How businesses can address security concerns in online payments

Despite the sharp rise of ecommerce sales– a recent report reveals year-on-year growth of 13% since April 2014 – online retailers still face misgivings from consumers when it comes to security.

In developed countries and emerging economies alike, concern over how and where their data is used continues to drive many consumers to abandon purchases prematurely.  

In response, retailers are going to great lengths to build a more robust shopping experience for their customers. However, many mistakenly believe that this process begins and ends at the checkout, which could not be further from the truth.

>See also: Getting ready for a mobile payment world

The online payment journey is a multi-stage process that begins the second a shopper visits a retail site’s homepage and ends only once they have received an email confirming their purchase. It is therefore crucial that a retail site addresses consumers’ potential reservations about their sensitive information every step of the way, while also delivering a seamless overall experience.

Yet, according to recent research by payment processing firm Worldpay, nearly one quarter (24%) of consumers globally admit they are sceptical of retail sites that do not put them at ease about the security of their data at every stage of their purchasing journey.

These concerns can mean the difference between closing a sale and losing a customer forever. With online sales expected to have reached nearly £22 billion in 2014 and only set to grow, the potential opportunity for those retailers that do get things right is large indeed. Retailers therefore need to work closely with their user experience (UX) teams to make sure their online store inspires complete confidence in their shoppers.

First impressions are key

It all begins with a well thought-out homepage. In many cases, the homepage marks the first chance for retailers to impress would-be customers, and as such they should leave no room for doubt in shoppers’ minds. Many consumers base their decision as to whether or not to proceed with a purchase based entirely on the information they view on a website’s homepage, particularly when it comes to assessing whether or not they are in safe hands.

According to the research, one quarter of online shoppers globally say seeing payment authentication and digital certificate logos prominently displayed on a retailers’ homepage is the single most reassuring element for them when evaluating a website’s security.

By coordinating with their UX teams to make this relatively minor addition and ensuring they keep their authentication logos up to date, retailers will give shoppers the peace of mind of knowing they are in for a secure, surprise-free experience.

The homepage is also where many customers’ expectations are set, and retailers must make sure they can deliver on these. According to the research, nearly 60% of shoppers around the world would drop out of a purchase if their preferred payment method was displayed on a retail site’s homepage but wasn’t available to them at checkout.

As mentioned, the online payment journey is a multi-stage process and consumers will be inclined to drop out at any point when their confidence is shaken. A retailer’s UX team needs to therefore ensure the features that shoppers have been led to expect from their website are indeed fully functional.

Simple and transparent

Inspiring trust and confidence among online shoppers is linked as closely to a retail site’s layout as to its content. Ecommerce UX teams should focus on making the online payment experience simple and intuitive, particularly when it comes to the payment page.

As an indication of how important this is, it’s worth noting that 40% of respondents to the survey admitted they would not even take the time to look for their preferred payment method at checkout if it wasn’t easy to find, and said they would drop out of a transaction prematurely as a result.

In addition to making the payments journey easy to navigate, retailers need to ensure they are transparent and manage shopper expectations at every stage of an online purchase. Shoppers want to know what will happen ahead of time at each step in the payment process, and retailers that fail to clearly indicate this information risk losing customers as a result.

For example, if shoppers are re-directed to a third party website to have their payment details verified without warning, roughly one-fifth said they would drop their transaction instantly. The simple act of making it clear that shoppers should expect to be re-directed when entering their card details will go a long way in maintaining their trust.

It is absolutely essential therefore that retailers’ UX team and web developers map out the payment journey and ensure the guidance they offer customers aligns with each stage of the process.

Be on-hand to address errors

Despite retailers’ efforts to avoid bugs in the online shopping experience, these do arise from time to time. When this occurs, retailers’ web teams must be made available for quick and effective customer support.

If they cannot deliver on this expectation, online retailers will see many would-be customers drop out and take their business elsewhere. Findings from the survey revealed that nearly two-thirds (64%) of online shoppers globally expect a clear and instant explanation of what has gone wrong.

>See also: Five tips to improving the user experience of web forms

UX teams need to implement an accurate and responsive error message function to head off any potential confusion as to whether a transaction has been processed or whether a shopper’s payment details have been recorded.

Retailers must also ensure customer support teams are on hand to address errors directly, and can easily escalate an issue to web teams for quick resolution. 27% of shoppers around the world expect to be able to call customer support to resolve their issues, and nearly as many want the option to email a support representative at the very least. Acting on these issues with minimal delay will be crucial for retailers if they wish to keep customers on-board to follow through on their purchases.

All about the user experience

Ultimately, every aspect of the online payment journey is inextricably linked to the user experience. If retailers cannot reassure customers that their transaction will be quick, secure and managed to the highest standard of professionalism at every step of the way, they will struggle to keep shoppers engaged.

Nagging doubts about the security of their payment details can add up over the multiple stages of the purchasing journey for shoppers and stop them from ever clicking ‘buy’, even if they really want a product.

By working closely with their UX teams to proactively address these concerns on their websites, online retailers will be in the best possible position to take advantage of today’s booming ecommerce market.     


Sourced from Maria Prados, VP of global retail, Worldpay

Avatar photo

Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...