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10 tips to enhance your online payment experience

What is the online payment experience?

The online payment experience refers to the steps your customers take in order to buy your goods or services online, and the impression this process leaves on them. 

A positive online payment experience can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. A negative online payment experience does the opposite. It can leave customers feeling frustrated, lower their trust in your brand, and stop them from buying from you again. In some cases, a poor online payment experience will prevent customers from completing their payments altogether. Whereas a payment process that is quick, easy, and secure leads to more conversions and more return customers.  

Clearly, it pays to optimise the online payment experience for your customers. This requires you to put yourself in their shoes and consider the factors that matter most to them. When you do this, you’re likely to land on the following three priorities.

1. Ease of use
A well-designed online payment system has a user-friendly interface, with clear steps that leave no room for confusion. Customers should be able to access it from anywhere, on any device. 

2. Speed
In today’s fast-paced e-commerce environment, customers have little patience for multi-page checkouts and slow-loading payment systems. They should be able to select and pay for their item in minutes if not seconds. 

3. Security
Safeguarding the payment experience with security measures, such as access controls, data encryption, and bank verification does more than give your customers peace of mind; it prevents them from becoming victims of fraud. When it comes to online payments, security isn’t just a nice feature, it’s essential. 

Fortunately, there are a number of tools available to help you design an online payment experience that ticks all three boxes. Here are our top ten tips for how to set up a streamlined system for fast and easy payments without compromising security. 

Top 10 tips for enhancing the online payment experience

1. Make security a priority

Protect your customers from hacking and unauthorised transactions by implementing the following security measures:

Access controls

- Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
By requiring customers to verify their identity through at least two methods (email/password + facial recognition), you greatly reduce the likelihood of hackers successfully infiltrating their accounts and making unauthorised transactions.

- One-time password (OTP)
OTPs are a unique and temporary code sent to an account holder’s registered device when they attempt to log into their online account. OTPs can be used for every login attempt as part of multi-factor authentication, or they can be set up for instances where account holders attempt to log in from an unrecognised device. 

- Role-based access control for system admins
Be strict about who has access to the backend of your payment system, and be strict about the permissions each person is given. Setting up role-based access allows you to adjust the level of access to suit each employee’s job requirements. This minimises the chance of internal breaches and unauthorised access to sensitive data.

Encryption

Avoid data breaches by encrypting all sensitive data when processing online payments. Choose a payment gateway that utilises the following encryption technologies to safeguard customer account and card details:

  • Tokenisation
  • SSL/TLS (Secure Socket Layer/Transport Layer Security)

Fraud detection and prevention

Use a sophisticated payment gateway with built-in anti-fraud tools that actively prevent hacking and unauthorised transactions. These tools include: 

  • Password lockouts
  • AI-powered anomaly detection
  • Real-time alerts for suspicious activity

Learn more: Types of online fraud and how to deal with them

Payment verification

Integrate security measures like 3D Secure to further verify that it is the genuine cardholder who is making the purchase. With 3D Secure, customers are directed to a page hosted by their bank and asked to provide additional verification information, such as biometrics through their banking app, a one-time code sent via SMS, or their online banking login credentials. 

PCI DSS compliance

It’s also vital to maintain compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Overseen by the PCI Standards Security Council (PCI SSC), a body made up of the world’s largest card brands, PCI DSS is a set of rules designed to safeguard sensitive cardholder data when processing card transactions. Failure to comply with PCI DSS can result in costly data breaches for you and your customers, as well as severe penalties from the card companies. 

2. Keep it simple
Reduce the amount of friction your customers encounter from the moment they select their item to the moment they click purchase. Quick and simple payments lead to higher conversion rates and greater customer satisfaction. Conversely, a lengthy or frustrating process can increase cart abandonment rates, particularly for mobile shoppers looking to make a swift and fuss-free purchase.

Cross-channel integration

Sync up your online payment system with your other sales channels to ensure a seamless customer experience. For example, if a customer adds an item to their cart using your mobile app but waits to complete their purchase later via a web browser, your system should accommodate. You can achieve this by choosing a payment system that uses cookies and/or customer accounts to “remember” customers’ cart items regardless of the device or channel they’re on. 

One-click payments

Use tools like Click to Pay to give customers the option of paying with a single click. This software can be integrated into your existing checkout process and, for customers who opt-in, securely stores sensitive card data so that they don’t need to enter it manually for every purchase. 

Learn more: Click to Pay: how to benefit from it

3. Optimise for mobile
According to 2022 research, more than 70 per cent of traffic to retail websites came via mobile phones. For online retailers, creating a mobile-friendly shopping experience is essential to capturing this substantial segment of the market. 

Responsive design

In the current e-commerce environment, if your checkout page and payment gateway aren’t responsive to different-sized devices, customers will abandon your business for its competitors. Responsive design is absolutely vital to accepting online payments in the modern era. 

In-app payments

If your business has a mobile app, integrating a payment gateway into the app itself will allow for a quick and seamless payment experience. The alternative, directing customers out of the app to a website checkout page, will disrupt the flow of the payment process and can lead to more abandoned carts. 

4. Offer multiple payment options and plans
Adding a range of payment options to your online payment experience is beneficial from both a customer service and business perspective. It gives your customers the ability to use their preferred payment method, which in turn leads to more sales. 

Consider integrating the following payment methods into your online payment experience.

Card payments

Accepting card payments is the bare minimum for an online payment system, but you can be selective about which cards you accept in order to best serve your customers and your business interests. Although Discover and American Express cards come with higher processing fees, a business with U.S. customers may earn more customer loyalty and acquire more sales by offering these payment methods. This is particularly true for businesses in the tourism industry where customers earn airline miles and other rewards for their large travel-related purchases. 

Digital wallets

Give your customers the opportunity to pay using digital wallets like Apple Pay, PayPal, Google Pay, Alipay, and WeChat Pay. Many customers prefer to use these payment methods, as they can complete their purchase with a single click or with biometric verification (e.g. thumbprint or facial recognition). As their payment details are stored in the digital wallet, there is no manual data entry is required. 

Learn more: What is a digital wallet?

Financing
It’s increasingly common for online retailers to add financing options to the online payment experience, particularly for items with larger price tags. By partnering with retail financing FinTechs like Klarna or AfterPay, you give your customers the opportunity to make the purchase with credit that they can pay off over time. These “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) loans function in much the same way as a traditional credit card, but often with more flexible repayment options and a lower barrier to entry (e.g. no hard credit checks).

5. Integrate your payment and booking systems
For appointment- or booking-based services, integrating payments with scheduling saves time and effort for both you and your customers. Rather than separating these two processes, use a robust booking engine with a secure payment gateway to accept payments (or card holds) at the time of booking. 

Hospitality industries

In the hospitality sector, choosing a payment services provider that caters specifically to your business type makes a huge difference. Whether you require full payment upfront, a deposit payment, or a card hold for incidentals/insurance, select a payment gateway that syncs with your existing booking system or comes as part of a full-service booking management platform. Industries where this is useful include:

  • Venues/event spaces
  • Hotels and other accommodation 
  • Museums and attractions
  • Live events (e.g. concerts, sporting events, etc.)

Service industries

In addition to the hospitality sector, there are many other service-based industries where combining booking and payments is useful, including:

  • Hair/beauty
  • Healthcare and wellness (e.g. therapy appointments, dental checkups, etc.)
  • Education/extracurriculars (e.g. tutoring sessions, music classes, etc.) 
  • Public sector/government services (e.g. visa appointments, driving exam appointments, etc.)

6. Be transparent with pricing
When assessing your online payment experience, it helps to keep in mind that the same best practices of in-person payments apply. Regardless of the item or service, being transparent about all costs involved is essential. No customer wants to leave the purchase process feeling as if they’ve had the wool pulled over their eyes. This will only increase customer complaints and erode trust in your brand. 

Keep your online payment experience transparent by doing the following:

  • Make it clear when shipping isn’t included
  • Provide a VAT estimate prior to the final checkout page
  • Offer a detailed price breakdown so it’s clear how each cost was incurred
  • Display the total cost as early into the process as possible

7. Consider both returning customers and guests
While there are many benefits associated with having customers create an account as part of the online payment process, there are also benefits associated with allowing “guest” checkout. So, what’s the best approach? Leave this choice in the hands of your customers. 

Those who want to benefit from a quicker online payment experience in the future can create an account where their data is securely stored. Those who don’t want to commit to setting up another online account can continue the payment process as a guest.

8. Allow customers to pay in their local currency
If you provide items or services to international customers, it pays to integrate currency conversion into your online payment experience. Choose a payment gateway that allows for multi-currency payments, automatically converting prices into the customer’s local currency at the prevailing exchange rate. Payment localisation saves the customer from having to calculate the conversion themselves and generally offers a more transparent, seamless payment experience.

Learn more: What is Dynamic Currency Conversion? (DCC)

9. Integrate reward and loyalty programs
Enhance your customers’ connection with your brand by integrating a loyalty scheme into the online payment experience. Allow them to earn rewards, or points toward rewards, for being a valued member of your community. Choose an online payment system that automatically syncs with your loyalty program and applies instant rewards (e.g. hotel room upgrades, points-based discounts, etc.) to customers who have earned them.

10. Keep communicating after the purchase
The online payment experience doesn’t end when a customer clicks “purchase.” Keeping the communication going after the sale helps to reassure the customer that their order is being processed, and it helps prevent customer questions and complaints that may otherwise strain your resources. 

Automate order status notifications

Choose an online payment system that makes it easy for you to automate post-sale communications with your customers. This includes order confirmations, shipping confirmations, delivery confirmations, and booking reminders. 

Solicit customer feedback

Get in touch with customers soon after they’ve completed their purchase to ask about their satisfaction with the process. This will allow you to address any problems before they spiral into a larger issue, and it will also inform you of potential ways to improve your online payment experience for future sales. 

Final Thoughts

With these ten tips, you’re well on your way toward providing an excellent online payment experience for your customers. As with everything in business, continually review your processes and be dynamic about making improvements. Remain responsive to your customers’ needs, the needs of your business, and the ever-changing payment landscape.

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