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How to build a checkout experience that converts


Today’s consumers have more choices than ever as to where and how they shop. And in the pursuit of ecommerce success, merchants must ensure they’re meeting the unique and continually evolving needs of their customers to create experiences that convert. 

In the fourth and final installment of our LinkedIn Live mini-series, I spoke with Bradley Riss, our Chief Commercial Officer, about what matters most to consumers at the checkout, how personalizing the experience can derive significant revenue uplift, and the emerging trends to watch.

Meeting consumers where they want to be met

Several decades ago, it was relatively straightforward for merchants to know where consumers would engage with their brand. "It was in-store or over the phone," says Riss. 

"The emergence of the internet changed that by opening up a whole new channel of commerce," he adds. "And the innovations built on top of the internet have opened up further channels. It's therefore crucial for merchants to have a clear understanding of the many different ways consumers can interact with their brand." 

This means understanding what devices consumers use to interact with your brand and optimizing the experience on those at an elementary level. Areas to consider include ensuring the checkout is optimized for different browsers and screen sizes, minimizing the clicks required to make a purchase, and reducing load times.

But these are very much table stakes. Riss believes merchants need to go deeper to cultivate the experience consumers seek.

Mobile commerce is a prime example. As Riss points out, when consumers are shopping on mobile, there are many different ways they can achieve their objectives and make a purchase. "They might use the web browser, a dedicated mobile app or third-party channels like the social media networks," he says. "These are very different channels that present merchants with unique opportunities and challenges. The task is to be able to understand where your customers spend their time, meet them in these locations and cultivate an end-to-end experience that converts."  

Building payment seamlessly the in the brand experience

No matter how consumers engage with your brand, crafting a checkout experience that converts is all about having a deep understanding of your customers. 

At a base level, this means localizing your checkout to allow consumers to pay in their preferred currency and using their favored payment methods. Our research with Oxford Economics revealed that 56% of consumers said that if they couldn’t use their payment method of choice, it would permanently put them off shopping on a site.

While checkout localization is, of course, the key to success, Riss explains that there is a need for merchants to go deeper, considering the different macro and micro factors in each market to determine the optimal checkout flow.  He uses Saudi Arabia specifically as an example to illustrate this. 

While checkout localization is, of course, the key to success, Riss explains that there is a need for merchants to go deeper, considering the different macro and micro factors in each market to determine the optimal checkout flow.  He uses Saudi Arabia specifically as an example to illustrate this. 

"In Saudi Arabia, the local card scheme, mada, is used by the majority of consumers," says Riss. "It's a payment option that merchants must offer if they’re to be successful there." But that's not all merchants need to consider. "Saudi Arabia has a very young population and most people own an iPhone," adds Riss. "Then also consider that the local regulators now mandate Strong Customer Authentication (SCA)."

When these various factors are understood in the round, it becomes apparent that combining mada cards with Apple Pay will be an extremely effective approach for merchants looking to capture the consumer market in Saudi Arabia. "It ticks all the boxes," says Riss. "It allows consumers to use the payment methods they prefer and also creates a frictionless SCA experience. The alternative option is to use cards and channel the payment through the 3DSecure protocols, which will inevitably create more friction and increase the potential for cart abandonment." 

This shows that you have to go deep, look laterally and think creatively to crack the nut of optimized, localized payments. "It's not just about offering the preferred payment method in the market; it's about linking payments to the right channels and mechanisms to enable the best checkout experience," says Riss.

Improve and adapt

The job is never done when it comes to finessing your checkout experience. Technology, regulation, and consumer preferences are evolving at speed. Riss highlights several trends that may seem like a novelty today but are likely to become commonplace tomorrow. 

First, he highlights the growth in connected devices and how they might impact how consumers interact and buy from brands. "It's possible to order your week's shopping using your voice while your Tesla drives you to work," says Riss. "Not many people do this today, but it could be the norm in a few years. And that's a new experience that merchants need to build a checkout flow for." The convergence of the offline and online worlds through stores like Amazon Go is another such example.   

Riss also highlights the development of lifestyle super-apps as "one of the most interesting developments that is perhaps flying under the radar in terms of the impact, particularly if we look outside of China and Southeast Asia."

Using a single app on your smartphone to collate multiple apps is similar to how WeChat in China is a messaging app, a marketplace and a payment service. This a new channel and ecosystem, which merchants need to interact with, says Riss.

Consolidating apps for a consistent, native in-app experience is quick, easy and convenient for customers, driving their confidence to shop. And while commentators speculate about the degree to which super-apps ever could take off in the west in the way they have done in China, Riss points to PSD2 and open banking as clear regulatory openings for precisely this kind of innovation, at least in Europe. 

"In payments and ecommerce, we exist in a world of constant evolution,” says Riss. “You may not see regular revolutions, but change is always afoot. Allowing your business to be at the forefront of new and emerging trends, so you can meet your customer wherever they want to interact with you, is what creates a competitive advantage,” he concludes.

About the Author

Julie Scrase is Editorial Lead at, responsible for leading flagship research and editorial projects that demystify the world of fintech, payments, ecommerce and crypto. Before joining, Julie worked as a Senior Content Editor at the FT across its Banking and Finance portfolio, led the Strategic Projects team at EI and was also a Senior Researcher and Producer at the Association of Corporate Treasurers.

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