Can You Get Your Ecommerce Customers Through Checkout Faster?

Your ecommerce checkout is the penalty shootout of the online shopping experience. Make sure you’ve got your best players on the pitch.

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

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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 ecommerce 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 ecommerce brand (like portfolio companies Spoke, HIGHR, Live Better With) there's always more you can do.

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Time is money

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 ecommerce 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.

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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 off Amazon but otherwise there wasn't much you could do.

And even though the patent didn't apply in the EU - the European 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.

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The core ecommerce platforms have their own versions, for example.

But to use them, your shop has to be on the respective platform. If, say, your ecommerce site is on Shopify, you can’t use WooCommerce’s checkout.

If you prefer platform flexibility, there's PayPal's single-click interface, PayPal One Touch, which works with any ecommerce site.

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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."

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As a sometime PayPal user, I’m inclined to agree. One thing that irks me is PayPal’s interface feels clunky, often because ecommerce 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. If you're thinking of adding Fast integration to your ecommerce site, you can find out more about what they're offering here.

Buy Now, Pay Later

Another option for streamlining checkout is to integrate a Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) provider. 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.

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BNPLs - like Klarna or Clearpay - give shoppers credit. 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 of 2.49% 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 ecommerce retailer beware some argue they're an ethical grey zone, responsible for sliding unwitting shoppers into debt.

With that in mind, if you're curious about including a BNPL in your checkout sequence, you can read more about Klarna and Clearpay here.

The bottom line

Streamlining your ecommerce 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 need advice on setting up your MVP checkout, check out our guide on the Path Forward.

And if you’re an enterprise business looking to cut your payment acceptance costs, look at our portfolio company 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.

Hasam is the Managing Director of Forward Advances. After spending 4 years in the British Army, he progressed through the ranks at Bank of America and Paypal, and founded 2 startups before joining us at Forward Partners. Hasam is passionate about re-imagining business lending for entrepreneurs and society-at-large, and is using his expertise to help lead and scale our new revenue-based finance offering.

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