Navigating the future: Innovations in online checkout experiences

Consumers may click and browse with intent. But subpar checkouts – from clunky payment gateways to confusing navigation layouts – can cause even the most promising prospects to bounce without converting.

Learn how your brand can unlock customer retention and revenue resilience with the latest trends and technologies shaping the future of online checkouts.

Embracing digital transformation in the checkout process

Global e-commerce is expected to reach $6.3 trillion this year1 — and by 2024, more than 21% of total retail sales will occur online.2 Yet the abundance of choices and technological innovations continue to shift consumer behavior.

With approximately 70% of all online shopping carts abandoned, brands must evolve their checkout experiences to meet elevated shopper expectations.3

The rise of mobile commerce

There’s been a push toward mobile commerce as smartphone ownership worldwide has steadily grown. Studies show that consumers now prefer mobile to desktop when shopping online. In fact, 60% of all e-commerce sales are expected to come from mobile channels by the end of 2023.4

Given the average shopping cart abandonment rate rises to 84% on mobile devices, brands should turn their focus to mobile commerce strategies, especially at checkout.5

AI, voice, and contextual commerce

Cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), voice assistants, and contextual commerce offer exciting new opportunities to meet customer expectations during checkout.

Take voice search, for example. Reducing potential frustrations involved in manually typing searches and navigating through websites can facilitate a more seamless path to purchase.

On the other hand, AI can analyze individual customer data to offer tailored, contextual payment journeys, including upsell or cross-sell product suggestions, localized payment options, and customized incentive deals — all working together to improve conversion rates.

Optimizing checkout for speed, convenience, and personalization

Many consumers expect a lightning-fast checkout process, ideally within a four-minute window.6 To optimize the customer experience at checkout, brands can consider:

  • Creating fast, single-page checkouts that reduce the time and effort required for customers to complete their orders.
  • Embracing tools like AI and machine learning to dynamically serve product suggestions and location-based promotions.
  • Offering diverse payment types to cater to different customer segments, like digital wallets or buy now, pay later options. For instance, PayPal may increase unplanned purchases by an average of 13% for brands. Learn more about how PayPal helps to boost checkout conversions.7

Securing consumer trust in the age of digital payments

Emerging technologies like digital wallet payment solutions, biometric authentication, and cryptocurrencies may promise to streamline the checkout process.

But despite their growing adoption, concerns over security linger — especially considering that the second most prevalent type of fraud in 2022 involved online shopping.8

Brands offering these alternative payment methods can bolster transparency through robust checkout data protection and safety protocols. At the same time, advanced payment security tools can help manage risks, comply with regulations, and maintain consumer trust.

Sustainability and ethical practices in e-commerce

Sustainability and ethical business practices are essential to staying competitive — and brands that openly prioritize e-commerce sustainability may enjoy a competitive edge.

Approximately 72% of shoppers reported actively buying more environmentally friendly products,9 while a third of American consumers are willing to pay extra for eco-friendly delivery.10 Meanwhile, more than 50% of US and UK consumers want e-commerce brands to create products with less packaging.10

During checkout, consider offering eco-friendly packaging materials or allowing shoppers to offset cart carbon emissions through verified funds. Promoting local artisans, ethical manufacturing, and social impact initiatives while shoppers check out can also help brands lead with shared values and build loyalty.

Preparing for the future: Trends and strategies

Staying ahead means embracing agility. From augmented reality to subscription models, here are some retail industry trends to look out for.

Leveraging social and in-app commerce

As Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok expanded their end-to-end shopping experiences, allowing users to seamlessly discover new brands, browse products, and complete purchases within the app, global sales via social commerce reached $992 billion in 2022.11 Meanwhile, by capitalizing on impulse buying behaviors, immediacy, and convenience, in-app commerce is proving to be another popular social media payment trend.

As social and mobile converge, focus on:

  • Optimizing checkout pages for mobile devices
  • Offering integrated payment options like PayPal
  • Providing seamless guest checkouts without complex account creation
  • Gamifying the checkout experience with rewards or exclusives

Augmented reality and enhanced user experience

Augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) have the power to reshape traditional shopping by merging digital and physical worlds. That’s why large-scale retailers are beginning to offer virtual try-ons, product previews, and immersive brand experiences from the comfort of a smartphone.

Experiment with these emerging technologies by:

  • Creating a way for customers to visualize products in their own space using AR
  • Providing 3D visualization of products from all angles
  • Enabling AR for product customizations

Subscription models and customer loyalty

Subscription-based models have also transformed the e-commerce landscape. Upwards of 75% of direct-to-consumer brands now offer subscriptions for everything from clothing to food.14

To cement customer loyalty and unlock recurring revenue, here are some strategies:

  • Offer flexible subscription options like weekly or monthly
  • Provide easy self-service account management
  • Incentivize subscriptions with discounts or free products
  • Allow subscription bundling, sharing, and gifting

Leveraging data analytics for optimization

Granular data analytics help brands optimize every aspect of online checkouts. By analyzing customer data, you can identify common pain points in the checkout journey, such as lengthy forms or unclear shipping options, and make necessary adjustments — or even choose a new retail payment solution.

Real-time retail analytics also play a crucial role in checkout optimization, enabling immediate responses to customer actions, like browsing or cart abandonment. Get more tips to decrease cart abandonment.

The future of online checkout awaits

With shoppers distracted by a myriad of online choices and changing trends and preferences, staying at the forefront of online checkout innovations is crucial for e-commerce brands that want to maintain their edge.

From exploring new technologies to leveraging PayPal as an end-to-end payment platform, strategic customer experience enhancements may ensure shoppers hit that final Checkout button.

Learn how to build a seamless checkout experience with PayPal.

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