with a range of consumer experience features and shipping app integrations.

BigCommerce has also opened some of its software and data features to its clients via APIs, allowing merchants to modify different layers of their websites, including customer log-in, shopping cart and catalog functions.

Because eCommerce merchants must balance so many different tasks, including logistics, shipping and billing, it’s crucial for platforms like BigCommerce to offer features allowing merchants to simplify their operations, Castro noted.

“We recognize we need to keep the platform open and accessible to app developers or other people who want to be able to plug in their own or additional systems,” he said. “Our focus from the product side is to enable as many different integrations and APIs as possible so merchants can have as much control as possible over their user experience.”

BigCommerce’s big takeaway? With more retail options at consumers’ fingertips than ever, finding eCommerce success in this modern age may well depend on giving consumers and merchants alike as much control over transactions as possible.

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To download the May edition of the PYMNTS Payments Powering Platforms Tracker™, powered by WePay, click the button below.

About the Tracker

The PYMNTS Payments Powering Platforms Tracker™, powered by WePay, serves as a monthly framework for the space, providing coverage of the most recent news and trends along with a provider directory highlighting the key players contributing across the segments that comprise the payments-integrated platform ecosystem. 

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