The Cure For Mobile ‘Purchase Interruptus’

Merchants beware. There’s a new virus to worry about online. It’s mobile “purchase interruptus” and it’s potentially robbing merchants of 36 percent of their sales. MPD CEO Karen Webster and BlueSnap CEO Ralph Dangelmaier chatted about how much of an epidemic this is, and more importantly, how to cure it. Listen in.

There’s a virus that’s wreaking havoc with online merchants. No, not that kind of virus. But the one that struck U.S. merchants here in the U.S. on Cyber Monday when Chinese consumers visited their sites, gleefully filled their virtual shopping carts, then abandoned them at checkout because those merchants didn’t accept the form of payment they wanted to use.

The virus? Mobile’s “purchase interruptus.”

Curing mobile’s “purchase interruptus” was the topic of conversation between MPD CEO Karen Webster and BlueSnap CEO Ralph Dangelmaier on the heels of the news that the Chinese consumer has a nearly insatiable appetite for U.S. goods – and the findings of the Checkout Conversion Index that found that merchants stand to lose as much as 36 percent of sales due to friction at the mobile checkout point.

Dangelmaier reiterated that the interest in shopping cross-border was especially palpable on Black Friday (and of course, Thanksgiving which is not a holiday in China). Amazon China said its sales that day jumped fivefold and were multiples better than sales seen on Singles’ Day.  Likewise, Alipay said that purchases using U.S. retail sites were up a staggering 15-fold in the last two weeks of November versus this time a year ago.

Yet, he said, his experience is that U.S. merchants just aren’t ready to serve them.

“Some merchants do realize there is a lot of advantage [in serving the Chinese consumer] and some merchants just ignore it,” Dangelmaier said. “They do not offer Chinese localization, nor do they offer Alipay and they also require U.S. purchases to be done in local currencies and with English as the language governing the purchase. Combine all of that with transacting on a mobile device – and the result can be disastrous.”

No wonder, perhaps, so many merchants suffer from mobile “purchase interruptus.”

Dangelmaier also said that many merchants just don’t understand that, by and large, Chinese consumers cannot — or do not — get credit cards that might speed purchases or reduce friction as a means of payments, and by not offering other conduits to sales, U.S. merchants “can’t capture that consumer.”

Not an especially cheerful backdrop headed into the holiday season in earnest – and, continued Dangelmaier, Cyber Monday surpassed Black Thursday and indeed had continued with such strength that there should be a new entrant to the retailing lexicon: Cyber Week – “we have Restaurant Week, Shark Week, and so why not Cyber Week?” he quipped.

And since many consumers – just not those coming from China but using mobile devices — are also spending more than they expected coming into the holidays, that spells a boon for merchants.

“It’s not especially hard to fix this,” said Dangelmaier of the lack of effort to alleviate purchasing pain points. For starters, he said, merchants can build their websites out with APIs and hosted pages that can be optimized for online shopping based on products, countries, and where sales are originating, no matter how fluid.

Another key point, added Dangelmaier: Many merchants do not necessarily know that they have a problem, “and they need to get conversion failure data – and many don’t. But we find they are open to getting this data.”

Speaking of data, details on how friction at the mobile checkout can rob merchants of 36 percent of their sales can be found in the most current edition of the PYMNTS Checkout Conversion Index, done in collaboration with BlueSnap.