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Salesforce Industries Summit

Best Practices to Improve the E-Commerce Checkout Process

By Megan Higgins
Aug 28, 2020 5:00 AM PT
how to improve the e-commerce checkout process

Consumer expectations have never been greater within today's digital commerce landscape, as uncertainty drives consumers to demand real-time transparency, accuracy, and seamlessness throughout each stage of the purchase journey.

At the time of checkout, simplicity reigns, as frictionless, accurate, and instant calculations bolster consumer trust, and flexible delivery options ensure consumer affinity. As such, customers anticipate diverse payment options, accurate calculations, and security at the time of checkout.

Retailers of all sizes must leverage technology to improve the convenience and safety of their checkout process by updating their point-of-sale (POS) systems across all channels, automating tax, and offering alternative payment options.

The rise of e-commerce platforms and online marketplaces such as Amazon and Etsy has significantly changed the digital shopping experience and elevated the expectations of consumers, which has created next-generation shopping driven by convenience. As more consumers shop through third-party and resale marketplaces, there is also growing shopper concern around fraud and counterfeit products.

Consumers expect their payment information to be automatically provided across all channels, and they trust that their private data is being tokenized or stored on secure systems. Customers are looking for retailers to foster shopping confidence and product trust by creating a simple, secure checkout process across all channels.

As consumer expectations across all facets of the checkout experience continue to rise, companies of all sizes are exploring how to improve the convenience and safety of their checkout process.

Following are best practices that retailers are using to revamp their checkout experience.

Provide Cross-Border Payments

E-commerce has created a truly global marketplace that has transformed shopping from a local or even regional activity into a process that happens from any location around the world.

Retailers with an international customer base are looking to update their point-of-sale systems to provide a consistent, accurate experience across all sales channels and account for international regulatory adjustments.

While global commerce has increased options for consumers, it has also generated new layers of complexity for retailers. Between assigning the correct Harmonized System (HS) code and properly applying the correct taxes, tariffs, and shipping and import fees, transparency at the point of sale can be difficult.

To serve an international audience of customers, inspire confidence, and ensure there are no hidden costs as a purchase crosses borders to get to a customer's front door, retailers need to have an intelligent suite of transaction solutions in place to enable consistent rates in addition to accuracy, transparency, and security.

Automation solutions may make the most sense for businesses depending on the number of countries they are selling into, breadth of products, and staff available to handle rates and regulations. There are solutions available for item classification, rate calculations, reporting, and returns filing that can integrate with other business systems. These include ERPs, ECMs, online retail platforms, and bookkeeping software to manage every aspect of the cross-border transaction lifecycle.

Offer Alternative Payment Plans

Most e-commerce providers offer integrations with the most common payment methods, such as Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, and Apple Pay, because customers expect to have options at checkout, as well as other convenient options, like buying online and pick-up at the store.

In today's digital-first landscape, retailers are now exploring alternate payment plans, such as micro-credit and layaway, by partnering with next-generation payment providers to give customers a wider range of options to buy now and pay later.

Financial products such as split payments and low- or no-interest financing plans are increasingly available to customers who don't have the desire or ability to pay for their entire purchase right away.

Brands are teaming up with financing platforms like Klarna, Afterpay, and Affirm to offer shoppers different payment plans to pay for their mobile and electronic purchases. At checkout, customers can choose from a range of alternative payment plans, including "buy now, pay in 30 days," "buy now, pay in three monthly payments," or "spread the cost up to four years."

Innovate the POS

Another effective way that retailers are streamlining the checkout process is by partnering with traditional and digital payment providers to integrate one-click purchase options into their e-commerce platforms.

These solutions help to ensure a consistent, convenient, and secure experience by utilizing a short, optimized checkout form that reduces the time it takes to process a transaction. Various opt-in POS providers securely manage consumer data to power one-click digital checkout after the initial transaction when the customer provides their email, name, phone, address, and credit card number. Once the information is stored their future transactions are fast and seamless, making it easier for them to shop again.

Embrace Emerging Technology

According to the Ecommerce Trends 2020 survey report, 44 percent of e-commerce companies are looking to implement, change, or improve payment technologies in 2020.

From tax calculations to shipping estimates, retailers that leverage automation within the checkout process stand to improve not only their customer relationships at-scale, but also their back-end operations through increased accuracy and productivity.

An important process within the end-to-end digital commerce experience is accurately and automatically calculating tax in online carts. This simple step allows retailers to consistently inspire confidence in their customers by providing accurate totals at checkout across all points of sale.

In addition to increasing trust with customers, automating tax compliance also mitigates compliance risk for business and increases the efficiency on the backend. It's important to consider modular solutions that plug into existing transactional architecture to enable greater control and flexibility over the end-to-end customer experience, particularly at the critical stage of checkout and tax calculation.

Conclusion

To deliver exceptional customer experiences at-scale, retailers need to have their finger on the pulse of changing consumer expectations. Modern consumers expect checkout to be seamless, no matter the digital channel or their geographic location.

Investing in software solutions that are easy to plug-in, scale-up, and have global back-end capabilities, including currency conversion and tax compliance, are critical components of maintaining positive customer experience and maintaining security online.


Megan Higgins is the Vice President and General Manager, eCommerce and Marketplaces at Avalara. In her role, she leads the business development team for Avalara's global e-commerce and online marketplace business. Megan has deep experience in leading teams, developing and executing on strategic initiatives and driving growth enterprises for technology companies.


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Salesforce Industries Summit
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