Stripe’s Jon Stona says the checkout process in e-commerce may seem like a small detail but its effect – in combination with other processes – can be significant for customer experience.

We’ve all had that feeling of exasperation when trying to buy something online. You’ve finally found that special pair of shoes you’ve been searching for and there are only a couple of pairs left in your size. Then you get to the checkout. The form jumps around the page, doesn’t fit your screen and demands that you create an account before completing your purchase. It makes you question whether you really need that pair of shoes and if you really trust this site is the right place to buy them.  

From the business’ perspective, there is no excuse. Countless sums are spent on marketing to bring customers through the virtual front door, help them find what they’re looking for or even suggest what they should be buying. But when it comes to getting paid, so little is done to make it easy for the customer.  

It's marketers’ responsibility to get the checkout flow and customer experience right

The checkout process in e-commerce is often seen as a technical job but in today’s e-commerce-driven world, it has inevitably bled into the marketing remit. According to Gartner, customers are more likely to renew a relationship with brands if their interactions are fast and easy – this includes the crucial last stage: checkout. 

With nine out of ten lost sales in Asia Pacific failing on the checkout page, businesses need to view improving checkout quality as a significant lever for protecting revenue and maintaining loyal customers.  

The quality of a checkout process has become a significant, albeit backend, part of the customer experience. The same way user interface and experience overlap between marketing and IT priorities, so does the checkout process. 

Gen Z, who has a spending power of over US$140 billion, wants technology that provides value and convenience in shopping. Evidently, optimising checkout flow should be a top priority for any business selling online – across both IT and marketing departments – and yet the majority of even the most visited websites make basic errors in their checkout, frustrating would-be customers and losing sales.  

With e-commerce sales in Asia Pacific forecast to double by 2025, businesses need to prioritise their digital last mile to keep up with the surge. 

Checkout form design

Our latest research report, The state of checkouts in Asia Pacific 2021, found that consumers in the region expect a fast, intuitive and mobile-optimised payment experience, with as many as one third (34%) saying they would abandon a purchase if it took more than two minutes to check out.

Merchants are failing this two-minute-test, with more than half (53%) of consumers saying that, on average, it takes them more than three minutes to complete a purchase.

As a result, nearly a quarter (24%) of online shoppers abandoned a purchase in the past year because of a long checkout process. There is significant revenue at stake in getting form design right. 

If your business is selling online, go through your checkout flow yourself to experience what your customers go through. This is a great way to surface the details that make a big difference to conversion. 

Experience other checkouts and you’ll notice too that the little touches, like automatically showing the right card logo when someone starts typing in their number instead of asking for the user to scroll through another list or tick another box, make a marked difference to the overall experience. 

Mobile optimisation

Mobile optimisation is a tired topic and yet, customer expectations are still not being met. While more than 50% of e-commerce traffic comes from smartphones, carts are abandoned on mobile at more than twice the rate of desktop.

Even today, 13 years since the launch of the iPhone, we see checkouts that don’t automatically adjust to the size of the customer’s device. While it’s true that errors like not adapting to screen size are becoming less prevalent, we still see nearly 19% of websites in Asia Pacific not offering numeric keypads for card number entry and very few sites offering digital wallets like Apple Pay or Google Pay, which allow for a convenient one-click payment experience on mobile. 

The importance of being local

If mobile optimisation feels like an old problem, as yet unresolved, local optimisation is much older and much further away from resolution. 

Too many Asia Pacific checkouts are built with the false assumption that consumers in other markets follow the same payment customs as in the business’ home market. In fact, Asia Pacific has a deeply fragmented and idiosyncratic web of payment cultures and preferences. 

Some 13% of consumers abandoned a purchase in the past year because their preferred payment method wasn’t available. Interestingly, the solution is about offering the right combination of payment options, rather than increasing the quantity of payment methods. 

The majority of e-commerce websites typically offered a total of four payment methods, in addition to credit cards.

For top e-commerce businesses with a presence in multiple markets, the number of payment methods offered did not increase. Instead, they successfully adapted their payment methods on a per-country basis to optimise for local conversion.

For example, the same e-commerce business would offer Alipay and WeChat Pay for Chinese customers, and Afterpay and ZIP Pay for Australian customers. 

Offering the right local payment options helps increase revenue. A Stripe study found that businesses saw a 27% increase in sales when they offered Afterpay. With GrabPay, marketplace Carousell has seen an almost 20% increase in transactions since October 2020 after adding support for GrabPay via Stripe in Malaysia.

Don’t leave revenue on the table! 

Our research looked into many of the most visited websites across Asia Pacific where you might not expect basic errors to exist in such abundance. But when it comes to checkout design, we increasingly see that David is beating Goliath. 

Ironically, that’s because great checkout design comes from scale. The Goliaths of the internet rely on in-house teams to take advantage of their own individual scale but smaller websites using SaaS-based checkouts are utilising the deep expertise of external software providers and the learnings from millions of websites.

While a checkout process might seem like a small detail on its own, the aggregate effect in combination with other processes can be significant for customer experience. When a checkout process is seamless, smooth and user-friendly, both IT and marketing teams can rest knowing that the last mile of a customer journey is solid.