Reimagine Checkout: Elevate the Experience

To help your business keep customers on the road to purchase, we’ve identified the prime reasons for cart abandonment and provided recommendations on ways to address these issues.

Customers don’t all agree on what’s most important to the shopping experience. To get ahead of competition, retailers need to know their customers well enough to meet their individual preferences throughout the shopping journey. By tuning into the unique needs and nuances of smaller but meaningful segments of customers, businesses can identify incremental improvements and capitalize on marginal gains.

It’s an inspiring time to reimagine the future. New technologies – like virtual reality and artificial intelligence – are redefining the shopping experience. And brands are finding new, creative ways to deepen their connections with their customers via strategic use of personalization, social platforms, and sustainable brand initiatives.

These developments run parallel with increased consumer expectations regarding choice, convenience, and frictionless checkout experiences. Consumer expectations hold – even as inflation, supply chain disruptions, and other macroeconomic factors pose considerable challenges. But resilient, successful businesses continue to navigate the rough waters by keeping the customer experience at the forefront.

“Consumers shop with their wallets, but they also shop with their hearts. When purse strings are tightening everywhere, it’s important to focus on making your brand memorable – and build unique connections that help encourage conversion and drive loyalty.”

-Dr. Tiffany Raymond, Head of Global Customer Advocacy, PayPal

Our top 10 practical tips can help you build trust across checkout and general operations.

Each tip is designed to help you:

  • Decrease cart abandonment and drive conversion and sales
  • Deepen customer connections and enhance customer loyalty
  • Drive a positive brand experience and checkout journey

Tips to help decrease cart abandonment:

Create a frictionless checkout experience that helps drive customers across the finish line to complete their purchases.

Tip #1: Deliver on shipping – no hidden costs and no surprises

One of shoppers’ biggest barriers to completing a purchase can be not knowing the final cost prior to checkout. Roughly one third of global consumers say “Not knowing what the final cost will be before getting to the checkout page” is what frustrates them the most about their ecommerce shopping experience.2 Customer-centric programs and transparent communication can help shoppers overcome the uncertainty around shipping costs and drive conversion.

Tip #2: Rethink returns, so they return – be flexible and make things easy

Returns are a natural part of the retail experience – both online and off. Online shoppers buy multiples of items with the intent of returning what doesn’t fit or is no longer wanted. As online sales have exploded, so have returns.

In 2019, online returns as a percentage of online sales were 9.6%, and in 2021, this number more than doubled to 20.8%.4 To top it off, consumers expect to be able to return their items for free. In fact, 78% of shoppers agree that free shipping on returns is essential or nice to have.5 Customers want options when shopping, and also when returning, so it’s critical to get it right.

Tip #3: Get paid now, while they pay later - empower your customers with more flexibility

Buy now, pay later (BNPL) continues to be popular with consumers. Offering this option lets customers split the cost of a purchase into several installment payments over time. It’s a great way to help purchases become more affordable and for consumers to stay in control of their budget. You get paid upfront, while they pay later.

Actively promoting BNPL choices can also help increase conversions, as consumers paying with buy now, pay later are up to 3x more likely to complete a purchase after browsing.6

Tip #4: A smart approach to smartphones – master the art of friction-free flows

Mobile matters, but understanding how to optimize for mobile is not always clear. One thing to keep in mind may be the importance of balancing data collection and customer convenience – especially on a smaller screen. Typing is more difficult on mobile, and Baymard research reveals most sites need only eight form fields for a standard checkout flow.8

Smartphones generate 71% of traffic visits and 61% of orders for online retail websites worldwide. 9 While it’s helpful to reduce the number of form fields on all devices, it’s most essential on mobile.

Tip #5: Welcome guests, securely - find the right balance of comfort and disclosure

Capturing customer data is a benefit of the logged-in experience, and it helps to know who and where your customers are. But some customers don’t always feel comfortable providing personal information to yet another business. Or sometimes they just want to buy and run. 27% of consumers say they are less likely to make an online purchase if they must create a new user account first.3

It’s important to provide guest checkout, but it’s also essential that your business collect enough customer data to minimize fraud. Creating the right balance often requires deciding what is truly necessary to ask the customer while ensuring the process remains as frictionless as possible.

Tips to help deepen customer connections:

Consumers want to connect, feel understood, and have an impact. Some see their purchasing power as a tool for change, and increasingly want the brands they support to align with their belief systems. Relationships that customers build with brands strengthen lifetime value and keep them coming back. Humanizing your brand, building brand equity, and giving them reasons to return are all ways to secure the vitality of your business.

Tip #1: Right time, right feed - Targeted content can inspire purchases

Using targeted social media ads to provide consumers with contextually relevant shopping inspiration can be a powerful force in building brand visibility, equity, and conversion. 28% of online shoppers point to social media as their main source of online shopping inspiration.9

Encountering the right ads at key moments can motivate and clear the path for customers to make impulse purchases. The time to plan is now - social commerce revenue worldwide is expected to grow from $724 billion in 2022 to $6,200 billion in 2030.11

Tip #2: Engage authentically on social platforms - Show customers the real people behind the brand

Every day is an opportunity to actively build relationships with your customers. With every email, post, and site impression, your customers get to know a little more about your brand, which can move them toward or away from purchases. Consistently sharing authentic content via channels that are popular with your customers increases your chances of reaching and connecting with them. Using action to back your brand stance and communicating impact to customers can help you build trust and earn their loyalty. 40% of global respondents say that social factors often/always affect their purchasing decisions.13

Tip #3: Roll out the red carpet for loyalty - Reward repeat buyers with points and perks

With rising customer acquisition costs and new competitors emerging daily, how do you tighten that relationship once customers find you? Consumers are humans who may make decisions based on emotion. They’re drawn to brands that can forge personal connections with them.

Data analytics and algorithms are the technical foundations of personalization – but it’s how you use the information that can make a positive impression for your brand. Leverage your data to hear and remember what your customers say, and then use that information to present personalized journeys, offers, and online and in-store experiences.

Tip #4: Flex your climate cred – Build a connection through real, tangible change

People connect to purposeful brands with values that reflect their own. Now more than ever, consumers are seeking out businesses that are making strides to combat climate change, and there’s nothing more inclusive than taking care of the earth, the biggest thing you share with your customers.

Upscaling and highlighting your sustainability efforts can help enhance customer loyalty, and in some cases could be the reason a customer chooses you over another brand. But be careful when approaching sustainability as solely a branding issue. Consumers, investors, and employees are savvy. They want to see tangible efforts – efforts that many consumers reward by paying a premium. For example, 73% of consumers worldwide are willing to pay more for eco-friendly packaging14 and 82% of global respondents say they expect CEOs to take a public stand on climate change.10

Tip #5: Take a walk on the virtual side - Show them that world through your eyes

Shoppers are becoming increasingly interested in the metaverse and virtual spaces as places to explore goods and services. 50% of consumers 18-75 years old are either current metaverse participants or are considering testing it out.3

Virtual spaces can provide an immersive, engaging environment for a customer to truly experience a brand. This is your opportunity to design a world where you can best tell your brand story, and how you go about it is limitless. Use virtual spaces to learn more about your customers and understand how to tailor engaging experiences for them. Don’t let competitors get the virtual edge. Retailers have found that users are spending an average of 14 minutes interacting with virtual showrooms, compared to two minutes in 2D stores.15 And 26% of respondents to a global consumer insights survey said they have participated in metaverse-related activities in the last six months for entertainment, virtual experiences, or product purchases.16

Reimagining the checkout journey starts long before consumers visit a shop or website

Creating a connection to your brand – whether that’s via social, deals and offers, or virtual spaces – can encourage consumers to think of you instead of your competitors when they want to shop. Ensuring the process is as frictionless as possible can help increase conversion and instill trust – further cementing their bond with your brand. The retail cart abandonment rate in 2022 was 71%, but recommendations can help reclaim that abandonment and grow your customer base.1

With more than 435 million active global accounts in 200+ markets, PayPal understands consumer preferences, shopping behaviors, and checkout optimization – and can help tailor your online experiences to get customers to complete purchases and keep them coming back.

Download the ebook to learn more about these topics.

Reimagine Checkout (PDF)

Reimagine Checkout (PDF)

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