For anyone who has tried to check out online via a mobile device, the fact that friction abounds does not really come as much of a surprise. But one of the key takeaways from the latest edition of the PYMNTS.com Checkout Conversion Index (CCI), a collaboration with BlueSnap, that should have come as a surprise, didn’t, at least to BlueSnap CEO Ralph Dangelmaier.
Online merchants’ checkout conversion rates on mobile devices declined overall by 3.1 percent from the previous quarter.
Dangelmaier tells MPD CEO Karen Webster that those numbers, in fact, “really don’t surprise [him] at all.”
Dangelmaier says that it’s his experience, in dealing with merchants on a daily basis, that “merchants do not completely understand the concept of checkout conversion or checkout abandonment,” which he defines as the inability of a shopper to get all way to end of the buying experience and enter payment information and actually make the purchase. “Converting from a shopper to a buyer,” Dangelmaier says.
What did surprise Dangelmaier in the most recent CCI, on the other hand, was the finding that merchant size doesn’t really matter: “a million-dollar one and a hundred-dollar one,” he noted with some deliberate exaggeration, “are likely to be having the same problems at checkout.”
Those problems, at least according to Dangelmaier and his experience in working with merchants, and confirmed by the latest CCI, come in five flavors:
1. Time to Checkout
Online time to checkout “is much higher” than it once was, observes Dangelmaier, and he believes that this is mainly related to using the mobile phone checkout. “[More] people shopping on their phones are also buying on them,” he remarks, “and many sites are not optimized to be frictionless for those phone checkouts.”
2. Lack of Local Payment Types
Less than half of the merchants analyzed in the latest CCI offer what are known as “local payment types” — things that are native to the country of the shopper’s origin like iDEAL, and Alipay — and even PayPal in their checkout processes. Dangelmaier attests that greatly limits a consumer’s ability to complete a transaction to their preference.
3. Subscription Issues
While about one quarter of the merchants that are part of the CCI study – 657 merchants that represent roughly 75 percent of eCommerce volume in the U.S. - offer some type of subscription services to their consumers, Dangelmaier has found that almost all of the merchants that BlueSnap speaks to “want to embed some kind of subscription philosophy into their checkout [process].” But, there’s obviously a wide gap, there, that needs to be addressed.
4. Advertising — But Not Offering — Coupons
Almost all of the merchants in the CCI tell consumers that they can find coupons on their site — but only about two-thirds of them actually offer them at checkout. Obviously, notes Dangelmaier, that apparent bait-and-switch is “going to create abandonment in the checkout,” not to mention a lack of trust in that merchant.
5. Maybe Failover, Maybe Not
Although about one quarter of the merchants in the CCI thought that their processor provided a “failover” — i.e., allowing for retries of card transactions that don’t go through initially — most of them didn’t know for sure, either way. “I thought that was sort of shocking,” says Dangelmaier.
Beyond those five key issues, the latest edition of the CCI also surfaced a number of checkout elements that merchants didn’t think mattered — but in fact very much do to the consumer. One example that Dangelmaier points to is confidence, something that merchants can install by implementing a chat feature, putting security logos on their sites, and not redirecting online shoppers.
As Webster observes, mobile wallets are a very big topic of conversation in payments right now, but the focus has largely been on their application in-store — which might be a distraction for merchants given that mobile wallets are actually much less problematic in-store than they are online, and particularly with mobile.
In Dangelmaier’s assessment, online merchants are getting wise to that reality and are therefore starting to pay more attention to how to integrate mobile wallets into their checkout experience to make it faster and easier.
The reason why merchants are doing so, says Dangelmaier, is that “they're really trying to understand how the wallet will be used in an eCommerce site. They all sort of ‘get it’ from a point-of-sale perspective, but less so in an eCommerce view. And they're confused about the differences between what “Visa, MasterCard, Google, Apple Pay and American Express offer — when to support what.”
This confusion, Dangelmaier goes on to explain, stems from a widely held misunderstanding among merchants that mobile wallets are going to be confusing for the shopper — while the truth of the matter, by and large, is that they actually make the experience for the shopper much easier.
“There's a lot of industry education needed,” adds Dangelmaier.
Dangelmaier said that one of the reasons that he and his team developed the Checkout Conversion Calculator is to give merchants a chance to input a few pieces of readily available data into it, answer about a dozen questions and in seven or eight minutes total, calculate their own conversion scores – that they can then compare to others in their category.
Most merchants that BlueSnap has guided through the Checkout Conversion Calculator have scored at or below the average, something that Dangelmaier says has surprised the merchants quite a bit.
“A lot of times, when we're meeting with a merchant,” Dangelmaier tells Webster, “we’ll actually walk through the questions that they've answered, what the problems are ... and most of them say, "I didn't really know that mattered … Wow, that's really important. How do we get training on these kinds of things?”
As both Webster and Dangelmaier glean from the results of the latest CCI, checkout conversion — particularly as it pertains to mobile — is not an easy thing for merchants to wrap their heads around, as the process contains a great deal of variables. Some of those factors are fairly easy to fix, while others require more thought and perhaps even further integration on their end.
What’s important for merchants to keep in mind moving forward, says Dangelmaier, is that the Checkout Conversion Index — like most indexes — moves based on market conditions.
It’s not just a “set and forget” application, in that sense. On the contrary, Dangelmaier urges merchants to continually evolve their checkout process to ensure that they are optimized for “new payment types, new fraud rules, maybe new products that [they’re] selling.”
“Trying to just set something and forget it,” he concludes, “generally means that your conversions will start to decrease over time.”
The complete report findings along with data-driven insights about how to improve mobile checkout conversion can be found here.
For merchants that want to assess their current online checkout capabilities, the Checkout Conversion Calculator can be found here.