Can you get your E-commerce customers through checkout faster

Luke Smith

Partner + Investor

May 9, 2019

If you’re not consistently optimising the journey from your product pages to “Thanks For Your Order”, you’re an E-commerce odd one out. 

The marketplace giant Amazon has long been the cart-to-card gold standard. Their cart conversion rate can be as high as 15% (compared to the E-commerce average of 10.9%). That said, the standard rate of cart abandonment still stands at 70% because even the most optimised checkouts leak sales. Which means if you’re a founder in charge of a great E-commerce brand (like portfolio companies HIGHR, Live Better With) there’s always more you cando. Sure, there are the fundamental things you should already be doing to plug the gaps, including designing your UX for mobile-first browsing, or studying your Google Analytics or Mixpanel to see where users drop off to remedy those exit spots. But you’ll make the biggest gains if you cut the number of clicks it takes a user to get from start to finish. Each step in an E-commerce sales flow puts a few seconds’ delay between your customer and the “Place your order”button.

And because every second invites an Instagram distraction, a phone call or a final doubt, extra time means lost sales. On the other hand, quicker checkouts convert more customers and incentivise those users to shop with you again.

One-step checkout

Back in the 90s, Amazon spotted how important it was to simplify the checkout and introduced 1-Click. Customers could enter their details once, then never again. If you’ve ever tapped the “Buy now with 1-Click” on Amazon to order something, you know how easy it is. Amazon originally got a US patent on their single-click process in 1997, fending off businesses trying to offer the same convenience to US consumers. Businesses could pay to licence the process of Amazon, but otherwise there wasn’t much you could do.

And even though the patent didn’t apply in the EU - theEuropean Patent Office rejected Amazon’s application for “obviousness” - it was still a handbrake on other companies trying to replicate the technology on a large-scale elsewhere.

The new one-click checkout

Since Amazon’s patent on 1-click ordering expired in 2017, third-party providers have rolled out single-step checkouts any merchant can use. The core E-ccommerce platforms have their own versions. For example. Shopify’s 2-step checkout rebranded this year to a 1-click checkout called WooCommerce. But to use them, your shop has to be on the respective platform. If, say, your E-commerce site is on Shopify, you can’t use WooCommerce’s checkout. If you prefer platform flexibility, there’s PayPal’s single-click interface, which works with any E-commerce site.  

Another interesting option is Fast. Fast is as platform-flexible as PayPal. At the time of writing, it’s also cheaper: they charge 1.4% plus 20p per transaction in the UK, compared to PayPal’s 2.9% plus 30p. And it does what it says on the tin: consumers get a very fast checkout experience. Barr Allen, Fast COO, has said she’s confident Fast will beat PayPal in the 1-click space because the billion-dollar company’s platform is “a bit slow and not the most intuitive user experience”. As a sometime PayPal user, I’m inclined to agree. One thing that irks me is PayPal’s interface feels clunky, often because E-commerce sites integrate it badly into their sites. I often go the long-route of typing in my card details over using PayPal. We’ll have to wait and see if Fast turns out to be a long-term contender to the payments veteran. But for now the nimble startup is definitely marketed better for their Gen Z and millennial target audience.

Buy Now, Pay Later

Another option for streamlining checkout is to integrate aBuy Now Pay Later (BNPL) provider such as Klarna or Clearpay. While they don’t offer as friction-free an experience as 1-click checkout, BNPL providers will get more customers through your payment page (reportedly increasing conversions by up to 20%), and with higher basket values.

But they’re not just credit cards in disguise. At the checkout page, shoppers type in their email address and their shipping details. The third-party provider then fronts credit to cover the cost of the order.

Users also don’t go through an application process, don’t have a card number and don’t pay interest on an unpaid balance. Merchants, on the other hand, get paid immediately, whereas a credit card transaction can sometimes take 3 days to process.

At the time of writing, Klarna offers UK merchants fees of2.49% plus 20p per transaction.

Note that BNPLs are ideal for savvy consumers who want more convenience than their credit cards can offer, but as an E-commerce retailer beware - some argue they’re an ethical grey zone, responsible for sliding unwitting shoppers into debt. 

The bottom line

Streamlining your E-commerce checkout is always a big yes. If you don’t, you’re leaving conversions on the table, so turning to a 1-click checkout provider like Fast or PayPal, or a BNPL solution like Klarna could significantly move the needle.

If you’re an enterprise business looking to cut your payment acceptance costs, look at our portfolio Apexx. Apexx gets B2B companies lower payment fees and more conversions by combining acquirers, gateways, shopping carts and Alternative Payment Methods into a single integration.

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Luke Smith

Partner + Investor

May 9, 2019

Luke joined Forward Partners from REV Venture Partners, a corporate VC, where he was responsible for deal origination, investment due diligence and portfolio reporting. He was previously a consultant with the strategy consultancy Oliver Wyman, where he worked across the retail, aviation, healthcare and FMCG sectors. Luke originally planned a career in science and he holds a PhD in biochemistry. His focus at Forward Partners is on sourcing and executing new investments.