The ecommerce revolution doesn't appear to be slowing down any time soon.
In 2018, consumers spent over $500 billion online at US businesses according to Digital Commerce 360, a 14% increase over 2017 ecommerce sales.
There's no doubt that not only are more businesses branching into offering online sales more aggressively, but customers have become comfortable and even accustomed to spending their money online. As ecommerce sales continue to increase and customers become more familiar with what a good online customer experience is, it'll become more important than ever for businesses who are operating in the online space to know what the online payment trends are and how the trends can be adopted by their businesses.
We've compiled some of the trends that the Helcim team predicts will have an impact on online payments in 2019.
Data will Help Businesses Customize Their Messaging
For online merchants looking to generate leads and market to their existing customer base and their potential customers, email addresses are the ultimate form of currency. As consumers, we're asked to hand over our email addresses constantly. When a customer shops on your business's website, there are plenty of opportunities to collect customer information, particularly if the website encourages the customer to create an account or sign up for their newsletter.
If you're able to collect contact information for a customer or have them log in to their account while they shop, you'll not only now be able to directly market to them, but you'll also be provided with valuable insights into their consumer behavior. You'll be able to see what products they're interested in, what they added to their cart, or at what point they leave your website during the checkout process. This information can be used to send targeted messages to your customers to encourage them to complete a purchase or to let them know when you have more items available that they might be interested in.
If you notice that customers are leaving your website instead of completing the checkout process, you can use that data to evaluate your website and checkout process to determine if there's something that is preventing customers from completing their purchases. Potential roadblocks for your customers could include your shipping costs being too high, your checkout is too cumbersome, or if you're asking for too much personal information.
Flexible Payment Offerings
By flexible payment offerings, we don't just mean payment plans, although those can be useful in some situations as well. Being able to offer flexible payment offerings means that you are able to deliver an integrated customer payment experience that includes both online and in-person payments.
Being able to provide both online and in-person payment experiences to your customers can give them the flexibility to pay for purchases the way they want and, more importantly, the way they're comfortable. Payment options may include a combination of the following actions:
- Signing up online for a subscription to a product or service
- Browsing online and placing an order that they pay for through your website
- Browsing online and placing an order that they will pay for when they pick up the order in-store
- Using their phone to place orders through your online store
- Paying in-store to have a product shipped to their house
As you can see by the variety of payment and delivery options listed above, today's customers are looking for all types of payment experiences, and being able to meet their needs can be the difference between making a sale or missing out on an opportunity.
Consolidation of Who Provides Your Payment Processing
Some companies who were early to the ecommerce game might have potentially selected a different payment provider for their payment gateway, for their website, for their in-store payments, their invoicing, and for their mobile payments. The end result could be a payment environment that provides an inconsistent customer experience, not to mention a significant headache for the merchant to keep track of different statements and fee structures.
Using multiple providers for different services can also make it more difficult for you, as a business owner, to consolidate all of your data and evaluate what is working well and where improvements can be made. Now that setting up payments for online and in-person transactions is easier than ever, it's a great time to evaluate what companies you're using and see if there is a better solution in the marketplace.
Selecting an all-in-one payments provider, like Helcim, that can give you access to invoicing, a payment gateway, a virtual terminal, in-person payments, and powerful payment integrations that can make your life easier and provide a consistent customer experience to anyone who shops at your business.
Enhanced Fraud Detection
As more customers shop online through their computers or mobile phones, it will, unfortunately, increase the potential for fraudulent transactions to occur. As a business owner, it can be difficult to manage your customers' expectations for a fast and easy checkout experience while balancing the caution and due diligence required to review potentially fraudulent transactions.
Most payment processors offer some type of fraud prevention system as part of their payment offering. In addition to tools like the Address Verification Service, Helcim has the Helcim Fraud Defender that looks at seven different attributes of a transaction to determine an overall score for the transaction. Transactions that receive a low score indicate that there is a higher chance that the transaction could be fraudulent. As a Helcim merchant, you are in control of what do with this information, you can review transactions manually or set up your account to automatically decline ecommerce transactions that score below a certain number.
Using tools like the Heclim Fraud Defeneder can help you feel confident in your online sales and that your business will be able to manage the risk of fraud as you continue to grow. For more information on how to spot and prevent fraud, check out our article on how to spot fraud.
Customers Will Want to Checkout in Their Own Currency
Any significant increase in ecommerce sales likely won't be exclusively attributed to customers in your own city or country. As your sales increase, there is a chance you will see an increase in purchases being made from customers located all over the world. Being able to sell your products and services to a global market is certainly one of the main benefits of selling online, and with that comes payments involving foreign currencies.
No matter where your customers' home countries are, it's important to deliver a positive customer experience, so they are less likely to abandon their purchases and more likely to return to your website and become repeat customers. Most payment processors will automatically allow you to accept international credit cards making it easy to accept payments from customers around the world.
Mobile Commerce will Play a Larger Role in Online Transactions
Consumers are becoming more adept smartphone users, and they are trusting the technology to complete more and more of the tasks that they used to rely on in-person interactions, their laptops, or their desktop computers to complete. It was only a few years ago that you had to visit a bank to deposit a check or make a phone call to order a cab, now both tasks can be completed very easily and quickly with apps on your smartphone.
Many customers today lookup websites for their favorite retailers using their smartphones, and if the website is mobile friendly and includes a frictionless checkout experience, they are much more likely to make a purchase right then and there. These transactions are considered mobile commerce transactions, or mcommerce. There are several mcommerce considerations that businesses can make if they're looking to increase their online sales including how easy their checkout process is, what opportunities exist to integrate social media with online shopping, and how to let customers use mobile wallets or their stored payment information to complete transactions faster.
With an Eye on the Future
There's no shortage of innovation in the online payments world, and it certainly pays to keep an eye on what your customers are expecting and to keep up with your competitors. We anticipate that ecommerce and mcommerce transactions will continue to increase in popularity and that if you pay attention to the current industry trends, it will be easier for your business to adapt to customer expectations in the future.