Less haters, more volumes

The 2021 holiday season is in full swing, which means that online and offline retailers are having the hottest time of the year. The fourth quarter of the year is traditionally considered golden for sellers of all sizes. Over the past ten years, 31.5% of annual US e-commerce sales have occurred in the last quarter of each year. Even the previous challenging year was not an exception. It means that for most sellers, the whole annual performance is largely dependent on sales during the holiday season. And there is no room for error.

American retailers expect about 10% growth compared to last year. Western European countries are more modest in their forecasts and forecast an average increase of about 5%. The quantitative estimates for the 2021 festive season boast a global figure of $910 billion. The first results of this year’s sales are already, and we can start drawing conclusions. By early December, US consumers had spent $109 billion since the start of the season, up from $90 billion compared to 2020.

Online Sales

The trend for online sales, caused by the preceding closure of points of sale, will continue this season. In the fourth quarter of 2020 the UK recorded a record share of 31.9% of online purchases. During holidays, retail outlets were banned from visiting. In the 4th quarter of 2021 the forecast for the online penetration rate in the UK is 29.3%.

9 out of 10 people planned to shop online during the 2021 holidays in the US. As in the rest of the world, the share of online purchases grows in 4 quarters and can exceed 14%. In 2020, this share was 15.2%.

Cart Abandonment

One of the most critical purchasing metrics is Cart Abandonment Rate. Cart abandonment is the percentage of shoppers who added items to their cart but did not purchase them. It becomes even more critical during the high season. The global average cart abandonment rate is nearly 70%.

There are many reasons why users abandon their purchases. Here are the top reasons related to the payment process found in a recent US survey.

All of these moments can be very frustrating. Imagine spending a lot of time finding a product with suitable characteristics and a fair price. Later, when moving on to the checkout process, you understand that shipping (or tax, payment system commission, etc.) kills off the lion’s share of the expected benefits. Having invested time and effort, you leave disappointed with this product and this seller.

The worst case scenario is when you do not realise the end price until the final stage of payment. The problem of additional costs concerns not only buyers. It is also not always easy for sellers of goods or service providers to determine how much they can make from a sale.

A lengthy checkout process will also reduce the likelihood of a purchase, especially if the buyer is forced to register on site. But even if the checkout process is not that long (and even more so if it is still long), then at the next step, the user may not discover the usual payment method. Are you sure that your offer is so attractive that the client will start transferring money between accounts for your sake?

Cards pose different problems. If your site’s design raises the slightest doubt, the user will switch the browser tab and buy from your competitor with a more credible interface. It’s okay for users to trust payment systems like PayPal when they need to authorize a transaction. However, when it comes to sharing credit card information, the level of anxiety rises dramatically.

Hidden Fees

End price non-transparency often occurs because of the hidden fees every buyer has to face. Often this commission is already included in the product’s price so that the buyer can enjoy free shipping or the absence of additional (in their opinion) fees. If the indicated price doesn’t match the sum debited from the client’s account, be prepared for a wave of anger.

How do additional costs appear? When shopping in another country, the seller wants to receive money in their currency and the payment provider needs to convert the buyer’s currency to the seller’s currency. The exchange process leaves a lot of room for manoeuvre.

The payment provider can set such a high currency exchange rate that the difference with the official rates can easily be 4-8% of the purchase amount. Also, if you forget to disable the double conversion option, your currency will be first converted into the payment provider’s base currency and then into the merchant’s currency. Then, the commission will grow even more.

Pending Transactions & Refunds

The following problems can cost customers money, but they are also time-consuming. There are quite a few things that can ruin the experience even after the purchase.

First, the payment can be declined by the card-issuing bank or payment provider. On average, only 85% of online card payments are approved. It does not happen very often when shopping in large local stores, but if you are buying from a small business or a store located overseas, declined payments may occur more often.

Often money just won’t be debited from your account. But sometimes, the payment may not be cancelled but delayed for additional verification. It can take an average of three to five days. In this case, the transaction can be marked as pending in the personal account of the bank or payment provider. 

Sometimes, when money is debited to the merchant, the order still ends up being cancelled. There can be many reasons behind the decline: the order does not comply with the company’s policy, there is no product in stock, your flight is cancelled, and so on. On top of that, customers may have to wait three to five days before the amount returns to their account. Often, this takes even longer.

In these cases, the user either has to spend additional money on a repeated order (which can also be cancelled for any reason) or wait for a refund. Obviously, after five (or more) days, the buyer can completely abandon the purchase or find another store or product. Also, the validity period of the bonus promotion, which attracted the customer in the first place, may end, and they will no longer have a reason to choose your product.

Conclusion

At each stage of the purchase, a customer faces various situations that may stop them from buying your product. If you want to maximize your and your customer’s profits, the process should be completely frictionless. By all means, some conditions like  the cost of production or the tax burden are difficult to change. However, you must be absolutely positive that if the customer is willing to pay you, they will be able to.