Once asked what kept him together with collaborator Keith Richards through the years, Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger famously replied, “Friction, baby.” What works for rock n’ roll doesn’t always convert to payments, however. A certain amount of friction is necessary in transactions, but the band is narrowing. It’s especially so with cross-border Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) payments.
Surveying 266 leading eCommerce sites across 31 countries and 12 segments, and focusing on 41 features that enhance consumers’ online purchasing experiences, PYMNTS’ June 2020 Cross-Border Merchant Friction Index, done in partnership with FastSpring, examined checkout processes for unwanted friction encountered by consumers making purchases on eCommerce sites worldwide. Key friction points emerged that provide a solid roadmap for mitigation.
“Finding digital products and services may be easier than ever, but paying for them can be a friction-laden experience, according to the June Index. “Transacting with merchants abroad often requires a great deal of translation for both languages and currencies. It also requires that all payments comply with know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) requirements.”
The June Cross-Border Merchant Friction Index provides answers about lessening risky friction, with use cases illuminating methods of the top-performers in seamless cross-border payments.
Ways of the Cross-Border Jedi
Evaluating hundreds of international eCommerce sites, PYMNTS researchers calculate that top-performers (the 20 highest scores) “… have checkout processes that take an average of just 98.6 seconds to complete. This is almost half the time it took to complete checkouts with bottom-performing merchants — those with the 20 lowest scores — which averaged 195.9 seconds.”
Cart abandonment is a game of seconds, as we know, but the new findings point to an inescapable truth about speed in payments: it always wins. “Speedy checkout times tend to go hand in hand with merchants’ ability to identify individual customers, with every top performer in our sample supporting some type of Internet Protocol (IP) address recognition,” the Index states. “This compares to half of middle performers and only 5 percent of bottom performers that use IP recognition features to streamline their checkout processes.”
Scores vary by vertical, with some software sales categories outperforming others. Security and utility sites, for example, tend to rank better for smooth checkout, averaging 67.8 scores.
“Several features are key in enabling security and utility sites to provide the seamless checkout experiences other segments are often lacking, including tracking their customers’ locations and offering localized experiences, allowing customers to provide feedback on their purchasing experiences and offering guarantee or refund policies,” the Cross-Border Merchant Friction Index found. “Our research shows that 78.9 percent of security and utility sites use IP recognition technology to streamline their checkouts, for example,” compared to the relatively low-scoring experience generally provided by ebook merchants.
“We also found that 47.4 percent of security and utility sites allow customers to provide feedback on their shopping experiences and 63.2 percent provided guarantee or refund policies.” For eBook sites it was 17.4 percent and 21.7 percent, respectively, by contrast.
B2B sites came off rather well versus their B2C opposite numbers, with a few points separating average top performers in each domain. “Our analysis also finds that it takes slightly longer to complete transactions on B2C sites than on B2B ones,” the Index states, in a somewhat surprising statistic. “Consumers take an average of 135.9 seconds and 18.3 clicks to make purchases from B2C merchants, compared to 125.4 seconds and 16.8 clicks for B2B merchants.”
Payments choice, IP recognition, refund guarantees and stored profiles all contribute to more seamless cross-border eCommerce payments. But they work best as a unified solution.
A truly competitive digital presence requires a holistic approach to building sites and digital checkout processes, the June Index concludes.
“Simply adding new payment options or supporting a few new languages will not go far in enhancing online checkouts, and merchants must ensure that the features in which they invest support smooth overall experiences. This can be accomplished by providing features that personalize customers’ experiences with familiar payment methods and languages as well as offering those that inspire trust — such as guarantee or refund policies — and allow for expedient, frictionless transactions.”