Payments in a pandemic: Why you need to health-check your processes
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed both consumers and businesses to rely on online channels, driving a surge in e-commerce volumes far beyond the increases that were predicted for this year.
With customer demand soaring and many bricks and mortar merchants also ‘going digital’, competition is fiercer than ever and merchants can’t afford to deliver a sub-par customer experience.
The peak shopping season is now fast-approaching, and merchants need to be prepared for further increases in volume as well as for more unusual shopping trends. A big part of this preparation is ensuring payments processes are slick and robust.
An unexpected e-commerce surge
As businesses around the world were forced to close and millions restricted to their homes, consumers turned to e-commerce to get the goods and services they needed. In the second quarter of 2020, global revenue from online sales was 71% up on last year, according to Salesforce’s Shopping Index.
A new Kantar study, covering Europe’s three largest e-commerce markets, showed that the share of consumers that do more than half of their total purchases online has increased between 25 and 80% (depending on age group and location) since the start of the pandemic – and this isn’t showing much sign of slowing down.
The knock-on effect
Now that most e-commerce merchants have overcome the initial shock to the supply chain and logistics demands, it’s important to focus on how best to sustain revenues through these changeable times. This includes making sure that the customer makes the purchase in the first place and ensuring costs and fraud losses aren’t left unchecked.
The right balance of acceptance levels, fraud prevention, and a smooth checkout experience are factors are which are now vital for maintaining strong revenues and conversion rates.
Health-check your payments processes
To help you gauge if your payments processes are putting you in a good position to meet the challenges of 2020 and beyond, we’ve put together a five-point health-check. We recommend you use this list to assess your approach and discuss with your payment provider to see where improvements can be made.
Your five-point checklist
1. Are your website and payments processes robust enough to cope?
Make sure your e-commerce site and your payment gateways can cope with the increased volume, without negatively impacting the customer experience. If the website stalls or the payment process takes too long, you could lose the sale – and potentially lose the customer altogether.
2. Is your payments page optimised?
The checkout process has to be as slick and convenient as possible. This means making sure the right payment methods are available, redirects and scrolling are minimised. The page is simple and clearly branded as well, and that it is optimised for different devices, including mobile.
3. Are your acceptance levels high enough?
Make sure you look at your acceptance levels and monitor them on an ongoing basis. If you’re getting a high volume of declines, you need to understand why – and take action to improve them, to ensure genuine sales are not being turned away. If you’re unsure where to start, talk to your payment provider to get some insight on where your declines are coming from and how you can turn things around.
4. Are your fraud levels low enough?
Higher e-commerce volumes often mean higher rates of attempted fraud – and inevitably higher chargebacks. Both are costly and you need to ensure that your fraud screening process is optimised in line with the latest fraud trends and threats. You also need to make sure your fraud strategies don’t inadvertently block genuine customer orders.
5. Do you need to adapt?
The pandemic has affected which products are being purchased, the fulfilment options customers are choosing, their payment preferences, fraud trends and many other factors. This will also change throughout the next few months as we add the holiday shopping season to the mix. Make sure you benchmark and monitor buyer behaviour. Determine where you might need to adapt your payments or fraud strategies on an ongoing basis.
If you find there are issues in your payments processes, and you need help to address them, get in touch with our merchant services team.