It’s never been easier to start an online business. But even if you have a great idea and a fabulous product, success is far from guaranteed.
There’s no shortage of challenges to overcome and operational tasks to accomplish on the path to growing your business. Everything from optimizing search results and improving security to devising fresh marketing campaigns to attract new customers and boosting the loyalty of existing ones.
Yet in the quest to make money, online businesses often overlook the process of actually accepting money. It turns out the mechanics really matter.
We’ve learned from many companies how even small tweaks to their customers’ purchase experience have had a meaningful impact on their business — anywhere from thousands to tens of millions of extra dollars in revenue each year.
Here are five such lessons: Things any online company can do to increase conversions.
1. Don’t settle for a redirect
Non-profit charity: water raises money to provide clean drinking water to people around the world.
After switching from a donation flow that required potential donors to log into a third-party site to one that allowed them to enter credit card details immediately, charity: water saw a 40 percent increase in donation conversions.
2. Store customers’ payment information
Work with a payment provider who can store customer information securely to facilitate repeat transactions.
If it makes sense, you can also give people the option up front of paying you on a monthly or annual basis. Hamilton College, for example, increased the number of recurring online gifts by 65 percent by offering a recurring donation option.
3. Update cards automatically
About one in five debit and credit cards expire every year. But placing the burden on customers to manually update their card information all but guarantees that many of them won’t.
Use a payment platform that works directly with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover to update your customers’ expired cards automatically so that they don’t have to.
One e-commerce company, for example, made $52,000 from auto-updated credit cards in January 2016 alone.
Industry-wide, we estimate updated cards (which would’ve otherwise expired) account for more than $20 million in online sales every year.
4. Sell globally
Last year there were 2.5 billion people on the internet, most of them outside North America. Today you can expand your addressable market by making it easier for more people, in more places, to buy your product.
In China, the world’s largest country, most people don’t have credit cards — but more than 400 million of them use Alipay.
Other countries similarly have their own popular payment methods: SEPA in Germany, M-Pesa in Kenya, Boletos in Brazil, and so on. Wish saw a 14 percent increase in conversion rates in the Netherlands after beginning to accept iDEAL, a Dutch payment method.
5. But price locally
Show people prices in the currency they use every day.
If a customer is in Cairo, show them Egyptian Pounds; if they’re in Cape Town, show them South African Rand. Even if you want to be paid in US dollars, just presenting prices in local currencies to customers around the world will make them much more likely to complete the purchase.
Doing this from the UK, for example, helped Always Riding see a 50 percent increase in conversions from customers paying in Japan.