There are a lot of things I used to buy in person that I now buy online. I wouldn't call myself lazy, but it's just so much easier to carry a box of paper towels from my doorstep into my apartment than it is to carry it down the street from my local grocery store.
And I'm not alone. Whether it's because of the larger selection, better pricing, convenience, or something else, a lot more people are buying stuff online nowadays instead of in person. According to a 2015 study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the number of online shoppers will grow from 1.079 billion back in 2013 to 1.623 billion in 2018.
Despite the growing number of online shoppers, though, people are still wary of the setbacks of paying for stuff online. In particular, people still get nervous about giving their personal and credit card information to online retailers.
If you're an ecommerce business, a big part of attracting and delighting your customers will be providing them with a stable, reliable, secure, and smooth online shopping experience. If you plan to take payments on your website, then be sure you're checking everything off from the list below.
13 Essential Features for Taking Payments on Your Website
1) Multiple Login Options
While it's more convenient for your marketing to require shoppers to create an account before placing an order, it doesn't always benefit your customers. You might lose people along the way if you don't give them the option to check out as a guest. Remember: You can always ask them to create an account once they've bought from you and feel a little closer to your brand.
Image Credit: VWO
You should also think about offering shoppers the option of logging in with one of their social media profiles, like Facebook or Twitter. This can reduce registration friction because it makes the login process a lot faster. Make sure you add that you'll never post without the customer's permission, if applicable.
The caveat of allowing a social login? It's the one connection shoppers will have to log in -- and if anything changes about that connection (the terms of service for the social network change or they delete their account on the network), their ability to log into your site will change, too. So if you're allowing people to authenticate with social logins, figure out other ways ask for more contact information.
2) Authentication/Login Layers
Customers who do have an account with you want to know that their information is safe -- even if they forget their login information. To give them peace of mind, be sure to require several verification layers before you restore their login information. For example, if a customer forgets her password, your site could require various security questions before sending an email to a pre-determined email address.
3) PCI Compliance
The PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) defines a series of specific Data Security Standards (DSS) that are relevant to all merchants, regardless of revenue and credit card transaction volumes.
If you host and manage your own ecommerce platform, it's your responsibility to ensure PCI compliance at the required compliance level, which is based on credit or debit card transaction volume over a 12-month period. Most SaaS shopping carts will have PCI compliance built in. Read this blog post to learn how to achieve PCI compliance.
4) Integrated Payment Processor
While you can get away with payment processors like PayPal, Stripe, Google Wallet, and Amazon Payments if you have a very small website and a low number of transactions, it's much better to integrate a payment process directly into your website.
With some processors, online shoppers get redirected off your website to a pay site that doesn't look like yours -- which disrupts their experience, visually disconnects them from your brand, and can be confusing or nerve-racking and prompt them to abandon their cart.
An integrated payment solution that processes your customers' information on your own server allows for more flexibility and customization. Plus, it's a much smoother experience for your customers. There are a lot of payment processing options out there -- check out this list of the pros and cons of some popular options.
An integrated payment page will require an SSL certificate to ensure a secure connection. Which brings me to my next point ...
5) SSL Certificate
Every ecommerce website needs an SSL certificate to protect customers' personal and credit card information. SSL is the standard security technology that makes sure all data passed between a web server and a browser remain private.
Without it, hackers can steal your customers' information -- and online shoppers won't feel safe submitting their information on your website. Online shoppers will be able to tell your website's secure when they see an "https://" at the beginning of your URL, as opposed to just "http://". Read this blog post to learn how to get an SSL certificate on your website.
If you're a HubSpot customer using the Website Platform, you can get a standard SSL certificate for free starting October 1. If you're a customer but don't have the HubSpot Website Platform, SSL is available for purchase. (To find out more, contact your Customer Success Manager or visit our pricing page.)
6) Credit Card Logos and Security Seals
Speaking of keeping online shoppers at ease, you might want to add credit card logos and security seals to your website to reassure shoppers that your site is a secure, trusted place to do business. Make them visible at least in the shopping cart and checkout phases of your site, or even try integrating them into the footer of your website.
7) Checkout Buttons
The less time customers have to spend looking for an option to check out, the sooner they'll take action and buy. We recommend putting checkout calls-to-action -- in a color that really stands out -- at the top and bottom of your web pages.
Check out this checkout button example from ModCloth (no pun intended):
Want a little button design help? Click here to see our library of 50+ call-to-action button templates.
8) Visual Checkout Process
If you need to spread the checkout process across multiple pages, give shoppers a visual indicator of how far they've progressed and how long they have left to go. Again, ModCloth does this particularly well:
9) Return & Refund Policy
Shoppers don't get to physically look at or feel a product before they purchase it online, which can make some people nervous and disincentivize them to buy. To help mitigate this, make your return and refund policy readily available. Consider making it part of the checkout process and even putting it in the footer of your website.
Be sure your policy is succinct, informative, engaging, and easy to understand. Say whether the customer will get a refund or an in-store credit, stipulate a timeframe for returns, define the condition you expect the product to be in, and disclose any fees up-front -- like who will cover the cost of shipping.
10) Clear Path to Your Contact Information
Online shoppers want to know they can easily reach your company for support -- especially if they're first-time customers. If you don't give them a clear path to your contact information, they may either hesitate to buy from you, or they may not get the support they need to complete a transaction.
Include contact information like a phone number (with availability hours), email address, street address, and social media accounts. Preferably, list this information as text (not as an image) so it'll get picked up by search engines in local searches. Some retailers also like to offer live chat options -- just be sure that you've integrated it with your customer records so you can build smarter marketing campaigns in the future.
11) Detailed Confirmation Page Before Checkout
Before allowing online shoppers to check out, you'll want to take them to a detailed confirmation page before finishing the transaction. This page should let them review their cart, give them the option to change the quantity or remove items, include a final price (including tax and shipping), and indicate when the items will be shipped.
You might also want to include a photo of each item in their cart, as 92.6% of shoppers say visuals are the most influential factor of their buying decision.
12) Optimized Checkout Page Design
The best checkout pages are functional, easy to use and navigate, secure, and well-designed. Check out this infographic for details on how to create the perfect checkout page.
13) Confirmation Email
Finally, you'll want to create a confirmation email that includes the order number, the product, payment, and shipping information, and your return and refund policy -- just in case. If possible, use a real "from" email address (instead of firstname.lastname@example.org) that can be answered by a member of your customer support staff. You'll also want to make the order confirmation page easy to print. This is the time when you can offer guest customers the option to sign up for an account, too.
(If you're a HubSpot customer, you set up these emails by purchasing the Transactional Email Add-On. Learn more about this Add-On here.)
What else should people set up in their marketing to start taking payments?