Ecommerce is booming around the world. In 2021 over 2 billion people are expected to buy goods and services online, up from 1.7 billion just five years ago. And it’s only set to grow, with forecasts suggesting the world will see $6.3 trillion of ecommerce sales by 2024.
But demand is a double-edged sword. New entrants are attracted to the market, which means increased competition. Even an established presence cannot be guaranteed forever, leaving no room for complacency. Around 80% of ecommerce merchants close their virtual doors for good each year. So, how do you make sure you are not one of them?
Success or failure is dependent on many factors. Some, like price, quality, brand kudos, and the shopping experience are well known, and well resourced. Less understood is the importance of payments. But businesses are increasingly turning their attention to the fact that a superior payment operation will be the way to secure ongoing growth. Here we look at the ways that ecommerce merchants can leverage payments to unlock growth.
1. Prioritize payment preference
Today’s digital shoppers expect to pay in the way they want; and might go somewhere else if they can’t; 56% of consumers say they have been permanently put off returning to a site because their preferred payment method was not available.
But how do you know what the right payment method is? It largely depends where you are. Cards dominate ecommerce in the U.S, accounting for 75% of transactions; but in Germany this is less than a quarter. Head to Asia and digital wallets are popular, leading the way in China, Indonesia and Thailand. It also depends who you’re selling to, with preferences varying by age and gender.
2. Make payments easy
Today’s online shoppers are looking for a seamless experience. Fifty two percent of consumers say they have been permanently put off an ecommerce site by a complex checkout. One option to make it easier for them are pre-populated forms. These save a customer from inputting all their details again, while saved payment details further reduce the effort.
Even better is to make sure that the checkout page resonates with your customers. Serving up a payment page in the wrong language or with the wrong currency is a pretty safe way of disappointing them. For example, 76% of Japanese consumers say they would not buy from a website that was not fully in Japanese throughout the payment experience.
But local sensitivities are not the only concern. A payment page that looks completely different from the site you are buying from is jarring. So too one that is not optimized for the customer’s device. Any of these factors can be enough to turn them away.
3. Improve authorization rates
Few things frustrate an online shopper more than having their payment declined when there is no good reason. In APAC, 21% of people say they would not try to buy a product again after a false decline. Worse still, 37% would go to a competitor instead.
Meanwhile, in the U.S, U.K, Germany and France, ecommerce merchants lost $20.3bn in sales in 2019 because of payments that should never have been rejected. Of this, $12.7bn went to competitors. Higher security standards means not 100% of this loss can be mitigated. But a significant amount of revenue could be salvaged by optimizing authorization rates. Merchants, however, need to have access to data in order to understand why payments are failing and make these insights.
4. Enter markets the right way: with data
With some things, merchants can ‘copy and paste’ their way into new markets. Other aspects, like payments, need a more nuanced approach. If you’re unable to navigate the local ecosystem and forge powerful partnerships, having the best product at the best price won’t matter.
You will also need to analyze your customer’s payment behaviour in a granular way so that you can have intimate localized knowledge of their payments behavior. This can help inform everything from your pricing strategy, the payment methods you promote in specific markets, and managing fraud and chargebacks.
Although payments may have been seen as an operational cost center, a good payments strategy is increasingly being used as a lever of growth. And competitive advantages can be won or lost with payments.
But therein lies the challenge for merchants. Where to start? Even if the appetite is there, few businesses have the internal resources to get to grips with these opportunities. The answer is to leave it to someone who knows how. If you have a clear idea of what you need going forward with your business, you will know what to look for in a partner that can transform payments from financial afterthought to driver of growth.