Stripe has launched Stripe Elements, a set of tools that helps digital merchants build a smoother and more streamlined checkout process for their customers.
According to Lachy Groom, head of payments for Stripe, Elements is a way for its digital merchants to achieve more mobile checkout conversions with two-thirds less coding work than would be typically needed to create such an experience.
The reality is that the numbers — whether you take them from the PYMNTS Checkout Conversion Index of merchants that account for 70 percent of non-Amazon online sales or from Stripe’s quick survey of the top 100 eCommerce sites globally — tell the same sad story about lost opportunity when consumers are shopping online, particularly when using a mobile device. Everything’s going well — until the customer hits the checkout and is faced with a wall of friction. The checkout process becomes a wipeout, and the customer moves on.
According to the last published PYMNTS Checkout Conversion Index, the benchmark across the 700 eCommerce sites that we analyze, the average Index score for a merchant (out of 100 possible points ) is a 56 — also known as an “F” on any standard grading scale.
Solving that problem, Groom noted, is subtle and harder than it appears — online merchants are not hostile to conversions and obviously want good, smooth checkout flows.
But wanting it and being able to access it are two wholly different things.
The goal of Elements, Groom said, is essentially to make the space between those two concepts much narrower.
Reducing Spaghetti Code
“Six years ago, someone may have made the world’s most perfect payment flow,” Groom said, “but unless they had a very strong commitment to keeping it perfect, it didn’t stay that way — the system needs to be constantly improving and evolving, while also staying seamless. ”
The challenge, Groom said, is that merchants aren’t actually in the business of maintaining perfect payments flows — they are in the business of selling goods and services — and so asking a merchant to build and maintain those perfect payments flows is like asking them to “build a state-of-the-art checkout experience on quicksand.”
The result, he said, is layers of “spaghetti code” to incorporate new checkout innovations, including the acceptance of all of the “Pays” at checkout as they are introduced — often at the expense of best practices to maximize conversion at checkout.
“We have seen so many checkout processes that repeat the same mistakes over and over,” Groom noted. “We wanted to make best practices a codified part of the landscape.”
The basic premise around Elements is to give merchants a way to build a better checkout — without having to use a single, one-size-fits-all product solution.
Groom said that Elements takes a variety of “best practice” user interface (UI) components and turns them into individual building blocks that optimize checkout for mobile devices, including optimizing payments for mobile devices, alternative payments methods or localized payments, real-time validation of card data and autofill.
Elements “blocks” can be configured by the merchant in a number of ways in a matter of minutes, while keeping all of the core payment functionality with Stripe.
“Unfortunately, designing a customized purchase experience that minimizes friction has traditionally been a resource-intensive process fraught with complexity,” Jordan McKee, a principal analyst at 451 Research, commented. “With Elements, Stripe looks to break this paradigm by democratizing access to a fast, customizable and fully PCI compliant checkout flow with minimal implementation effort.”
When battle-tested, Groom said, merchants like their partner Wish see higher mobile checkout conversions.
Elements is available to all Stripe merchants globally, Groom emphasized, just in time for the holiday shopping rush.