Whether you run a brick and mortar retail establishment or earn your daily bread freelancing online, coming up with products and services people want to buy is only half the battle when it comes to business success. The other half is all about making sure the payment process itself is as simple and easy as possible, especially if you’re a small business with lots of competition to worry about.
When payment is easy, convenient, and effortless, your customers walk away happy and are that much more likely to return another day. Your bottom line definitely benefits as well. Keep the following tips in mind to ensure seamless, simple transactions everyone will be happy with.
1. Keep your technology up to date
If you run a brick and mortar location, you already know how important it is to create a pleasant space that invites customers to browse and pass the time. However, it’s important not to underestimate the importance of technology as part of the equation. Even if you’re a small mom-and-pop operation, a checkout station that’s clunky or outdated could be costing you sales, especially in the long run.
Upgrading your POS system to something that’s in step with the latest tech doesn’t just make the entire payment process as simple as possible for your customers and employees alike. It also inspires confidence in the people that shop with you and lets them know you’re serious about running a modern, efficient business in every sense of the word.
2. Allow your customers to shop on-demand
Today’s consumer doesn’t just love to have options as far as how, when, and where they shop for goods or services. They’re coming to expect them as par for the course when doing business with any company. Even if a given customer prefers the experience of shopping in person at your brick and mortar location, they’d probably still appreciate having alternatives to consider.
That said, consider some different ways to offer your customers the opportunity to shop on-demand if they like. Make it possible to purchase products, make reservations, or request services both online and via an in-person location if at all possible. You may also want to offer the option of integrating the two (i.e. online orders that can later be picked up in-store).
3. Personalize your customer’s shopping experience
These days, it seems as if just about every possible experience is personalized to fit the individual. Instead of being stuck watching whatever’s on television at the immediate moment, people enjoy constant access to thousands of options on demand any time of the day or night. They listen to personalized streaming radio stations and shop via interfaces that remember their every preference as well. People like to feel special and know that their needs are anticipated.
That said, the more personal you can make the experience of shopping with your business in particular, the healthier your bottom line will ultimately become. Offer ways for your customers to connect with you via mobile technology and use geolocation tech to customize their experience. Tailor email blasts and promotions to each customer’s shopping history and established preferences as well.
4. Provide information on your security practices
These days, we’re all aware that identity theft is a very real concern and your customers are no exception. They no doubt do everything they can to protect their own sensitive personal or financial information from harm and they need to know the merchants they do business with are doing the same. Knowing exactly what your store or website is doing to keep their info safe and secure can go a long way toward easing a customer’s mind when deciding whether or not to complete a purchase.
Make sure key security practices or proof of PCI compliance are prominently posted somewhere your customers will see it. Be sure to adequately explain processes like fingerprint confirmation, two-step verification, and so forth. Make it simple for a given customer to request further information on something in particular as well. Info pages or FAQs are great ideas for websites and e-stores. Checkout signage and friendly employees that are happy to offer further explanation are stellar for brick and mortar locations.
5. Make sure all staff is thoroughly trained
Great customer service is imperative when it comes to making a customer’s shopping experience a positive one. However, doing things properly is about a lot more than simply offering service with a smile. It’s just as important that each and every staff member on your team is 100% knowledgeable when it comes to your business’s current payment practices and technology.
That said, thorough training for each team member is a must. Not only do cashiers, customer service personnel, and floor managers need to know how to use your payment tech, but they need to understand how to troubleshoot it as well. They should be well-versed in current promotions, coupons, discounts, or specials as well. Quick, efficient transactions that are painless in every way result in happy customers that can’t wait to return again and again.
Provide a wide variety of different payment methods
We’re living in a day and age that finds people with possible payment options to choose from than ever before. However, many small businesses – especially web-based ones – may only offer their customers one or two of them. If yours is one of them, you might want to rethink that, even if the one or two options you do offer are the most popular, widely used ones.
Approximately 56% of modern consumers expect to see a variety of different payment choices available when it’s time to check out. You don’t necessarily have to offer every conceivable possibility under the sun, but it would be wise to take a closer look at how your target demographic most often likes to pay for purchases and implement the top several. You’ll absolutely want to be able to accept credit cards as payment, so if you haven’t already done so, open a merchant account with a reliable payment processor that will make getting started simple.
Make sure your website designs are seamless
As touched on above, identity theft is definitely something modern people are wary of when they shop online and rightly so. If they’re shopping someplace new or unfamiliar, they may be extra watchful for signs that things may not be on the up and up as far as the site they’re on. You can help put any concerns they may have to rest by ensuring your website design is as consistent as possible from one page to another.
Make sure your checkout page, in particular, features the same design as the rest of your site. Details like fonts and colors should be consistent as well. Even if a customer isn’t perceptive enough to consciously notice that such details are slightly different, they’re likely to pick up on it subconsciously and could wonder if they’ve been redirected. Maintaining a consistent look and feel for your website is an important part of building lasting brand awareness as well.
Make online order corrections easy for your customers
When you’re inputting information online, it only stands to reason that you make mistakes once in a while. Forgetting to fill in a zip code field or mistyping an email address happens to even the best of us! That said, the easier you can make the process of identifying and correcting mistakes, the better.
Avoid displaying error messages at the very top of the page or anywhere else a customer would need to scroll or hunt around in order to see it. If they become frustrated, they could wind up going elsewhere. Such messages are most effective if they actually show up in the field where the error was made. It’s often helpful if a reason or explanation for the error is also shown, preferably in red.
Only ask your customers for essential information at the point of purchase
Whether your customer is completing their purchase offline or online, they’re likely in a hurry to get on to other things as quickly as possible. Keep the process as simple as possible for that reason, especially online. Otherwise, you risk having the person click away to make their purchase elsewhere.
A recent report found that around 11% of all adults have at one point or another decided to abandon an online purchase they otherwise wanted because they were being asked for too much information during checkout. Stick to the bare minimum needed – name, shipping information, and billing information. In the event, you really do need a specific piece of additional info (i.e. a phone number) be sure to provide information as to why it’s necessary. You’ll also want to consider allowing customers the option of checking out without registering for an account.
At the end of the day, happy customers and healthy bottom lines go hand in hand. Help your customers fall in love with the experience of shopping with you by keeping their experience as convenient as possible.