Taking a look below the surface of conversion: focus on these hidden elements to optimize your payment experience

When a consumer makes it all the way through to the payment page, it is the result of an enormous collective effort from marketing, design, development and analytics. However, a customer who has reached the checkout has only just touched the surface when it comes to conversion.  

While the final stages of the Payment Experience may seem straightforward at first glance, once you dip below its surface, previously hidden elements start to emerge. The reality is that there are many different points that merchants must carefully navigate in order to leave a lasting positive impact on consumers and attain the valuable prize of conversion.

Taking a closer look

When most people think of the Payment Experience, they typically consider the final stages to look something like this:

However, when you go deeper, the last lap of conversion is much more complex than they might initially appear. From the moment a consumer clicks ‘Pay’ on a payment page to the moment of payment confirmation, there are a myriad of steps that must function seamlessly in order to reduce the risk of abandoned payments.

At Ingenico, we find it helpful to think of the final stages of conversion as a funnel. This Conversion Funnel contains three key pillars that merchants can act on to improve payments performance: Checkout Experience, Risk Management and Authorization.

From our perspective, a more realistic Payment Experience looks something like this:

As a merchant, it’s important to focus closely on the different elements that make up each of these pillars – and to ensure that all of the pillars operate in harmony with one another – in order to keep payments flowing steadily and maximize conversion.

We’ll guide you through each pillar in the Conversion Funnel, giving you an overview of its key parts and how they can be optimized to ensure smooth journeys as customers navigate the final stages of payment.

Checkout Experience

When a customer reaches the checkout, you should make it as quick and easy for them to complete their purchase as possible. Good design and active management of the checkout experience can have a huge impact on conversion. While there’s no single approach that will work for every site, there are some common points you should consider when you’re looking to provide customers with a friction-free experience at checkout:

  • Make the journey simple: reduce unnecessary steps and distractions.
  • Presentation matters: keep your design clean, don’t forget to optimize for mobile and maintain the same look-and-feel across all devices.
  • Offer a helping hand: use auto-complete to fill in fields for the customer and include features like address validation to reduce errors.
  • Provide the right payment options: always give customers the ability to pay in their local currency and using their preferred local payment method.

Risk Management

Every time a merchant accepts a payment, they must also take on inherent risks – the biggest of which is fraud. Determining whether a transaction is genuine or fraudulent is a difficult assessment to make, and one that requires a delicate balancing act between customer convenience and security.

You can implement the strictest controls and reduce the incidence of fraud significantly. However, doing so might lead to an increase in false positives, causing genuine buyers to have their purchases denied – which can damage your reputation and make customers turn to a competitor, not to mention leave a big dent in your bottom line.

Similarly, utilizing authentication methods like 3D Secure adds an extra layer of security to payments, but it can introduce additional steps and complexity—including requiring customers to remember yet another password—that can cause genuine customers to abandon their purchase.

Fraudsters are constantly evolving their strategies, and outsmarting them requires a multifaceted approach, as well as constant monitoring and fine-tuning of rules. What works best will depend on your unique business model, but the single most important weapon you have in the fight against fraud is data. The more information you gather and analyze on consumer behavior and payment patterns, the better you can distinguish genuine buyers from fraudsters. 

Authorization

Your authorization strategy is another behind-the-scenes element that can have a significant impact on the Payment Experience and, consequently, conversion rates.

A merchant’s local payments infrastructure has a direct influence on authorization, and it’s useful to explore both cross-border and local acquiring options. The volume of business you handle in a certain country, as well as local context and regulations will impact whether a cross-border or local acquirer is the best fit for your company.

At the same time, consider whether you need to build failover into your acquiring strategy to give you technical redundancy. This will help if your primary acquirer’s network experiences technical problems, ensuring that your consumers can still pay with their preferred card.

If you think this sounds pretty complicated, you’re not wrong. Luckily, Ingenico can help you chart a course to conversion success. We’re a trusted partner to high-performing businesses all over the world, bringing together the right expertise, technology and data to fit every company’s unique payments requirements. We take the complexity out of conversion, so you can focus on what you do best – growing your business.

Learn more about Ingenico’s ePayment solutions