By far, one of the most important things for you to understand about payment processing is that a customer's needs online will be very different compared to if that same customer was shopping in a store.
Think about it like this: someone shopping in-store has already made a significant investment of their time and effort. They got in their car, drove to the store, selected their items, and are now at the cash register. They're at the finish line, which means a surly salesperson or generally bad payment processing experience isn't going to stop them. It might get them to think twice about coming back, but it would have to be an exceptionally bad experience to get them to put their items back and leave empty-handed.
You can already see how this is absolutely not true of online shopping.
If the online checkout experience isn't every bit as straightforward as someone hoped it would be, there's very little stopping them from hitting the "back" button in their browser and never, ever returning. Customers are especially likely to abandon their cart if the overall user experience is poor - meaning that they're not quite sure what they should be clicking on for secure payment, or if the entire process requires far more steps than it logically should.
Therefore, if you truly want to improve the online payment user experience, the solution is clear: you need to make payments as easy as possible for both vendors and customers alike. Getting to this point isn't necessarily difficult, but it does require you to keep a few key things in mind.
The Art of the User-Centered Checkout Experience: Breaking Things Down
One of the major drawbacks of most online payment methods for small businesses is that they emphasize the experience of the wrong person. Far too many checkout experiences are designed around what the small business needs when they really should be putting a priority on the most important element of all: the customers.
A significant fear for a lot of online shoppers these days is fraud. They're hesitant to provide personal data online because they fear being taken advantage of. They fear that they're just one wrong move away from someone with bad intentions being able to save their payment information and use it somewhere else.
This is one of those areas where a poor online checkout experience can hurt you (beyond just being frustrating to use) - people will be searching your checkout pages for some sense of security and if your checkout experience isn't user-centered, the chances are high that you're NOT giving it to them.
Therefore, you need to show them all relevant licenses on a checkout page. At any given moment, they should never be more than a few quick clicks away from seeing what type of security you're using and how that is designed to protect them. Stop thinking like a business - of course, YOU know that you want to take care of sensitive customer data - and start thinking like the consumers themselves.
But even going beyond the security factor, there are other ways to create a more customer-centric checkout experience, too. For a moment, put yourself in their shoes and walk through your own checkout process. While you do, consider the answers to the following questions:
- Is making a purchase easy, or does it feel like customers have to go through a lot of unnecessary steps just to get to the payment screen?
- What options am I giving my customers to make their payment online?
- Are customers being engaged at every available contact point, or am I slowly losing their attention every time I require them to click "next"?
If you took a look at some of the most satisfying payment experiences online, they are all A) purposely simple experiences, that B) consistently engage your customers, to C) drive greater e-adoption rates across the board. Any step that takes away from one of those three goals is a step you need to carefully examine and eliminate from your current process.
Staying Ahead of User Expectations Means Staying Ahead of Competitors
Really, the key to a better credit card payment processing experience involves first setting realistic expectations for your customer and then exceeding them every opportunity you have to do so.
In addition to creating the seamless and convenient customer-focused experience outlined above, this also means offering online credit card processing that works as quickly as possible, too. Never forget that about 9.6% of all of your site visitors will leave your page if any portion of it takes longer than two seconds to load.
This also means providing the right information that people are looking for in the most appealing way possible. This is similar in concept to offering the security-related information as outlined above. If you know someone has a question, it's in your best interest to answer it before they have a chance to ask it. They shouldn't have to go out of their way to figure out how to change their shipping address or to see what shipping prices will be based on what method they've selected. All of that information should be available at their fingertips - to the point where they don't have to wonder about it at all.
Likewise, never forget that the online shopping experience is about variety - you're not simply trying to take a big box store and put it online. Instead, you're trying to create a totally unique and versatile experience that a big box store could never match; how you handle payment is a big part of that.
Rather than just allowing for debit or credit cards as a form of payment, for example, allow other methods like eCheck, PayPal, Apple Pay, Venmo, and more. Go out of your way to support the payment methods people want to use - don't force them into a "one size fits all" box for YOUR convenience.
Likewise, some people don't actually want to give you a lot of personal identifying information at all just to make a purchase. That's okay - offering a guest checkout experience is a way to get around that. That way, people can still make the purchase they want and they don't have to worry about getting automatically signed up for your email list or you maintaining a lengthy purchase history about them.
Finally, stop sending people to other websites to pay - this is just yet another opportunity for someone to start thinking about how secure the whole experience is. Absolutely everything - from item selection to inputting payment methods, to payment confirmation - should happen from the same browser window.
If you're able to accomplish all of this, you'll have done more than just create a better and more versatile online payment processing experience for your customers. You'll have immediately separated yourself from your competitors in a way that breeds a tremendous amount of customer loyalty at the same time. That's an excellent position for any small business owner to be in, regardless of industry.
The BankCard Services Approach
At BankCard Services, we've always taken a great deal of pride in the fact that our solutions offer unparalleled adaptability - meaning that it provides you with everything you need to work in conjunction with the technologies you're already using, putting you in an excellent position to grow your business at the exact same time.
It doesn't matter what type of business you're running or even the industry you're operating in - At BankCard, we bring together everything your website or application will need to accept payments; whether that’s payments for online and in-person retailers, subscriptions businesses, software platforms and marketplaces, and everything in between. We offer payment solutions as unique as your business— all on a single platform. If your business or industry is considered to be a High-Risk merchant account, BankCard has you covered with our high-risk payment gateway and direct network of 20+ domestic and offshore banks and PSP's.
What you're left with is a perfect storm in the best possible way: not only do you get to meaningfully improve the online payment user experience for your customers, but you do so in a way that saves a great deal of money by bringing these systems together to act as a singular unit that is far more efficient than anyone of them could be on their own.
So if you'd like to find out more about how to improve the online payment user experience by making payments easy for vendors and customers alike, or if you'd just like to complete the pre-approval process so that you can start processing payments more effectively right away, please don't delay - contact BankCard Services today.
Mickael is an entrepreneur and the Co-founder of Bankcard Services. He is a family man and loves technology, innovation, and soccer.