Online shopping may be on the rise, but it’s also in desperate need of an overhaul.
As reported by The New York Times in early 2021, 2020’s e-commerce rates soared by 33.6%. Though Internet-based buying was undoubtedly buoyed by pandemic-related lockdowns, it gained popularity. Figures culled from 2014 show a steady progression of online purchasing globally — and the projections look healthy in the years ahead.
Here’s the issue, though: Despite online shopping becoming a beloved trend for more than a decade, it has some disappointing downsides. Yes, the current processes used by most merchants work, but they don’t work seamlessly. Quite honestly, if you’ve ever made a purchase online, you know that you might be in for a clunky ride.
E-commerce’s major pain points, defined
What are the biggest pain points involved in far too many e-commerce exchanges? Ask a dozen customers, and you’re likely to get just as many answers. However, most fall into three overarching categories: inconvenience, snail’s-pace speed, and device-specific hiccups.
When it comes to inconvenience, nothing takes center stage more than the process of keeping track of countless logins—and signing into shopping portals? Those are the headaches consumers demand to have resolved. Few people enjoy repeatedly filling out forms.
What happens when a site forces a shopper to input tons of characters or jump between screens? That’s where speed — or, rather, lack thereof — comes into play. The more information needed to make a purchase — the slower the overall journey. Add to this the possibility of an unexpected and unpleasant “session expired” message, and you have an actual pull-your-hair-out experience.
The final “main pain” that haunts traditional online buying is not being able to move your shopping accounts between devices. For example, have you purchased items on your iPhone? Great, as long as future purchases with the same business are on the same iPhone.
But what happens when you try to pay for something on your tablet? Suddenly, the site sees you as a brand-new shopper. In other words, you’re forced to hunt around for the username and password stored on your iPhone or just go with the old “I’m a guest” fallback.
Not surprisingly, all these frustrations create a storm of problems for buyers. So naturally, those problems lead to some unpleasant outcomes for online sellers.
Fallout from online shopping snags
One of the most pervasive issues stemming from online shopping stumbling blocks is the widespread abandonment of shopping carts. Once purchases are cast aside, many shoppers never come back, even after receiving reminders or special offers from merchants eager to get potential buyers with abandoned carts to the finish line.
Remember: Consumers are forgiving, but only to a point. We’ve all thrown up our hands in exasperation and said, “I’m never buying from this store again!” Whether those angry outbursts hold true or not for the long haul, they have a negative short-term effect on the merchant’s immediate sales.
These are harmful consequences for companies, especially smaller businesses and upstarts trying to compete online. They also point to the need for innovative new payment methods that smooth e-commerce exchanges and bypass cumbersome online purchase transactions.
Online buying, simplified
So what does a peek into the online shopping crystal ball show? First, it’s good news for all stakeholders. Plenty of entrepreneurially-minded entities and thought leaders are talking about ways to cut out the exasperation of digital buying. Plus, some solutions are coming to the forefront, including one from FIS Impact Labs, which is fintech giant FIS’s internal innovation machine.
FIS Impact labs recently introduced GoCart, a portal that aims to address why customers decry online payments. As Head of GoCart’s Ashleigh DePopas has explained in previous interviews, “one in two US consumers were so dissatisfied with current checkout solutions that they would happily switch to something more ubiquitous and frictionless, despite there being a myriad of options available.” Knowing that this wasn’t going to change as tech-savvy Generation Z became even more of a buying force, DePopas, and her teammate’s dove into creating a one-stop solution.
To be sure, Generation Z isn’t the only generational cohort driving the increase in online paying behaviors. Millennials, Generation X members, and Boomers are also jumping on the digital wallet bandwagon. So are B2C and B2B vendors trying to figure out how to streamline growing buying practices like buy-now, pay-later (BNPL).
Truth be told, BNPL doesn’t quite work with classic shopping carts. Nonetheless, it’s a practical way to move merchandise, so sellers are impatient to find a way to make all exchanges, including BNPL ones, trouble-free.
E-commerce friction points eliminated
So what are some ways to bring about convenience, speed, and device agnosticism (a.k.a., a “trouble-free” interface) to the online buying experience?
1. Single, personalized accounts
American consumers overwhelmingly prefer to have one trustworthy buying account rather than a series of them. That is, they wanted to be able to have a one-and-done account portal with all their buying information in a centralized, rapidly accessible format.
That way, online shoppers can store their financial and other data in a single location, removing the need for constant logins and data input. In addition, with a single account, buyers can stop being held up by annoying logins, captchas, and related digital obstacles.
2. Immediate, safe personal information retrieval
Merchants need to have access to customers’ pertinent buying information to finish checkouts. But customers would rather not enter and re-enter their personal information every time they buy from a new vendor.
Consumers need a place where their information can be stored and transferred instantly and securely to a vendor when a transaction is initiated. If this can happen behind the scenes without requiring any extra steps, buyers can pay in a few seconds and move on to other tasks.
3. E-commerce buying on any device or platform
Modern customers rarely use a single device for all their buying. Some buy certain items, like groceries or clothing, via their phone. Others like to shop on a laptop or desktop with a larger screen. Additionally, many patrons would like to use texting more often as a purchasing platform.
A buying system that people can use with nearly any digital device in most settings will break down common hurdles that customers face when trying to complete their orders.
Key advantages for early adopters of new online shopping tech
As more technologies hit the online shopping scene, all stakeholders would be wise to take early “test runs.” For instance, from the customer standpoint, finding a better way to buy digitally means less time worrying about digital payments. It can also prompt them to try new vendors and distribute their wealth more widely.
Businesses that take an “early adopter” mentality position themselves to become online payment leaders. This can be especially valuable for organizations in sectors that need digital checkup upgrades, like so many in the food industry. Too often, restaurants’ e-commerce payment choices either don’t work well or don’t work across all devices. As a result, some patrons may be hesitant to buy meals and snacks online, even from their favorite eateries.
Another value for companies that become early adopters of emerging online checkout solutions is the ability to lower their cart abandonment rates. By removing their consumers’ strongest objections to leaving products in their digital carts, merchants can improve conversions.
Future forward: Will advanced checkout processes move beyond e-commerce?
Though people have conceived products like GoCart as answers to the toughest online buying and checkout problems, they may have applications beyond e-commerce. Consider, for example, the finance industry.
In extensive reporting, MerdianLink and Digital Banking Report owner Jim Marous released The Future of Digital Lending. Their survey-based findings from 300+ financial institutions showed an industry-wide desire for more modern mobile interfaces. Already, 54% of participants in the survey said they offered mobile loan applications. However, mass adoption of digital-based lending is still in its infancy.
Innovative online shopping solutions could be helpful as springboards to change the way consumers apply for personal (or commercial) loans or speed up the sticking points in the conventional application-to-approval process. In addition, as Marous has noted, “–more financial institutions are turning to technology providers like MeridianLink to provide the latest digital experiences to their customers.”
And the latest digital experiences may well include some innovations poised to revolutionize the consumer marketplace.
Without a doubt, banking has become customer-centric, according to sites like The Wall Street Journal. Therefore, it would make sense for the financial sector to mirror some of the headway the online shopping checkout innovators are making in other fields like retail and food services.
There’s little doubt that an e-commerce transformation has been on the horizon for a while. Now, it looks as if consumers are finally going to get their wishes for an online shopping experience that’s brisk, intuitive, and — most of all — safe.
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