Anticipation is high as businesses look to experience their first holiday shopping season in the midst of a global pandemic. There’s been a marked shift to shopping online and omnichannel retail experiences since the pandemic took hold and these channels will continue to be the most important touchpoints with consumers this holiday shopping season. In fact, ecommerce is forecasted to surge to 35% of total retail sales, a 25% increase over last year.

According to a Salesforce consumer research study, nearly half of global shoppers are more interested in holiday shopping online this year over last year. That’s not the only digital channel expected to increase. Thirty-seven percent of consumers expressed more interest in shopping in-app; 32% said they would be more likely to shop online and pick up in-store and 22% said they would shop for the holidays via social media. Since early this year, businesses worldwide have been responding to new consumer shopping preferences that prioritize health and safety by enabling no-contact commerce. From offering online and mobile ordering to in-app purchasing, subscription services, and buy online, pick up in-store, businesses have had to shift quickly and allocate resources to digital and omnichannel commerce.

Operating a digital-first commerce strategy will help businesses be more successful at garnering sales this holiday season, especially as in-store holiday shopping is predicted to decline by as much as 25%, according to ShopperTrak. However, just having these channels up and running may not be enough during a time when competition for sales is at an all-time high.

Businesses will compete better in the critical holidays months by focusing on creating frictionless payment experiences for their customers. Why? Because only about 3 in 10 customers actually complete an online sale after it’s been initiated. The other 7 in 10 change their mind before completing the purchase, meaning the sale is lost. Creating less friction in the payment process can help businesses exceed this benchmark.

Frictionless Payments To Fuel Holiday Sales

Offer the right payments mix

It’s no longer enough to just offer the tried-and-true payment methods of debit and credit cards, especially now during the coronavirus pandemic. Your customers are using several payment methods to make purchases and it’s all based on their preferences. From digital wallets to contactless transactions and installment payment options, consumers have more choices to select from than ever. And they go with what best suits their individual needs.

Understanding customer payment trends can help businesses anticipate and prepare for changes in their customer preferences. For example, according to a payment study by Deloitte Insights referencing research from Statista, the value of digital transactions globally reached $4.1 trillion USD in 2019 which is expected to grow by a compounded annual growth rate of about 13 percent over the next four years. This trend means your customer’s preference is shifting to digital methods and you need to be ready.

Couple research with your own data and analytics to see how your specific customers are transacting will help you offer the right payment mix.

Make checkout navigation easy and add a progress indicator

It used to be that to complete an online sale, your customers would have to stumble through multiple inefficient steps to submit their payment information to make a purchase. Not anymore. Shopping carts have gotten more effective at acquiring the information you need without making it burdensome on the customer. To this end, only ask for what is needed to get a positive purchase confirmation. And make sure to be clear about the steps in the process with a visual indicator to signal how much progress in the payment process your customer has made.

Implement card storage

If you’re not asking your customers if they want you to pre-populate their payment details for them, then think about implementing card storage. Card storage is when you autofill your customer’s payment details into the appropriate required fields of your ecommerce site. This feature cuts down the time your customer has to spend typing in their information. Applying this feature overcomes another obstacle to successfully checking out.

Automatically update card information

Allowing your customers to place their card on file with your ecommerce site is a great way to make the payment process quick and painless. Cards have an expiration date and your customers are not going to remember to update you when the expiration date has occurred. That’s why it’s important to use Account Updater services. Each of the card brands offers these services and your payments provider can extend these benefits to you so that when your customers’ account information changes, the new card information will automatically update. And you get to keep making sales.

Brand your checkout

It’s easy to forget to brand your checkout, especially when it isn’t hosted by you directly. It can feel disjointed when a customer goes from the ecommerce shopping experience to the payments page. You should create as close to the same branded experience across the entire ecommerce site as possible. Have your logo on the payment page and carry through your brand look and feel so your customers are confident they are buying from your trusted business.

Offer guest checkout

The fewer number of steps your customers have to take to make a purchase, the better, so requiring them to sign in before they can complete a purchase adds another potentially inconvenient step to the process. A study found that 28% of customers abandoned checkout if they were asked to register for an account to complete the purchase. Always give your customers the option to complete their purchase with a guest checkout to remove this barrier.

Provide one-click shopping

If your customers do opt to create an account with you, you can extend the benefit of one-click shopping. One-click shopping refers to the action of quickly taking your customers from the shopping cart to a successful purchase in just one click. It’s executed by storing their payment and personal details with you in their account. When they’re ready to make a purchase, all they have to do is click a “buy-in-one-click” button.

Remember their purchase history

Businesses that track their customer’s buying history are at a great advantage to encourage repeat purchases. Once you know what your customers buy from you, you can curate a personalized experience just for them. You can offer similar products that complement their purchase or suggest they buy that same product again, send coupons to say thank you, provide exclusive first-looks and the list goes on. A powerful reporting tool like Global Payments Merchant Portal can help you unlock the customer data to create an even better experience and keep them coming back.

Think mobile first

Mobile commerce (mcommerce) is a bigger proportion of ecommerce sales than ever. At $314 billion of sales projected for the year, mcommerce represents 44% of all ecommerce sales. To best capture mcommerce sales, building your mobile site and checkout with a mobile-first mindset is critical. Responsive design can help you optimize your website for a smaller screen, but that’s only the start.

Mobile-first optimizations include keeping the navigation simple, reducing the amount of content on any one page and increasing your mobile site’s speed. These are all important factors for encouraging your customers to shop with you via your mobile channel.

At checkout, simplify form fields, keep them short and straightforward and eliminate any other distractions from the page. When customers are filling out a form, they shouldn’t see anything else. When they’re ready to click “buy”, the button should be easy to see and clickable from any part of the button. Additionally, avoid putting other calls to action nearby. The buy button should be prominent and encourage that customer to complete their purchase.

Leverage leading authentication and instill trust through security

3D Secure or 3DS is the umbrella name for each of the card schemes’ branded online payment authentication solutions: Visa Secure, Mastercard Identity Check, American Express Safekey, J/Secure for JCB and ProtectBuy for Discover and Diners International. It is an authentication protocol that was designed to reduce fraud, increase customer security and decrease merchant liability to chargebacks.

An advanced version of 3D Secure is now available called 3D Secure 2 (3DS2), which was developed to meet the frictionless expectations of the modern payments environment. Enabling 3D Secure 2 in your business is an extra layer of protection. Not only is it a nice to have, now it’s the only card authentication method that meets the European Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) regulation.

Ensuring your security measures are top-notch helps you build trust in your brand. Here’s how to reinforce that with your customers:

  • Display trust logos of verified financial brands like those of Visa, Mastercard, American Express, PayPal and WeChat Pay at your checkout and throughout your website.
  • Communicate that your business is PCI compliant at checkout with the PCI-DSS trust logo.
  • Explain why you’re asking your customers to verify their payment information with 3D Secure 2.
  • Represent your SSL certificate with a lock in the URL bar of the browser.

Use these ideas to smooth out any friction in your digital commerce channels so you can delight your customers and increase sales this holiday shopping season.