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  • Writer's pictureJenn MacFarlane

Tales from the Edge of the Journey: Checkout

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

In February, Leading Lights' Rick Kenney joined Yvan Boisjoli and Deanna Traa from Bold Commerce, and Richard Gilbert from PayPal to dive deep into the under-appreciated, and far-too-often overlooked edge of the journey: checkout. The conversation covered the key insights from Bold’s recently released Checkout Benchmark Report, as well a set of burning questions focused on the evolution of checkout as a critical stage of the shopper journey.

Below, we've compiled the collective wisdom of the checkout experts, alongside the aggregate audience input (zoom polls!):

Burning Question 1: What will it take for mobile checkout to overtake desktop?

The Checkout Benchmark clearly shows that the mobile experience gap is alive in checkout: checkout completion rate on mobile lags desktop by 10 full percentage points, 52% v. 42%. The panel overwhelmingly agreed that mobile is only going to grow as a platform (no surprise here), while also discussing what it will take for mobile to overtake desktop. For mobile checkout to succeed, brands need to approach mobile checkout differently. As Yvan Boisjoli shared, a key mobile mandate is to respond to the unique context of mobile, notably the increasing troves of traffic coming from Instagram, TikTok (and even QR codes seem to be having a moment). Traffic from these channels is more akin to traffic from a marketplace -- they have not yet experienced the brand, and checkout may be the first chance to actually engage the shopper in your brand's setting.

When asked if mobile would overtake desktop, here’s what the audience had to say:

Burning Question 2: Are wallets and new payment methods going to win?

One of the most talked about dynamics in ecommerce is the interplay between payment and checkout. Undoubtedly the sheer volume of new payment apps and digital wallets has changed the face of checkout, and thankfully has provided benefit to shoppers. Recent payment innovations have rolled up their digital sleeves to help with some of the most important work of checkout; improving time-to-checkout, hastening shopper identity, and providing shoppers with confidence that their personal information is secure. And, shoppers are proving to be loyal to their payment methods, 35% of mobile shoppers have abandoned their carts because their preferred payment method was not available, per a recent Forrester report, noted Richard Gilbert of PayPal.

Unfortunately, the solution isn’t as simple as selecting a payment option or two to integrate into your site - nor can you pick them all (one attendee aptly described this as Payment Nascar with all the logos). Brands need to understand their shoppers’ behaviors and preferences to select the payment options for their audiences. Additionally, brands need to ensure that payment options work well with other systems such as ERP, BOPIS, loyalty platforms, and more. Payment options should not limit a brand's ability to deliver additional features.

Again, the audience weighted in on whether alternative payment methods will deliver more orders than traditional methods THIS YEAR:

Burning Question 3: What is the biggest obstacle to a better checkout?

Yvan opened this discussion with a quick story about the challenges that many commerce optimization apps face; from offer optimization to subscriptions management, and many in between, a bad checkout experience negates even the best app - a challenge that Bold faced when developing their cadre of commerce apps. Optimizing the shopper journey and then dropping them into a rigid, tedious checkout process simply won’t work. Yvan encourages brands to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all checkout solution. Brands need a flexible checkout platform that will allow them to normalize A/B testing and use data for optimization.

This topic of how and where to optimize the checkout is a hot one. Here's what the audience shared when asked: What is your Checkout Optimization strategy?

As work still remains to make the most of the checkout, the audience weighed in on the obstacles to checkout optimization. Interestingly, the biggest obstacle for these brands is integrating other capabilities like loyalty programs, subscriptions, and more.

Retails are challenged to improve conversion rates at a time when acquisition costs are soaring. Even when retails seek to deliver the best site experience, many take a strategy of ‘checkout avoidance.’ Checkout is the workhorse of the journey, when shoppers are faced with many decisions. How to pay? Where and how fast to ship? Do I join a loyalty program? Is this a one-time purchase or ongoing? To achieve conversion rate goals and drive growth, retailers need to embrace checkout optimization.

Want to go beyond the highlights? You can watch the entire event here.

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