In eCommerce, convenience is the name of the game — and merchants are making it easier for consumers to make the decision to check out. Free shipping, product ratings and reviews, and live sites help can all give consumers the confidence they need to hit the “buy” button and make a purchase from a retailer’s desktop website, mobile website or mobile app. And, according to the PYMNTS Checkout Conversion Index, the share of eCommerce sites offering some of these features has been on the rise.
Merchants who offer live site help, for instance, have increased from 67.1 percent in the third quarter of last year to 81.5 percent in the second quarter of this year. Amid this trend, and increased interest in other offerings, merchants like Target are expanding free shipping offerings as IKEA is rolling out credit cards rewards and eBay is highlighting a price guarantee. At the same time, companies like IAmBot are providing the technological backbone for live site help as True Fit helps provide product recommendations to help shoppers with their purchasing decisions. These offerings, among others, come as merchants (and software companies) are looking to enhance the checkout experience for consumers — and drive conversions:
Just over eight in ten merchants — or 81.5 percent — had implemented site help live in the second quarter. IAmBot, for instance, allows continuous communication that can cross over to other devices so customers don’t lose access to a chat window. Through the feature, customers can ask retailers common questions such as if a product comes in a different color or if an item is in stock. IAmBot Co-founder and CEO Pawel Kolacz told PYMNTS.com in an April interview, “Those simple queries we can automate.” But, in the event of a more complex question, the technology can send the question to a human representative. And those agents have help from the platform, which provides them with possible answers based on a knowledge base or frequently asked question (FAQ) section.
Just over seven in 10 merchants — or 72.5 percent — had implemented free shipping in the second quarter. In May, news surfaced that Target was lowering the price of its Target Restock program from $4.99 to $2.99 per order and making the service free for Target REDcard purchases. The changes comes as the service has been expanding to reach additional U.S. customers. Target Senior Vice President of Digital Dawn Block said in a statement at the time, “Our guests love the speed and convenience of the service. And now that Target Restock is an even better value, we think the service will become increasingly popular.” At the time, the program allowed consumers to buy 35,000 household items, such as paper towels or snacks. The news came about a year after the retailer opened up testing of this service to Minneapolis area REDcard customers.
Approximately one-fourth of merchants — or 27.8 percent — had implemented rewards in the second quarter. In May, for instance, news surfaced that IKEA was rolling out its own branded credit card. The new Visa card was to offer 5 percent in rewards for IKEA purchases, including kitchen installation and assembly services. But cardholders must use their rewards toward IKEA purchases. Yet IKEA offered some perks such as free standard shipping for purchases made within IKEA stores until the end of August if they use the card. The card, which was in the works for about two years, was issued through Comenity Bank, and IKEA partnered with Alliance Data to create the card.
About half — or 48.2 percent — of merchants had implemented a guarantee or refund in the second quarter. Earlier this year, for instance, eBay highlighted a new Best Price Guarantee service in a press release. With the guarantee, eBay will give customers 110 percent off the price difference for eligible Top Products and Deals if they find a product listed for a lower price on the website of a competitor. The feature was highlighted in a press release for deals that would be offered across a host of categories starting the week of July 16, which came amid Amazon’s upcoming Prime Day at the time. In a press release, eBay’s senior vice president of the Americas Scott Cutler noted, “eBay has everything you need this season, and no one else can match eBay’s variety and value, which fuel our shoppers’ passions with deep discounts on the latest must-have items.”
About two-thirds — or 67.5 percent — of merchants had implemented product ratings, reviews or recommendations in the second quarter. To help consumers purchase clothes that actually fit, True Fit created a platform to help match data from attire that shoppers already own with potential future purchases. The technology takes in 100 or more data points from major brands. Then, the technology taps into consumers’ purchase histories and machine learning to recommend clothes. In addition, True Fit offers personalized recommendations for footwear and apparel. That recommendation engine was being offered up through application programming interface (API), which a recent funding round would further develop to help retailers “better personalize all touchpoints of the consumer journey.”
With the growth of features that encourage checkout conversions, merchants are also taking another approach to reaching shoppers: they have a growing interest in optimizing their mobile sites. The move comes as consumers are looking to browse and buy items on mobile sites — instead of turning to mobile apps when they decide to shop online.