There’s a wide range of payment options available to online retailers now, but which should they offer to appeal to shoppers?
In the early days of ecommerce, payment options were often limited to card payments, but now there’s a much wider range of payment methods for online shoppers.
The challenge for online retailers is how to keep up with changing customer preferences, and which of the many different payment methods to offer to customers.
Ecommerce Payment Options: The Stats
Stats from WorldPay show the current global payment methods for online purchases.
Between them, credit and debit card payments are still the most popular, but digital wallets and other methods are growing rapidly.
Indeed, if we look at future trends, digital wallets (or eWallets) are set to be the most popular in years to come.
At the moment, according to Internet Retailer’s Top 1,000 Report, very few retailers are accepting much beyond card and PayPal payment.
Why Does a Choice of Payment Options Matter?
Providing choice on payments is about appealing to as many customer preferences as possible, and trying to ensure that people don’t abandon purchases because they can’t pay in the way they want to.
Another point to note is that some payment options can also make checkout faster and easier for customers.
For example, Amazon Pay allows people with an existing Amazon account (at least 300m potential customers) to pay with stored details simply by entering their username and password.
This simplifies checkout by saving the customer from having to enter address and payment details, and may increase conversions.
Which Payment Options Should Retailers Choose?
For retailers, it’s about providing choices for shoppers and balancing this with the resources required to offer and manage multiple payment methods.
In addition, some payment methods come with higher transaction fees than others, so this has to be taken into consideration.
It can also be about adapting to the preferences of users in your location. Within Europe, for example, payment preferences vary widely from country to country.
Card payments are likely to be the one of the most popular payment methods for some time to come so its essential for retailers to offer credit and debit card payment.
What about other options though? Let’s look at some commone payment options and the potential benefits and drawbacks.
Digital wallets is a catch-all term for a range of digital payment methods which don’t require a physical card, though they are generally linked to bank accounts and cards.
The benefit of digital wallets is that they can make online (and offline) payments more convenient for customers, reducing to task of entering card and address details to simply entering a username and password.
For retailers looking to reduce checkout abandonment, the attraction is that these methods reduce form filling and therefore make it easier and faster for customers to complete purchases.
Another advantage is that it can also reduce possible concerns about payment security, as digital wallets typically do not pass payment card details to the website.
Here are some of the most common digital wallet options:
PayPal is often the next most popular option after card payment, and probably the most recognisable of any digital wallet options.
With an estimated 277m user accounts, the sheer number of PayPal users makes it an attractive option for retailers to offer.
Apple Pay / Google Pay
Both of these methods are designed for mobile devices. Customers can pay using stored card details through their smartphones or tablets.
Offline, it can be used as a contactless payment, while online it can be used with facial recognition or fingerprint ID.
For online retailers, both Apple Pay and Google Pay offer a way to increase conversions from mobile shoppers. It potentially makes mobile checkout very easy for shoppers, with payments taking just seconds.
This is Amazon’s online payment processing service, which is now becoming more popular with online retailers.
It works in the same way as PayPal, and can be used as an alternative option before checkout which shortens the process.
For retailers, the hundreds of millions of active Amazon accounts makes it a great option for appealing to customers. It’s a familiar brand which shoppers will recognise and trust at checkout.
Visa Checkout / Masterpass
These are the digital wallet options offered by Visa and Mastercard. They both work in the same way as PayPal and Amazon Pay.
The advantages for retailers is the same streamlined payment and checkout due to saved card details. Both are growing quickly but currently have fewer users than either Amazon or PayPal.
Retailers using buy now, pay later methods such as Affirm can offer payment by instalments or deferred payments at checkout.
This can help to appeal to a broader range of customers looking for more flexible options and potentially reduce abandonment.
For retailers, the challenge is to pick the best payment options for your target market and goals.
For example, if you’re selling fashion to a younger demographic, one which is more likely to use smartphones, then faster mobile payment options like Apple Pay may work well.
As well as providing retailers with a broader reach, providing a range of payment methods can shorten and simplify the checkout process, reducing abandonment rates.
With customers preferences changing, retailers need to react to demand and provide the right blend of payment options to appeal to a wide range of shoppers.
Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle. He's been covering ecommerce and digital marketing for more than a decade, having previously written reports and articles for Econsultancy. ClickZ, Search Engine Watch and more.